I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s no easy task bringing an RTS game to console. Transferring a busy UI complete with a control scheme which doesn’t feel like you are trying to solve a Rubix Cube is no easy task.
So here we are again then, with another PC game which has taken a few years to make the journey to the Xbox. Dustwind – The Last Resort is a post apocalyptic real time strategy game. Think Fallout: Tactics and you’re very much in the right area.
It’s 2075. 25 years have passed since a rogue AI tried to wipe out all organic life on Earth in an event known as the “awakening”. The robot armies were defeated, however only 5% of life survived, and were left to savagely fight over every scrap of resource going. I suppose it’s just a little worse than trying to buy toilet rolls last year.
You play as a nameless wanderer, who is set upon by Raiders that give you a good duffing up, and make off with your daughter. This sets the scene for the single player campaign, which is essentially one long rescue mission. That’s also effectively where the story telling ends.
Going back to the control setup, Dustwind – The Last Resort doesn’t do too bad a job of mapping its commands to Xbox. Sure, it’s confusing as hell to begin with, and the tutorial is a lengthy one which bombards you with numerous elements of the gameplay which you’ll struggle to remember at first. However, once you get going you’ll get the hang of it, even if you don’t immediately use the many skills at your disposal, or if you feel the need to check the control mapping every so often.
The main campaign is a 16-part story which should take you about 10 hours to blast through. It opens up slowly, but simply consists of gathering resources, fighting enemies and escorting allies (who you can directly control in some missions). This is when you are out in the field at least, as after each mission you return to base camp and every so often you will need to defend it against waves of enemies, which introduces a tower defense slant on the gameplay.
Outside of your main hub, you’ll need to explore raider camps and constantly be at risk of ambush. You can equip two weapons at a time, and swap hands by clicking down on the right thumbstick. At first it’s an all melee affair, but as you play you’ll start to come across more powerful weapons, including handguns, machine guns and even flamethrowers.
You can also engage your stealth mode if you want to play things a little more covertly (rushing in very rarely ends well). Grenades, mines and other remote explosives can also be used depending on the strategy you choose to employ. You can access these and more by using B or Y to open your skill wheels. It’s rather satisfying taking out a cluster of enemies with a carefully placed daisy chain of mines.
There are also various healing items, which range from Mutatoes to full on medical kits. You may suffer injuries such as broken bones during combat too, which severely impact your ability to move and defend yourself. Luckily, there are specialised items to find that can heal broken bones almost instantaneously.
Later in the game you will come across vehicles which can be devastating to your enemies. However, controlling them is absolutely horrendous as the directions on the thumbstick used to drive don’t move with the vehicle as it turns, meaning you’ll be going around in circles for most of the time.
If you hit the view button to pause the action, you can plan strategic moves including plotting a path for your character. You can also use this to rotate the camera and have it fixed from a different angle depending on your preference, which is a helpful touch.
You will earn character points as you play, which can be used to upgrade your abilities and skills, as well as buy new ones. You can increase your running speed, weapon accuracy, lockpicking skills and loads more. It’s a comprehensive skills tree which allows you to upskill your character to match your play style.
Despite at first seeming like your inventory has been developed with TARDIS technology, it becomes clear that there are limits to what you can carry. Your status changes to “encumbered”, which slows your movement and acts as a warning that you can’t carry much more before becoming “overburdened”. At this point you need to drop some items before you can move again. There is, however, a storage crate at base camp. You can keep items here to free up space in your inventory as you find stronger weapons, or if you just like collecting stuff like me.
There’s a lot to loot to find in the game world. It’s a pleasing sensation when you discover a stronger weapon or better version of the one you have, as you gradually upgrade your arsenal either by spending cash or finding the best loot going.
Back at base camp you can visit the traders from time to time to buy new and improved weapons as well as sell some stuff off. It’s also quite pleasing seeing your camp community grow as you save those at the mercy of the harsh, dog eat dog world. You’ll need them too, along with barricades, turrets and other defences to fight off enemy waves and defend your new home and its residents.
All of the usual difficulty options are available, however normal is challenging enough. This is partly because there are no mid mission checkpoints or saves, so you’ll need to remember to save regularly.
You’ll also fall victim to a lot of cheap deaths thanks to grenades. By the time you’ve realised one has been thrown, you’ll be scattered into tiny pieces. They fall to the floor like a brick and explode only a second or two after.
Forgetting to save can prove very costly. This lays bare the marmite style of Dustwind – The Last Resort. The gameplay is a bit of a grind, so it isn’t often a thrilling prospect having to repeat the same passage of play again. You’ll most likely want a break and come back to it later if you lose too much progress.
Unlike the PC version, on Xbox, Dustwind – The Last Resort is missing any sort of multiplayer option. You can play the Skirmish mode, which offers a slightly different experience, but it feels incomplete without any multiplayer options. Not only this, but the map editor is also missing.
Dustwind – The Last Resort is optimised for Series X/S, but you can’t really tell. Maybe that’s a little unfair, but it definitely lacks impact. It still looks very Red Alert in terms of presentation, albeit with better in-game visuals. Unfortunately, it still appears as if it could have easily come from the last generation, or the one before that.
Dustwind – The Last Resort presents a world which intrigues and offers a gritty RTS experience. However, punishing difficulty, gradual pace and repetitive gameplay make it an acquired taste for sure.
Head in to the Series X|S optimised Dustwind by visiting the Xbox Store