I finally decided to dive into the game a bit. I was feeling really lethargic on Saturday and wanted something familiar that didn't require any brainpower. Usually that's Civ 5, but that night it was jumping into SC:O. After gaming through the entire night (haven't done that in a while), I came up with a list of things I wanted changed or improved. Also, I wasn't impressed with the progress I made for the time given...aka there are a lot of inefficiencies with the game mechanics.
1) I want my lander to not pinwheel across craggy landscapes. Really this was extremely annoying. I thought I was playing Mass Effect 1 again with the dysfunctional Mako. Given that I'm cruising across so many planets constantly, this is honestly a huge issue to enjoying the planet explorations. The lander should never be able to flip or pinwheel at all and should probably be confined to no more than 45 degrees of movement. I really want to largely cruise around unimpeded. There are hundreds of planets, don't make me spend 15 min on each one please. Screw physics, I want fun. Speeding over a landscape and then suddenly finding yourself hitting some small ledge or landing weird causing you to either immediately stop or go pinwheeling seriously sucks. There are some planets where you are constantly falling into crevices and it makes everything an absolute chore. This thing hovers right?? HOVER HIGHER
2) I want my lander to either automatically hover over or straight bull rush through trees. In real life, I love trees. In SC:O, they are my goddamn nemesis. Another instance of screw reality, I want fun.
3) I want a bio scanner for my lander automatically installed. Hunting for biological stuff is frankly annoying when paired with the issues above
4) I want to be able to click on a solar system and see exactly what I left behind. Was there a super toxic planet I couldn't handle with lots of resources and perhaps even a structure/item to explore? I want to be able to look that up without writing it down in a notebook, 80's style. Similar to this feature, I want to easily be able to identify stars I've already visited. Sometimes I go back to places I went to before because I forgot, which is annoying and a waste of time
5) I bought everything from the Melnorme guy (sorry I forgot his new name in this game, I'll just call him beholder in a jar) and my ship still cruised like slow molasses through a system. I could turn like a beast, but raw speed was disappointing. This also ate up a lot of time as I cruised from planet to planet. I think the engine was the 65% one...it was the guy near the callback to my favorite crustaceans from SC 2. Either way, it's insufficient and inefficient.
6) This is probably something that can't change but.........the galaxy is TOO alive. In SC 2 when you saw a speedy black dot chasing you in hyper space, it was almost always a probe eagerly looking to break you down into resources, but not much else. Finding life actually took some effort and it was not nearby. It gave a sense of the vastness of the universe and why we haven't found life yet. It also made exploring more exciting. Having so many so close is a little off putting. It also seems like a lot of random systems have random aliens. It just feels like the universe is bursting with life and it breaks the immersion a little for me.
7) The actual space battles have one critical flaw.....it's always confined to a ring of asteroids and a death cloud. I brought this up as an issue during fleet battles and got the sense it would be one type of arena, but it wasn't the only type. I am honestly shocked that I am forced to resolve my space battles in such an unrealistic, immersion breaking way. Every battle in empty space is filled with rocks and death clouds? That's news to me. I enjoy the tactical battles of trying to understand what your enemy is capable of and then figuring out how to beat them. I don't mind the power ups, those are fun. The random gravity wells and wormholes are a tad off putting though. If I fight in hyper space, there is no gravity well. I'm just literally in the middle of nowhere. I got used to this, but it really made me dislike going into combat. Kept asking myself, when is my timer up and then it's bye-bye. I think it's fine to give people this option, but to make it the default I think is a big mistake IMO
8) This is more of a technical thing, but whenever I'm doing a planet mission and scoot right by a storm such that the rotational cloud is in my vision (fully zoomed out) the FPS takes a huge dive. Now, I'm not trying to knock the game, but these aren't bleeding edge graphics and my PC is bleeding edge tech. There is no reason it should be slowing down at all. I'm guessing there's some optimization issue at play here.
9) Landing zones aren't always proper landing zones. What do I mean by this? My lander will hit the ground and it's not even ground, it's some cracked, broken garbage fest. Kind of goes contrary to what I would think is a proper landing zone. It doesn't happen often, but when it happens, there's usually some other danger on the planet that I want to be able to react to. Not a great experience when that happens.
10) My main ship has the worst nuclear missiles. In SC2, those missiles were deadly if you knew how to use them right. In SC:O, their guidance systems are broken. Even the most advanced, expensive ones barely "seek" anything. It sucks. I used to enjoy the opportunity to pull out the big ship and blast away for resources and fun. Now I leave it to the random fleet of random ships that I am magically able to put back into service after being embedded 75% into the planet's crust.
11) Speaking of my magically repairable ships, I can't re-crew them all. Some of my favorite ones are not renewable. In SC2, you only got ships from allies/friends and could crew them ALL up at home. There was no species specific set of crew you had to go find or whatever to repopulate the ship. If you're going to make this a requirement to re-crew a ship, then you need to go all-in on this feature. You have to tell me who the species is at a minimum and they have to be someone I can come to an agreement on to send crew to Earth. Otherwise just scrap that idea entirely and just let them all get crewed up at Earth. Right now it's stuck in some bizarre in-between and it's annoying.
12) I want to be able to sell individual units of resources instead of having to sell them all. Given that this game seems to want me to keep the rarest resources for random events/missions, I find myself stuck hoarding them all when I could be selling some of them and improving my ship. I never had this issue in SC2 where I got all these cool res and IMMEDIATELY sold them and made use of them. This kind of slows the pace of the game as it makes me want to hoard resources just in case. If I knew where more of those resources were because I had passed them up before due to toxic/heat, then I'd feel a little more inclined to part with them.
I think those are all the issues I had that I can recall now. Moving from issues to more of what I like:
1) Art style works for the ships and aliens and the graphics/FX around their weapons in combat are really nice. The sounds are good too. I still feel like there are sounds that are missing for some secondary abilities. Particularly the Drenkend. Where's my ORZ like "GO GO GO"?? They need something, it's almost silent when they launch a ship. I love the diversity in ships and abilities, really nice and creative touches.
2) The interactions with aliens is enjoyable and I have fun with all of them so far. Except the Kzanti. I don't know if it's purposeful hypocrisy or a bug, but they will happily attack me for virtually no reason and when I do the same to them, they get very upset. Huh? Really? Again, not sure if it's a bug with the game or a bug with their morale code
3) I ran out of gas in hyper space after finding my Melnorme friend when I miscalculated the round trip distance to Fwiffo and back. I thought after all those hours and clearing that treasure world of turrets would be wasted, but nope, got rescued! I am really glad this feature exists.
4) Related to gas, I'm glad that friendly colonies will gas you up for free. This was a smart feature to keep the game moving
5) I enjoy the various planet types and hazards, though the biological life is a bit boring. The space ants are the best part though. Nothing makes me happier than squashing space ants!
6) I like the mini starbases, this was a smart replacement for quasi-space. The Arilou around the first one were a bunch of weirdos though. I couldn't really fathom their personalities from that conversation. When I first met them in SC2, I felt like they were this mysterious, but benevolent race. In SC:O, I am honestly not sure what to classify them as. Weirdos is it I guess. Their ship looked weird too. Haven't met them again, but hopefully further encounters will make them come to life a bit more
7) Despite the immersion breaking and ridiculous nature of the "arena", I love the space battles themselves between the ships. I just hate jumping into that arena...
Honestly I spent a large portion of my time grinding for resources through exploration. Not that this was a bad thing, I enjoy exploring the universe and finding little gems or quests here and there. That's what makes it worth it. As I actually make progress on the story (I've only met Mu'kay, Tywom, Drenkend and Scryve), I'll probably have more feedback, but so far it's fun. As I'm sitting here typing this, I am realizing that when I met aliens they didn't have distinctive theme songs. Maybe they did? It may be saying something that I don't recall them if they do. I distinctly remember facing the Ur-Quan for the first time and thinking "Oh crap. Not only do these guys have bad ass ships, but they are freaking tentacle monsters with an outright terrifying theme song that makes me think that they are coming to kill us all". You may need more of that. Like cow bell.
I'll be back again later once I've had a chance to get through more of the game. Thanks for bringing us another chapter in the Star Control universe!