I'm not watching trailers this weekend, I'm playing this ridiculously good RTS about ants

It's one of those grand weekends of lots of trailers, aka the 2024 summer gaming showcases, but I'm not watching those. I'm playing Empires of the Undergrowth, an absolutely excellent RTS about controlling an ant colony. I'm enjoying it so much, in fact, that the only one of the shows I'm going to break for is ours—The PC Gaming Show. Otherwise I'm only putting down the reins of my little ants for work. Like what I'm doing as I write this.

To be short, Empires of the Undergrowth is kind of a wild idea. It's a base-building RTS, but your base is your ant nest, and the factions are different ant species with their own attack patterns whose primary resources are food gathered from whatever prey they can find—and whose real enemies are other entire colonies of ants they may meet on the surface or while digging their nests.

It has the RTS skirmish mode you expect, and some challenge modes, but the campaign is something really weird and special. In it you're playing as mad scientist lab experiment ants who have the ability to rapidly change and evolve their genome, and many of the enemies are weird mad science hybrids—like a combination hermit crab-scorpion, for example.

Mixed in with the campaign missions are documentary missions, which put you in the role of various different ant species with their own style of play in their natural environments: Leafcutter ants, trap-jaw ants, wood ants, and with the recent 1.0 release the vicious termite-nest-raiding Matabele ants. The campaign climaxes with the addition of a New Game Plus that lets you use wild upgrades in previous missions.

Empires of the Undergrowth is made by Slug Disco, and has been in development since at least back in 2018 when we had someone wonder if it was a proper SimAnt successor. Since then it has developed into something quite different from other games, and was even picked up by Manor Lords publisher Hooded Horse.

You can find Empires of the Undergrowth on Epic, GOG, Humble, Itch, and Steam. It also has a website at eotugame.com.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.