Published on July 16th, 2014 | by Tony Odett4
Spacecom Hands-On Preview
Spacecom surprised me. Space 4X games as a genre tend to be intimidating in complexity, to the extent that a certain other writer from this site tends to shut his brain off when I talk about them. Between research trees, planet types, dozens of buildings with varying effects, and statistics everywhere, neophytes have a tough time finding their way. And when I launched my alpha build of Spacecom, without much knowledge of what I was hopping into, those features are what I expected to see. What I found, instead, was a game that was much more minimalist a game about space conquest that, while not simplistic, was easy to understand and get into, and played very, very fast.
Spacecom has no research tree, which means that all the focus in the game is on building units and moving them around the point-by-point universe. All ships are either battlefleets (for ship to ship combat), siege fleets (for reducing enemy planets to unusable ash) or invasion fleets (for conquering other planets and claiming their resources for your own). Additionally, you can build planetary shields for extra defense and satellites to observe units moving nearby. Construction is easily done, as there are no menus to enter- everything is accessible from the universe map. This isn’t a game of reading spreadsheet; it’s a game in which actions can be completed quickly and easily.
This isn’t to say what I played lacked depth. Logistics is an important factor, as resources need to be moved from planet to planet in order to facilitate construction. This means that keeping your empire connected is of paramount importance, as a rogue enemy force can intercept your resources and prevent you from being able to construct more ships. Additionally, fleets moved into enemy space will suffer attrition damage, forcing you to carefully consider whether you are prepared to make that jump toward the enemy outpost, or are better off waiting until you are strong enough to make that killer blow.
The game seems to be built for quick multiplayer matches. Those of us with experience in 4X games can tell you that multiplayer in these games can either take a really long time or feel lacking as you are forced to play in a tiny universe to bring the game length to a reasonable level. Spacecom seeks to ameliorate that situation, by offering a game that plays quickly and offers a full universe. It offers 4X gameplay in easily digestible chunks.
Spacecom is an interesting idea, as a quick-play strategy game. In a genre that tends to frighten off newcomers, Spacecom is poised to be the title that welcomes them in with open arms, avoiding complexity while still offering that classic 4X feeling. The question is whether, as this title progresses through development, the game can attract both core and non-core strategy gamers. Look for Spacecom to launch later on in 2014.