Space combat weekend

March 27, 2011

This weekend my MMO gaming was pretty much focused on space combat  – Black Prophecy, Star Trek Online and Battlestar Galactica Online.  The “pretty much” part comes from that not all combat in Star Trek Online was in space ;)

Actually a large part of the playtime was with Black Prophecy – the game had now released (in Europe) since I last played it and all characters had been wiped, so it was time to start again. This I did not mind at all – the prologue that you go through at least once with a character is a great introduction to the universe and setting of Black Prophecy.

For our North American friends the game has just got into closed beta – not sure how they handle Asia and Australia and other parts of the world.

The game is very much about fast-paced space combat – both PvE and PvP. The whole prologue and thus the first 5-6 levels are just PvE and after that one can choose to PvP och PvE – there are missions for both, or one can simply jump into any shared area to fight with and against any players there.

Each faction (Genides or Tyi) have their own style on the ships, but for both the same basic construction rules of the ships apply.

A ship has a number of components such as engines, cockpit, weapons, wings etc. Each can be upgraded and improved, but to what extent depends on where a player allocates skill points. Each level gained gives a couple of skill points which one can apply in different areas – this affects the level of the equipment that can be used for that particular area. There are far more skill areas than skill points for each level, so a player needs to decide what areas should be important for him/her and focus a bit more on those.

Different ship slots can have different level of items, depending on where skill points have been assigned.

Thus one can adjust how the ship will work and behave depending on choices made here. For weapons there are three general weapon types:

  1. Energy weapons
  2. Explosive weapons
  3. Mechanical weapons

Energy weapons first need to deal damage to any shield present, then can do damage to the actual hull. Explosive weapons bypass shields entirely, while mechanical weapons damage will be reduced by a shields density.

Different weapons have different speeds to reach their targets also – shooting a missile will have somewhat slow speed, while  particle beam will hit instantly. High damage weapons tend to overheat quicker, which means  they cannot be fired as often. DIfferent weapons will also have different firing frequencies and ranges – some weapons are good and close range, other at long range etc.

Each of the three weapon types have a number of different choices, but all a using the same skill points within that type. This means one can combine various weapons as it suits ones combat style. It is recommended to focus on one of the three overall weapon types, since there is not enough skill points to spread them out too much.

Ship items can either be gained as loot from fights (PvE), as mission rewards, from vendor or can be crafted by players. The crafted ones are the best ones it seems. To craft an item one needs a blueprint and enough pieces to construct the item from. These pieces can be gained from loot or bought from vendors.

In addition to crafting new items, one can also apply modifiers to existing equipment, which improves some aspect of the equipment. DIfferent items have different number of slots available for modification.

While crafting seems to be a reasonably quick procedure, applying modifiers takes a very long time by default – 25 minutes. And you cannot do anything else during that time (except chat). The time can be reduced through items in the game’s item shop though – one area I guess they plan to get some money from players; at least those that are very keen on having top notch equipment at any given time.

A bunch of Jadd Baran enemies

After the prologue the story focused missions seems to pretty much stop – I am sure there will be more later, but most of the missions picked up after the prologue are of a more generic type.

But there are a number of different flavours of these missions (pure fight, rescue, patrol, escort, undercover etc) and as new sectors open up every few levels there seem to be new flavours added. For some of the mission flavours there are also varations within, so picking the same mission flavour again may play out slightly different from the previous time.

Missions also come in team and solo flavours, as well as PvP and PvE.

One other things which sounds interesting, but which I have not looked into yet is the clan system. People who join together in clans are able to set up and build their own space stations – with various facilities available for the clan, as well as public access (if the clan so desires). I am certainly intersted in seeing more how that works out.

While the missions that are provided are pretty fun, I hope there will be some more story-focused missions picking up the story from what was set through the prologue. The combat is really fun and the com channel chat and voice over from both hostiles and allies adds to the atmosphere. But I also hope to see more of the story.

NPC com channel chat

Since I mentioned Star Trek Online and Battlestar Galactica Online in the beginning of this post I should probably have written a bit more about them also. But I think that will have to wait for another post. In Star Trek Online I continued playing some Romulan-related missions and quite enjoyed those. That is how my play time pretty much works in STO – I log in and play through a story arc and then I am done for that session. This weekend I had two sessions and thus two story arcs completed.

As for Battlestar Galactica Online – I played a bit on the Cylon side – I had forgotten the password for the account I already had, and the request for a new password through email never came, so I created a new one instead and started over. I will probably write a bit more about this one once I get to play a bit more and on both sides. Right now my feelings about this one is a bit mixed, but it is also still a beta. There is a lot of potential here I think though and I am curious in general on browser MMOs (with interesting themes).

Battlestar Galactica Online

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