Wot I Think: SOL: Exodus

This spaceship is definitely looming

I live in the very same solar system that SOL: Exodus is set in so I was quite eager to defend it from unpleasant space morons, but what awaited me? A carnival of cartwheeling ships silhouetted by a dying sun? The cunning destruction of mighty frigates, too large to be penetrated by conventional weapons? Those are certainly things that happened but mostly I shot hundreds of little fighter crafts in the backside.

“Fighter class ships incoming!”

Targeting locked on, maximum thrust engaged, missile launched at the forefront ship, flick reticule over the next, boost close enough to unleash hot space death, small ship into ‘slide’ mode to conserve forward momentum and swivel to aim at the back-end of the swarm of ships then mop up from the rear.

It’s mostly about mopping up from the rear this space combat business.

“Bomber class ships incoming!”

Rightio. Those will be ponderous but pack a powerful payload, will they? Thought so. It’ll be a case of locking on, heading toward them then slowing down and engaging the MAG cannon, which fires a ponderous but powerful payload, perfect for pummelling these pachyderm-like plodders. Three blasts and they’re down.

“Fighter class ships incoming!”

Got it. Targeting locked on, maximum thrust engaged and so forth.

“Frigate class ship incoming!”

Aha! Here we go then, away from the dogfights and into the capital situation, the big showdown!

And yet no.

That climactic wonder situation is actually a case of locking onto a yellow point on the larger ship, hacking into its systems and then shooting a series of weak spots that magically appear. First you’ll be able to shut down its engines and missiles, redirect its gun turrets to take out enemy fighters and generally mess up its mojo. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of the hack but the time it takes, during which your own ship’s shields are being sapped by massive salvoes, doesn’t thrill in the slightest. It’s time spent watching numbers and letters appear in a random sequence rather than time spent dodging and weaving.

Do those frigates fire missiles that feel like a punch in the face? They do, but they’re not directed toward me or my own, they’re directed toward THE ATLAS.

And you know what the Atlas is? She is the Galactica, the Ship that is Every Ship, The Last Great Hope For All Us Poor Bastards. From the launch sequence that your fighter is propelled through at the beginning of every skirmish to its place in the plot, the Atlas is imbued with an import that should make it the centre of every decision. We should be willing to kill and die for this Nina, this Pinta, this Santa Maria, but instead she feels like a hefty old aircraft carrier. A staging and spawning point that fails to become symbolic.

The Atlas is central and in the short campaign that’s often literally true. Plonked in the middle of whatever crowded chunk of the solar system happens to be under threat (all of it), the Atlas is often bombarded from all sides as a couple of tiny fighters buzz around trying to halt the mass onslaught. I wouldn’t call the other fighters my wingmen because sometimes I wasn’t even sure they knew I existed. I’d just see them occasionally, zipping back and forth with no apparent intent.

All of that said, the actual combat works well, which is a good thing since it’s the game’s one real trick. There aren’t any ship systems to fiddle about with, no rerouting of energy from weapons to shields or loadouts to choose from. There’s only one ship to pilot, which has the most basic of upgrade systems, with points unlocked between missions depending on skill and achievements. SOL: Exodus is a simple game, a shoot ‘em up in space rather than a sim of any sort, but shooting things in space is not a bad way to spend a few hours.

There was a point when I was flying close to a space structure of undetermined purpose, using it as cover from the searing fire of an enemy frigate. Every time an enemy fighter approached, I ended up circling the structure, capitalising on the fact that the zealot fools have a habit of matching speed with a pursuer, making them all the easier to usher toward their final reward. Then I noticed something. If I flew even closer to the metal surface of the structure, swapping paint with it, the enemies’ turning circles became tighter as well. And then they crashed and burned. Not just one of them, but two, three, four.

At first I was annoyed. Why should they be so stupid? They weren’t taking the proximity of the thing into account, instead attempting the same evasive jinks they would have used if we were chasing each other’s tails in open space. But then I queried my own behaviour. I was annoyed by the stupidity, sure, but I was also repeatedly using it to my advantage.

It’s that kind of game. Mostly things work as they should, but it is easy to exploit at times and still hazily entertaining even as it trips up. Chasing ships and shooting them to bits is a staple activity of my life, although I’ve seen less cockpits as they years have gone by, and SOL is a game about shooting spaceships, a game in which you’ll have done almost everything you’ll ever be required to do after the first hour. The campaign only lasts a short time and there are no skirmishes outside the story. The only option for further play is to redo the same missions and attempt to do it all a little better than the time before.

There’s the truth of it. Despite its fully voice acted story of religious idiocy, which is pleasant fluff and as camp as a gaggle of boy scouts, SOL’s focus is on performing well rather than progressing. It’s a game with more than a passing interest in leaderboards. A shoot ‘em up through and through, with nary a jot of sim in its fuel tank.

SOL isn’t the next TIE Fighter or Freelancer. In fact, rather than being the next anything, I’d hazard that it might be the first of something else, a series of increasing ambition perhaps? Of course, that will partly depend on the success or otherwise of Exodus. It’s going to disappoint some people because they expect it to be something that it isn’t and even those content to pewpewpew their way around the solar system may be disgruntled by the brevity and repetition.

More variety in ships and weapons rather than backdrops would make those few hours more compelling, as would a more robust sense of power for all this machinery. As it is, collisions between ships are like dodgems buffeting off one another and being ripped to shreds is a case of the screen flashing red and a number dropping. There’s never the terrible sense of impact or terrifying fragility that hurtling through space rocked by explosions should carry, and the fact that being shot down leads to evacuation in a guided pod and a quick respawn back at the Atlas makes self-preservation an option rather than an imperative.

Wait for ships to spawn, protect other ships from them. That’s almost always the mission objective. There’s enjoyment to be had and parts of our souped up solar system make an attractive shooting gallery but the spice of life is sadly absent. Forever protecting others as they slowly escape, being an ace space commander is more a case of duty than derring-do. It’s a duty I was happy to perform for a time but next time I sign up, to pilot the good ship Garriott-Branson perhaps, I want to go farther and I want to go faster. Seamless could be the men to launch that next mission, they certainly have some of the right elements in place and even in the short space since release, their support and tweaking of the game based on feedback has been wholly admirable. Appealing as it is, however, Exodus is an excursion rather than an epic.

SOL: Exodus is available now for £6.99.


  1. Tei says:

    Is a playable animated gif.

  2. Ginger Yellow says:

    That ship in the first pic looks like a guy without a jetski.

  3. Faldrath says:

    Sounds like a good way to spend a few hours, especially since we don’t have many of those less complicated space shooters these days.

    • jonfitt says:

      I was mildly interested until I saw it was just £6.99! Sold.
      A bit of spacey fun with minimal money and time investment.

    • Baines says:

      TotalBiscuit’s WTF video was more negative towards the whole experience.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    How is it controlled? Joystick? Gamepad? Mouse+Keyboard?

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I played with mouse and keyboard – some people have complained about that method making it hard to track ships but it worked fine for me. More on that here..

      There is pad support and more stick support is being added..

      Hope that helps!

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      It certainly does, thanks.

    • jonfitt says:

      A space shooter without robust joystick support?! What has the world come to?

      Admiral Thrawn is most displeased.

      That said, it sounds like they’re patching it soon.

  5. Casimir Effect says:

    Everyone remembers Freelancer, no one remembers Starlancer.

    • Tams80 says:

      Starlancer was rather linear. More like Freespace than Freelancer, even though Freelancer is the squeal story wise. I think that the greater variety in gameplay, with trading and an open world, as well as great multiplayer made Freelancer more popular and memorable.

    • Casimir Effect says:

      Linearity is what I want from space shooters unfortunately. I see the appeal in the games which are all about trading, be they more arcadey like Freelancer or ponderous like the X series, but I prefer having a nice space opera to play through like Starlancer and Freespace had.

      And Starlancer just had this fantastic Cold War-esque story where the eeevil Russians and Chineses betray the glorious American, Europeans and Japaneses. If only that game wasn’t unplayable on modern OS (it crashes constantly and some missions are very long with no mid-mission saves)

    • Frosty840 says:

      Came here to bitch and moan about the lack of love for Starlancer. Nice to see someone else got here first. Terrific game.

    • Laurentius says:

      Another Starlancer fan here, great game, unique co-op option for this genre, took Privateer 2 combat system and refined it into something better and smoother. Definitely my third favorite space shooting game after Tie-Fighter and X-wing Alliance. Freelance was nice, and played it for tremendous amount of hours on multiplayer servers but mouse controlled, no joystique usage, that’s not the “right” space combat game…

    • Lambchops says:

      Funnily enough, I remember Freelancer as being disappointing (may have misjudged it though I had a friend who loved the multiplayer, which I never tried) and Starlancer being absolutely brilliant.

      While Freespace 2 was slightly nicer to play mechanics/UI wise and both had enjoyable stories Starlancer definitely came up trumps in terms of character. It’s the only space sim I played where I actually gave a shit about the different squads and pilots. It was so galling to have bloody Mr Heroic Klaus bloody Steiner, with his gloriously hammy German accent and stereotyped ways, ahead of you in the kill counts!

  6. Seth says:

    I don’t think I really need to tell anyone this, but I am vain and must make note: FreeSpace 2 Open has brilliant capital ships, good writing, lovely atmosphere, modern graphics, a bit of a dreadful installation process a highly customizable installation process, and a vast amount of content — if you’re itching to play the best of the best when it comes to space shooters.

    okay i-war was pretty good too

    • caddyB says:

      Every time a new space sim comes up, I just play Freespace 2 again.

    • Spengbab says:

      Every time a comment about Freespace comes up, I just DIVEDIVEDIVE

    • Vagrant says:

      Ah, Freespace. It’s not every day someone makes a game so good, it kills a genre! I love space combat, but really why bother with anything else?

      Colony Wars was amazing, though. (On consoles)

    • wodin says:

      Freespace 2 SCP is a work of art and constantly getting improved..Including be able to play the original freespace in all it’s new looking glory. Someone at the hardlight forums remade the Freespace into aswell and it’s a great bit of work.

      Who needs a new space sim when Freepsace 2 SCP is out there and has many superb campaigns!

    • Fierce says:

      First off, thanks Adam for the Wot I Think, as promised.

      Secondly, @Seth and @wodin:

      I was interested in SOL:E immediately due to my undying love for the FreeSpace series and though I’ll probably buy this, I’m definitely going to be replaying whatever latest revision of the FS:SCP is out now.

      It’s been maybe 2-3 years since I last looked at the works of the community. The last fan-made campaign I played had silent pilot to pilot transmissions and shoddy scripting.

      Assuming things have gotten much better since then, what campaigns and/or weapon effect mod packs would you recommend I download and play immediately? Hopefully with fully voiced communications? Space is silent enough as it is…

    • Seth says:

      Hi Fierce —

      Derelict and Blue Planet are both fully voiced. Blue Planet is the more polished campaign, and a bit of a favorite of mine (I liked it so much I was the one who led the voice acting effort, and later became a designer on the sequel.) Be aware the story’s a bit more adventurous than FreeSpace 2 proper — consider it a departure in tone. (The sequel is much more grim and militaristic.)

      Derelict is a good time, though a bit buggy and lengthy. I’d try them both.

      Feel free to look up Blue Planet on ModDB. Post there if you need install help; I’m General Battuta.

      e: And if you just don’t like the mods, the MediaVPs (required for Blue Planet) will let you play the original campaigns with amped-up graphics.

    • DarkWeeble says:

      I tried to post and link you guys to Free Allegiance but my comment appears to be stuck “Awaiting Moderation”. No clue what causes that.

      The point I was trying to make is that Free Allegiance is space sim/RTS with two teams that have a commander on each side and it requires teamwork to win. A bombing run takes a driver, a gunner, and at least two escorts to make it to the target and a person needs to actually fly each of those positions. I think everyone who enjoys the genre would really love it and it’s totally free. I’d drop a link, but I’ll hold off in case that’s what stuck my first comment. Google will point you in the right direction.

    • stkaye says:

      @Seth – then let me take this opportunity to say that the second chapter of Blue Planet includes some of the best space sim missions I have ever played, in any game. Including the original Freespaces. You do good work, sir.

    • Fierce says:


      Thanks, I’ll be sure to do that. Cheers mate.


      You know, I remember specifically restarting that mission and flying straight just to see how much time I actually had to get out of the way. Turns out it gives you around a good 5~6 seconds before collision is unavoidable if I remember correctly.

      Still one of the greatest lines in video game history though.

  7. MrEvind says:

    So sad, I just want to play a new Freelancer :(

    • soldant says:

      My thoughts exactly. Either they screw up the exploration aspect or screw up the interface. Freelancer was fun because it was easy to get into and play, and had some spectacular places to see in space. The universe was entirely static though, which sort of reduced the fun of playing. I’d kill for the easy interface and space environments of Freelancer mixed with some of the dynamics of the X games.

      And I hope X: Rebirth goes some way to easing my pains.

    • AmateurScience says:

      No-one seems to have really nailed it. Freelancer was great but the combat lacked depth and there was little variety in the ships/’random’ missions. It did a much better job of placing you in it’s universe than the X series (for all it’s depth and complexity). I-war 2 was also great (loved the combat with the semi newtonian model). Freespace had fantastic narrative/combat/structure but lacked the exploration thing which Freelancer nailed.

      Games like this make me wish fervently that I could code because these are the games that I would make if I made games.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      If you have an idevice or a mac, I highly recommend Galaxy on Fire 2. It’s more arcadey than freelancer, but a good bit of fun nonetheless.

  8. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I just saw mr biscuit’s take on this. It really didn’t look great, although he raised a great point at the end- developers: don’t get discouraged from making this sort of thing.

    I’ve recently got into the X3 games, despite their notoriously unfriendly interface. After watching a couple of hours of youtubes and flying around without any real purpose, it has clicked and i’m quite enjoying it.

  9. AmateurScience says:

    Somewhere on my hard drive, severally backed up in many places lies what I suppose could be described as a design document for ‘the bestest spacey shootie explorie spacie awesome game ever’ which I’m continually adding to.

    Some day I’ll give up this science lark, teach myself to code/draw/write and make it. And all will rejoice. Trust me there are some (I think) good ideas in there. But I have no idea where to even start.

    • jonfitt says:

      You’re not the only one. One day the dam will burst and the market will overflow with indie space shooters.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Not alone at all. I think I’ve spent more time arm chair designing space sims that actually playing them.

      I think over the years I could have made the best game ever. Or Battlecruiser 3000.

      I’ve also got half a design for an amazing space cop game. Are you listening devs? Hire me and get Space Noir: The Game. A seedy crime noir story on a space station ruled by greed. It can’t possibly fail!

    • Ex Lion Tamer says:

      Hey, Stellar Duck? I will wire you one hundred of my worthless American dollars right now for a future copy of that game. I don’t think I’m the only one, so, uh, please make it?

  10. colinmarc says:

    Makes me think of Freespace, especially the second one where it was all about the titan or whatever giant ship. I’m not sure if I loved those games because I was a child or because they were excellent and fun.

    • Fierce says:

      You loved those games because they were made with passion, as it should be.

      Just try to remember the Intro movies to either FreeSpace. I’m willing to bet you can remember more than just a second or two.

  11. BobsLawnService says:

    Why are all spacesims these days either deeply flawed attempts at Elite space trading or braindead, over-simplified mission based shooters like this. I don’t even expect Freelancer or Tie Fighter quality. How about Wing Commander levels of complexity. It was the first real mission based space shooter and twenty years later with all the advances in technology we can’t even equal it in complexity. How expensive would it be to recreate the gameplay and simple cutscene animations these days?

    • jonfitt says:

      You have an interesting point.

      At the time when these games were popular they trended towards offering more features in the way of open world(s) trading to try and capture some Elite magic along with Tie Fighter fun. However they slowly shed the mass market appeal and demanded a more and more devoted audience.

      Other more games (sometimes cross-platform releases) have tried to be as simple as possible to recapture the mass audience.

      But along the way we lost the middle ground. People who want to feel like they’re immersed in an epic sci-fi universe without worrying about the cost of space shrimp.

      I would say the exact same thing is true of flight sims, there are your HAWX and DCS games, but where’s the flight sim lite like US Navy Fighters?

    • wodin says:

      Thirdwire…they make your flight sim lites…

    • Fierce says:

      I miss Jetfighter III so much.

      I used to catch the 3 wire like a Boss and proudly look at my traps on the pilot board after every mission.

      Oh youth, where did you go~

    • jonfitt says:

      RE: Thirdwire
      Yes, after reading that Flare Path which mentioned them, I am looking forward to their new one.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      I’ve been a fan of the Third Wire sims for a while. It would be nice to see a few medium budget space shooters taking the same middle of the road approach. I personally found the control schemes of I-War and Freelancer 2 to be a little over-the-top.

      Also, these mission based games seem to lack compelling space opera storylines which Wing Commander did so well.

  12. Love Albatross says:

    I really wanted to like this but the entire game is one long escort mission, so it can fuck off.

    • wodin says:

      For all my praising of Freespace 2 SCP one thing I hate in the campaigns and in any game are escort missions…especially when you have to rely on the AI to do their job aswell…

    • Fierce says:

      To be fair, this is precisely why the Space Sim genre has died off. I’m sure I’m not the first one to say or think this, but when you’re strapped into a space fighter/bomber, your options for interacting with the game world are very limited. You’re either on a seek and destroy mission, a scan suspicious cargo / it’s a trap / now you can seek and destroy mission, or a babysitting mission. This can’t be helped when the industry has only explored a space sim game character following orders without question and firing their lasers and missiles and bombs whenever Locked On lights up.

      I’ve always believed that the genre could take off again using two simple mechanics: characterization and the ability to exist in places that aren’t a cockpit in space. Don’t make the character such a straight arrow military officer, but a person with motivations and family and relationships and the literary possibilities take off from there. With today’s technology, loading speed and times are a very mitigated factor now. There’s no reason why a mission can’t have your mothership jumping into a system, launching you and your permanently killable wingmates to clear out enemy CAPs, then taking on enemy ships while you have to boost power to engines and burn towards a planet where you have to clear orbital defenses for dropships… which you then escort to their LZ while perform bombing runs (complete with altered flight characteristics on your spacefighter)… and then receive a distress call or other split decision that confronts you with a moral or family related choice which may lead to the failure of the planet assault if you disobey orders.

      Add to that the need to fly back to your ship, land and disembark your craft and now you have all sorts of room for plot exposition through character interaction or avatar development through social decisions. Can you imagine walking into a debriefing room and consoling a pilot who’s torn up over losing his wingman… only for the place to explode in frantic chaos as your ship is ambushed by a cunning antagonist Admiral? How about landing after the rushed defense and walking through the same corridors but with body bags everywhere?

      Mass Effect can do it. Fallout can do it. It’s a wonder the proverbial Galactica pilot hasn’t done it yet. Take the Duty Stick out of his butt and have his eyes look at something other than a briefing screen or a reticule, and the skies the limit.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      “Add to that the need to fly back to your ship, land and disembark your craft and now you have all sorts of room for plot exposition through character interaction or avatar development through social decisions. Can you imagine walking into a debriefing room and consoling a pilot who’s torn up over losing his wingman… only for the place to explode in frantic chaos as your ship is ambushed by a cunning antagonist Admiral? How about landing after the rushed defense and walking through the same corridors but with body bags everywhere? ”

      Isn’t this Wing Commander without the FMVs? If so: I’m sold!

    • Zenicetus says:

      “Don’t make the character such a straight arrow military officer, but a person with motivations and family and relationships and the literary possibilities take off from there.”

      It’s been a while, but I think the plot in Independence War 2 avoided most of the tired military cliches. IIRC, the player inherited his father’s mining ship, and then gradually geared up to where you could avenge his killer, doing some pirating along the way. Not the most unique idea, but better than constantly rehashing Wing Commander / Tie Fighter / Freelancer military themes.

      I keep repeating myself every time one of these space combat games gets released… but I still think I-War 2 had the best ideas that anyone has ever come up with for combining some Newtonian goodness with truly vast areas to fly around in. It’s amazing to me that all these little indie projects keep rebuilding Wing Commander instead of looking at what else has been done.

    • Wooly Wugga Wugga says:

      Fierce you’ve just described Wing Commander 1 and 2. The only thing you’ve left out in your description is the brilliant jazz soundtrack by George “The Fat Man” Sanger which is the second greatest game sound track ever scored.

  13. HilariousCow says:

    I literally cannot remember if I tried this game or not, because almost every space fighter (except Kromaia) looks identical.

    • Tei says:

      This is the one where the enemy ships dont shot at you, and the game spawn ships at random places.

  14. DarkWeeble says:

    Why the hell aren’t you people playing link to freeallegiance.org ? It’s multiplayer-only Freespace 2 with RTS elements and a commander! There’s bombing runs in ships that have to be manned by multiple players, detection range based on your ship’s “noise” output, and teamwork is required! It’s everything you’ve ever wanted from a space sim, shooter, and RTS game and it’s free!

    Here’s the wiki if you want to read up: link to freeallegiance.org

    I emailed a while ago suggesting an article on it but never heard back. I am disappoint. :(

  15. kert says:

    I spent my ten bucks on it just on principle, because its space combat – i hope a lot of people do the same.

    Its no Wing Commander, or even Tachyon, the Fringe, but it’s playable and has its small moments. A rare moment to actually get the joystick out of the closet.

    • jonfitt says:

      My joystick came out of the closet ages ago… for ArmA2.

    • Rugged Malone says:

      My joystick came out of the closet ages ago… for ArmA2.

      Not that there’s anything wrong with that…. ;)

  16. Hoaxfish says:

    I think it might just be me, but that first screenshot ship looks a bit like a baby on all fours, with its head point towards you.

    whoops, missed the other “things it looks like” thread

  17. xGryfter says:

    I agree with pretty much everything most people are saying but I still think it’s a fun game. I also think what these 6 guys are doing is great, they have a ways to go but they seem willing to work through it. Hopefully they are not bullshitting us (based on the speed and consistency of the patches coming out they seem very sincere) and we’ll see the second part to this with some more improvements inciting more sales in turn increasing the budget for the next chapter. Eventually these guys want to do a full fledged AAA space sim but they need the experience, budget and fan base that these smaller games will hopefully bring them.

  18. Man Raised by Puffins says:

    perfect for pummelling these pachyderm-like plodders

    For shame, RPS! I thought you were inoculating your new in-mates writers against Stone’s Syndrome, and yet here we have a classic case well into Stage II. For shame, I say!

    Good read, and yet another victory for rude looking header screengrabs (I’m not sure that I’d have perused the article without its presence).

  19. frosty216 says:

    For quite some time, my life’s only goal was to earn medals and ribbons in TIE Fighter. Suck on that, console achievements. You weren’t pioneering anything.. I was toiling away after meaningless graphics of dopamine-releasing goodness before you existed. …and at least then I had some shady guy wearing a cloak to stroke off my ego and tell me how well I did at servicing..err serving the emperor.

  20. Aatch says:

    I guess what I want is a well polished space sim without overly-complex controls and without too much boring travelling. With appropriate references (or counter references), this is my rough wishlist:

    – Open World, but eliminate too much tedious travel, Eve did this Ok, but it takes ages to travel more than 3 or 4 jumps unless you do it manually. X3 did well, especially with the time-dilation mechanic thing and autopilot, though the autopilot is a little rough.

    – Keyboard/Mouse controls. I get that a “true space sim” is supposed to be played with a joystick, but I don’t have one and that’s that. Also, the mouse and keyboard are perfectly ok to control with, since you have 100+ keys to work with, 2D motion and a scrollwheel to work with, simple mouselook isn’t good enough since I often can’t do the quick 180 that i need to.

    – Simple/scalable flight model. Great, your flight model is a perfect vacuum, zero-gravity physics simulation, however i don’t want to individually control the directional thrusters required. if this is space, can I please get some of that awesome space-computer help? maybe turn it on and off at will, or have it activate when i say so. So I can have things like match speed, auto-level to solar plane, align to target, turn on/off automatic speed control.

    – Decent combat. If you insist on sending groups of enemies at me, then you have to make it so i can take them on by myself, I can’t rely on the AI help (if it even exists) unless you have the best AI ever developed. Similar to the above point, this is space-future, give me some space-help, automatic target locking, clear indicators for enemy positions, clear warnings (“Ridiculous missile inbound” as opposed to *BOOM* “Didn’t you notice the ridiculous missile?”).

    – Polish. I don’t necessarily mean graphics, though that would be nice, but I mean making sure that the game itself is polished, if that means scaling down the number of systems from 200 to 100, then so be it. The little things matter, like warnings letting you know that crashing into things will make you explode, indicators of lock-distance, effective weapon ranges etc., clear buttons. In fact that last point you be another item:

    – Polished UI. This is a must, especially with things like ship loadouts, trading and all that being complicated affairs in their own right. i don’t want to have to remember that holding Shift while clicking an item in my hold will eject it, while holding Ctrl with destroy it and holding Shift and Ctrl will equip it, just make left-click select, and right-click a context menu for all those actions. Conform to standard UI concepts (box-select, ctrl to individually select, shift to range select etc.), make drag-and-drop make sense. Error messages! Error messages, helpful ones, whenever I do something wrong.

    That’s about it, and its not in any order and I care about more things than others. I don’t think that I am asking too much, I don’t really care that much about having a “fully dynamic trading system that responds in realtime to changing economic conditions” or a “complete physics simulation with accurate gravity simulation for all bodies” and I’d prefer not to “manage your energy, directing it to shields, weapons or engines in realtime”. i want accessible combat, accessible controls and not having to memorize more context-sensitive keyboard shortcuts than an emacs user.

    i want to say that Evochron: Mercenary is almost this game, the controls are decent enough with the mouse+keyboard, the combat is simple enough to be accessible, but complex enough to allow for tactics. The one thing it is missing is polish, for example, I repeatedly died early in the game without knowing why, initially it turned out that the warp system will warp you to exactly where you ask it, even if exactly where you ask it is in the middle of a planet, then when, flying in atmosphere, I suddenly exploded, several times. Turns out that this was because I was using the afterburner and that going too fast in atmosphere kills your shield and then makes you explode. Neither of these things were given a decent message, I just died and had to try again. If I was unable to warp /into/ a planet, then that would be fine, if i was unable to use afterburner (or got a warning) in atmosphere, that would be fine.