Bohemia has a new 'RTS/FPS crossover' coming, and it's giving me Battlezone vibes

Bohemia has a new RTS coming, but it's not just an RTS. Silica is a new "RTS/FPS crossover game" springing onto Steam early access from the Bohemia Incubator, the section of the company dedicated to indie titles and "experimental games".

Silica takes place on Baltarus, a planet far beyond walking distance from Earth, and sees you play "either as a Commander in RTS mode, or as an Infantry soldier who gets to control all units and vehicles along with their arsenal in FPS [mode]". It was "mostly developed" by Martin Melichárek, the lead dev on Bohemia's Take On Mars.

The game is split between its "infantry" and "commander" roles, which sounds like a different way of saying 'FPS' and 'RTS' to me. Perhaps there's a better comparison, but it reminds me of the Battlezone games, which saw you do all kinds of RTS-style building placement and squad management from the confines of a cockpit, although it sounds like Silica will more firmly separate the two playstyles.

In infantry mode, you play as some poor starship trooper as he battles the alien menace right there on the ground, though you can at least pilot your faction's various vehicles to make your life a little easier. Playing as the aliens in this mode is a little different, letting you "shift your consciousness between creatures such as the stealthy Crab, the nimble Hunter, or the armored Goliath".

The commander role, meanwhile, turns the whole thing into a more straightforward RTS: Your job is to issue orders while building and placing structures that spit out more hapless troops to send into the meat grinder.

Honestly? It sounds like humanity might be the jerks in this situation. The two human factions are on Baltarus to harvest Balterium, a wonder crystal capable of satisfying human energy needs for centuries to come, but I get the impression the aliens are the planet's native inhabitants. I feel like maybe the aliens have a point about the general uncoolness of humanity turning up to their planet and strip mining it at gunpoint.

Silica says it will have three modes when it hits early access, but one of them is a tutorial. They're called Strategy, Prospector, and Arena. Prospector is the tutorial mode and Strategy is exactly what you think it is, a traditional brawl between up to three factions that "combines both RTS and FPS elements". 

I'm kind of curious if the game's multiplayer will allow for one player to use the FPS mode while their opponent plays RTS. That sounds like it'd be pretty hard to balance, but the notion of a player character storming through an RTS-mode player's legions while they look on helplessly seems very funny to me, so I hope it works.

Arena mode, meanwhile, is "a fun and crazy environment where players select their favorite unit and face off in an unbalanced FPS free-for-all".

Silica will release in Steam early access "soon," and stay there for around a year. If you're interested, you can follow its progress over on the Silica Steam page.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.