Eximius: Seize the Frontline is developed and published by small Malaysian indie studio Ammobox Studios. An ambitious project, Eximius is a multiplayer shooter that combines squad-based first-person shooter (FPS) multiplayer with real-time strategy (RTS). In 5v5 matches, each team consists of four people playing the FPS roles known as officers as the fifth play the RTS role of commander, all in a near-future science fiction setting.
Most of the information players are given about the setting is delivered through an introductory cutscene. The implications of which are a bit troublesome. The brief narrative begins with the people of the world rising to overthrow their governments after disease devastated the global economy, causing the elite to go into seclusion for safety. It turns out that the anarchists leading the revolution are no better than the governments that were overthrown, however. As the game puts it, the people simply “traded one dictator for another.”
It is not clear where the anarchists go, but this leads to two other factions that players can choose between as they wrestle for control of the world. One faction, the Global Security Force (GSF), was founded by surviving politicians and leaders from years before the coup seeking to find a global unity to finally achieve peace and piece the world back together. They are pictured delivering care packages to the needy and are described as “punishing those who seek to harm the innocent.”
The other, Axeron Industries, is made up of the financial elite that has come out of seclusion to try and reclaim the world as their own. In their time in hiding, they managed to make technological leaps, giving them a leg up on the GSF. They are said to be recreating the world with innovation and science and are even beginning to replace their frontline soldiers with robots to save lives.
Setting these two factions as the only options for players brings an odd and unmissable political message that permeates the entire game. The common people have ruined the world. They are too dumb to realize what is good for them and need either the financial or political elite to keep them in check to keep them from destroying themselves and all of society. But yet, the anarchist faction is strangely absent in Eximius and without an explanation for this departure. Instead, players are given two factions to pick from, with little differentiating them from one another besides one having slicker gear.
The strange politics that open Eximius is of small consequence in the larger picture. Still, it does start the game off on an odd foot, which is made even more strange since any consideration of the setting is completely dropped outside of that initial cutscene. The environment is completely lacking in character. The designs of guns, locations, enemies, and logos all could be placed in a dozen other games and feel right at home. It is not clear why Eximius tries to make such a political statement off the bat when it does nothing with it in its world or setting.
As for the gameplay, Eximius is a very ambitious title, especially for such a small indie team, but it may be too ambitious. As established earlier, Eximius is split into two experiences. The first is playing as an officer, the four players on each team that play the game more or less as your typical multiplayer FPS.
These players are tasked with taking and defending objectives that either give their commanders resources to use or lower the enemy team’s points, granting a victory when reduced to zero. To do this, officers can be assigned AI soldiers from their commander, buy different guns and load-outs with a point system, use overpowered vehicles built by their commander, and call down from four different BattleSuits that give the player unique sets of abilities until their next death.
Building a loadout from the purchase stations is a fun touch and allows players to be reactive as the match evolves. Some guns also have different attachment sets that can be bought, like putting a scope on the assault rifle and making it a single shot more suited for long-range encounters. Both of the factions also have their own set of gear, which gives some needed variety since each faction only has a handful of weapons to pick from.
The BattleSuits also add a layer of adaptability and decision-making in each match and are well balanced. Each BattleSuit has a unique feel to it, and while some are definitely more effective than others, they are not overly powerful. These are not like the titans of Titanfall that radically change the gameplay, but rather just small sets of abilities that give the player some more options to approach confrontations with.
Every team also has to have a commander that can switch from the officer mode to a bird’s-eye view perspective for RTS gameplay. Getting the hang of being a commander has a steep learning curve as there is no proper tutorial for it, only a couple of videos that give a very barebones run-down of how it works. Commanders are tasked with spawning AI units, constructing buildings, purchasing upgrades, and placing pings to instruct officers what objectives to attack or defend. The RTS mechanics are very simplified compared to core RTS games, but the ability to coordinate units with real people makes up for it.
Playing as commander is challenging but rewarding once one gets the hang of it, but a poor commander can also easily ruin a match. Every match needs a commander, but there is no matchmaking at the time of writing, only a server browser. This leads to many matches forcing players to play the commander despite not wanting to or not knowing how to. Even matches with entirely competent teams can easily become one-sided with little chance for the losing team to come back. But having a commander that is underperforming leaves the officers in an impossible uphill struggle.
When Eximius does work, it works well. Well-rounded matches play out with a lot of coordination and teamwork with tense firefights. It is just unfortunate how rare those well-rounded matches are. Eximius is best played with friends, preferably a full team of five, but teams with that much communication will likely blow through their opposing teams who cannot communicate as easily.
The bursts of fun are weighed down by a pool of visually bland and overly similar maps, a lack of any meaningful progression, clunky gunplay, and some serious balancing issues. For fans looking for a new game to blend FPS and RTS gameplay, Eximius: Seize the Frontline has some fun to offer. But for fans of just one of those genres, the mix will likely detract too much to be enjoyable.
Eximius: Seize The Frontline is available now on PC.
Eximius: Seize the Frontline
- Rating - 4/104/10
The bursts of fun are weighed down by a small pool of visually bland and overly similar maps, a lack of any meaningful progression, clunky gunplay, and some serious balancing issues. For fans looking for a new game to blend FPS and RTS gameplay, Eximius: Seize the Frontline has some fun to offer. But for fans of just one of those genres, the mix will likely detract too much to be enjoyable.
Arron is a writer and video editor for But Why Tho? that is passionate about all things gaming, whether it be on a screen or table. When he isn’t writing for the site he’s either playing Dungeons & Dragons, watching arthouse movies, or trying to find someone to convince that the shooter Brink was ahead of its time.
March 20, 2023