This ‘photorealistic’ RTS about ants is the second RTS about ants to be based on a 1991 French novel about ants

When I saw that someone was making an RTS about ants, I figured the inspiration for it was just, you know, ants. They’re neat. But I was wrong: It’s actually based on a French science fiction novel about ants, and this is the second time that publisher Microids has based an RTS on the book.

Upcoming RTS Empire of the Ants is based on the 1991 novel Les Fourmis by Bernard Werber, which was published in English under the title Empire of the Ants. And back in 2000, Microids also published a game based on the book, also called Empire of the Ants—it’s on GOG.

Clearly I need to brush up on the speculative fiction and real-time strategy games of France, because I hadn’t heard of any of this, despite Werber’s ant books apparently being very popular. He wrote two sequels, The Day of the Ants and The Revolution of the Ants.

Microids’ big talking point for the new Empire of the Ants game is its “photorealistic” graphics, but it’s curious how, even when the aim is photorealism, an engine’s distinctiveness still shows through. To me, rather than photorealistic, Empire of the Ants looks exactly like an Unreal Engine 5 game that’s trying to be photorealistic. 

It does look very good, though—some great ant translucency in there. 

As for what we’ll do in Empire of the Ants, we don’t see much in the latest trailer, but according to the publisher we’ll “play as the Ant Savior, whose mission is to lead its ‘people’ and rebuild a home, protect them, make them prosper and conquer new territories through different seasons.” 

Doing all that will involve exploration, diplomacy (there’s a “local wildlife alliance”), and “tactical and strategic battles.” I guess I’d probably know all this if I’d read the book.

Empire of the Ants is releasing for consoles and PC—it’s got a Steam page—sometime this year, and I plan to learn more about it at GDC next week.

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