Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ships…In Space!

One of the highlights of PAX weekend was a panel held by Firaxis to talk about the new Sid Meier’s game, Starships. Functioning as a stand-alone game, Starships is taking the Civilization franchise into a new area by focusing on building, ship customization, and tactical combat. It’s pretty darn nifty, if you ask me. The panel at PAX South walked viewers through the horde of creative elements in the game. It’s more than building an empire. It’s about ruling the galaxy! Kicking ass. Taking names. And being a bad mo-fo!

Clearly I’m in the 'Supremacy' mindset.

Something that really stood out to me at the panel is that Starships had more of an RPG feel to it. As you cruise across the galaxy and build up your ships, elements from past Civ games can affect how your ships act. Wonders, economy, and technology all play a part in what happens to your ships. Essentially it allows for an endless amount of customization, and thus a multitude of play-throughs where you won’t get the same game twice.

Starships is sort of an off-shoot of Beyond Earth. You don’t need the previous game to play Starships but you’ll miss out on some of the in-jokes and game references if you bypass it. Some characters from BE make an appearance in SS. Which is amusing because SS takes place, oh about 500 years in the future. You have colonized your first world and now everyone wants to know what happened to the people of Earth? What happened to the other ships that went out to other star systems? But as Meier said “its sci-fi.” The how and why on heroes from BE living another 500 years doesn’t have to be answered. They just do.

Like Civ games, you can choose how you react to the other space-faring ships around you. Are you friendly? Foe? Or an economic power-house. Because the focus is on customization, the progression system is fine-tuned to give the gamer the best experience possible of piloting their ships. You are not expected to micromanage your colony. You’re there to build a bad ass ship, but within the Sid Meier’s game spectrum. You start off with one ship, and can build up from there. Technology you acquire from missions and alliances allow you to upgrade your ship, and add more to the fleet. Combat is turned based, and environment factors such as asteroids can alter your ships trajectory. It can also serve as a barrier/shield from your enemy.

It’s a game I would expect from Meier, but with a new twist. Firaxis is taking the player on a journey into space by plopping us down in the middle of the action. The fun stuff! No release date has been finalized for the game, but it’s expected to be out by Q2 of 2015.


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