A victm of its own community – The Red Solstice
In the universe of The Red Solstice, Earth has been abandoned and most humans now live among the stars across many colonies. In the year 117 AE (After Earth) a massive storm picks up across Mars. Though the terraforming of the planet has long been underway, the position of mars to the Sun kicks up massive global dust storms collectively called Red Solstices. If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry, we were told about it when we started the game; Every Time.
You take control of one of eight space marines that are trying to get to the root of many problems on one of the Human colonies on Mars. The problems all began when a massive Red Solstice arrived and blocked all communication and travel to this colony. If you’re thinking to yourself “I could have sworn I’ve played a Starcraft 2 Custom map like this..” then don’t worry, this game is in-fact Based on the popular map Night of the Dead from Starcraft 2 and Warcraft 3.
As always with spooky storms and Mars in Science Fiction, something goes horribly wrong and this time it isn’t the Hot Babe Queen of Mars, it’s aliens wanting to claw your face off. Nothing quite kills the mood like a meter long claw going through your ribcage. In typical ‘Aliens vs Human’ fashion, a colony goes dark during this giant storm and the lovable generic military hotshots are sent in to find out just what is going on, and they bring along a cyborg and a survivor as a guide.
It isn’t really fair to judge Red Solstice’s online play since we haven’t been able to get into a single online session. It wasn’t due to poor server networking or inability to get online, it was the community. The Red Solstice’s community, in our books, ranks up there right beside the League of Legends and DOTA 2 with how welcoming they are to newer players. At the mere sight of our bright ‘Rank 1’ beside our name we were promptly called ‘Noobs’ and told to ‘Uninstall the game’ and unceremoniously kicked from a lobby of three of a possible eight people. Our thoughts were that perhaps we should just try another lobby, except we ran into one little problem; there weren’t any other lobbies.
The Red Solstice made waves with its Kickstarter campaign where they earned $60,835, with a goal of $50,000. With some Kickstarters hitting it in the millions this may not seem much, but for such a small-scale game and small Croatian development team, it seemed achievable. After their kickstarter ended Ironward made their way to the Steam Greenlight where their game got many comments on how excited players were for Red Solstice and so we were legitimately confused as to how a game with so much hype is floundering a mere 2 months after it went into ‘Early Access’ on Steam.
After investigating further on the Steam Forums we found our answer; The community is pure toxicity. The forums are filled with players from both spectrums, many simply wondering why the game is practically dead. They get their answers with responses that come from what we can only believe to be twelve year-olds who have discovered how to type and curse. There are some who try to push other players to be more accepting of new players, but we as gamers know, the kind of toxic players that fill League of Legends games aren’t going to change over some nice words.
We at Critical Indie Gamer are not saying that a difficult game is bad. It’s when those ‘top-tier’ players control the first impression of the game that all new players will have that we will not recommend your game and instead recommend that our readers avoid your game like a plague. These individuals have made this game only have negative experiences and until the Developers at Ironward change something it will continue to chase away valuable new players for what is already a dying community. As of now, a new player of Red Solstice would only be greeted by harsh criticisms before he would even begin playing the game, and so the question has to be asked, ‘Why even play this game?’
Many games are renowned for just how difficult they are. Some examples would be the first Castlevania, or Demon’s Souls. These games have something in common, you didn’t need to depend on other players to advance in the game. Billy derping around or Franklin rushing ahead with his ‘pro-strats’ he keeps mumbling about wasn’t a factor in those games. In Red Solstice it is, and that’s actually a reason people were excited to play the game.
As time went on, however the ‘Pro-Strats’ crowd began having more of an impact, instead of Billy who can only play a couple hours a day. The game started to be harder and harder and when Billy came back, the game wasn’t what he played previously, he couldn’t keep up and when he asks for help he is insulted and kicked from lobby after lobby. The small, judging, and leper-like community chooses to take it upon themselves to purge and try and root out what they deem ‘Worthless” players. It is up to the Development team and their Moderators to push their community in a more open and welcoming way of thinking and to give new players ways to punish and at least speak out against these elitist level players.
The Red Solstice should be a warning to other development teams of the caution and action that needs to be taken when your game has an overwhelmingly toxic community. These players should be put on wanted posters and rooted out before they can strangle a community as they have in Red Solstice. Once they are there, the Moderators and Developers should do their damned hardest to make them leave. Ironward, these players are killing your game and it may already be too late but something needs to be done if you have any dreams of RS becoming a hit on Steam.
Our recommendation for any who want to still try The Red Solstice is to just buy Starcraft 2 for just a little more and you will have a much better version on the Custom Maps with Night of the Dead. At 14.99£ the Red Solstice isn’t a product we can recommend. A game relying on the community to play cannot work if the community is toxic.