Intrigued by QL; bought it; addicted

#1 Edited by Laiv162560asse (487 posts) -

So this game is... surprisingly awesome. On the one hand, I watched Jeff's Quick Look and came away with the impression that it was Diablo-style mouse-clicky skinner-box-loot-porn in space. On the other hand, I was intrigued by the strategic interplay between factions and the way the ship loadouts seem to borrow a lot from EVE Online. Something about it got its hooks into my brain so I decided to try the demo. After playing that for several hours, having a dream about it, and realising I was excited to go back to it, I just bit the bullet and coughed up for the full game. Now I'm finding it hard to put down; I just missed most of TNT because Drox Operative made me forget the passage of time.

The easiest way to describe this game is like the AI is trying to play a game of Civ, while you're playing a loot focused action-RPG on their map. That may not sound too interesting, but the way you can affect the fortunes of the AI races gives a really satisfying sense of power. On a basic level, I just find it satisfying to watch the AI ships spread out and colonise planets, thereby filling the various solar systems with friendlier faces (or unfriendlier, depending on whether some factions hate you). You can do the simple dog-work of defending their planets and ships from trash mobs, but you can also discover empty planets for them, colonise planets for them, find/steal technology for them, persuade them to war against eachother, or even just generally follow the NPC settler ships/diplomatic ships around, watching their backs for them. In fact you are advised to do most of this in order to push circumstances towards the eventual fulfilment of the win conditions (which vary depending on the type of win you're going for).

In my first and only complete sector so far, I went for a diplomatic victory. This requires discovering every race, getting yourself allied with every surviving race, and also having every surviving race allied with eachother. Quite early on, however, the most militaristic race decided to quickly try and wipe out all the weaker factions nearby. I persuaded all the races I was friends with to go to war against these guys, which isn't at all a difficult thing to do - it just that you also have to declare war on the target faction yourself. The warmonger faction allied with another race, fought back, and the whole thing played out largely out of my sight, while I flew around questing, exploring and trying to figure out how to fit out my ship.

By the end, the three factions friendly to me had wiped out the other two factions. Everyone left alive was allied to me, and mostly allied to eachother - except for one race which had nearly been exterminated in the opening bit of bullying. They were left so weak that they were kind of a non-entity, and the attitude of one faction towards them was "Who...?", whereas I needed them all to be good chums in order to complete the Diplomatic Win. So the remainder of that game was spend flying back and forth between these two races, spreading 'Rumours' (ie. spending cash) to improve their mutual view of eachother, fulfilling quests to deliver diplomats between them, and generally defending their settler ships and diplomat ships from pirates, so that the factions would come into friendly contact more easily. I just find that aspect of picking sides and shaping fortunes fascinating - do I run quests for Faction X because they're the best bet to wipe out everyone else? Or should I follow and protect Faction Y's diplo ships which just flew past, since I like them and I need other people to like them too?

If I have a concern it's that the game is a bit overwhelming, on several fronts. Much like in EVE, my cargo is stuffed with equipment which works in ways I have no clue about. At 25+ hours in (about 12 hours more than me), Jeff didn't sound like he had a much clearer idea either; like me, he had just stuck with basic stuff like lasers. Also, I've only just got into my second sector and I'm already feeling heavily outgunned. The game has a 'Hardcore' Rogue-like-like-like permadeath mode which unlocks when you have one ship at level 25 or over - however, I'm only at level 10 and every square inch of space seems to be packed with goons who can cause me serious problems (despite the fact they are also roughly level 10). The faction interplay has been relegated to a crazy scrolling box of text updates about war developments in other systems, while I just fly for my life mashing Mouse 1 and trying not to be popped. I guess that's just a matter of knowledge and mastery though.

Anyways, if the QL ignited any interest in you at all, as it did in me, I highly recommend this game. If you're the type of person who rates a game by the amount of time it can swallow, I reckon you'll get value for money out of DO. If like me, you also need games to scratch a certain satisfying itch, it seems so far to have that too.

EDIT & Important note to anyone who enjoys the demo: I discovered you can copy over your ship and sector data between the demo and the full game, by copying over the 'chars' folder in My Documents. It'll be somewhere like '[username]\AppData\Local\DroxOperative\User'.

#2 Edited by MeatballTuesday (6 posts) -

Every sector is different so you sometimes will get one with too many tough baddies; it's the luck of the draw. I don't think there's a penalty for quitting a sector and starting a new one. So you'd just quit to the main menu, select play and pick that same character (don't click "resume"), and start a new sector if you want.

#3 Posted by Morningstar (2150 posts) -

It's on my to buy list as well, and have been since it was announced way back. I just have too many games to play through at the moment. Woe is me indeed.

#4 Posted by seanord (108 posts) -

Thanks for the write up. It looks like it has all the elements of something I'd like, just trying to figure out if it's fun. Your account of it points to some pretty deep gameplay.

#5 Posted by BBAlpert (1439 posts) -

@Laivasse said:

The easiest way to describe this game is like the AI is trying to play a game of Civ, while you're playing a loot focused action-RPG on their map. That may not sound too interesting,

Not interesting, what are you talking about? Being able to play as that one asshole unit defending the enemy's last city, stubbornly managing to fend off all your tanks with a longbow sounds awesome.

#6 Posted by Lanechanger (462 posts) -

@Laivasse: Hey have you played Din's Curse? Also by the same guys.

#7 Posted by chilibean_3 (1634 posts) -

Cool. Great write up, duder. I've been meaning to download the demo when I get some time.

#8 Posted by Sterling (2155 posts) -

Gonna check out the demo tonight. I watched the QL the other day and though it looked good.

#9 Edited by Laiv162560asse (487 posts) -

A few more details for those interested, following a few more hours play.

I struggled with that second game sector for quite a while. Eventually I pulled off a Military Win (which is to be allied with the last surviving faction), but for a while I was at war with absolutely everyone, which is actually a loss condition that you're given 10 minutes to rectify. The longer you take to get a handle on things in general, the more it seems that systems rage out of control and fill up with random pirates, who form their own gangs, increase in skill and start to throw spanners in the works by actively attacking settled planets.

Factions often offer quests along the lines of 'We're awarding a bounty for the head of the renegade pilot Borglax' or w/e - but depending on how long you leave it, that quest could be failed because someone else killed him, or it could become obsolete because the quest-giving Faction's planet got trashed, or you could get a supplementary quest along the lines of 'oh god Borglax is building some sort of doomsday device, go break it quick'. In the game I just played, one of the named goons started running amok and built a 'black hole device' which one Faction wanted destroyed. I had to ignore all that because I had my hands full elsewhere. It's executed really well IMO, this sense of a dynamic world with events that play out whether you're present or not.

I'm getting into bit more of a groove with the combat now, too. I have a 'Fighter Bay' module in one high slot and a kind of crippling debuff beam in one midslot, so now there are 3 mean little drones who fly around doing most of my work for me while I take potshots from behind them. The combat is still a fairly one-dimensional clickfest (albeit less so with drones), but there seems to be a great amount of flexibility in how you set up your ship.

@BBAlpert said:

@Laivasse said:

The easiest way to describe this game is like the AI is trying to play a game of Civ, while you're playing a loot focused action-RPG on their map. That may not sound too interesting,

Not interesting, what are you talking about? Being able to play as that one asshole unit defending the enemy's last city, stubbornly managing to fend off all your tanks with a longbow sounds awesome.

The AI factions always appreciate you patrolling their planets for them - you get a standings boost for any enemy killed in range of the NPCs - but much of the time they can defend themselves pretty well. There are times when your intervention is crucial, like when you've colonised a planet for a faction as part of a quest, then you're literally the only line of defence until the AI sends or builds some ships over there.

@Lanechanger said:

@Laivasse: Hey have you played Din's Curse? Also by the same guys.

Nope, saw it on their website but hadn't heard of it before that. It sounded like it had a few of the same dynamic world elements as Drox. Any good?

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