Killsquad – Bounty Hunters in Space

Is it still a Diablo-like game if it stars space bounty hunters? Probably not, but Killsquad certainly qualifies as a loot-driven action RPG. The latest game from Spanish developer Novarama is a far cry from its most popular series, the family friendly Invizimals.

Killsquad is a sci-fi co-op action game where you can take on contracts solo or in a team of up to four players. Going in by yourself is far from the ideal way to enjoy Killsquad. In fact, it is detrimental to the experience and could give you the wrong impression about the potential of this game. Do yourself a favor and make some friends before playing. You’ll thank me later.

Killsquad Night Two Player Co-op

Bounty Hunters of the Galaxy

In my ill-informed mind, Killsquad was this story-driven co-op game where players would explore new planets and discover exciting new alien species, and blow them to pieces. That much I knew, or so I thought. Reality came knocking and it turns out, Killsquad doesn’t feature a proper campaign, and most likely never will. This is a game about loot and leveling up your hero, paving the way for more challenging and ultimately more rewarding contracts.

After subverting my expectations, for better and for worse, I was able to enjoy Killsquad for what it is; a fast-paced action RPG where loot matters and grinding is key. It may feel light on content during Early Access, but the core mechanics are in place and the wheels are in motion. While the theme couldn’t be more dissimilar, Killsquad feels remarkably close to Pagan Online, right down to the way that enemy waves appear out of thin air. Not my favorite mechanic, I must confess.

Killsquad features four space bounty hunters for you to choose from: Troy, Kosmo, Cass and Zero. While the selection is sparse, the heroes are diversified enough to suit most playstyles. My favorite of this bad bunch is Zero, a medical combat robot gone haywire. So much for empathy, as it is now a reckless murder machine, using its laser attacks to deal with any creatures. I’m also a fan of its ability to drop a MedPack, making it the perfect healer unit on the battlefield.

Killsquad 2-Player Co-op Zero and Kosmo

On the other hand, if you prefer to get up close and personal, Kosmo may be the right man… er, dead man for that. Wielding a massive sledgehammer, he isn’t afraid to use it to crack some alien skulls. Troy is the gunslinger and natural gambler, shooting his way to better loot. Finally, there’s Cass, the warrior nun, with her sharp sword and invisibility powers.

The grind may be strong with this one, but it’s not entirely unforgiving. You can stick to your favorite hero without second thoughts as you won’t be forced to start from scratch when you want to try the others. The support gear and prototype gear that you purchase from the shop is shared through all your characters, so you’ll swiftly find your brand-new space bounty hunter starting from Vector 31 or so. Weapons, however, are bound to each hero, so this is another aspect entirely.

Vector is the fancy name given to experience levels in Killsquad. This is a calculation based on your current equipment, which includes weapon, support gear and prototype gear. To make it perfectly clear, your overall ranking is the sum of the three gear parts divided by three, in case you find your Vector number not to be an exact reflection of your stats. It took me a while to discover its inner workings.

Killsquad Palace of Pain Co-op

Contracts Make the World Go Round

With no campaign to sink your teeth into, you must pick one contract from the available selection. Contracts rotate in real time and are currently divided in three tiers: Recruit (Vector 1-30), Veteran (Vector 35-90) and Spec Ops (Vector 120-150). There is nothing preventing you from accepting contracts above your pay grade, but don’t get too cocky or you may end up seeing your mission cut short.

Killsquad’s Early Access features 12 contracts spread across three different planets. It’s a skimpy selection that is enhanced with day and night missions, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a game in desperate need for additional content. Luckily, the maps are randomly generated, which means that you’ll face slightly different challenges. Sometimes you’ll struggle to find the right path, especially in The Palace of Pain, with a narrow pathway or two being harder to find than it should. Killsquad doesn’t feature character transparency, so it’s not uncommon to lose track of your hero or an enemy in the heat of battle.

The Palace of Pain is one of the planets filled with riches and bugs of various sizes. It’s not my favorite place, due to the industrial complex design that leaves me somewhat cold, maybe due to the endless steel walkways, or the succession of vast, empty rooms. I much prefer my trips to planet Kemmekh, where the neat sound of crystals shattering is like music to my ears. Planet Wasteland 7A is exactly what is says in the box, a devastated place with traces of a long-destroyed civilization.

Killsquad Wasteland 7A Battle

Apart from the randomized level design, Killsquad’s planets also feature a few neat touches. Environmental hazards are something you must deal with and  they come in different shapes and sizes. You have meteor storms dropping at the worst moments, or laser storms that sweep the screen and everything in their path. Both you and the enemies are affected by these hazards and taking advantage of them in an intelligent way will save you a lot of trouble and health.

Each contract unfolds in a similar manner, as the heroes earn experience up to level 10. In regular intervals you’ll unlock new upgrades, choosing a new skill from a few choices. Steadily you’ll learn the best skills for your playstyle and as soon as you reach level 10, the contract objective is activated. It may consist of destroying a boss, safely escorting a vehicle, protecting an antenna, destroying crystals, and so on. It all boils down to exterminating whatever gets in your way.

While Killsquad is described as featuring “short, adrenaline pumping missions”, these actually run for longer than I was expecting. I would say that your average mission length is around 30 minutes, with some of them going well past that. This isn’t an issue for me, but some players may be more interested in short bursts of gameplay. The addition of a few extra contracts that don’t exceed 10 or 15 minutes would be a welcome addition.

Killsquad Warrior Nun Hero

A Disconcerting Lack of Talking Raccoons

The DNA you collect during the missions is the in-game currency used to purchase a few specific items in the BioSystems Labs shop. If nothing tickles your fancy or you feel confident in your abilities, the acquired DNA will be converted to credits by the end of the mission. These credits will then be used in the main shop, where you gradually purchase better weapons and gear. Things get more expensive as you go, but in general the Vector level of each piece is superior to what you have previously acquired, so it is a good deal. This is the recurrent way for leveling your heroes and confidently taking on better contracts.

There is a secondary shop where you can purchase epic and legendary weapons. These come with significant attributes but also a heavier price. You need to grind additional materials and craft three special types of currencies if you want to lay your greasy fingers on one of those.

With my early game experience being mostly to blame, I had mixed feelings going solo with Killsquad. The pace was trite and the frequent need to destroy stationary mines to earn that little bit of experience made it feel a bit dull. It was an unexciting grind that slowly improved as I became suited for better contracts and more challenging foes.

Killsquad Vehicle Escort Co-op

Still, playing Killsquad alone is wasting the tremendous potential of the game. Playing with one friend is enough to lift the game to other standards, and the four-player mode is certain to raise the chaos and fun factor in equal measure. It gets so frantic at times that the battleground turns into a dazzling light show, and you’re left wondering how you managed to stay alive amidst all that spectacle.

Co-op is where Killsquad absolutely shines, making some of its shortcomings feel inconsequential. I didn’t care that much anymore about the repetitive enemies (30 at the moment), or the small number of environments. I was having fun handing out medkits to my partner, as he unabashedly dived headfirst into the chaotic enemy waves, while I took out the rest of them from a distance. We were having fun and boasting about our newfound abilities to survive in a deadly environment, against all odds.

I can’t fully recommend Killsquad for solo players, but it gets high marks if you plan on playing with a friend. As I said before, this is where the game truly shines. It was purely designed to be enjoyed in co-op and does quite a good job at it, too.

You should have a decent amount of fun in its current state, but Killsquad needs more content; more loot, more heroes, more planets, and more contracts, which it will certainly get in the future. I can only endure so many steel catwalks before I start longing for other, more alluring planets to scavenge. Isn’t there any lush tropical planet in need of a committed and reasonably priced bounty hunter?

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Star Citizen – Flight of Fancy

Star Citizen is the undisputed king of crowdfunded games, an enterprise of galactic proportions that has everything to go horribly wrong. Cloud Imperium Games’ ambitious project boasts an epic scale that makes other far-reaching games look like a tiny speck of dust in comparison. It’s an endless feature creep that still lacks a release date, despite being in development since 2011 and having raised nearly $300 million so far.

Chris Roberts has the creation of the Wing Commander series to his credit, giving him an authority that very few video game designers can brag about. He is clearly passionate about Star Citizen and has an unwavering vision and a grand scope that plays in his advantage, as much as it is encumbering the game’s progress with stories of endless micro-management. Star Citizen is the greatest game that may never see the light of day.

But we are getting closer to… well, something, and the proof of that is the Free Fly event where anyone could try the Star Citizen Alpha 3.5 and see for themselves how this space epic is shaping up. Spoilers: it’s buggy, the system requirements are sky high and clearly there is an irrational amount of work yet to be done, but I’ll be damned if Star Citizen doesn’t make you feel like a space cowboy in the greatest sci-fi universe ever designed for a video game.

If it will ever be finished – as much as any online game can be –, that is another subject entirely.

Star Citizen Preview Ship Exterior

In Space No One Can Hear You Blow Up

Star Citizen stands out from the crowd as soon as you click the shortcut; this is an absolute resource hog that will make Crysis and Doom 3 feel like the most optimized games ever at launch. After several minutes of loading to reach the main menu and several minutes more to deploy at the space station, you suddenly come to the realization that backing this game wasn’t enough – maybe the time has come to upgrade your computer. However, that isn’t enough to hide the fact that Star Citizen needs some serious optimization, or it will be roasted by a community that isn’t solely comprised of players with high spec computers.

The Free Fly Alpha 3.5 offers three different ventures into Star Citizen, and that goes without mentioning the stand-alone star-studded single-player adventure Squadron 42, which is slated to launch in 2020. You can go for the full Universe experience or taste some more immediate action-oriented tidbits via the Star Marine and the Arena Commander modules, with the former for first-person shooter gameplay and the latter for epic space dogfights or races.

Star Marine is the module to go if competitive shooters are your thing. It’s intense and visually impressive, with little touches like your heart rate playing an important part – let’s call it stamina –, but you’ve played many shooters before that feel similar. It’s a solid effort that for now offers a scant selection of game modes, Elimination (free-for-all where the player with the highest kill count wins) and Last Stand (battle for control points). Up to 24 players may enter the arena and you can customize your loadout with weapons, armor and utility items such as MedPens and grenades.

Star Citizen Preview Star Marine Last Stand

Arena Commander offers a similar approach to Star Marine but takes the fight to deep space. This is more uncommon, as there aren’t many games with the looks and sheer maneuverability of Star Citizen’s ships. You will not only be impressed by the amazing views, but the exhilarating dogfighting also comes out strongly commended, shooting other ships while carefully dodging asteroids. It takes a deep knowledge of each ship’s strengths and failings to make the best of every situation, but this obviously is a task that takes a fair length of time.

There is more to Arena Commander than dogfighting, as you take the seat of your ship and race other players through the gigantic rings of a space station, with a beautiful forest on the surface of the planet. Or you can relish on the delights of leisure flight, going to space stations and purely enjoying your time. But if you are of the truly competitive kind and prefer a Battle Royale mode of sorts, Star Citizen has got you covered. Squadron Battle is team deathmatch at its heart, while Vanduul Swarm and Pirate Swarm are both about holding off enemy onslaughts.

While Star Citizen has this everything-for-everyone approach right off the bat, this is a game that is more than the sum of its parts, at least in theory. The mere thought of a game that mixes elements from its modules with a persistent universe where you can be whoever you want, go where you feel like and act as you want is mouth-watering, thrilling and, quite honestly, hard to believe. Seeing is believing won’t cut it in this case; what Star Citizen has to offer right now may feel ambitious and grand, but promises were made about a magnificent scope that is light years away from its current state.

Star Citizen Preview Character Customization

Lost in Stanton

Star Citizen recently saw the addition of female characters, with the visual quality being sky-high – human eyes are universally acknowledged as one of the most difficult features to faithfully reproduce in video games, but the result here is mind-blowing. I can’t say the same for hair, though, which still seems to be a work-in-progress and is particularly lacking on proper female styles. The DNA system is another new feature and raises the level of a character customization system that is trying something new. Instead of using the classic sliders to adjust every facial feature of your avatar, you choose up to three source heads to combine and slightly adjust their traits in a way that should never return a freaking abomination as an option. No offense, Fallout 4.

And now you ask: why should I bother spending two or three hours creating a stunning face for my space hero if it will be covered by a helmet? Well, because you can remove it in space stations, and your lovely face is visible in some helmets anyway, so your work won’t go to waste. The current iteration of Star Citizen’s character customization doesn’t offer any body customization options, but this is on the to-do list. Just don’t ask us when it will make it into the game, because… well, it’s Star Citizen.

My Free Fly adventure begins as soon as I get up from my bed in Port Olisar, a space station in the Stanton Star System. This place is just a tiny dot in a vast universe, as Cloud Imperium Games promised that 100 unique star systems would make it into the game, and there is a star map to prove it. However, Chris Roberts himself said that players should expect between five to ten star systems with the core mechanics in place, something that sounds more reasonable considering the scope of each one and the amount of time and resources that this endeavor demands from the team.

Star Citizen Preview Shiny Armor

Moving through the space station, I can try on and purchase new Undersuits using the UEC currency. I can’t get anything too fancy, but it’s always nice to change from your base costume. After that I ran to the ship retrieval terminal where I spawn my spacecraft – the Free Fly demo had five on offer, some more suited to combat, others for delivery or racing: Anvil Arrow, MISC Prospector, Drake Cutlass Black, Aegis Avenger Titan and Drake Dragonfly. As soon as your ship reaches the landing pad, make sure to hurry up as you may be occupying valuable space for other players’ ships.

Before heading off to the designed landing pad, it’s important to check your MobiGlas, Star Citizen’s version of Fallout’s Pip-Boy. This device includes vital information for all the needs of a regular space hero, bounty hunter or galaxy courier, whoever you want to be. You can use it to track all your details such as current balance, vitals, atmosphere, suit, vehicle and mission status. But there is much more to it, including managing your equipment, chat with other players, set travel routes or accept contracts. This last one is what makes any Star Citizen adventurer tick, ultimately defining where you need to travel and what type of missions you get to tackle. You can pick some simple delivery jobs, which can go awry at any moment, or you can opt for maintenance, bounty hunter or mercenary contracts.

I didn’t have much luck with my first contract, which consisted in picking up a package from an outpost on Cellin and delivering it to an aid shelter on the same planet. But it wasn’t a matter of space pirates, fuel usage miscalculation or poor piloting skills; no, it was a bug of interplanetary proportions that reared its ugly face in the shape of a non-existing package. How am I expected to deliver something that isn’t available in the precise place where I was told to pick it up?

As it turns out, this is a bug that was previously reported and still needs fixing. Star Citizen has bugs, who would have thought? But it gets worse, with planet surfaces or space stations that fail to render, ships that explode out of nowhere, landings that will give you severe headaches, random crashes… the galaxy is dark and full of bugs.

Star Citizen Preview ArcCorp Arrival

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Boarding Your Ship

Much has been said before about Star Citizen’s ships, not all of it praiseworthy. Before jumping into the controversial details I’ll take a quick ride through some of the details and highpoints of these ambitious spacecrafts.

Ships come in all shapes and sizes, often turning a simple task such as entering and getting to the pilot seat into an adventure. You must discover where the ship door is, if there is a ladder to activate, whatever possible means are there to get on board. It’s not an obvious task at first but you’ll soon get the hang of it as you become acquainted with each ship. Once inside, you have a few accommodations at your disposal, usually including a bed which is said to serve as a safe log off/log in feature, but this mechanic seems to be broken at the moment.

Larger ships have one-man turrets, vast cargo space, co-pilot seats and more. When you’re finally seated at the cockpit, your jaw may eventually drop as you look at several fully-functioning displays and feel flabbergasted at what you’re experiencing. It’s a mix of awe and concern, but far from the complex, unintelligible design that the first impression may let on. You only need to find the switches for the basic functions such as powering up the ship, turning the engine on and you should be clear for takeoff.

Star Citizen is a hot topic when it comes to its spacecraft and the asking prices for some of them, with many ships costing over $100 and a few select spacecraft retailing for more than $1,000. While this may sound bonkers and a huge leap of faith for some backers, I absolutely respect the amount of work and character that goes into each ship. It’s a colossal endeavor in some cases, and it feels acceptable if you have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket and absolute faith in the vision driving Star Citizen. It’s a trophy for backers to proudly display and it’s far from your traditional overpriced piece of armor, or perhaps your useless set of horse armor. It’s a matter of how much you’re willing to spend on Star Citizen and your confidence in the future of the project.

Star Citizen Preview Drake Cutlass Black Ship

Ship insurance is another controversial subject, as you must pay an in-game fee in order to avoid losing your ship for good – that surely won’t be fun if you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on it. While a few initial backers were rewarded with lifetime insurance, the most likely scenario is that you’ll have to pay a regular fee to get a replacement ship in case it is destroyed – and believe me, it will, either by mistake, space pirates, planetary storms, unfriendly players, fuel loss and other hazards. During the alpha there was no insurance fee, but when it comes into play it will surely make quite some noise, and probably not the good kind.

It’s impossible to go places in a single star system such as Stanton without resorting to Quantum Travel. This is how you navigate the vast space between each planet or outpost, and even a Quantum Jump may take several minutes, as you’ll realize when you decide to travel to ArcCorp, an impressive new planet mostly covered by man-made structures. Quantum Travel is a simple matter of finding your destination on your MobiGlas, setting up the route (and checking if you have enough fuel for the entire ride) and align your markers with the jump location. After spooling you should see your ship bending space and time as it travels to the destination. It’s a simple process that you’ll have to resort very often.

Star Citizen looks stunning and is brimming with details, a lot of them not entirely obvious at first glance. A simple task such as landing on ArcCorp becomes a challenge when you failed to realize that you need to access your MobiGlas and request landing permission to the ArcCorp Landing Services. You’ll then be assigned a landing pad which you may or may not have a hard time finding, carefully avoiding the deluge of invisible walls on this planet. After a tricky landing you are finally able to explore the area, travel to other regions using the tram and fulfill some of your contracts. ArcCorp surely is a wonderful sight from the skies, but it is also a clear indication of the unmeasured ambition that fuels Star Citizen – most of the buildings will surely be just for show, and it couldn’t be otherwise, as there are dozens of other star systems waiting to be created.

Star Citizen Preview ArcCorp Third Person

I have mixed feelings about Star Citizen. It clearly isn’t a hoax, vaporware or whatever wicked words have been uttered about it. On the other hand, despite a feeling of grandeur, it’s far from the game that it wants to be, even after all these years of development and all those millions in crowdfunding. In a perfect world, Star Citizen would turn out to be the ultimate space epic game, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. What this alpha showed us was that it is a jaw-dropping, feature-rich game that is equally frustrating and buggy.

I have no doubts that Star Citizen is trying to reach for the skies and will probably fall on its face when it launches. Because it will never be “officially released”, it will be stuck in a perpetual state of continuous development, a “game as a service” that will require huge amounts of money and a skilled development team to rise to the inevitable challenges. Star Citizen is No Man’s Sky turned up to eleven, boasting a much larger scope and a lot more controversy stemming from Chris Roberts’ unwavering vision – hopefully with the same happy ending as Hello Games’ once disappointing science-fiction epic.

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The AlterVerse: A Crypto World Building MMO

Games are a creative medium with nearly infinite possibilities and dozens of ways in experiencing them. Every year playing and developing video games becomes more widespread and accessible as tools and systems become not only more affordable, but easier to grasp and understand. Since the early 2000’s developers have been making and sharing their games on websites like RPGMaker.net. One developer, Dog Star VR Studios, is looking to take that a step further and not only give gamers a community universe to explore, but developers the tools and universe to easily create their own aspiring games in. AlterVerse is intended to be just that project, hosted in a community developed multiversal landscape but built on the basis of Blockchain technology.

Blockchain is a term we’ve been hearing off and on in the Games Industry since 2014, but most people simply are unsure what it means, despite having accessed very similar systems for most of their internet careers. First digitally developed by a body known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, Blockchain was then later implemented into popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin, and has since exploded onto the internet as a means of publicly recording and decentralizing transactions. Managed anonymously using peer-to-peer networks and distributed by a time-stamping server and secured cryptographically, Blockchain is used to log data (such as monetary transactions) by independent, self-interested users and managed by the same in a public and transparent manner. Much like a real-world economy this ‘public ledger’ ensures that the digital currency tallied within maintains its value and is open for any interested or invested party to inspect whenever they wish, meaning no one group could alter it for fear of social repercussions. Decentralizing it among a peer-to-peer network and a server means that if the server should ever go down, all its users still have a permanent copy of the data transmitted.

Now this is greatly oversimplifying the concept of Blockchain, and even in several hours of research I myself was not able to entirely wrap my head around so vast a concept. One of my personal colleagues explained the concept to me as, “Imagine a Wikipedia page, where every user’s account is logged when it interacts with a page. That way a community of contributors develops new content for that page, while that same community then verifies the information for accuracy. No one will really want to step out of line unless they want to get ejected from the community for mucking around with the page. No one will be able to muck around with other user’s accounts to make those changes, because it’s all secured thanks to a password only that account’s owner can decrypt!”

Blockchaining was first introduced into gaming in February 2014 with the release of Huntercoin. In this game, players earned a specific in-game currency by competing with each other in card battles. This HunterCoin(HUC) currency could later be exchanged for BitCoin securely due to the game’s inner BlockChain systems, but the game’s success was hampered by a wide exchange of issues. One of the game’s main abilities, Destroy, caused players to detonate like a nuclear warhead, killing players and scattering their HUC for other players to pick up. The game also suffered from a lack of moderation, its chat window open-sourced and rife for abuse and inappropriate content. Even the gameplay itself had fundamental design problems due to the core concepts of Blockchain.

Moving characters became intrinsically painful the more one played Huntercoin; as each individual player was registered on the Game User Interface of every other player, each player was forcibly rendered in real time by the Peer-to-Peer transfer. The biggest hitch of Blockchain decentralization is that only so many calculations can be done every second. Eventually, if you continue to scale your world and the actions done within it, you will hit a limit for what some people in the chain can reasonably render, resulting in massive slowdowns. Without a central server to register player movement and interaction, that burden was then placed on every computer currently playing Huntercoin and then slowed down by weaker members of the chain, resulting in mass slow-downs across the player base that took minutes to move a character just a few spaces forward.

Fast-forward a few years to AlterVerse: Disruption’s appearance on Kickstarter. Having been in development since 2009, the AlterVerse engine was designed to be a building block system for players; an MMORPG that players could develop content for other players to interact with in any genre or vein imaginable. According to our own past coverage creators can inject fully moddable game worlds into the AlterVerse, modifying terrain, jumping between genres and developing strongholds throughout the solar system. It’s clear from the beginning that the intent for AlterVerse is to be a world-built MMO in the most literal sense.

Players can be adventurers, raiding player designed ships and dungeons or developing their own storefronts and businesses in game. Turning each players computer into a P2P server, players host their content as they play reducing problems games such as Huntercoin faced previously in the past while players helm their own village, starship or war-table.

No matter the focus the AlterVerse runs on the Arn, its own form of cryptocurrency generated and mined through in-game activities in the AlterVerse. Players can exchange it much like its own currency, charging other players to access content they develop or barter between others for services. Intended to work on a Subscription model, AlterVerse’s main appeal aside from creating and playing one’s own worlds with the Pro Editor tool is indeed the hunt for Arn and the payout for crypto, as their advertisements look to draw in those looking for additional revenue and business to jump into the Alterverse.

One of several different monetization related adverts for AlterVerse, this one targeted at game asset creators.

AlterVerse would later emerge onto Steam Greenlight, Valve’s Community voting feature prior to its retirement in early 2017. Greenlit, AlterVerse then began beta-testing, allowing users to play an unfinished version of its first content module, AlterVerse: Disruption, as well as demoing the other in-game systems and generating their own world content. AlterVerse: Disruption later emerged onto Kickstater in August of 2018, looking for $3000 USD to finish off the first of nine content modules currently in development for the AlterVerse platform. There the main rewards were exclusive Citizenships, premium accounts that never had to pay their subscription fee which could later bought and sold on AlterVerse’s player-driven market.

Sporting full-fledged avatar creation and development, it appears that Dog Star VR is putting their best foot forward for their first major development project. Right now their main focus is Disruption, their Sci-Fi shooter model toting ship-to-ship dog-fighter combat, death match modes and more throughout its Kickstarter project listing. The scope is certainly concerning, advertising that AlterVerse could host almost any game mode imaginable on the game’s main Twitter page. However, to the game’s credit it may be the first to ever actually do such a thing; with user generated content to pad out its repertoire, Dog Star merely needs to show that engaging story-telling and level design can be done in the game’s somewhat limited engine.

Now aside from what AlterVerse is pushing as a Black Desert-esque, “live your life,” MMORPG, it’s hard to look past the surface positively. When one talks about studios developing multiple games at the same time, even on the same engine, there is bound to be shortcomings across the board between games. In examining AlterVerse’s official art the in-game models and textures are far below the acceptable standard that most players expect from an MMO in the last few years, let alone 2018.

In comparison, even the original models from World of Warcraft, an engine nearly 20 years AlterVerse’s senior, look far superior. With this game boasting Virtual Reality support, its hard to see what would attract players to even assembling a VR headset to enter this low-res world. In making up for poor art direction, Alterverse seems instead to be focusing on a variety of features; examining their Kickstarter page, the developers are attempting to pack in a whopping 29 separate gameplay features, 17 of which most MMO players would consider incredibly basic or fundamental to modern MMOs and only another 7 which others would consider to be extraneous depending on the genre of MMO. However, as AlterVerse is intending to literally cover every possible genre of fantasy its hard not to see why the breadth is potentially far greater than the depth.

Ultimately AlterVerse has a very specific crowd it’s trying to cater to, and its not the traditional MMORPG market in my honest opinion. In assembling its machine, Dog Star VR is really targeting those who want to work on creating their own content primarily while potentially exploring the world enough to economize and develop their horizons in a stiff MMO design. Economists and creators will, in my opinion, get the most out of adventuring in this universe; from maximizing profits on the in-game market to churning out content for other players to explore. In marketing to just this particular group, however, the AlterVerse feels as if it lacks any sense of major identity throughout. While there are screenshots of upcoming content packs there is only predominately advertisements of Disruption, and even then they hardly talk about what Disruption is all about. It leaves AlterVerse feeling as if its simply a shell for a greater monetization vehicle, and lacks any sense of charm or draw aside from that.

Frankly, there is a lot of economic promise in the vast galaxies and worlds of AlterVerse, if there’s a player base to be captured for it. But with a startling 9 content packs in development and their Early Access already slipping past its Q3 2018 launch, one can’t help but feel concerned that perhaps this universe might be a little too big for just one team to handle.

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Moon Mining Changes Coming with EVE Online: Lifeblood

CCP Games has revealed information regarding the changes and updates coming to their flagship MMORPG EVE Online in the next expansion, EVE Online: Lifeblood. The bulk of changes coming with Lifeblood concern the game’s industrial side; moon mining, reactions, and refining.

EVE Online: Lifeblood

Of particular interest within EVE Online: Lifeblood is the plan to change moon mining from solely a passive activity to one which is more active. With the introduction of new player-owned structures known as refineries, players will now have the option to work together and actually be part of the mining process. According to the official update page, “…capsuleers will now be able to carry out moon mining operations directly via these structures, transforming the process from an entirely passive form of income into an active form of gameplay that promotes collaboration and conflict.” Also of merit is a rework of the UI and mechanics of reactions, with CCP promising that “…the new reactions system will bring a more coherent and clear process to the fingertips of both veteran and rookie industrialists.”

A number of new forms of PvE content are also in the works. The in-game pirate factions, the Guristas and the Blood Raiders, will begin conducting raids into the high-security regions of space within the game. Players will be able to combat these raids, as well as work together to destroy forward bases used by the pirates. Additionally, miners and combat pilots will now be able to work together, providing resources for the game’s four core factions. According to the website, “…capsuleers both young and old will be able to take part in collaborative gameplay with other capsuleers to assist their chosen empire with the release of EVE Online: Lifeblood.”

A handful of quality of life improvements are also planned.  A new mining ledger feature will allow players to keep track of how much ore they have mined, where, and when, as well as who, if anyone, is mining in their space. The games’ in-game The Agency feature will be updated and streamlined, to make it easier for players to find other players to group up with for various activities. And the hulls popular with Alpha (free to play) pilots will be on the receiving end of a number of balance passes. According to the website, these passes are intended to provide these ships (Frigate hulls) a “…little more punch” and are being made with the intention to “…shake up the combat meta a little, and provide new tactical options for these classes of hull.” And lastly, to celebrate the game’s upcoming 20th anniversary, players who purchase tickets to the yearly EVE Online conventions Fanfest 2017 or EVE Vegas 2017 will be awarded a special, limited edition CONCORD Marshal class Battleship.

Players and readers interested in learning more about EVE Online: Lifeblood should visit the official announcement page. They can also watch the official announcement video below:

Our Thoughts

As a former longtime EVE Online player, it is great to see changes being made at all levels of gameplay; the new PvE content will widen the range of activities for pilots who like to stay within hisec space, and the new industry changes will provide new activities for people mining moons and holding space. Also, and of course, I always love to see balance passes for frigates, being a die-hard frigate pilot myself.

Now, CCP, fix the Jag and the Wolf please, thanks.

Source: Official Website

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