Wot I Think: Strike Vector

Strike Vector‘s eye-catching trailers meant that it was destined for my hard-drive. I have a long, over-documented fondness for that genre of game that straddles all types of non-simulatory flight combat, and although it’s taken me a while to catch up with Strike Vector, I’m glad I did. Back in the times of Forsaken and Descent, I would sink lifetimes into these kinds of games, and Strike Vector – a multiplayer take on the idea – feels very much like a cry from that distant and beautifully three-dimensional past.

But does that invocation of the classics lead to greatness? Here’s Wot I Think.

Looped guitar rock on the menu screens always means you’re in for a certain kind of experience, and it’s completely true for Strike Vector: it’s a punishing, fast game of deathmatch and capture-the-flag, which could have been a Quake clone if it hadn’t hung its hat on the 6DOF way of doing things. They’ve decided that gravity wasn’t going to feature, and everything hangs in the sky in exactly the way that bricks don’t.

“Aerial FPS” they call it.

This head-spinning multiple directional flight game is immediately going to put Strike Vector out of the taste-field of many gamers, and the sheer balls of it killing you on impact with any of the scenery will cause many more to make like the developers and Ragequit. (The studio is called Ragequit Corporation. That wasn’t really clear, was it?) What I am saying is that this is not the easiest game to mesh with, and even tougher to master.

But… well, it’s certainly enticing to me. It’s alluringly beautiful, all vast structural sci-fi architecture porn and impossible weightlessness. The sense of speed and the mad splendour of the all-directions environments certainly captures something that most games seem to miss. Even with all the art that’s hung on it, it’s pure videogame, as if the hormones produced by Defender or Robotron are still pumping through its Unreal-powered veins, giving it some primordial strength over modern, smoother productions.

Once you get past the initial spikes of difficulty, there’s a load of game to master, and I was amazed to see quite how much a tiny studio like Ragequit Corporation had managed to cram in. Nor is that flow of content letting up, it seems, because new DLC is appearing all the time, and it’s free.

The vector customisation screen is a particular delight. You get to choose between left and right weapons, for which there are eight reasonably varied options. So you could go with a couple of gatling guns, or a homing missile launcher and a plasma cannon, and so forth. There’s a lot to play with in terms of working out how you to put down damage, and ultimately how you want to specialise. Speaking of which, there’s also a specialisation choice, which skews your stats in a certain direction, and a special power type additional unit, giving you AoE effects, cloaks and so forth. As I said, they’ve made a lot of game here.

To be brutally honest, though, I can’t see Strike Vector ever getting to the level of popularity where it could command organised clan competition, which is a disappointing sort of realisation, because it has the kind of “build” mentality that could make for incredible teamplay. I saw a bit of dog-fight tag going in the game, as players complemented each others kills, but I’d love to see tactics developed purposefully, rather than simply being improvised in open play. There’s some amazing potential here that I fear might never be realised by players.

In flight there are two modes, one where you are a speeding rocket, and another where you are floating along much more slowly. This means that while much of the time you’re going to be hurtling about at breakneck speed, you can also stop on a dime and move tightly through even very close environments, if you use that slow speed mode. It’s a system that initially feels daunting, and then later feels well-tuned. It’s good design.

The lethality of the environment does concern me, though. I can see why you’d want your ship to explode if it even clips the scenery – because high speed impacts should equal death – but I do wonder how much less frustrating this game would be if it simply bounced you away from the scenery in a shower of sparks. Less realistic and less nerve-jangling, certainly, but it might have made the game a little less of a problem to get a grasp on. It certainly needs something to leg up beginners, because although you can explore the maps solo, to learn the layouts without getting nuked by other vectors, there’s almost no tutorial – a few pages of text and diagrams has to suffice.

Not that this really matters. We’re all hardcore enough not to need hand-holding, right?

The biggest problem facing Strike Vector is, well, the server populations. There are always a couple of games going on, but there are also a lot of empty servers, even on a weekend. I suspect the time to grab this minor gem will be when it appears in a Steam sale, which will have the effect of both filling out the servers and also providing you will non-expert opponents to take apart in play.

I like Strike Vector. I like it a great deal. And I recommend it if any of that stuff sounds like your cup of rocket fuel. I just suspect that I will soon forget it. And that’s a true and terrible shame.

Strike Vector is available now.


  1. Lemming says:

    What is happening to you with Strike Vector, is exactly what happened to me with Hawken. I was tempted by this, though.

    • Whiskey Jak says:

      Exactly what came to my mind while reading this.

    • Nakoichi says:

      I just registered on this site just to say if you are tempted as I was, buy it and you will not regret it. Wait for the sale (which they have stated is coming soon) if you must but I guarantee at the rate they are adding content plus the promise of full mod support in the future this is well worth getting in on.

  2. TimorousBeastie says:

    Unfortunately in this day and age the multiplayer for any paid product without a ton of advertising is going to bomb pretty darn fast, which is a shame as this looks rather shiny.

    • Noburu says:

      I agree, i can name quite a few good multiplayer games that basically languished by the wayside due to the lack of a good solid persistent player base.

      One of the side effects of “Indie” games is frequently they do not have the luxury of advertising. The most they can hope for is to submit to a popular gaming site and get noticed.

      • TimorousBeastie says:

        Or be Free to Play, which will at least bring in a bunch of users over time even several months after launch, but does come with some design compromises to be made, or at least the perception of from your players.

        • Nakoichi says:

          All it really needs is a free weekend for people to get their hands on it and determine if they can handle the controls and freedom of movement; If you can handle it you will love it, if you can’t you probably won’t and if you get motion sickness easily at all you probably want to avoid it.

    • KDR_11k says:

      They can last for decent durations, I got a lot of fun out of Monday Night Combat, for example. I’m not convinced by the price for this game though, considering the risk of servers running dry I don’t see paying more than the standard 15$/equivalent as justified.

      • TimorousBeastie says:

        Monday Night Combat was indeed awesome, that was a few years ago though, and the landscape has changed significantly since then. It’s no coincidence that its sequel went F2P.

  3. rapchee says:

    What’s up the strange kill messages? [sic] “x dug y’s buthol n#2” “z nailed x quiet gently” I don’t appreciate that, young man, i don’t appreciate that at all.
    Shit looks intense though. Kinda makes me want to get it. Although i fail enough in less complicated shooters.

  4. TechnicalBen says:

    This is what I was hoping Hawken became, but a mech on ground version. Will have to see if I can give this one a try. Sad if it never gets the community/players.

  5. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Hardcore? I’m HARDCORE alright!

    I was the king of Defender in my day.
    I gave a Defender cabinet a visit the other day.
    “Stand back son, watch and learn”.
    I’m not harcore anymore.
    I need one of those gizmos I had for my Amiga that I could shove in the back to slow the game riiiiight down.

    Probably not for me these days but, like Hotline Miami, I’d play it to death if I could.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I actually think I just broke or caused injury to my thumb playing Assault Android Cactus. Arthritis early onset? :(

  6. Kein says:

    Section 8 all over again?

    • KDR_11k says:

      Section 8 had decent bots that could fill up a match even when the number of actual humans was low. I don’t believe SV has bots?

  7. Bobka says:

    If this had a solid single-player mode I would be ALL OVER IT. Bots, campaign, whatever. But I don’t have the energy, patience, time or interest to sit down for a multiplayer action game. Shame; it’s exactly the kind of gameplay I’ve been waiting for for a long time.

    • KDR_11k says:

      That was the biggest barrier for me when I first heard of it, I don’t always feel like playing with people so online-only isn’t so nice. I was excited when I first saw it but lost most of my interest once I read that it was MP-only

    • Schiraman says:

      Yeah, I really agree. Looks like fun, but it needs bots.

  8. DarkFarmer says:

    haven’t played Strike Vector but the trouble with these “awesome, yet niche” (Guns of Icarus Online?) multiplayer games is that no one plays them except for the stone-cold pros, which is great for them and all, but it’s a little imposing to new players. I mean that is a problem with all games now (HRRRRR IN THE 90S WHEN I WAS A KID multiplayer games were all played by college students who spend a good amount of time playing the guitar and going to class so you still stood a chance even if you were just casual) (aka i was better at video games before i had a job and a girlfriend) (aka shut up old man)

    anyway this problem is exacerbated when the game is just small, it becomes impossible to find a non pro level game. no matter how brilliant it is

    • subedii says:

      Depends on the community, and often the style of game plays into that.

      Despite being a very in-depth game for example, I’ve found the Natural Selection 2 community fairly welcoming, even of newbie commanders (and there are new-player friendly servers, highlighted in green).

      Others though, yeah, they can get ridiculously introverted and toxic at times. Personally I’ve found that (generally) smaller communities tend to be more welcoming of new people than large ones, even if you’re not ‘pro’.

    • Alphus says:

      I remember reading an article mentioning how bot ai is not much of a focus these days as everyone has internet. Maybe as the multiplayer market gets saturated and filling servers isn’t an option we will see game makers go back to filling out games with high quality bots (like UT2004 and most RTS games)

      • KDR_11k says:

        AI is hard, it’s so much easier to say “fuck it, let other players fill it out” and simply abandon the game once it loses popularity.

    • Volcanu says:

      A thousand times this.

      Its my problem with almost all multiplayer modes on games I might generally love. As well as it being particularly the case with niche games, it also applies (for obvious reasons) to old games too. I loved Age of Empires II in my boyhood days and fondly remember epic LAN matches (in an internet cafe of all places) with a couple of mates. Dusted it off for a spin the other week, but unfortunately I was on the back foot all game against people who clearly had got production strategies worked out to a tee.

      Nothing makes me feel more pitiful than attempting to play an RTS online, the level of frantic microing and the well rehearsed build order routines of most of the players you encounter usually results in a hiding.

      All in all, whilst I consider myself a pretty good gamer from a SP perspective (its rare that I don’t complete my games) I just don’t have the time to invest in properly learning multiplayer modes & maps at the expense of all the games on my ‘still to play’ list.

      I miss the early days of my online gaming experience – playing things like UT,& X wing vs TIE fighter and actually being able to compete and have fun.

      ( Dozes off in armchair)

      • Nakoichi says:

        If you miss epic space sims then give this a look link to incgamers.com. This is the team headed up by Chris Roberts who made Wing Commander, Privateer, and Freelancer doing a super high def space opera that for all intents and purposes aims to be gta in space with a large multiplayer persistant universe included as well. Their website has an overwhelming amount of dev QA and behind the scenes content and progress reports if you have the spare time and are interested in backing it, though at this point pledges are really not necessary as it’s cruising along at a low of $2m in pledges each month and is nearing $40m total, nearly double the original projected budget.

  9. HumpX says:

    I like the game but I found the learning curve (in terms of twitch skills) brutal.

  10. pupsikaso says:

    Ok so that’s UK/EU, anyone can say what the server populations are like over on the US side?

  11. AshRolls says:

    Top marks for the Douglas Adams quote.

  12. hideinlight says:

    At US peak times there are always 1 or 2 close to full servers.
    Same with EU.

    In EU atm:

    5/12 and filling (off peak at the time of posting, and Monday…)

    Game has a very consistent 50-80 players online, throughout the day. Which doesn’t sound much but that translates into roughly 1000 unique players every day.

    The game does have it fair share of incredibly skilled players that’ll make anyone go wtf.

    But those players are exceptional, most are just average and above average when they actually gain knowledge of the game.
    Game does have a brutal learning curve, but for 1 hour. After that you go into the ecstasy curve when you get better and better.

    I believe I posted a FPS video in the forums, that guy basically had like 2-3 hours of game-time.

    Not the Whoracle one, that’s the nr1 player in Strike Vector atm. The great thing about Strike Vector is, when you see a pro, you can just fly away.

    • frightlever says:

      I am prepared to predict that on in any given game, about half the players will be below average for that game.

  13. hideinlight says:

    Also at RPS, have you played the Rival Sanctuaries map? The one with the rotating debree.

    Oh and one last thing, how many here would play it, if it was to have a Free Weekend?

  14. altum videtur says:

    Gimme a campaign mode and I would play the shit out of this.
    As it is… mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmaybe not.

    • hideinlight says:

      All a campaign gonna offer is some horrible voice acting, a forgettable story and braindead AI.

      An average game of Strike Vector feels like your in the Climax of a Star Wars movie, so what’s the point.
      Although when the Map editor/UDK tools release for the game in the near future, who knows what might happen.

      Yes it’s getting a “map editor”(unlocking the UDK editor).

      • rapchee says:

        I think a doom/quake like singleplayer would be just fine. Maybe coop shiphunting.

      • malkav11 says:

        The point is that would be way more fun than getting stomped flat by expert players or waiting silently for someone, anyone to join a server. (Sounds like the latter isn’t a problem right now, but time takes its toll on most of these games.)

      • Sidewinder says:

        You’re right. What’s the point? It’s not like there were any single-player games that felt like you were in the climax of a Star Wars movie that were any good… Except for, you know, X-wing. And TIE Fighter. And Rebel Assault. And Rogue Squadron. And X-wing vs TIE Fighter, if multiplayer was your thing. And heck, that’s just Star Wars. Feeling like you’re in the climax of a movie IS the point.

      • frightlever says:

        “An average game of Strike Vector feels like your in the Climax of a Star Wars movie, so what’s the point.”

        I know that feeling.

        • hideinlight says:

          That’s a legit strategy, when you get killed, you turn into a flaming wreckage, he was just looking for an enemy to crash into for a Last Action Hero kill.

          He failed though.

      • KDR_11k says:

        It doesn’t have to be a campaign, just bots. So you can play the same game types but with adjustable-skill opponents that are always available.

  15. hideinlight says:

    Game does have some crash tolerance, you can kinda bump off objects with the right angle of approach. Just tested it for like 30 minutes, no idea why, it had some degree of amusement factor to it, it’s kinda fun bumping off of stuff, who would of thought…

    Anyways don’t hit objects directly with your nose in jet mode, that kills you.

    On another note people are demanding way too much of Indies atm, want a single-player game, then support them and hope for Strike Vector 2.
    How can one expect such small Indie team to do absolutely everything when people are giving them nothing in return?

    Strike Vector does multi-player well, it should stick to it’s strengths. The furthest it could maybe go is creating a coop survival training horde mode where the objective is to Kill Flappy Birds and clones.

    Maybe that’s what it should do to garner the attention of the masses?

  16. Phasma Felis says:

    You know, just the other day I was watching a Strike Vector video and thinking “man, I hope they don’t wuss out and make you bounce off walls like a ping-pong ball. Anything that hits a wall moving that fast oughta leave a crater.”

    So…that’s awesome.

    Somehow I thought this was gonna have microtransactions. Did they squeeze any of those in on top of the purchase price, or do you actually get a full game for your $25?

    • dacthulhu says:

      You have the full game … and more : They said all futures DLC/updates will be free (it seem to be one by month).

  17. SuicideKing says:

    (This was supposed to be a reply to Alphus and KDR_11k above :/)

    Yeah, that’s exactly what i was thinking. AI is very hard to do right, and is usually one of the weakest components in a game.

  18. NZLion says:

    While in jet mode you die instantly on hitting a wall, but you can switch almost instantly to Harrier mode, and you can bounce off walls almost indefinitely in Harrier mode.
    About to hit a wall? Use the mode-switch button as an oh-shit button.

    Gameplay when I’ve been on has consisted of creeping around scenery looking for kill options, then using the Jet mode to sprint to the next piece of scenery. What for you seems like a sprint forward, may for someone else be up or left… so it’s definitely interesting to play

    • dacthulhu says:

      While in jet mode you can bounce on wall if you don’t hit with the nose but you’ll lose many HP