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para_lax
05-11-2012, 12:22 PM
At the time of this writing I have 30+ hours in on Stellar Impact, and I wanted to author a thread for anyone who might be thinking about buying this game. There are numerous threads in this vein on the forum, but I feel most of them aren't truly reflective of this game. More to the point, they tend to fail to look at some aspects of it objectively. I have never posted a thread like this in the past, but I feel strongly enough about Stellar Impact to do so. So, here we go! My observations about Stellar Impact. Specifically: what it is, what it isn't, and if you should try it.


Description
Stellar Impact is a team based MOBA inspired game of space combat and tactics by a small developer. It has been in active Beta for quite some time, and recently went to release for both Steam and the rest of the world. The objective is to gain the most amount of points as quickly as possible to either gain an overwhelming tactical advantage and destroy the opposing team outright, or force them to surrender. These points are primarily gained by holding objectives on the map, killing AI "escort" fleets, or defeating other players in combat. Points are spent in game to enhance individual player's ships, or overall team effectiveness. These games (depending on player count and skill) typically last between 15 minutes to an hour.


In Battle
Players control one spaceship of many in a team. Ships come in many different "flavors" including fast corvettes, lumbering dreadnaughts, and specialized ships such as carriers. All of these cater to varying play styles and team compositions. Combat is very unique for games in this genre; Each ship has multiple gun batteries with limited firing arcs- which is the core of ship on ship combat. You must outmaneuver your opponents, keeping them within the arcs that maximize your damage while minimizing their opportunities to deal damage to you. Literally, one wrong turn can kill you. Combine this with different cusomizable skill loadouts that give special abilities to ships, and it quickly becomes clear that Stellar Impact an incredibly tactical game which favors close coordinated teamplay. Ships that "lone wolf" in a fleet battle typically are destroyed in seconds, as multiple ships can cover eachother and support one another with their abilites. All of this means there is a moderate learning curve to overcome when you are first starting out, but there are plenty of people willing to help (more on that later).

Out of Battle
After battles, each player gains an experience point reward and items. Experience will buff the ship class for the player over time, advancing it from level 1 (Called mark 1, or Mk I) to level 5 (MK V). Items give small bonuses to ship attributes, and will allow for minor changes in effect. For instance, there are several types of turret a ship can be outfitted with. Disruptive turrets apply a small debuff to opponents speed, while plasma turrets deal AoE damage. These are just two of many different effects that can be applied through items won in a match. The amount of XP and items which are delivered after a match is dependent on whether the team won, and how many points were earned in a match. This means Kill/Death ratios (although it's always good to have a good one) are not the most important element. An artillery ship which primarily "farms" AI escort ships (which is another way to earn points in a match) but has a low kill death ratio can be just as important to the team as a ship with an enormous Kill/Death ratio.

Game Manager
Between battles, you have several things to do within the game client itself. Customizing your ships is done here. There is a game browser which allows you to search for and create custom games, or a matchmaking system which will allow you to play in "ranked" games. Custom games are just that- custom. You have the option to create a game with any map you wish and as many players as is supported for the map. You may also choose the game mode. Right now, two are available. "Conquest," which was described above, and a spinoff called Battlefield which forgoes points altogether in favor of multiple rounds of no-respawn brawling. Matchmaking is done by choosing what size battle you would like to play in (2v2 through 6v6). The server will match you based upon your rank to other players. Winning increases your rank, losing lowers it. If you have particular players you wish to team with, you can do so by designating a team (called an "armada" in game), so you need never play with randoms if you do not wish to. Beyond customizing server browsing and matchmaking, there is a functional (yet buggy) chat feature. This allows you to join a general chat, or create specific chats with other players.

Developer and Community
The developers are extremely involved in the community and trying to sort out issues as soon as they arise. This forum is evidence enough of that- many of these threads have commentary from them (Look for the forum name Stilgarius). Note that when I say the developer is small I mean *small* As far as I am aware (and please correct me if I'm wrong) their is A SINGLE programmer working on this game. This means you should expect the game to be treated like the developer's baby. This also means there won't likely be any next day mega patches like you might expect from a triple A games studio. The community is well developed and accepting of newcomers. There are players which have been playing from day one of the Beta who are more than willing to help you learn the finer intricacies of the game, and will have patience with you when you are learning. The community is also small enough that you will see reoccurring names, and develop relationships with other players. There are a-holes in Stellar Impact, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule, as the community is somewhat self regulating.


Issues
This game suffered from some issues on release day, which you should be aware of. Most have been fixed, but the main ones that remain are:

Server disconnects: These appear to be more common when the server approaches 450+ players, but are an issue nontheless. This results in ships appearing to "moonwalk" or "iceskate" across the battlefield. More hilariously, ships will sometimes spin like tops. There is a lot of work being done with this, and members of the community are working closly with the developer to track down the causes.

Chat: In game chat is fine- but in the game manager the text field will lose focus when a new player joins. Frustrating when you need to re-click the text field when you were in the middle of typing a sentence.

Framerate jumps: There is a tendency for the framerate to fluctuate on some machines. I believe there is a workaround for this somewhere on this forum, which has to do with forcing the framerate through your graphics card settings.

Tutorial Freeze: There is a known issue where the tutorial will sometimes freeze. It's being working on, and there is a minor "workaround" here on the forum


A brief note for experienced MOBA players

This game is inspired by MOBA gameplay and borrows most of its elements, but doesn't play at all like DoTA or LoL. If you come into this game expecting it to be like them, you'll be disappointed (or pleasantly surprised). Stellar Impact is something else in its own rite, and should not be judged by the typical MOBA standards.


----Summary----

-Tactical space combat game based on MOBA gameplay principles
-Moderate learning curve
-Customization options and advancement
-Close knit community
-Deeply involved developer
-Bugs and minor issues




P.S. If you know of any mistakes I made in the above post, just let me know and I'll update it.

P.P.S. If you choose to play (or are a current player) I'm DustySkunk in game :) GL & HF!

deathcapt
06-05-2012, 12:46 PM
Is this exactly like the Battleships map from Starcraft 2?

KDR_11k
06-05-2012, 01:27 PM
No idea but it's basically DotA with ships. Not really like space ships but regular ships. Also there's no XP gain, only money.

BuzzardB
06-05-2012, 07:45 PM
Thank you for that, its exactly what I needed to know to make my decision on buying it.

abortabortabort
06-05-2012, 09:15 PM
No idea but it's basically DotA with ships. Not really like space ships but regular ships. Also there's no XP gain, only money.

yeah, ships. You could just as easily put the ships in water instead of space.

The most important difference is turning in this game. Most MOBA's you can turn around fairly fast. In this game, facing forward commits your ships direction for some time.

The other difference is skills. There is a set of skills that all ships can access. Each DLC adds a new ship with 4 skills unique to that ship DLC. Certain ships can gain levels in certain skills sooner, but in the end, a dreadnought could have as good rocket skill as a destroyer.