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June 12, 2022

Stormgate Reveal

Stormgate Reveal
Stormgate Reveal

On June 9th, Frost Giant revealed its upcoming RTS game Stormgate. We got to see a cinematic trailer with more information on the game's website, steam page, and in many following interviews.

In this post I will focus on the cinematic, setting and art style since they have received a mixed reception. But to touch on other things first, developers have been rolling it with many interviews. I'm very happy with what they have been saying. I've been writing about RTS game design for the past few years, and it looks like we are on the same page on many things. It's great to hear them talking about the same topics and ideas. I'm hopeful about the game and looking forward to more updates.

Going back to the topic, I'm not an artist, so take this with a grain of salt and as a subjective opinion. It's also an early art and a subject to change, but that also means it's the best time to provide feedback. I do want the game to succeed, and I think they can do it.


The cinematic trailer is the first thing we saw. Giant Grant in his video suggested that the cinematic might have been rushed because they were offered a spot at Summer Game Fest. To me, it's impressive what they have managed to do with Unreal Engine and without the Blizzard's cinematic team. But at the same time, the cinematic felt rushed – some parts felt cheaper than they needed to be, the pacing, choreography and script could have used more work.

Stormgate Announcement Cinematic

Let's go over some individual parts:

A demon. It does look a bit generic, and its silhouette is very reminiscent of Diablo, but I think they will find their own style with time. This is just one unit, and other demons can be more unique. It fits the demonic fantasy quite well.
Mech arrives and then it for some reason turns its back to the enemy.
A lot of attacks are lacking good visual and audio feedback. This is mainly the case for the minigun or when the demon punches the shield. The feeling of a physical weight behind attacks is just as important and lacking here.
If a minigun does nothing then shooting a handgun at the demon wasn't very smart. But I also remember a certain Viking that landed in front of an Ultralisk just to be immediately destroyed. So for the sake of coolness this might be fine.
Pretty cool angle
The pose is a bit cheesy, but the scene shows the power of Unreal Engine when used for cinematics.
The logo is very clean here and the animation is good
The link to the website and the text asking you to register for beta look a bit cheap to me. In my opinion, a simple white text would look better and feel more professional.
The transitions between texts look choppy since it's a quickly moving scene and the video is rendered at 24fps. This is why movies have to be very careful with how they display fast objects.
I want to compare this to Immortal Gates of Pyre's cinematic. It's not because I think better, it's not. But they have done the best thing possible with a limited budget. Stormgate's cinematic could have been better if they have focused on what they can do well, and avoided what they can't or don't have to do.
Immortal Gates of Pyre cinematic


I like the setting, I might have argued for a similar one myself on r/FrostGiant. Mixing sci-fi and fantasy has been done many times before, but it's not as common and distinguishes the game from StarCraft and WarCraft universes.

They are not the only ones fighting demons, and that's ok.
Rip and tear!

I still have memories of playing Hellgate. It was a jank but different.
Spellcross - fighting hordes of fantasy beings with modern equipment.
Portals open on Earth, human armies are demolished, resistance forms and leads a successful war – business as usual.

The idea of a modern army fighting medieval and fantastic enemies has a very strong fantasy. Who doesn't wonder how a modern military would fare against orcs, zombies, dragons, or other mythical creatures?

However, for Stormgate this wouldn't work. The modern equipment brings expectations about its capabilities, and those are restrictive to responsive unit control and how wide the design space is for human units. Moving more into the future, as Stormgate does, loosens these restrictions and player expectations as things can be explained by future tech.

One danger of moving into the future is that you might start to lose this exceptionally powerful fantasy of human armies fighting aliens, or demons in this case, in a familiar setting and with familiar tools.
UFO: Enemy Unknown – The game heavily uses familiar settings of farms, forests and cities where you fight aliens.
It also heavily leans on traditional UFO tropes such as little gray men or a Mars base. These are very powerful tropes the game leans onto.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown – The new game reenacts the original setting and follows this strong fantasy.
This is where XCOM2 stumbles a bit. You are often placed in sterile and unfamiliar cityscapes of future Earth. And for a good part of the game, you will be fighting very human-looking enemies. The fantasy is significantly weakened and doesn't excite the player's imagination in the same way.

Why am I going over this? Looking at the next screenshot I get no feeling that humans are fighting demons. There are some guns, but the mechs and ships look completely alien. Only those few soldiers would indicate that you might be looking at humans.

It might as well be Novus units from Universe At War that came to the Earth to help humans.

Novus alien faction from Universe At War

StarCraft II managed to depict human tech in a familiar way despite being thousands of years into the future. A tank is a tank, a Marine is a marine, a Viking is an air-superiority fighter. I hope Stormgate will manage to capture the fantasy of fighting fantastic hordes with what feels like a human army. It's a very powerful fantasy.


The environment looks great. Units are easily recognizable, and the clarity looks good. I like this low-fi aesthetic. With some polish and finding its own unique style, I think the game will look great in the end.

Very nice lighting. I wonder if they would use Lumen in-game, it's probably an overkill outside cutscenes.
Great environment. My first guess is that those are Murlock marines, and not humans, fighting some demons.


It looks like a fanart. That's totally fine for concept art but not ideal as promotional material.
Stormgate — D.Va from Overwatch.
They are similar, but I don't mind taking unit designs from other universes.
I have different issues with the mech design as stated before.
These concepts are pretty cool. And they actually look like a human tech.
These are ok but I would have a hard time picking them from dozens similar on steam.
To me these represent a stronger and clearer visual design.

I had to do this one

I hope I didn't sound too unreasonable or critical in this post. It's early art and a lot of things will change. Hopefully, some of my feedback was useful.

I'm still very excited about the game and looking forward to more news and interviews. Check out the game website, go to r/Stormgate, and wishlist the game on steam – it will be free-to-play, so why not. Here are some other links to check out:

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