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What are the differences between BAR and Zero-K?

Zero-K and BAR share their roots, they both forked from Balanced Annihilation, BAR in february 2019, Zero-K in 2007.

If you have played both of these games you surely have noticed a lot of similarities. Both games run on the same open source engine - Recoil, they share maps, many widgets and even some unit models. Zero-K being an older sibling to BAR holds a sizeable and well established player-base and can be downloaded through Steam. It has a nice single-player campaign and few interesting multiplayer options like coop missions, planet wars and matchmaking.

BAR is currently in development (Alpha state) slowly but steadily building an active player-base (many players chose to play both of these titles too). BAR also aims to hit Steam, with a fully-fledged single player campaign and other cool game modes to enjoy.

So what are the main differences in gameplay between these two? Both games share the roots that go as far down as the original Total Annihilation. However, they took quite different approaches while evolving throughout the years, making different design decisions.

In short: Zero-K has diverged from some of the core mechanics of TA bringing in many fun ways to play while BAR has stayed closer to the source material. The most notable differences are:

  • In BAR the economies of teammates are kept mostly separate (except for overflowing surplus resources), while Zero-K shares the income from metal extractors equally to members of the team
  • BAR has the exponentially scaling metal maker economy of TA and Supcom. Zero-K has a system called overdrive that allows for energy to metal conversion while keeping territory economically relevant throughout the entire game
  • Zero-K aims to have units be smart enough to control at a general level with commands such as 'Shoot this enemy but keep your distance' while BAR relies more on player doing most of the microing himself
  • Zero-K in general introduces a range of new mechanics such as upgradable commanders, jumpjets and extensive terrain manipulation. BAR hews closer to TA, although we are working on some features like upgradable commanders available through special game modes
  • BAR has more of an emphasis on managing the details of your economy than Zero-K. Stalling hurts more and resources are spent at varying ratios in BAR to promote economic mastery and create various exploitable openings. Zero-K has friendlier numbers and consistent spending rates to put more of an emphasis on the rest of the game
  • BAR has tech levels and factions similar to TA and Supcom, whereas Zero-K treats factories like 'mini-factions' and makes them all available at the start of the game. BAR has twenty factories split across two factions and tech levels, while Zero-K has eleven. Both games have T3 experimental units and superweapons

All in all, there are definitely things to love and dislike in both these titles depending on personal preference. We encourage to check Zero-K as well if you havent already and if you are coming here from the Zero-K community please make yourself at home :) There are many skills that translate very well between these two and you will definitely quickly get a grip of them. We have prepared some useful tips for beginners coming from games of the same genre in this post. Enjoy!

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