Early Access Review
My goodness, this is an awful game.
I see what they are trying to do, I really do. Meridian: New World is trying to be a throwback to the good old days of Westwood and Command and Conquer, and has many good ideas along the way, but it fails on too many levels to be anything but a waste of money. Poor controls, optimization, visuals, voice acting, and a general feeling of shabbiness ruin what may have, at one time, had the potential for an interesting experience.
There is the germ of good ideas here; you can customize the loadouts of individual units upon construction, which is always neat, and the story is attempting to be that rarest of beasts, a character-driven RTS. You, the player, have a branching tech tree that allows you to perfom actions like healing individual units, disable enemy vehicles, that sort of thing. The problem is, like so many games of a more indie persuasion, the good ideas fail to live up to their potential.
The customizable loadouts are a good idea, but it's done when you start building your units, meaning that by the time it's done, you may have wanted something different...but too bad! You'll need to build a new one. Compare Dawn of War, which had a fantastic loadout system.
The story is uninteresting, poorly translated into english, and with pretty awful voice acting. Normally I wouldn't mind this, but they are clearly trying to use branching, bioware style conversation trees and characterization to drive the plot. Bad voice acting undermines this goal.
The controls are slow and stiff, with painfully snail-like camera panning, and the ugly, impractical UI doesn't help. In a good RTS, your units feel alive, and responsive, and you are able to control them with precision and skill. Here, I feel lucky when they are even able to move where I want them to go. And if I wanted to change the controls to fit my needs, I have exactly two options to customize controls; mouse sensitivity and a toggle for "camera panning," a mysterious button with no discenerable effect on gameplay.
The players ability tree works well though. Kudos for that, though it was at first a little unclear how the energy bar that powers your abilities works. Unfortunately, there is only one faction (something the original Command and Conquer was able to overcome), and so the tech tree is the only source of variety you're going to get.
Moving on, the game is ugly an poorly optimized. It chugged more than games that look far better than this does, and crashes frequently. I know this is part of the early access package, but you have to keep it together if you want players to stick with it until the final release.
Finally, on a less easily described note, the game just feels...shabby. Other early access games have been able to have a feeling of beauty and vibrancy from the very beginning, but this game feels broken on a more fundamental level.
Taken as a whole, Meridian: New World is, quite, quite awful. It is the product of one man's vision, and where for some games that means a new experience, here it is clearly the work of someone in way over their head, trying to match the work of those who are far more skilled. It would take a truly gargantuan effort to make this game worth playing at its final release date, and I just can't see it happening. Take this game as an example of Steam's famously lax quality control. Or better still, don't take the game, and go play your favorite good RTS instead.