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Sol Trader is Elite vs Dwarf Fortress; Out Next Week

“f you don’t want to play Sol Trader, I’m afraid we can’t be friends any more,” wrote Adam last year. Now it’s your chance to make or break a friendship with our most devout strategy enthusiast, as “Elite, Asteroids & Dwarf Fortress” fusion Sol Trader is finally due for release, just a few days from now.
Sol Trader is, impressively, a solo effort from Chris Parsons, ex of Elixir – the Bullfrog spin-off which made Evil Genius and the grand folly which was Republic: The Revolution. (Elixir boss Demis Hassabis is busy creating Skynet for Google, donchaknow). Sol Trader’s apparently been in dev for the best part of a five years, but took to Kickstarter for the final mile last year. Backers and beta purchasers have been receiving builds since then, but next Monday marks the first time that the rest of us get to discover whether – deep breath – the following is as delectable as it sounds on paper:

  • Single-player combination of top down 2D spaceflight and strategic manipulation of your network of contacts
  • Run missions using your family and friends’ connections to government or business
  • No ship given to you at game start: you must take a loan and hire a ship, or borrow one from a wealthy relative
  • Fly between planets, interacting with the various characters you come across in cities and in space
  • Research information on other characters through chatting to friends and relatives
  • Customise your ship with better guns, engines, hyperdrives and passenger cabins
  • Trade goods for profit
  • Procedural generation of a whole society of thousands of random characters
  • Start every new game from your character’s birth
  • Choose your parents and all your major life choices as you grow up
  • Your choices determine your personality and your friends, relatives and enemies

Again, Elite vs Dwarf Fortress: lineage and legacy, not just the contents of a cockpit. The game procedurally generates 200 years of history every time you start afresh: it is, in theory, your universe. Some of the character and relationship is on show here:

And here’s a combat vid from November, to show off the other side of the coin:

Big scope, big promises – we’ll find out whether they became reality on June 6. You can pre-order for £15 direct from the dev if you’re a gambling sort, but hopefully we’ll have thoughts’n’opinions soon.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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