Some games just take a bit of time to grow into their skin, so to speak. Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock was a decent enough sci-fi strategy game when it first launched, but perhaps felt a little under-baked in places, according to Alec’s review-ish look at it here. After an extra year of polish, patching in new features and the release of a major expansion yesterday, it now feels far more like the game that Battlestar Galactica always deserved.
The Broken Alliance expansion (released just yesterday) goes a decent way to fleshing out the campaign side of the game. A handful of new capital ships and fighter types on both Human and Cylon sides, plus eight new scripted story missions integrated into the dynamic campaign structure. This is building on top of the previous Reinforcement Pack DLC which added its own set of new vessels to both sides of the war, so now there’s a good range of ships to play around with outside of those featured in the TV show.
The biggest change introduced in the major patch accompanying Broken Alliance’s release is the persistent damage system. Quite how the game launched without this, I don’t know – half of the TV’s show involved ships limping away, bleeding from a dozen wounds – but it’s a genuine game-changer, and forces a much more decisive playstyle. No longer can you lazily commit all ships knowing that you can just pull them back safely if one is about to be sunk. Now, every bit of damage takes time and money in-between sorties to patch up, with internal damage costing more.
This one mechanical change turns what was a decent tactics game and a decent strategy game with a bit of an awkward divide between them feel far more like a cohesive whole. A secondary perk of what Black Lab are calling the Endurance update (full patch-notes here) is that damage is visually represented as well. Ship hulls bear the scars of battle, and given that sometimes damage can persist for several missions in a row, it’s all the more nerve-wracking when enemy fire comes close to punching a hole through your favourite ship’s already-punctured flank.
They’ve also hammered out some kinks in the replay feature, one of the nicer features of the game. While you issue your orders in turn-based fashion, they play out in realtime, simultaneously with the enemy forces plans, ala Frozen Synapse. The replays add a dynamic camera that tries its best to replicate the TV show’s style during the bigger, messier battles, and turns what was probably a 50-turn gruelling slog into just a couple minutes of intense space combat. You can even output these as video, now with a resolution slider.
While a previous sticking point with the game was its perhaps-too-high price of £30/$40 before DLC, the game is being steeply discounted for the next week, bringing it down to a more reasonable £23.55/$31.47 for the Complete Edition, or just £15/$20 for the base version. If you’re a fan of the show I’d recommend going for the full-fat edition, given that both DLC packs are fully integrated into the story campaign. That, and turn on persistent damage. It’s just not Battlestar otherwise.