“Star Conflict” can most easily be described as “‘EVE Online’ had an affair with ‘World of Tanks,’ and the baby grew up to be an attractive-but-shallow teenager who squandered his youth on revelry and lecherousness, eventually burning out and drunkenly driving off a bridge before landing in rehab.”
Those words are being used across the internet whenever the game is discussed. Verbatim. Free-to-play games that get released out of nothing onto Steam have a habit of striking huge crowds for a few days and settling into a stable-but-considerably-smaller player-base, staying afloat on the bloated flippers of micro-transactions. This is like aspiring to be the best lint trap cleaning expert. Not exactly a lofty goal, but it excels in its own niche.
As Multiplayer PvP MMO-kinda Games go, it’ll do. This sort of game has a formula, and “Star Conflict” follows it rigidly. Small upgrades and slight alterations to each step up the tech tree. Ship and equipment names that don’t change beyond adding a different letter or number. Hercules, Hercules 2, Hercules Arrow, Railguns Mk. I, Railguns Mk. II and so forth. This is common enough in eastern games, and even more so in science-fiction ones.
“Star Conflict” has learned a lot from both of its “proud” parents, “World of Tanks” and “EVE Online.” Seeing familiar elements such as Kinetic, Thermal and Electromagnetic damage; variable resistances; lock-on timers; effective and optimum ranges, and so on evoked only a smile, as really, what do you expect? The finest space-based MMO has a lot to teach, even if some of its students only manage to pick up the most basic lessons about balance and combat dynamics. The tiers of ships, equipment and faction-based unlocking seem to have been stolen from “World of Tanks,” but again, if you’re going to learn, learn from the best. WoT is doing something right, apparently.
Don’t get me wrong, its beautiful and immediately satisfying. It just lacks real depth, competitively and casually. Turning on three different offensive modules to maximize rate of fire and damage output before unloading lasers into the enemy until they overheat feels pretty good.
The obviousness and somewhat generic nature of both the ships’ design and the general aesthetic gets offset a bit by how well-implemented it is. The game looks sharp and runs incredibly. Although space games don’t exactly have a lot to render, it’s certainly pretty. It’s no revolutionary science fiction art, but it does the generic cool-spaceship-with-lasers as well as I’ve ever seen.
There’s certainly more fluxuations and interesting gameplay going on here than your average free-to-play arena MMO. The customization and mechanical differences between flying an interceptor and flying a larger drone frigate are just significant enough to be engaging, but ultimately that small.
Even the default game modes are more creative than Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, etc. Having a hangar of three ships that are distinct and customizable, but also can serve as the three lives afforded to each player.
“Neat.” That’s the word for it. That is a pretty neat method of implementing the metagame. There’s a half-dozen-odd ways to play against or with one another, and that provides enough variety to keep things interesting.