The trailer and screenshots for They are Billions were both interesting and thrilling. I bought the game immediately on seeing it on the Steam platform. It also seemed to score very well among the players.
They are Billions is a game about base building, creating obstacles and killing heaps and heaps of zombies (or if you prefer, the undead or walkers). This game is addictive in many ways and you will want to complete each scenario, but unfortunately the game’s story and gameplay variety/mechanics is lacking.
The campaign starts off strong. You learn that the world of They are Billions is a world overrun with zombies everywhere, literally everywhere. Fortunately, the main capital is protected by high walls and is lead by an authoritarian leader who has successfully protected those within the wall. Now, this leader and the people want to reclaim the lands beyond the wall.
At the very start of the game, you are tasked by this all-powerful leader with conquering the capital’s outskirts to expand civilization beyond the walls. You have been made a commander. It sounds almost like the story from the hit the anime, Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人, Shingeki no Kyojin).
As a commander, you always get to choose the next destination for expanding your nation’s civilization. At the start of the campaign, you get to choose between two heroes, each with their own perks and quirks, for certain hero lead missions.
I went with Caelus, whose description reminded me of the the Heavy from Team Fortress. I wanted someone who could blow away the zombies with ease. Mind you, I think either hero is fine. The hero unit only serves for certain missions where you are exploring labs and factories and these missions don’t involve any base building. It’s almost like Diablo, but not quite.
The campaign offers broadly three main types of missions/scenarios. You have the standard base building and mission objective-type missions, then the eradicate a swarm-type missions and, as mentioned above, the hero lead missions.
As a nice feature, you are scored during the progress of the campaign, which means that you can see how you fare against other players by the end of the campaign. It’s worth noting that any campaign losses will reduce your overall campaign score.
In the campaign, I particularly enjoyed the base building missions, because it allowed me to build up my walls, army and civilization, and then wreak havoc against the zombies.
I found the game incredibly difficult (but fun) at the start, because during base building missions, if zombies attack the base they are able to transform structures into infected structures. Those infected structures then go on to spawn more zombies. If you put your buildings too close, then like a pandemic, your troubles escalate exponentially. I failed many missions early on in the game.
Thus, I needed to make sure no stray zombie entered my base without me noticing. The worse thing would be when I have gone 30 mins plus into a mission and then get wreaked, because I was careless and didn’t notice a gap in my walls/defenses.
This meant I needed to be more cautious about my building placement.
Like most real time strategy games, the only way to expand the base is to collect resources. You need workers, wood, stone, iron, food, etc. The bigger you want a base, the more resources you need. Hence, as your base gets bigger, the danger of holes or gaps become ever greater.
I thought the hero lead missions a tad disappointing, because my hero often moved incredibly slowly through most of the missions. I just wished there are a way to speed up the game play, particularly when I don’t sense any danger.
There is no reloading during missions. You can’t reload just before you make a bad call or decision. The only saving mechanism is the ability to pause for however long you want. During the campaign, you are forced to face some incredibly powerful zombies, like this abominable below. (All the units in the screenshot got killed, none survived this ordeal and it was horrifying seeing this brute take down multiple units with one or two hits.)
The difficult setting for the game can be amped up. If you choose to increase the difficulty, you are rewarded more points and more bragging rights.
The screenshot below shows an eradicate a swarm-type mission. In these missions, you need to kill every last zombie while protecting the outpost in the middle.
In the screenshot below, I almost everything. The swarm of zombies was too overwhelming and I was not expecting it to be as dangerous as it was. By the end of this mission, all my lines had breached. It was only thanks to some last minute units that I managed to survive. It was a anxious battle.
There is also a Survival Mode with several maps available to unlock as you play each scenario. I think this rates better than the campaign, but I haven’t given it a go yet.
I really enjoyed this game. It’s rare to see a real time strategy game with zombies. The game definitely made me want to stick around to the very end of each mission to see if I survived.
However, in some scenarios, I would have preferred some variety in mission objectives/game play mechanics and the ability to speed up time.