Guns of Icarus Alliance Review — Never Reaching Great Heights
Guns of Icarus Alliance is the definitive Guns of Icarus experience, but is held back by performance issues on PS4 and a low player count.
Guns of Icarus Alliance is the definitive Guns of Icarus experience and contains every piece of content that has been added to the game since it released back in 2012. Alliance also includes some new additions, like PVE cooperative missions as well as six different factions players can join. Unfortunately, Guns of Icarus Alliance is hampered due to its low player count and some performance issues.
If you’re not familiar with Guns of Icarus, it’s set in a world dominated by steampunk technology. Players occupy four-person airships and take on a specific role in the crew. The first title was highly competitive and popular back when the vanilla version of the game, Guns of Icarus Online, released in 2012. Online was the product of another game titled, Flight of the Icarus which released in 2010 on Steam.
2012’s Guns of Icarus focused solely on PVP battles and the core gameplay in Alliance hasn’t changed this formula, mostly because it works. The new addition of PVE missions is a welcomed change, as it offers a variety of different missions that’ll give players the chance to work together in highly intensive situations. But on easier difficulties, these missions also offer a great place for newer players to train and get used to the mechanics in Guns of Icarus Alliance.
It’s important to know what you’re doing in Guns of Icarus Alliance, every player has a purpose and every role is vastly different from the other. Because of the game’s smaller player count, new players looking to go into PVP right away might have trouble finding games with players who’re at the same skill level as them. With cross-play between PS4 and PC included it’s easy to get overwhelmed by some of the PC players who’ve been playing the game for years. That’s why I highly recommend new players hop into PVE first and do the game’s tutorials as they’ll both help you get the hang of things quickly.
There are a small group of factions players will join when they start Guns of Icarus Alliance. From there you’ll get access to a new feature in Alliance that allows you to fight with your faction on a larger map, gathering resources and taking territories from rival factions. This new addition is built well but the game lacks the player count for things to feel truly grand. You can spend gold that you earn at the end of every game you play to help your faction in various attacking and defensive situations on the continental map. This addition became more of a back thought as I didn’t really care to get all too involved with it, it’s unfortunate that so many of the game’s new features rely on the addition of factions.
Visually, Guns of Icarus Alliance doesn’t look great. Ships are still aesthetically really cool, and some of the little design decisions you can find on each map really add a lot of character to the overall world. But even with these little details elevating the look and feel of battles in the air, Guns of Icarus Alliance chugs on PS4 Pro. I was quite surprised at how noticeable the frame rate can get at times. It gets in the way of a game that’s all about timing and strategy.
You’ll be able to customize just about everything in Guns of Icarus Alliance to your heart’s content. There’s a huge variety of ships to choose from and you can equip them with lots of big and small guns that’ll add a ton of strategy elements to your battles, as each gun has different effects and impacts to the fight. Not only that, but there are tons of aesthetic changes as well, not to mention you’ll be able to explore each one of these ships when the battle begins. It’s nice to have this level of customization in a hardcore PVP game like this one, it makes things feel very personalized.
Battles that are neck and neck are when Guns of Icarus Alliance’s combat shines, but as I mentioned games can feel a bit unbalanced when you’re forced to go up against veterans of the game. Battles can start at eight players and go all the way up to 32. Oftentimes I found myself playing engineer over and over again as ideally, most ships will have two engineers, a gunner, and one pilot.
Higher skill players usually took on the role of the pilot so I didn’t get as much time with this role as I would’ve liked. Most of the time I understand higher level players wanting to have players who’re the most skilled at this role at the helm, but there weren’t many opportunities for me to take the wheel outside of PVE games. I eventually found myself creating PVE lobbies where I could practice flying and level up my piloting class. It wasn’t a huge problem for me but one that probably could’ve been taken care of if there were more noob focused lobbies.
Overall, Guns of Icarus Alliance works as a competitive multiplayer game still. It offers a unique steampunk setting with ship battles that are highly intensive and a lot of fun when you get a good lobby of people together. But with an annual player count of 80 to 200 players, newcomers should be prepared to prep themselves with tutorials and PVE content. With performance issues on the PS4, in particular, it’s hard to recommend this game on the console, but if you’ve been looking for a cooperative game to check out with some friends this might be the one for you.
Guns of Icarus Alliance is available now on PS4 and PC with well-implemented cross-play between the two.