Fair Weather has been developing the Ancient Frontier series for quite some time, and released the original game last year. It was a far-future turn-based tactical RPG with a heavy sci-fi influence. Anyone who loves Star Trek or Star Wars will get a kick out of the overall look of the game right away - but what set it apart was its gameplay. Using a hexagonal grid formation for combat, you battled enemy ships and forces to explore the vast frontiers of space and help those who need while damaging those who hurt others.


Now, a new entry in the same universe is upon us as Steel Shadows is set for release very soon.  Steel Shadows is a self-contained game - so playing the original isn't required, although doing so will give you a leg-up on the core gameplay mechanics. Now, you're in charge of a band of outlaws as you fight not so much for honor - but for loot and a bit of infamy. Playing as an ex-con definitely places you in some unfamiliar shoes for a gaming protagonist. He's a bit of a rebel with a pirate soul and only cares about making his name feared and his bank account full. There's definitely room for more anti-heroes in gaming - especially in tactical RPGs where the story tends to be window dressing for the core combat.

The use of the hexagonal grid makes it easy to get an idea of where you and your troops are in relation to enemies and also makes it easier to plan in-depth attacks. Some tactical RPGs use a more square-based grid approach or circular, but that can make it tougher to figure out exactly where you can go or attack. Like any major tactical RPG, you'll have a wide variety of missions to undertake. There are 20 story missions within the core campaign, and tell your tale as you battle opposition forces and see things from multiple perspectives. Over 50 side missions are available too, and they are procedurally-generation - so they should be fresh all the time to some degree.


While the core turn-based mechanics will be familiar to tactical RPG fans, you can still add a layer of customization to things by unlocking new skills via a skill tree and revamping your characters as the game goes on. There are three resources to manage in real-time as well, allowing you to go beyond the usual genre norms and throw in a bit of management on top of the usual troop control. There are dozens of weapons to use, and you can tinker with them and see which kind of weapon suites your play style the best.

There is a lot of content packed into Steel Shadow, and more will be coming. Both the Crew and Ancient Frontier and Quest and Events DLC packs will be free of charge after the game's initial release. Steel Shadows launches on December 11 via Steam for Windows, with a planned Linux release shortly thereafter. The devs haven't exactly said when that will be, other than with it being a Unity release, they are planning one shortly - so an early 2019 release seems likely.

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