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They Are Billions Indie Game Review

Around a month ago I took a look at the game Conan Unconquered. I was really excited to try it out because ever since I was a kid I had been waiting for a RTS game that focused on building a base and surviving hordes of enemies trying to destroy it. I have been looking for this type of game because I have always been more into building bases than attacking in RTS games. While I enjoyed my time with Conan Unconquered, I was a little disappointed as the game was lacking in content and polish. Ever since I heard of it I have wanted to try out They Are Billions as you have to build a base to keep out a horde of zombies. They Are Billions left early access last month and was recently released on consoles (Playstation 4 and Xbox One). After receiving a PS4 review copy of the game, I was really excited to try out They Are Billions. The console versions are never going to live up to the PC version, but They Are Billions is a unique and wildly entertaining game of zombie survival.

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Numantian Games for the review copy of They Are Billions used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.

In They Are Billions you take control of a colony of humans in the distant future. A zombie infestation has destroyed most of humankind with the remaining humans having to hunker down into colonies in order to survive. While strength in numbers keeps the remaining humans alive, it also leads to the colonies becoming a target for the invading zombie hordes. In order to survive the growing zombie threat you must build up your colony to generate enough resources to strengthen your defenses and keep out the impeding zombie horde. Can your colony survive or will it end up joining the zombie horde?

At its core They Are Billions is an RTS with a twist. Most of the gameplay should be familiar to RTS fans. You gather resources which you can then use to build buildings, purchase upgrades, and train troops. Most of building mechanics are similar to your typical RTS game as you just choose where you would like to place a building after you have acquired enough resources to build it. One area where They Are Billions differs from a lot of RTS games is in resource gathering. In a lot of RTS games you need to train worker units that gather resources from a supply source and bring them back to a building. In They Are Billions you only need to place resource producing buildings next to the corresponding resource areas. Periodically the resources are then automatically gathered.

The other major difference is that They Are Billions has a much bigger emphasis on building up a defensive position instead of creating a force to attack the enemy’s base. You can create military units to go out and explore the world. This can be useful to find areas to expand your base as well as  places to set up defensive structures. Most of your time will be spent creating defensive structure to keep out the invading zombies though. This includes putting up walls, gates and towers to slow up and kill the zombies.

It is important to defend your base because They Are Billions is the type of game where things can quickly spiral out of control. Once zombies get into your base it will be hard to fight them back. Each building that the zombies infect will lead to even more humans becoming zombies. This means that if you don’t stop them quickly they will continue to infest more buildings and the problem begins to multiply. This will lead to you becoming overrun quickly. They Are Billions is the type of game where everything seems to be fine and then everything falls apart.

Ever since I was a kid I have wanted a game like They Are Billions as I preferred building a base over an army in RTS games. My favorite missions in RTS games were always the missions where you had to survive for a given amount of time as an overwhelming force closed in on your location. While there have been other games with a similar concept, They Are Billions is the type of game that I was hoping would eventually get made. They Are Billions is basically an entire game built around having to set up a base to try and survive for a given amount of time.

If this concept sounds interesting you should really enjoy They Are Billions just like I did. There is something really satisfying about creating your own base to fight against an invading horde of zombies. You begin with pretty much nothing and slowly build up your base. As you grow you will expand which gives you access to more resources, but it also forces you to defend a larger area. The game does a really good job making it feel like you are in a post apocalyptic world running a colony that is about to be swarmed by a horde of zombies. Swarm is definitely the correct term as thousands of zombies can attack your base at a time.

At this point They Are Billions has a couple different game modes. The main game mode is probably the survival mode. Basically in survival the goal is to grow your base to survive the upcoming zombie invasion. Before you begin you can choose the type of map, how many days you have to prepare for the final invasion, and the population of the world which affects how many zombies you will have to face off against. The game then randomly generates a map for you. For the most part I enjoyed the survival mode as it gives players a lot of options to set the difficulty to their desired level. I also liked that the worlds are randomly generated as each time you play the world will be different. This does add a little luck to the game though as the world spawn could impact how well you do. If you have a bad world spawn you are going to have a considerably harder time surviving.

In addition to the survival mode, the game includes weekly challenges and a campaign mode. The campaign mode includes 48 missions and apparently lasts over 60 hours. I can’t really comment on the campaign mode though as it isn’t currently included in the Playstation 4 version of the game (see below). The weekly challenges include a randomly designed map each week. Everyone has the opportunity to try and score the most points on the map to place high on the scoreboard.

This illustrates one of the best things about They Are Billions. The game has a lot of replay value. The campaign alone is apparently 60 hours long. You then have the survival mode and the weekly challenges. While the objective in the survival mode will be the same each time you play it, each game will feel unique due to the randomly generated maps. This should add a lot of variety to the game. There is a reason why a lot of the reviews on Steam are from people that have played the game for over 50 hours with many players having played for hundreds of hours. If They Are Billions is your type of game, it would be very hard not to get your money’s worth.

I began this review by talking about Conan Unconquered. While the two games share a lot of things in common, I think They Are Billions are considerably better. The main reason that They Are Billions is better than Conan Unconquered is that it is much more polished. They Are Billions is not perfect but it feels like more work was put into the game. From the art style to how the game runs, They Are Billions is more polished. The game also has considerably more content and does a better job with its theme. While I had fun with both games, if I were to only choose one I would definitely choose They Are Billions.

I really enjoyed They Are Billions, but the game is not perfect. I would say that the biggest problem that I had with They Are Billions is that it doesn’t do a good job explaining how to play the game. While the campaign might do a better job explaining the game, as it is not yet available on the console versions of the game, that wasn’t an option for me. Without the campaign mode the only instructions the game gives is some text describing how to play the game. While this is helpful, it would have been better if there was an actual tutorial to teach you how to play the game. You mostly have to just learn how to play the game as you go. Thankfully the game has a pause feature which allows you to take your time. Fans of the RTS genre should be able to pick up the game pretty quickly, but They Are Billions is the type of game that you need to play to figure out what you are supposed to do.

While I was really excited to try out They Are Billions I was a little concerned about the console release of the game. Console releases of RTS games have gotten better in recent years, but they rarely live up to PC versions as the genre is designed for a keyboard and mouse. It has always been hard for developers to figure out the best way to port mouse and keyboard controls to a console controller. While you could just use a keyboard and mouse with your console (which I would highly recommend if you can), I decided to try out the game with the controller.

I would say that I have mixed feelings about using a controller for They Are Billions. I never played the PC version of the game and have not yet been able to play the game with a keyboard and mouse. It is pretty obvious though that the game would be better with a keyboard and mouse rather than a game controller. When I first started playing the game I didn’t like the controller controls. They felt clunky and made the game harder to play. The controls were overly sensitive making it hard to place some buildings precisely how I wanted them.

After tweaking some of the control settings and getting used to using the controller, the controller settings started to grow on me. They will never be as good as just using a keyboard and mouse, but I honestly don’t know if you could have done much better with a game controller. You are never going to perform actions as quickly as you can on PC, but the game includes quite a few shortcuts and other ways to make the game work with a controller. After a while you adjust to the controls and they work fine for the game. I would probably still recommend playing the game with a keyboard and mouse though if possible because some things are just easier to do with a mouse. You can get by fine with just using the game controller though if you don’t mind using the pause feature more often.

Other than using a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse, the other main difference between the PC and console versions of the game seems to be the campaign. At this point the PC version of the game includes a campaign which is missing from the console versions. The developers say that the campaign will be added to the console versions of the game at a future time. While the campaign has some mixed opinions on PC, I am interested in checking it out. I think it would do a better job explaining how to play the game. I have also always been more of a fan of campaign missions instead of sandbox modes.

For a long time I have been looking for a RTS game that is focused entirely on building up a base to defend against hordes of enemies that want to tear it down. While it is not quite perfect, They Are Billions is probably the best game that I have played in this niche genre. Basically the objective of the game is build up your base to fight back against ever increasing waves of enemies that will try to storm your base. You need to set up a strong base since if a zombie breaches your defenses you are going to have a very hard time fighting them back. While this might not appeal to everyone, I really enjoyed They Are Billions as the game is really satisfying as you try to improve your base to fend off a superior force. While I really enjoyed They Are Billions, the game could do a better job explaining how to play it as the game basically forces you to learn as you play. I would also recommend playing the game on PC or at least using a keyboard and mouse. While the game does the best it can with controllers, They Are Billions is not the type of game meant to be played with a controller.

I ended up basing my final rating on the Playstation 4 version of the game. Due to the controller controls not working perfectly, the game didn’t receive quite as high of rating as it probably would have received on PC or with a keyboard and mouse. The game is still great on Playstation 4, but I would recommend playing it on PC if possible or at least trying to hook up a keyboard and mouse to your chosen console.

If you aren’t really into RTS games or building bases, They Are Billions is not going to be for you. People who think the concept of building a base to defend against a horde of zombies sounds interesting should really enjoy They Are Billions. If this describes you I would highly recommend picking up They Are Billions.

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