Capital Spaceship Combat: Fractured Space

Nyooom!

The three coolest things to pilot in space battles are, in no particular order: mecha; capital ships; and EVE Online’s Rifter. Edge Case Games was formed by folks behind Strike Suit Zero so they’ve dabbled with the first, and that third is off-limits, so here they are with capital ships in Fractured Space, the first game from their new studio. It’s a five-versus-five multiplayer capital ship throwdown with classes, customisation, and many explosions. Fractured Space warped onto Steam Early Access yesterday at the price of £6.99 and… oh, it’ll turn free-to-play at launch. Bit of an enthusiasm-dampener, that.

Fractured Space throws capital classes from sneaky ships to flying guns into team-based shooty-shoots to control space and all that. It looks a bit MOBA-y to me, between the ship classes, skills, focus on teamplay and manouvering, and the grand goal of smashing someone else’s base. Here, watch this video of folks playing the Early Access version and see for yourself.

Edge Case plan to launch Fractured Space as free-to-play in 2015, once they’ve added a load of new stuff and polished it up. I couldn’t tell you how it sits with Valve’s new Early Access guidelines.

Paying to test a free-to-play game always feels a little weird to me. Edge Case say they’re very keen on using player feedback to shape the game, but free closed testing gives that too. I suppose people paying for a game will be more invested in it, want to offer more, and probably be more useful for feedback. And they give money too. Still, judging from Steam user reviews, some are quite happy to have paid.

36 Comments

  1. Haxton Fale says:

    As amazing as it looks, I can’t help but be reminded about Stellar Impact, a game with a very similar premise, albeit apparently different approach, which is dead now. I for one am hoping for at least bots, wishing the playerbase will remain faithful for a little while longer than Stellar Impact’s…

    • vahnn says:

      RIP Stellar Impact. I probably put 40 solid hours into it, but the community was basically comprised of 15-20 people by the time I started playing, and it just got worse from there. However that was one of the most tightly-knit, coolest communities I’ve encountered in a while, lots of cool dudes to game and chat with on TS.

  2. Noxman says:

    Well this makes Dreadnought look like a pile o’ shite.

    Not that you can’t have both but the frequent complaint about Dreadnought was the apparent lack of actual capital ship style combat instead favoring what seemed to be more of a ‘hot-air balloon’ style bobbing up and down combat.

    This looks like proper space combat.

    • Cinek says:

      “This looks like proper space combat.” – you must have seen completely different video than I did. It’s not that much different than Dreadnought. Just, as I already mentioned – with much more lens flare. Maybe that’s the problem – you got blinded by all these flashes and flares?

      • Noxman says:

        I was indeed taken by the visual style, something that personally heavily attributes my enjoyment of videogames.

        In my view the two games seemed similar in the sense of having large spaceship things fighting. But Dreadnought seemed more like Battleborn in this sense, arena fighty with lots of prime colours. I feel like this is taking a deliberately different direction with shells, missiles and fighters. I admit I am not certain at all they won’t play very similarly but this trailer just ‘gelled’ with me much more than the Dreadnought one.

        Also just as a note, I made my comment first so citing things you already mentioned doesn’t add much.

      • Buuurr says:

        “Cinek says:

        “This looks like proper space combat.” – you must have seen completely different video than I did. It’s not that much different than Dreadnought. Just, as I already mentioned – with much more lens flare. Maybe that’s the problem – you got blinded by all these flashes and flares?”

        I must be taken by the flares as well… this game looks more like Homeworld then Dreadnaught. Dreadnought looks and plays like tiny ships in a planet’s atmosphere. This game has that space feeling to it (prolly cause it is actually in space!). As much as we can compare the two trailers for gameplay that is.

        I get it if you’re a Dreadnought fanboi though. You stick by your man, Girlfriend.

    • Grendel the Dog says:

      I dunno, for me this video didn’t inspire much confidence in the combat feeling ‘weighty’, which is how I would want capital ship combat to feel. I definitely understand how difficult it is to capture that feeling accurately, having played around in the Unity engine with various space strategy games. With that said, the ships seemed really floaty and insubstantial to me. Partly that is because the sense of scale is missing, and that may be rectified by the time this is released – the video does emphasize that these are alpha assets. Partly this may also be a result of the choices made in ship design.

      But the takeaway for me was that the ships don’t feel large, they don’t move in a weighty, ponderous fashion, and the combat looked uninspired. I could overlook the free to play aspect of the combat and gameplay was top-notch; this video did not raise my hopes for said top-notch gameplay.

  3. Joshua Northey says:

    Have there been any good free to play games?

    • Captain Joyless says:

      Um… you mean, like, ever? I would guess yes.

    • Cinek says:

      There’s plenty of good F2P games. Just… vast majority of them is utter garbage (for different reasons obviously – some look horribly, some play horribly, some are horribly grindy, got horrible developers or are nothing more than a payment trap set up by greedy devs)
      Still though – there’s that slim chance once a year we might get some half-decent F2P game.

    • GoTo2k says:

      Path of Exile! In fact, it was such a fair model that I played through it and didn’t even feel the slightest hint of an incentive to pay for it… that actually went so far, that now I feel kinda guilty for not giving them any money..

    • vecordae says:

      Depends on your idea of what constitutes a good game. Off-hand, though:

      MOBAs are usuall free. Smite, DOTA2, LOL and the like are popular, if not my cup of tea.

      Path of Exile is an excellent Diablo-like game with some really smart ideas and a really awesome F2P model.

      Warframe is a co-op 3rd person ninja/shooter/parkour thing with a weird, organic aesthetic

      Sunrider is basically a brutal turn-based strategy game bolted onto an anime-style visual novel. Your mileage may vary in terms of dealing with the usual anime tropes, but I found the battles tough and interesting.

      All different sorts of way of handling the idea of “free to play”, all of which seem fair to me at least.

    • AlexHeartnet says:

      Somehow I am managing to enjoy Neverwinter despite it being similar to every other themepark MMO.

  4. Captain Joyless says:

    I thought it looked fairly mediocre. Very few shots of the ships moving and when they did they lacked a sense of mass – particularly one of the shots of the ship turning without any apparent forward motion. The weapon fire was uninspiring.

    • Cinek says:

      Sort of like Dreadnought game.
      Though this one definitely overuses lens flares.

    • DeVadder says:

      Why would a spaceship need to move forward while turning?

      • Captain Joyless says:

        It doesn’t, necessarily. I’m just saying if you look at the part at :58-:59, you see these ships just sitting in space, spinning. It looks weird and fake.

        • Diatribe says:

          Everything about giant spaceships fighting each other really close in space is fake.

          • Captain Joyless says:

            Well, that’s true.

          • Biscuitry says:

            It’s really a question of how far you can push things without breaking suspension of disbelief. Obviously, the believability threshold varies from person to person, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have things move like it intuitively seems like they should.

    • jonnychimpo says:

      It’s an alpha.

      • Captain Joyless says:

        Yet it’s obviously in a state the developers thought was worth showing to the world.

  5. jonfitt says:

    I am actually quite pleased about the news that it will be F2P.

    The biggest challenge a niche multiplayer game faces is maintaining enough people playing to provide a pool of people to play with. I have bought several $15 small studio online games and never really got to play them because there is nobody else playing. By making this F2P you remove any barriers for people to at least jump in and play. In fact even large MP-only games have done this recently, think Mechwarrior and Planetside.
    The trick though is working out how to make money off this in a way that doesn’t also drive people away. Obviously pay-to-win is bad, but so is making unlocks a complete grind to achieve unless you pay.

    I’d like F2P games opt for a model where they’re free for most, but if you choose to pay the price of a game of this type (say $15) you get everything and are never bothered for money again. The “Sod off I just want to pay for a game” option. The idea that it should be free for 99% who then suffer eternal discomfort in order to make a dedicated 1% drop $100s is abhorrent.

    Let’s see how this goes. Although I’d like to think that these paid alpha backers are going to be treated well once it goes f2p and for 6.99 that would be a good deal.

    • DeVadder says:

      I could hardly agree more.
      I also like the Smite way. It lets you buy all Gods now and ever, meaning you are done forever with everything influencing gameplay but you still earn ingame currency to buy vanity stuff and voice packs. Thus it kind of becomes like CS:GO after the purchase.

    • bill says:

      I strongly agree that F2P with a “i’ve tried it and liked it, now I want to buy the whole game and not get hassled anymore” is a good combination. I wish all F2P games (especially on mobile, where they are most common) would do that.

  6. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I can only assume some whimsical electronic god granted this game to me for free as it appeared in my Steam Library last night, and I jumped into a game.

    It looks rather smashing, doesn’t it? I zone-jumped around a few times enjoying the view, and exchanged broadsides with a couple of ships. It’s rather pretty-looking, and shooting provides all the whizzbangs you could ask for.

    It seemed rather floaty in movement, there was terrible lag, and the framerate plummeted precipitously every time anything interesting happened on screen. It is also quite tricky to work out what is going on; my loyal crew helpfully reported that my shields kept dropping on the side facing away from the only enemy in the zone, the interface needs some labeling or at least some hint as to which numbers are what. The objectives are not explained, and so far the ships seem too fragile to be proper capital ships – things explode quickly, so there’s no sustained pounding as I would expect from a capital ship biff.

    Still, it’s a pretty early alpha, and I’m very keen to see more spacebiff so I’ll dip in from time to time to see what’s changed.

    • jonfitt says:

      That’s nice you got a free copy. Do you own Strike Suit Zero? I wonder if they’re giving it to people who own their other game for free?

    • Hex says:

      You get this, and I get…Pool Nation.

      Yippee skip.

  7. SuicideKing says:

    Meh. I bounced off Strike Suite Zero. Should probably get back to it.

  8. Hex says:

    Pretty much all space-game news I see on this site just reminds me of how much I want to play The Mandate.

    • gorice says:

      My thoughts exactly.

      • WiggumEsquilax says:

        I felt someone mention The Mandate, so where…wait.

        Well, shit. Another false alarm. Too many of not The Mandates.

    • Sian says:

      ALL HAIL EMPRESS ANASTASIA ROMANOVA!

      Ooooo, I can’t wait!

      • Biscuitry says:

        The corrupt empire must fall, regardless of the personal charisma of its figurehead!

  9. Sian says:

    A capital ship space game? Yay!
    Five-versus-five multiplayer? Aw.

  10. Apocalypse says:

    It is awesome, but needs … something more. Maybe more player, maybe homworld style RTS elements, not sure what it really is.

    Besides that it is a little dota style right now.