If you ever wanted to experience what it’s like to be in charge of a private military force you need to look no further than Soldiers Inc. Military Strategy Game. Developed by Plarium, Soldiers Inc. made quite a splash when it was initially released back in 2013 for iOS and Android, however, today we are not going to talk about mobile but rather the browser version of the game, which has received several improvements over the years. So, what is Soldiers Inc.? Well, if you’re familiar at all with mobile, social or web-based gaming you probably already know the name Plarium as the developer is responsible for a wide range of other popular titles, such as Total Domination, Sparta: War of Empires, and Stormfall to name just a few. If, however, you are new to the genre, Soldiers Inc. is referred to as an MMORTS, which is similar to an MMORPG but instead of leveling up characters and going on quests you are gathering resources and managing a base, hence the RTS (real-time strategy) acronym.
As you may or may not know, traditional RTS games have been few and far between in recent years, with Starcraft and Warhammer arguably being the only two franchises still keeping the genre alive to some extent. As a long-time fan of the genre, it’s hard to express how disappointed I am to witness its decline, however, this very fact made me want to experience an MMORTS (a genre I have never played before) and see if it’s worth looking into while I waited for the next installment in the Dawn of War series. Soldiers Inc. is the first MMORTS I have ever played as far as I can remember and much to my surprise, I found that there’s actually a good amount of depth and complexity to this genre, or at least to this particular title. The game managed to draw me in right away thanks to the excellent voice acting in the tutorial, which is overall very well put together I might add. While it may sound like a strange thing to praise, first impressions are always important and I didn’t expect to hear good voice acting and genuinely funny dialogue in a browser-based game. Guess I was wrong.
After creating an account on the official website, I was able to jump right into the action and quickly learned that I was the commander of a private military organization. Known as The Syndicate, this organization charges you with building up an army and expanding your territory as much as possible by working together with various private military contractors. You can do this all by yourself to some degree, but since this is an MMO, Soldiers Inc. constantly pushes you towards working together with other commanders in order to achieve your goals. Unlike traditional RTS titles where competition is the name of the game, Soldiers Inc. tries instead to promote cooperation between players. Unfortunately, this can be seen as both a positive and a negative aspect depending on what kind of person you are. Although the tutorial starts off strong, I quickly found myself in a pickle as the game kept reminding me that Soldiers Inc. is a social experience and that I should try to work with other players, which is not something I’m particularly good at to be honest. There are ways to go around this, though.
Ideally, what Soldiers Inc. requires is that you invite some of your social media friends and work together towards expanding your influence, however, if you don’t like sending Facebook game invites to your friends – which I don’t – you can always try to join forces with people who are already playing the game. Joining a combine is very simple and will greatly increase your chances of success, as allies can come to your aid should you be attacked by another player and, of course, they expect you to do the same when they are in need of help. You won’t need to worry about going to war right away, though, as Soldiers Inc. has a system in place that protects new commanders from being attacked until they learn the ropes. This is a very nice addition to the game because there is a lot to learn here and you’ll definitely need some time to figure out how things work in Soldiers Inc.
As a newly appointed commander, you are given complete liberty over a piece of land that you must convert into a fully functional military base and eventually expand your territory. While the base-building aspect itself is nothing to write home about, the way in which you gain access to various unit types and technologies is very interesting as it requires you to negotiate contracts with certain private military contractors. Negotiating these contracts requires both time and resources but they can greatly help you expand your base and serve as one of the primary mechanics in Soldiers Inc. Once a contract has been established, the player has the option of renegotiating the terms several times in order to get a better deal and access to improvements. You won’t have to worry about sinking too much time and resources on these contracts at the start of the game, but if you want better terms you’ll need to spend increasing amounts of both as the game progresses.
Similar to most other games in this genre, the progression system of Soldiers Inc. was developed with a very specific audience in mind, an audience that prefers spending a bit of time playing every day rather than several hours in quick succession. For what it’s worth, Soldiers Inc. is good at what it does as returning to the game every day grants you increasingly better bonuses, leading to a sort of loyalty system that encourages players to play in short bursts for better rewards over time rather than instant gratification with no effort. Sure, this means you’ll have to spend more time if you want to get anywhere in this game, but creating your own private military force should be a difficult endeavor so it makes sense that you won’t be able to do it overnight.
Finally, it’s worth talking a bit about the business model because that’s always an important aspect of any game. Plarium went for the free-to-play model coupled with an in-game store that allows you to purchase various packs with real money. These packs are available for anywhere between 5 bucks to several hundred dollars and contain diamonds (the main in-game currency), units, upgrades and more depending on what you’re after. While buying said packs can put you in a very advantageous position compared to other players, you can gain access to everything for free if you’re willing to put some time and effort into it. It’s not an ideal business model but at least nothing in locked behind a paywall, which is often rare in free-to-play games. While I wouldn’t recommend Soldiers Inc. to every type of gamer, I would have to say that those who enjoy mobile and browser-based games will certainly find a lot of things to enjoy here and it’s also a great choice for those who want to see what MMORTS games are all about.