Even though Squad is a great shooter, it is missing one important thing: giant, terrifying sci-fi aliens. Inspired by the terrible-but-secretly-brilliant '90s B-movie Starship Troopers, the Troopers mod (opens in new tab) started enlisting future citizens when it launched a couple of weeks ago. It's still in development, but it's already off a promising start: Squad's unit-based communications and logistics make a perfect backdrop for fighting endless waves of bugs. It looks and feels remarkably like a big action scene in the middle of the film.
Of course, it's not an official Starship Troopers mod, but developer Renn Farnell is happy to give the movie a nod as an inspiration. "[I] started creating this homage to that kind of atmosphere and experience: being overrun by swarms of aliens; working with your friends and other squads; using the communication and teamwork from the main game," Farnell said. Farnell and his co-worker, Tom Fancsy, are building Troopers in their spare time, but by day they're both employed by Offworld Industries, the company making Squad. (Offworld Industries isn't officially sponsoring the mod right now.)
Offworld Industries has spent a lot of time focusing on making Squad as realistic and grounded as possible, but that realism is actually what makes Squad the perfect jumping-off point for a sci-fi swarm shooter. Squad players have to rely on each other to fill sandbags and refill ammo boxes, and those mundane logistics provide a great "hard sci-fi" backdrop for facing tentacled aliens.
When I played Troopers, I found that I was unusually invested in defending my base. Watching parts of the base get overrun was a real gut-punch—in part because I had helped build those out of nothing only minutes before.
Troopers is the first total conversion mod made for Squad so far. All of the game's infantry units have been reskinned in sci-fi armor, and the realistic rifle models have been replaced by LED-screened blasters. The familiar ka-wump of Squad's grenades is still here, but now they go off with a plasma-blue explosion. On the Troopers Discord channel, a roadmap lists endless to-do items, including "bomb bug" and "nuke rocket." Is it too much to ask for some Michael Ironside voice work in there, too?
Troopers is also the first mod to bring AI into the game, which opens Squad up to players who aren't as interested in PvP or competitive shooters. Bringing all of the humans onto one side also gives Troopers a head start to building games where massive, 80-player teams face off against thousands of bugs.
Thousands of citizens have already download the Troopers Mod to help battle the alien menace. Come on, you apes. You want to live forever?