Monday, 30 May 2016 00:00

Galaxy Combat Wargames Early Access Review

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Galaxy Combat Wargames is a fun head-to-head space-based shooter.

In my brief experience, it is a tightly built game that has a lot of potential. Its intuitive controls were easy to pick up, and the bots I was able to fight in the demo had the same abilities I had. The symmetry definitely means that skill will be the primary thing determining the winner in a match, assuming equivalent equipment levels. A nice touch, all things considered.

The aesthetics are fun and cute with music that didn't distract or annoy. The background is lovely, but a bit bland - perhaps space is the final frontier of graphics and design? As it is still in beta, I will give the devs the benefit of the doubt and hope for a little more...something as development progresses. We will see!

The small pilots only really have one character trait: competitiveness.

It's the basic driving force of any sort of storyline (not that there is one). Don't get me wrong - I didn’t get a feeling that there would be a compelling narrative by any means, so it wasn't missed at all. What does make up for that is shooting down a ship; the enemy pilot is visibly distressed while yours does a little victory dance. So much fun!

The ships are an integral part of the game. Each ship has a machine gun and a homing missile launcher. The gun can fire until it overheats, and the missiles will infinitely reload (though there was somewhat of a delay between shots). These can be upgraded with coins that you receive for each win, but the upgrades didn’t have much variety at this time. I’m all for spray and pray, but it probably would have been nice to have some other options for guns. Similarly, the secondary weapon upgrades evolved slowly from a small homing missile (that can be dodged) to a slightly bigger homing missile (that can be dodged just as easily). It would have been nice to have a missile that tears right through forcefields or a faster-moving torpedo that doesn’t have the ability to lock onto an enemy, but perhaps something of more substance is in the works. There may have been more variety than I saw from fighting bots, but coins came in at such a trickle that I only got a couple of upgrades in my short time with Galaxy Combat Wargames.

Both sides also have a few support structures: a drone factory, a forcefield generator, and an HQ. Each provides a benefit; the Drone Factory is the most obviously helpful in my eyes. It regularly cranks out little drones that will fly in front of you and occasionally take a pot shot at the enemy while blocking fire. The forcefield creates a wall that you can hide behind, or possibly bait a missile into hitting - it isn’t invulnerable though, and will eventually need to recharge if you are using it to soak up enemy fire for extended periods. The HQ remains an enigma to me; I can’t say I know what it’s supposed to do at all. If I were to play for an extended period it may become obvious, but in most cases an aggressive attack against your opponent’s ship is the most efficient way to win, rendering the HQ useless at this time.

The equipment felt a bit too linear.

When I could afford a new piece of equipment, there was absolutely no reason to turn it down. I’ve never encountered a situation where fewer bullets that do less damage would be desired in a main gun. I hope that the final product includes a bit more variety. A shotgun with some spread but no rapid fire, a laser that shoots a continuous ray but which overheats quickly, or a high damage single shot gun could really mix up the gameplay. I’d love to be able to equip different support structures as well. I often found myself cursing my own forcefield or even hiding behind my enemy’s as the forcefields do not discriminate. A weaker forcefield that I could shoot through would be a nice upgrade. On the other hand, flooding the shop with strange and unique weapons could actually make the game substantially more complex and less symmetrical. The weapons may have had distinct differences that I missed, but to me they didn’t seem to have any major differences.

The Verdict

Overall, despite my concerns I did enjoy my time with the people of Planet Dionos. The gameplay is simple, but I expect that a lot of mind games and dodging will be involved in the finished product when it is a battle between two people. My biggest fear is that I’ve seen the whole game already, but hopefully what I’ve seen in the beta is just the core gameplay. This game could sink or swim, but I hope a thriving community grows around it. I see a distinct possibility for greatness here, and I hope that the Wargames turn into something quite special.

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