Announced in September of 2011, Drox Operative is a space exploration game featuring randomly generated galaxies. These galaxies are populated with random factions that the player can serve or attack, gaining wealth and new ship components in the process.
On June 14, 2012, Drox Operative pre-orders began. Those who pre-ordered the game were allowed into the beta testing program.
Attributes and Crew
As the player's ship gains experience, it earns points that may be allocated towards a variety of attributes that represent the skills of the crew. These attributes and their related systems are:
- Tactical - weapons
- Helmsmen - engines, thrusters
- Structural - armor, structure, damage control
- Engineering - batteries, shields, power collection
- Computers - jammers, radars, sensors
- Command- new hulls
Where attributes represent typical crew members, ships may also accrue named officers via quests and other means. These officers provide various bonuses to the ship and also gain experience along with the ship. Crew members have personal morale levels that wax and wane depending on their income, the ship's relationships with other races, and injuries received. A racially diverse crew may provide maximum bonuses to the ship, but in exchange crew morale may be much more difficult to maintain.
Components represent items the player collects and equips throughout their adventure in the galaxy, e.g. thrusters, shields, tractor beams, etc. Spaceships must first satisfy hull, power, and crew requirements before equipping a component. If at any time power consumption exceeds power production (which can be caused by equipping too many components or having generators destroyed in battle), the ship will experience a decline in performance.
Equipped components decide which skills are available to the player. Skills come in active, passive, and consumable varieties.
When combating the dangers of the galaxy, managing ship health is a constant concern. Ships have three layers of hit points: shields, hull, and structure. Damage typically consumes the outer layer before proceeding to the next. While shields regenerate over time, hull is slow to repair, and structure is expensive to repair. Most importantly, damage to structure can damage and even destroy ship components, removing the ability to fire weapons or even move.
Ship weapons come in ballistic, beam, bomb, EM, fighter, freezer, mine, missile and virus varieties. All these weapons vary in terms of damage type and output, speed, and range as well as their crew and power requirements. Equipped weapons have a direct impact on what skills are usable by the ship.
Doomsday weapons are extremely rare, expensive ordnance that can wipe out an entire fleet in a single shot. Once fired, the projectile is beyond the control of the player and will proceed to destroy enemy and ally alike. Using such a weapon comes at great political cost -- factions are likely to not want to deal with players who have used doomsday devices -- and can only be fired once.
A variety of alien races start each game with a single colony, hoping to conquer the latest region of randomly generated space. This colony sends out scout ships and eventually seeds new colonies. When different races meet each other, they may forge alliances, but eventually war erupts.
Each race has their own strengths and weaknesses: colonizing speed, aggression levels, diplomatic skills, etc. It is up to the player to pick a side, remain neutral, or maintain the balance of power. Among these races are:
The Brunt are a brutal warrior race that prizes direct strength and aggressive tactics. Their ships are typically large, slow, and heavily armed.
The Cortex are small and quiet, focusing on research and development. However, they are stubborn, have long memories, and are slow to forgive.
Aggressive and warlike, the Drakk were forced early in their history to hone war into an art form. This skill at war silenced internal disagreements and ironically promoted peace and stability, which was necessary for a species with an extremely slow reproductive cycle.
The Dryad are a plant-based species that follow a pattern of dormancy followed by bursts of activity. They specialize in terraforming and regenerative medicine, lacking skills in all things mechanical. Venerating the natural environment, they find the pollution of other races insulting.
Mysterious beings of pure energy, the Fringe possess extremely advanced technology. Reasoning with them can be a challenge; to an outsider, their personalities and culture appear chaotic and unpredictable.
A multi-species race that has evolved into an organized caste system, the Hive is extremely efficient in harvesting resources and capital production. The resulting product is not necessarily top quality, however.
Humans are a wildcard in the galactic community. Sometimes they unify into an expansionist force to be reckoned with. Other times, they are reduced to infighting and are a threat to no one.
With a sturdy, rock-like epidermis, the Lithosoid spread among the stars and proliferate, their numbers sustained by their hardy constitutions and regenerative abilities. Even with their relatively dim intellects, Lithosoids are a force to be reckoned with, using their superior numbers to crush the opposition.
Shadows are small and stealthy, relying on superior tactics, ambushes, and subterfuge to win the day. And when the war turns poorly for their allies, betrayal is always an option.
The Utopians are a race of sentient AIs. A shared memory system has removed their fear of individual death but has also caused the race to be suspicious of outsiders. They are quite conservative in their expansion, preferring to build redundant defenses and secure existing resources than find new ones.
Subraces are "child" species of the above major races. Though they never exist at the beginning of a game, through evolution, accident, or experimentation a subrace may be born. Superior to their parent race in some way, subraces are typically persecuted and hunted, and the player may decide to emancipate or exterminate the new species. If emancipated, the subrace becomes a new player in galactic politics and begins to harvest resources, build ships, and expand territory like any other race.
Resources consists of food, minerals, technology, and credits. Planets generate different ratios of these resources. While food and minerals only apply to the planet they reside on until traded, technology and credits are deposited into a universal racial "bank". Food effects population growth, while minerals increases ship and building construction. Technology levels determine what kind of structures are built as well as their bonuses. Lastly, credits are used to facilitate exchange of the other resources and are the resource the player has the most direct contact with.
Since resources are limited, races must rely on trade and territorial control to satisfy their needs. The player can use this to their advantage, trading for resources that a race desperately needs or attacking planets that are of particular strategic importance.
In Drox Operative, "monsters" refers to ships and ship-like organisms that are hostile to virtually all races. Monsters raid planetary systems, build dangerous contraptions, and cause general havoc. Monsters will attack races both friendly and unfriendly to the player, and intervening in either situation can have far-reaching consequences.
Drox Operative continues the Soldak tradition of highly dynamic environments that effect quests and player decisions. Stars shoot out solar flares, gamma ray bursts, and may even super nova. Planets may suffer from a wide variety of natural disasters, and the populations living on those planets deal with a wide variety of problems, from wars to plagues to social upheaval.
Invasion of the Ancients
The first expansion for Drox Operative adds new features and content to the base game, most notably the titular invasion mechanic. The Ancients may invade a galaxy, and it will be up to the Drox Operatives to defend against them. The expansion also features a new, playable race - the Scavengers - as well as nineteen playable subraces; the latter of which must first be unlocked through certain events in the game. Persistent galaxies, which allow for choices made in one sector to affect the next one, are another large addition. NPC-controlled space stations and socketable items (which a new item, chips, can be inserted into) as well as new quests, monsters, and components are other things added by this expansion.
Invasion of the Ancients was released for both PC and Mac on November 30, 2013. It is currently available for purchase from the Soldak Entertainment website.
Multiplayer functions very similarly to the single-player game with a few key differences:
- Cooperative - players typically can't hurt other players; quests and experience are shared
- Chat Functionality
- Session Information is displayed by hovering the mouse over the multiplayer icon (top right)
- Co-op Player Locations - other players' ships are displayed on the map
- Player Status - other players' ship structure bars are displayed on the right
- View Player Components - right-click player then click "Player Status" to display the player's components if in range
- Trade - upon inspecting components, click the "Request Trade" button
There is no hard limit on the number of players in multiplayer.