Preview: Void Destroyer 2 - A most promising title
I have long been a fan of space sim games. My love for the genre started way back with David Braben’s Elite and was then followed by its sequel Frontier: Elite 2. Later I played Freelancer and the X series, all of which kept me entertained for countless amounts of hours.
With Chris Robert’s Star Citizen remaining without a release date, I’ve been looking for a new title in this genre that few developers dare to delve into. This week developer Iteration 11 gave me the opportunity to play and preview their Steam Early Access Space Sim title Void Destroyer 2.
Void Destroyer 2 is a sandbox space combat sim and RTS hybrid currently in development by Iteration 11. It is scheduled to release on Steam Early Access September 22nd, 2016. The developer hopes to fully release the title in 2017. While it is in a pre-alpha stage of development, Void Destroyer 2 has enough content to keep you busy for some time.
Who will you be and what will you do?
You take on the role of a Stub. Stubs are a form of cyborg. They all suffer from amnesia, resulting in them having no memories or identities. After a brief testing exercise, a mysterious figure contacts you, expressing how impressed they are with you.
From here, it's up to you as to what you do. You can follow up on the mysterious figure or simply go out and take your own path in life. Will you become a mercenary or trader? Maybe you will start a career as a miner. Perhaps you will build an empire or fleet.
While there is a plot to be found with Void Destroyer 2 the main aspect of the game is to do whatever you want. Of what I have experienced of the plot, there is a war going on and you are supposed to be a part of it. Aside from that, I know little about it, but it has a promising start, unlike the X series.
At this point in the games development, expanding and building is more an objective than plot. You start with a ship that is barely ready for combat but can earn credits to buy new and better ships. Once you get a new ship, the game starts to open up to you.
Limited content but enough to get your empire started
The amount of activities and content open to the player is rather limited at this point in time. What is there, however, is more than enough to get you started. There are plenty of ships of all classes to buy. The classes include Repairs, Fighter, Miner, Frigate, and Destroyer.
The only activity that is available at the start is to embark on missions. Different stations offer various forms of missions. For example, a trading station will offer escort or courier missions while military outposts will offer scout and destroy missions.
Missions have a Novice difficulty level, to begin with. In these missions, generally, you will come across minimal hostiles. As you build a reputation with the faction, higher difficulty missions become available for higher pay. The higher difficulties like Competent really start throwing a challenge at you.
For those missions, you will want at least a few good fighting ships in your fleet to avoid absolute slaughter. The variety of missions may be limited but the difficulties always give you something to aim for. It sets you on your own personal journey of improvement for better rewards.
Trading and mining are only available to you once you buy a transport or mining ship. Alternatively, you can hire miners and transports if you wish while saving for your own. All ships can be upgraded with active and secondary upgrades, such as defense turrets and skyboxes to change the view.
Like other aspects of the game, the total upgrades are limited but are still enough to get started and have fun.
The beginning of the game is really well done. I’ve spent about eight or nine hours playing Void Destroyer 2 so far and already I have a number of ships in my fleet. You get started pretty quickly, unlike in the X series, where you must trade for hours before getting anywhere.
Once you have the hang of the game and figure out where to go, you could be in a new ship within one or two hours. It gives the player progression without a lengthy grind that a lot of games in the genre are known for.
Relatively polished gameplay
The general gameplay consists of three mechanics. The first is where you control the ship for docking and combat. Docking is very easy. You simply have to fly to the station where the green arrows are showing. You don’t have to worry about flying in crooked or at a specific angle.
When it comes to combat, the game starts off with throwing the occasional single enemy ship at you. As you progress you begin to encounter larger groups of enemies. At present, I have only experienced three methods of defending yourself.
The first is the primary fire. It shoots a long burst of fire that varies between ships. It then takes a second or two to recharge before being able to fire again. The secondary fire is a more powerful attack that requires a few seconds to charge before firing. It too varies with each ship.
The third method is a defence turret. They are a form of upgrade that automatically fires at hostile ships. The enemy tracking and hit detection is spot on with the primary fire. The controls and movement of the ships are also really good.
The secondary fire, however, is where a problem lies. At present, I find its hit detection random. Sometimes it hits other times it doesn’t. Aside from that, the combat is great fun and easy to get the hang of.
The second mechanic is the tactical menu (pictured above). Here is where you command all the ships in your fleet similar to that of an RTS game. You can send them to different destinations and get them to follow you into battle. While in battle you can instruct them to attack targets or even hold the position until needed. To make things easier you can slow down time while planning.
While it does exactly as it is intended it is can be an overwhelming interface, particularly for those not used to using such mechanics. I feel it is something that needs to be looked into throughout development.
The third mechanic is the overworld screen (pictured below). You use this screen for travelling longer distances. It shows all the locations you have currently discovered, any ships within your vicinity, along with nearby distress signals.
The distress signals can sometimes be traps of pirates looking to lure ships in.
The overworld map is easy to use and perfectly functional but its early stage of development does show. It is great for exploring your immediate area but not for returning to locations a long distance from you. It can be hard to find locations that are far from your current location.
Despite the issues mentioned, the gameplay overall is well-balanced, fun and extremely playable. Throughout my time spent with the game, I never found the issues having an impact on how much I am enjoying myself.
A most promising title
It takes a lot to gain my trust when it comes to a developer of a game. As far as Void Destroyer 2 goes, I have faith in Iteration 11 delivering when it comes to this title. They know how to work with Early Access as they did with the original game.
Indeed, Void Destroyer 2 is in a very early stage of development but it is perfectly playable and enjoyable right now. You can start building up your fleet and empire as of today and be ready for new content as it is being developed. It does have its minor issues. The secondary fire being random with hit detection and the tactical and world screens need a bit of work.
Aside from those issues, it is a great game even if limited in content right now. I have enjoyed every minute of my time with it and intend on spending much more over the coming weeks.
Void Destroyer 2 is available to buy on Steam Early Access as of today.
Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this preview.