Out of a pandemic and into the apocalypse, Dustwind – The Last Resort is an action RTS that’s going to have you scratch and claw your way through warring factions, plungers, and more bleak outlooks than you can chase Mad Max with.
Originally released on PC in 2017 as Dustwind, this real-time tactics/team deathmatch title has seen some improvements over the years, including a single-player mode and now further changes in its port to consoles. Similar to Fallout Tactics in tone and theme this apocalyptic RTS is an isometric sandbox of toys where you can pause and plan your strategy step by step or run around like a headless chicken and shoot everything, the choice is yours!
The established game (Skirmish mode) provides a detailed attacking system that goes as far as letting you focus on specific body parts and it goes hand in hand with its quickfire missions where the goal is simple – choose a team of 4 rugged mercenaries with varying guns and stats that best fits the mission and defeat the enemy post haste. Scoping out an area before cleaning out the entire area with your team, is satisfying and feels like a polished formula – if not a bit rough around the edges in its actualization. It is, however, highly accessible and is appealing in bite-sized chunks.
The tutorial, strangely, is keen to introduce overpowered deaths and amusing quips in short minute-long missions as if its trying to sell you something completely different to what’s actually on offer. The truth is laid bare following said tutorial though as a series of disappointments each worse than the last begin to show themselves.
The joy of the skirmish mode missions (which includes 6 modes such Last Team Standing, Team Deathmatch, Free For All and Capture the Gas) comes to an abrupt halt with a Campaign mode that abandons the pick-up-and-play format completely and awkwardly attempts to fit the gameplay system into slow RPG progression and poor storytelling. This forces the gameplay and controls – which were already teetering on the edge – over the cliff of playability, producing boringly narrow missions and sluggish gameplay.
There’s also no avoiding the 2nd, but still post apocalyptic-sized, elephant in the room – its visuals – which despite using the Unity engine make it look like it could run on your 10-year-old low-spec PC with all the graphics settings turned down. Poor graphics are far from a reason to discount a game entirely of course, but what can are the long loading screens for small maps filled with few enemies and a poor frame rate.
Despite all this, the biggest transgression this port makes is the number of glaring omissions from the PC version. You might think that online multiplayer would be the first and most obvious inclusion considering it’s been the main feature of the PC version ever since it launched, but you would be wrong – it hasn’t even been included at all! Offline single-player-only is a slightly bizarre choice when it shuts out the option of playing other players across multiple consoles and expanding the game as a whole, but what even of the map editor that features in the original version? That might make for some fun times when all by your lonesome? Wrong! Out the window with that, you, the screaming baby and the bathwater.
As is almost always the case for a PC port the controls are a bit of a mess, with way too many features forced to fit the PS4 controller to make sense. The rigid and jerky movement of the characters suit a point-and-click control system down to a tee, but with a joystick the poor animation and lackluster attacks make it feel like a stop-motion movie with stickmen wailing away at each other with almost zero feedback. Knowing that you’ve got a long road of grinding ahead of you makes it that much less appetizing. Moving the map, an essential part of the entire experience, can also only be accessed and adjusted in the start menu rather than during the action like on PC, slowing down the action even further.
It takes cajones changing the entire make-up of a game and for that, credit where credit is due, but this title should have further developed the decent deathmatch formula instead of stripping down its best parts and offering it for the same price.
Dustwind – The Last Resort has all the trappings of an enjoyable RTS if you consider fewer features, poor controls and a boring single-player mode but minor issues. While I am unable to confirm whether this lazy port runs better via backward compatibility or not on the PS5, its barely worth your consideration as your money is far better spent on the superior PC version, and as such the console version should only be chosen as – you guessed it – the last resort.