Storm United: Major Update, Linux Version Now Works

‘Bout time this game got updated.

Storm United is an early access, online-based, futuristic-style first-person-shooter for the PC that looks and feels like the Halo series. It is developed and maintained by PixelBeam, using Unreal Engine 4 as the base. For an alpha, it delivers quite well, actually. Gameplay, graphics, and animations are fantastic. There are a variety of weapons, maps, and modes to boot – such modes including team/free-for-all deathmatch and capture the flag. New modes that I haven’t seen before include Freeze Tag and Extermination, the former of which involves freezing the enemies’ team with your weapons. If you’re not frozen, you can “thaw” your frozen teammates by approaching them and maintaining close distance for a few seconds, after which they can be put back to action. The round is over when all members of a team are frozen. Such a game mode refreshes the traditional style of multiplayer gaming with something new to try, and it’s rewarding to explore.

If you bought the game at full price back in April – when the game was just released to the Steam store – however, then you have my sympathy.  The developers were reticent for months, which, in turn, caused the community to dramatically shrink shortly thereafter. In addition, the game will be free-to-play when it leaves early access. How that makes any sense at all really strikes my curiosity. Why pay for something where you’ll be exposed to bugs when you can snatch it for nothing and most issues will be eradicated? All you get for buying the game ahead of time is a few in-game items (I didn’t even get these?). Now, though, the developers are finally back with a massive update, and for the most part there are now enough players to actually enjoy a game of Demolition.

Specifically, two new classes of characters are added: the Angel class and the Hacker class. Each class brings their own unique weapons and items – for the Angel class, the Medi-Beam Gun, which, as you might have guessed, heals teammates within range; the PGT (not an acronym, apparently), which basically acts like the Medi-Beam gun except it’s for long-distance; the Fazer, an assault rifle that is the only offensive primary weapon this class can wield; and a defibrillator that acts as a melee weapon, which, unlike everyone else’s, can be charged to deal more damage. Angels are also equipped with a Medi-Gel station and an X-Gel grenade, both of which can heal players. Hackers are equipped with the Penaton S, a grenade launcher called the G-Pop, the Steyr Falcon (assault rifle), an energy gun called the Phantom, a repair gun, an explosives box, ammo box, NADA Turret, and XEMP. Unlike most weapons, the Penaton S has infinite ammo, but if it is fired too often, it will overheat. The Phantom can be charged to deal more damage; however, if it isn’t fired quickly enough, your character may risk losing some of his HP. The explosives box and ammo box will replenish your team’s supply of various items and ammo, respectively, while the NADA Turret automatically seeks for nearby enemies and begins firing upon detection. This, along with the Medi-Gel station, can be repaired if damaged with the Hacker’s repair gun. The XEMP? I don’t really know; I suppose it’s some type of grenade.

In addition to this update, there’s also extra maps, extra sound effects, a map voting feature, and a few other goodies that you can read about in full detail here. The best part is (you guessed it), the Mac and Linux versions have been updated to make cross-platform-multiplayer possible. A Halo clone that I can play without having to use a Microsoft platform? Or an Xbox, more specifically? How sweet is that?

I’m happy to report that unlike my experience attempting to try this game on SteamOS prior to the update, I can now run Storm United at an average of thirty frames-per-second with all graphical settings maxed out on my mid-tier PC with NVIDIA driver 355.11. Before, I couldn’t even access any sub-menus; the cursor would teleport to the top-left corner while a super zoomed-in image of the icon I tried to hover over briefly flashed on the whole screen. Some users apparently did not experience this and have been able to access the server list, but maps wouldn’t load.

This update didn’t go without a few issues, however. On some maps the screen is too dark and adjusting the gamma settings won’t make a difference. Some Linux users have reported difficulties in joining a server where they either have to join multiple times or they have to set their Texture Quality to 1, then setting it back to a higher setting once successfully connected. Also, some maps simply cause the game to crash, evidently because of a GPU memory problem (leak?). And evidently, I’m not the only one who can still hear environment noise and various other sound effects when the Master Volume is set to 0. In regards to this issue:

Screenshots taken with Steam are either blank or pixelated.

I think this is a problem with the Steam client itself; this has happened to me with other games. That’s why you don’t see any screenshots here.

Despite the minor setbacks (it is early access, after all), it’s good to know PixelBeam hasn’t dropped the ball on this project, as I had speculated. Looking forward to more updates, where a few of these issues should get fixed (AI bots, anyone? Or a reduced fire rate for the G-Pop? Looking sensitivity options for gamepads?).

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