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Hello MMOSITE fans. This review is going to cover a space fighting sim that has been through some major development and seems to have floated under the radar recently. Star Conflict is a space fighting simulator that is developed by Tar Gem Games and published by Gaijin games. The title just went into season 2 and has 2 major co-publishers, ARC (perfect world) and Steam. Is this game worth your time or does it disappear into the black hole of endless bad games? Read on to find out!



 

Introduction:

 I have a pre season 2 early open beta account. And I did not understand the game back then. It was punishing and I tossed around in a frag fest, so I left my account as it was. Now, a year or more later, I have reinstalled and man what a difference!

The install can be done directly from the game website, Steam (to use as a buddy hub stat tracker), and Arc portal (same as steam) both of course ready to have your credit card info when you think you want to pay…and those left over balances applied to said other games they offer…Actually not a bad plan). It is a medium size install and offers language support for major parts of the world.

A LOT has changed since open beta including ship types, selection, and game play (basically everything). But some core ideas and mechanics are left in place. So let’s get to the goods!



                         

Character Creation / Factions:

Not a lot to say as it is a “space ship” that has no avatar (that is you…You hadsome hunk of space hero). So nothing to chose at start up. You do however, have 3 factions to chose from Empire, Federation, and Jericho. Each have their own space looks and tad of lore. If you have played World of Tanks, or War Thunder (gaijin as well) you will know that you can pick any country at the sacrifice of limited garage slots (and tech tree progression slowing a bit as you focus on one or the other). The same for this game. 3 factions one, and you have 3 standard slots, so you can fill em up with different ships in the same faction, or hop factions by choosing another. This helps balance things out a little and prevents the “to many accounts one faction” problem. I personally am going to stay dedicated to the Empire…however, if you play another faction, you have achievements, faction points, and unlocks to new technology that can be INTERCHANGED to other ships…yeah, the game offers an incentive to test the waters, but never a FORCE edge by doing so. It is mostly for people that like a certain factions set up or want something new to do. THAT ALONE gives this games replay-ability a huge increase!

The avatar is greyed out unless you purchase one with gold coins (currency explained later). So identifying yourself is just in your user name, and later by joining a guild and getting to know others, otherwise this games emphasis is getting your hands on some hot action (and crafting)!



 

Game Play:

The hangar is your first welcome screen like most vehicular fighting games. Like the others, you have menu’s that get you to crafting, setting up your ship, tech tree, trade, chat, and entering game modes.

The best thing to do is READ. Take time to read most of the menu’s and what they offer. It will help you orientate your goals and reasons why you are fighting. The game menu’s do not go too in depth or take you to other screens, so the up front “One click” button to get where your going is nice. Read up.

Like world of Tanks and War Thunder, you have a tier 1 starter ship. Great ships to get a feel for the game. The tiers go on to about tier 15! But not to worry the tier battles still are active and lots of players to join. The ships for all factions are broken down to 3 classes:

1)    Interceptors – The “rogue” of the bunch that serve as fast agile fighters with deadly punch. The lack the shield power of heavier ships but can out maneuver the lot of them. (Triangles on the map)

 

2)    Fighter – The gun ship. Medium to Fast speed, heavy hitter that tips the balance of most fights. You can fight at a distance or be up close causing havoc in dog fights. (Diamond on the map)

 

3)    Frigrates – heavy shielded, slow, and best hanging back giving support to friends. The battles can not be won without them. (Squares on the map)

Three classes. Simple right? Nope. Each class tier has a strength and weakness and with 15 tiers, the game keeps evoloving it’s combat as the pilot evolve. The GLUE TO ALL OF THIS: The skills. Oh man the skills. The skills + class change this game out of a simple “shooter”, and into a “Grade A arena fighting shooter”.

Skills: We can start with the weapons as they play a major role. You can have long range laser projectiles, plasma guns, rail guns, cannons, etc.. The list goes on and on. Some ships, like fighters tiers 4, can have boosts to rail gun damage, for example, so will you equip the rail gun for the boost in damage while sacrificing the distance of the lazer canon? These decisions both carve out the type of aircraft you are flying, the type of PLAYER you are, and the type of support you give others.

Second arms include missiles and different missile types. Also, there are several different ammo types.


In addition to weapon load out, you have a special ability assigned to a ship. Some cloak, some increase their rate of fire and damage for 8 Seconds. Some stop completely in mid air, some disrupt all your sensors and output. You only get ONE so “special” is what defines a ship / class to a degree.

IN ADDITION TO THAT! You have two extra skill slots (most skills have cool downs) that are reusable in battle. Shield boosts, hull protections, speed boosts, flares to shake off missle locks, etc etc etc.



 (Level up the ship to unlock tiers)


So, you have SHIP + Load out + Special attack + “skill” = definition of your class/ fighter. You can build a healing frigrate that helps your team mates if damaged in battle. You can build a nimble fighter that does havoc by stunning your opponent, and then blasts out of the area. You can shake a trailer by going stealth, or use it as a surprise element…So many build possibilities.

 Class play is so important and so emphasized in this game. Around tier 3 it hit me…”This feels like an arena fighter, almost MOBA like”…The tactics are AMAZING. They took pains to take out the “twitchy zerg” and put in the “class + tactics”…oh but wait…you “well I love twitchy zerg” guys are NOT OUT OF LUCK! If you want that kind of battle experience, you can have it! There are ships you can customize to get your twitch on. There are ships to customize for you “hang back, blast away” guys. There are ships for guys like me that like to hang back a but, give support, then use the after burners full speed to disrupt a dog fight (as a fighter “gun ship” class). The strategy, class, and fighting configurations this game offers through it’s game play IS AMAZING AND UNDER APPRECIATED! I RECOMMEND YOU GIVE IT A TRY if flying sims, or battle arena, or moba is your thing.

I played War Thunder, and I was turned off. The mix of odd classes like biplanes with full single propelled jet like planes was just unfair. So many times in War Thunder I pull up behind some one, shoot, and nothing happens, I just get points for damaging because it is out of my class. Any plane more advanced than you has a better turn and that turn = you are dead….That does not work necessarily that same in space. We have rocks, buildings, to hide behind. We have different abilities to throw at the enemy. This game does right where War Thunder does wrong. Your skill as a pilot will be noticed. You can take out anything with the right strategy. That does not mean you will not blow up a lot. But when you get blown up, you know you made an error or the tide of battle is not in your favor (you rushed into a group of enemies like a nab with no escape plan). Not once did I sit there trying to kill an enemy thinking “wow..that is unfair, his shields wont go down”. It is VERY balanced. And when the little guy takes on a big guy, he better use his maneuverability to get the hand up or else he will be swatted down. This emphasis great team play battles and not a lot of people pull entire teams. When you see a player take out other players one by one…You will see that he is not sitting there just blasting away (like in War Thunder), but his WORKING his hands off on the keyboard with rolls, spins, dives, etc..It is not easy to be on the top. And so far, to the day of this article, I have never seen a score: “12/0”…almost all the guys on top die often enough to be balanced “12/8” – “12/11” is a typic high score…Most people average 5 to 7 kills as a good player, and 1-5 as a decent new player. Not many feel left out.



(You have 3 ship slots. You can pick 1 ship of each class and swap out durring battle as many times as you want. OR you can build the same class with 3 different builds. Up to you. 4th slot is unlocked at Tier 12)


Like those other games I compare this one too, the tier climbing changes game play. Things get intense. Map changes. Roles become defined. Builds more diverse…it is evolves, or stays the same as you master your fihting style. But falling back on your old ships to play tier 1-4 matches…is FUN, ENJOYABLE, and creates a “game within a game” like atmosphere.

Game Modes: Undock into free space PvE – PvP – PvE missions.

Welcome to the games biggest update since open beta: PvE.

And no, not that “boring solo PvE” that is in War Thunder. This PvE is actually well done! The undocking puts you OUTSIDE your base in an open world (you see other players and NPC’s flying around patrolling). You can use warp gates to hop around different parts of the galaxy. This serves as a major staging area to farm goods for crafting and exploring the open world. The spots on the map are tied to the lore, so you will have mining outposts, stations to protect, etc. Pirates are a plenty and will offer up a fight. In addition to fighting off different kinds of enemies for different kinds of parts to collect to craft…some zones are OPEN PvP to the other factions! As you explore and level up, you can unlock connecting warp gates.
  You can spend your entire gaming career in this game just enjoying the outside free map. But the rewards are a little different than what you find in the other modes. Again, a great example of getting you involved in their game through rewards and personal goals.

 
(Currency types. Gold = Cash shop currency. Earned as rewards and can exchange. Platinum is in game currency earned and used to purchase most everything. The rest are reputation points. Each faction has two camps. Notice the empire has 2, the federation has 2, and in the red (Jericho) they have 2. The bottom is the crystals ound by rewards after winning battles. All are used to construct upgrades. In addition you collect and craft items to build new upgrades and ships. I have all that. Am only Tier 4 and NEVER spent a dime in this game...)

PvE missions, you fight in this same galactic map, but in instanced “dungeon” like setting and are matched with a group. So it is the “dungeon crawler” part of this game. You and others play about 3 maps of objectives (usually kill waves, protect node, and fight a boss) and you get great loot from this (upgrades and crafting). Again, you can spend your space career fighting these kinds of map if you wish.

 

PvP missions. The core this game was built on. It you and if not enough players found in time, they will toss in bot NPC’s. This is great to get fast matches up and running. The bots are smart, and perfect diversions. Most early tier games are 4 v4 (bots fill the rest) or 5v5, depending on time of day. The bots are perfect as they caus chaos, make you chase them and gives you or your enemy the change of hand in battle. The way it is done, It is done RIGHT. Not just “an excuse to fill blank spots”. In fact, if you think they are too easy, you can see it as “objects to farm (kills)” but don’t get confident, because there are other real players honing in on you, so you can not exploit the game on the fact there are NPC fighters on the same PvP map (giving it that MOBA feel where the minions actually have a purpose).
  The cherry on the top of the PvP cake is the balance and the class roles again.  You have a free for all mode, where you just kill, and you have a capture the points mode where points A B and C change hands constantly. AS a noob, I hated the PvP. I died so much in my fighter just heading towards enemy, open fire, stay on him head on don’t move….bad idea (unless you know how to put forward shields up and escape after to recover). And leads to majority of new player deaths. As a gun ship, my best bet is to let the interceptors start the dog fighting, stay about 3 clicks out, then start “sniping” from a bit off. Almost guaranteed the kill or kill assist. Sooner or later, some one will find you and push you out, or simply, you want a faster piece of the action. So, keep full throttle on, and engage the enemy, never stay too face to face, and when they are on your tail, I do this “small to medium circular movements while straffing and pointing in a general direction AFTER BURNERS ON”. This will break most peoples aim and get you to a safe place to regen and get right in.
  I always support a buddy, a slower fighter like me can”t escape the dog fight once I engage, I can enter it, rack up some kills, do my escape maneuver, but if 2 or more people target me and make me their priority and I have NO back up and skills on cool down, I am usually dead and know it.

Mastering an interceptor looks like sooo much fun! But it is fast, twitchier, and more skilled game play than I can handle. I prefer my ship. It feels like “me”. My style of fighting…and it has been a long time, if ever, I felt connected to my fighting style in a game. Most Moba’s I sacrifice something, and just get “the best because it will win” fighter…not in this game. And I have not even tested the waters of all the possible builds yet….

 

(That is me flying close to a support ship so I have a shield boost icon at the top. He is a slow frigrate and is the blue square on my radar and HUD. The blue square has a cross sign in it, indicating a medic build frigrate. Other support attachments can give you boosts in HP, shields, and other perks. Flying close in formation is a good tactic.)


Crafting, Upgrading, and cash shop:

I can feel it! Because I understand it….the “oh it is a P2W game”. I actually went into this game looking for that point to tear it apart (since I had a bad experience in War Thunder). I can assure you, this game has NO P2W aspect to it. Here are the main 2 reasons:

1)    The IN GAME COIN YOU EARN FROM DOING ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING (including just logging in) CAN BE TRADED FOR CASH SHOP CURRENCY: EXCHANGE RATE SET BY THE COMPANY NOT THE OTHER PLAYERS TO AVOID INFLATION! BAM! And it is a good rate, you get A LOT of cash gold for your in game coin. What is the catch? You will sacrifice advancing the tiers faster. Obviously, if you are tossing thousands of platinum (in game coin) for gold (cash) you are either buying cash ships, or massively upgrading your own ship…so you are balancing between advancing a tier or mastering a certain tier ship. Which is 100% cool because “Must get TIER 15 NOW!” is not the point of this game. And if you have this mentality, believe me, you not playing his game just makes our awesome community more awesome.

2)    You can EARN and CRAFT everything for free.

 

Crafting is how you upgrade parts. There are “blueprints” or “learned” parts to make that require both ship, tier, and pieces to put together. They cost platinum (about 10K to start) to learn, once unlocked, you farm the PvE and PvP rewards for parts. Alien guts,  metal scraps, etc etc, are all farmable upgrades…And if you really want..You can build a ship from scrap. With better parts, or enhance what you have. The parts you gather can be broken down. Purples broken down and sold for higher cash or other parts. Everything is a decisions and risk and reward sacrifice. It is in depth and adds a huge layer to this game. That said, it is also does not give you a leg up over others. So you crafted a 8 second shield booster…well, I know how to stay on your tail and missile that booster off. And when a “disable shields” interceptor arrives, and a gunship is there to lock on to you….team work and skill always prevails over “what I cashed out on”…currency and construction are means to a goal in the game. Just giving you money and tiers if you win (like World of Tanks) is boring. Things to tinker with and ideas on builds is great for those that like it.

All those great game play points listed…the only thing I feel bad about this game is the lake of “making it feel bigger and more epic”. The planet battles, the lack or story driven content, the massive ship attacks…All missing. They do have NPC’s give you “quests” but it is just a 2D menu achievement incentive to test out their game options.
  The latest season 2 update has us building (farming resources) mega goliath ships. I have no idea how it will play out in the end, but I would like a battle where I zoom in on a large goliath ship picking off its guns and getting out before it is too late, then disabling engines. As a team the snipers can’t hurt the goliath, so their job is to help pick off enemy drones as I get in close with my rail gun, while interceptors pick off the enemy interceptors coming to guard the ship…*shrug* Or use the terrain more. Tunnels to fly through in a planet mission, giant ships to fl through planting a bomb and taking off, with encounters in pockets of open space…I dunno. AS it is, it is GREAT, and I am not begging for these things, nor does it feel too missing…but there does seem to be a bit of soul service missing. The best thing to be proud of in this game that makes you step back and say “yeah, this is awesome” is your ship, your earned skills, and your individual battles. If they had a little more “it means more to the team” sort of option that involved all (not just end game guilds) that would be cool.

But I regress because if that means trying to re-invent the wheel and breaking something. I will be mad! I like what I have!

 

(The cash shop offers platinum and gold packs. And starter kits. Or...)


(...use your in game platinum to exchange for cashs hop gold. You also earn gold by doing certain mission objectives in game)


How to rank up: Each ship has a rank value or “level up” value. For example, I have a ship that has 5 rank ups or 5 levels. So each battle I get energy to put into it and raise it’s level. That ONE ship, when it ranks up, gets a little stronger. It also is required to unlock the next ship on the TIER tree. RANKS and TIERS are related but separate.
  In World of Tanks, to unlock tank tiers, you need to build and research in that one tanks tech tree.
  In War Thunder you need to click on the next plane or tank in the Tier tree, and add it is “give EXP”, so each battle you do in a plane or tank of that Tier, the exp goes to the next item and once fully unlocked you can pick it up.

Star Conflict you are LEVELING up your current ship, then moving on down the Tier tree once you hit the required level (usually max). For example, Tier 5 for my battle ship has rank 6 and 7 to move on to Tier 6. So when I level my Tier 5 to rank 6 a branch opens up for a certain ship, if keep playing that same tier 5 ship and level it up again to 7 the other branch to a different tier 6 ship opens up. I personally like this over the other unlocking methods since it has us play and level and experience what your ship, modified, feels like before moving on.


(15 tiers of madness...and that is just one faction...)

You can rank up your pieces of your ship as well. Guns, for example, can be enhanced 5 times. 1 time for a fee, 2 times for a fee, 3 times (turns into a blue item) and it costs a resource. For me, it is starting to cost a green crystal found as a reward for winning battles. If you do not know where to get it, hover over any item and it tells you where it drops. On another item I Have, the 3rd rank up is not a crystal but REPUTATION POINTS with a different faction. In my faction, the Empire, we specialize in “missile” lock on break as a special skill. I swapped it out for a “shield enhance” boost. That shield enhance boost is a Federation faction item, so to rank it up past level 3, I need 6000 federation reputation points…meaning, I need to drop the Empire and go Federals…Which you do in a click of a button (and 1 mil credits).

(These are contracts. If you fulfill them by playing and doing things, you get faction points.)



  (You see the shield booster. I have upgraded it 2 times, the third upgrade requires I have 6,000 faction points in the Federal agency (about 4 to 5 contract objectives complete). So I can stay Empire and have my level 1 shields stuck at level 2 enhancement. OR I can swap that skill out for an Empire skill that can be further enhanced. Or I can change factions, farm the reputation, then come back...but at a price of 1mil platinum each change. The choices and builds and game play out comes are up to you. Changing factions changes the hangar, the NPC's and the battle maps...So it can be worth it to see what the other aspects of the game have to offer. Who knows, maybe you will like the Federation side better...It is all about finding your personal niche and taste. And that is just more positive ituitive design in this game)


Contracts = Faction points (or loyalty points). If you swap factions, you keep your accumulated points (but lose contract progression, not bad). So I keep my 10K Empire points I had for doing Empire contract mission objectives (kill 10 drones, win 2 battles, etc..)
   Now I am on the federal side and working up to 6K credits and will upgrade my shield barrier skill. If you paid attention, this is the games way to have you test all aspects of this game out as you build  a certain way. This is GREAT game play mechanic and just another strike of “fun” and “depth” this game has to offer.

 

Conclusion:

I have played games like it, even by the same company and this just BLOWS them out of the water. Look at the summary of this review: Ship + load outs + special ability + skills + open world mode+ mission mode + pvp mode + crafting that is meaningful + no pay to win (literal cosmetic and “get me ahead” and “credit sinks” is all the cash shop is good for) = One of the best games, F2P, on the market!
It literally has updated and evolved to where it is without any kind of buzz or noise. Most peoples attention right now are on import games as the scandals of the current major launches and changes (Archage failing, Elder Scrolls going B2P). This game offers so much! The only person that would not find it interesting is if, yes, space combat and air warfare is not your cup of tea. And I understand. But if you are into other strategic, battle, moba, arena, team based games. Come test out the latest here in Season 2 of Star Conflict! It is AMAZING!

The gathering and enhancing reminds me of Warframe, but with a little more to offer in ways of crafting, factions, and other aspects of the game (If Star Citizen was fused into Warframe and had planet landings in open PvE environment as an option...that would be the most epic ground to space fighting sim ever!!!....maybe that is Star Citizen?)


I do not often give mmorpgs a top score. The last was when TERA came out F2P and the game had so much to offer and a non intrusive cahs shop, at a time when we were being nickled and dimed by inferior F2P games…so I gave it a 5/5 for being a great game (I should re review it one day…I am not as thrilled about it recently)…So I would be a hypocrite if I did not rate this game top of it’s class for those same reasons and more!

5/5! Enroll in your faction(s) today and come fight the good fight!

Tags:
Mmo   mmofps   space sim   review   sci-fi   F2P  

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