Thursday, May 16, 2019

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw (part two)

It's a classic beginning: a ship that's one step above a garbage scow, mysterious circumstances, a nemesis, an old friend who offers to help if you'll do him a favor.

Nah, to hell with all that.

I'll play through the story when the game is released. Instead, I wanted to find out what the game was like if I ignored the story. Could I just make a living as a mercenary? Would it be fun?

Yes, on both counts.

Here's the basic gameplay loop if you want to freelance. Every space station has a mission terminal, like a help wanted board, and it offers various missions. They're rated for difficulty, so it helps you avoid certain death (most of the time), but the riskier missions offer much bigger paydays.

You might ferry cargo, or clear a minefield, or patrol, or escort, or defend a freighter under attack, or spy on an outpost. That's only a sampling of the mission types, and they're quite varied. You can also get a mining laser and go space mining on your own.

That sounds pretty contained, right? A defined set of mission types. Flying from system to system. Making money.

Well, yes and no.

Shit can go sideways in a hurry. Maybe you spot a distress beacon on your way to a mission and decide to help out. Maybe hostiles intercept you on the way to the mission. Maybe you spot a bounty along the way and decide to have a go. Maybe you arrive at a mission, feel like you're in control, and then an unexpected wave of hostile craft arrive.

Even better, you can feel like you're in control and it can turn in seconds. Situations can get very, very hot, and I mean that in the best way. You've got shields on three sides depleting, you're trying to track a target and deliver the killing blow, your systems A.I. is methodically reciting all the things that are breaking on your ship, you've got someone calling for help over the comms system...

It gets wild.

That's one of the great things about this game: it's not controllable. You don't control situations--you manage them. That's the difference in a passably interesting game and a great one.

There are times when you need to hit the afterburners and just get the hell out. Your ability to assess a situation is every bit as important (maybe more so) than your joystick jockey skills. That's as it should be, because you're a private contractor, not Luke Skywalker.

Maybe the story makes you more heroic, but I like it this way. I like being a space jamoke who's just trying to get along and pay the bills.

There's entertainment, too. There's a terrific assortment of radio stations, and lots of entertainment at the station bars, including video games and pool (pool is so much fun).

You're just living your life in space, man.

Oh, and the explosions. This game has my favorite explosions of all time (surpassing even the Just Cause series). Ships exploding nearby give you teeth-rattling force feedback that is perfectly matched to the visuals in front of you. It is unbelievably impressive. 

It's all unbelievably impressive, really. It's a tour de force of both game design and implementation, and it's incredibly fun.

I'll let you know if I hear anything about the release date, but I don't think it's that far away. Within six months certainly, and maybe within three. It's very polished already.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to see a man about a ship. 

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