I do love me a good RTS (real-time strategy) game, and in fact, I’ve been slaying it with the oldies on my PC. This weekend has seen me topple empires in Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, and build armies numbering in the thousands in Cossacks. They’re not too dissimilar to They Are Billions from Numantian Games. It’s basically the same concept, just replace pikemen and clubbers with zombies.
Ah, if only it was actually that simple. It’s not. They Are Billions is one tough cookie, and it has taken me hours and hours to get anywhere near decent enough at the game to survive for longer than an hour. All it takes is one stray zombie to come mooching into your base and you’re done for. Zombies infect your people, and once the infection spreads it’s damn near impossible to stop, especially in the later stages of a survival run.
My advice to anyone wanting to play They Are Billions on PS4 instead of PC, the natural home of RTS games, is to get a keyboard and mouse for your PS4. I tried a few times to play just using the standard DualShock 4 controls, and while it’s not impossible, it’s certainly a lot more difficult. For the purpose of this review, I mainly played with a wireless keyboard and mouse, taken from my desktop. Pain in the arse having to yank the tiny receiver from the PS4’s front USB port to go and send an email, but maybe I’ll invest in a second keyboard and mouse.
With my keyboard and mouse resting on a small, portable ironing board, I was finally ready. I felt like I actually had a fighting chance this time around as I was able to quickly and efficiently select units for defensive maneuvers, quickly build new fortifications, and expand my fledgling colony from beyond a few hunters to a thriving organisation. It all went to shit rather fast once the zombie hordes attacked, but that’s all part of the fun. I realised too late that I hadn’t manned my defensive towers, and I’d left a great big gap on the west side of my base. The zombies came. The zombies ate. The infection spread, and I started it all over again.
Part of the fun is in getting organised and building the best base you possibly can before the inevitable happens. For me it was not so much about winning, but more about surviving a little longer than the last time. I got better as I grew more familiar with the game’s user interface which, if you’ve played any RTS in the last decade, won’t be too complicated. You’ll have to manage your resources by collecting wood, metals, stone and food to keep your people fed and armed to the teeth. Energy needs to be managed, too, and you’ll do well to get a few Tesla towers placed down early on so that you may build further from your base and keep gathering resources.
It’s all a numbers game, really, and if the numbers are against you and you’ve not done a great job at gathering what you need and building the right things at the right time, the odds will be heavily stacked against you.
There aren’t many game modes as of yet – the PC version has a campaign – but what is there is certainly more than enough. There are a slew of difficulty options that should help ease RTS newbies into things, while the higher difficulties will have veterans clicking their mouse and tapping the hotkeys on their keyboard as if their life depends on it.
It’s a fun game and one that I’ll take a bit more time with in the future. It’s not something you can sit down and play for a half hour. It requires some significant investment, and for me that means plonking my arse on the sofa for a minimum of one hour. I don’t care that the game can be saved – I’ve never been a fan of returning to an RTS mid-save and not knowing what the Jeff is going on.
They Are Billions is a decent effort and you’d do well to give it a go, just don’t forget your keyboard and mouse. You can buy one off Amazon. There are billions. Ohmigodimsofunny.
They Are Billions PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
They Are Billions is a familiar game with a dirty set of clothes on. You’ve got your classic RTS staples, such as resource management, town building, and army expansion. But it’s with zombies. And one bite could end hours of hard work.
- Great looking game.
- Addictive ‘one-more-go’ gameplay.
- Supports mouse and keyboard!
- Many difficulty options for players to scale.
- A little too unforgiving at times.
- DualShock 4 controls aren’t great.
- Missing campaign mode available on PC.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro (and a mouse and keyboard.)
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella. (Bronze trophies, that is – he only has one Platinum.)