At PAX East 2014, I had the opportunity to get some game time with Petroglyph’s Grey Goo. The real-time strategy title feels familiar yet different, as the team has clearly spent significant time streamlining and improving systems found in traditional RTS games.

Players choose to play as one of three races each game - nothing unusual there. However, the three race options are actually built around typical RTS playstyles. The Humans are the “turtle” that builds strong defenses and a massive base, the Betas are a versatile mix that can rush or defend, and the third race is the rush/aggressor archetype.

It’s pretty interesting to know what your opponent’s likely path to victory is before the game even begins, and it’s nice to be able to select a race that suits your personal playstyle preference. As a turtle-style player myself, I found the excellent defensive capabilities of the Humans to my liking. They don’t have much in the way of base mobility, but their defense is designed to handle anything.

Hotkeys have been mapped with hand-position and fast-gameplay in mind. QWER are the go-to buttons for fast production and unit-building. The hotkeys feel natural and allow players that lack the micromanagement skills needed in RTS to jump right in and use intuitive keypresses they know from other games.

The gameplay is fast and everything feels polished. There’s a large selection of units to pick from including infantry, tanks, artillery, and air. Forests located on the game maps provide a tactical fog-of-war - Aerial units flying overhead can’t see what the trees are hiding, so these positions are amazing for setting up ambushes.

We don’t see too many RTS games these days and Grey Goo looks like it might be an exciting option for lovers of the genre.