Massively informs us that free-to-play browser MMOG Battlestar Galactica Online will be throwing open its (hangar bay) doors and entering open beta on February 8th, which is actually the day I was planning to water my spider plant collection but NEVERMIND. Browsing Massively's own first impressions of BGO is enlightening. In short, I was worried that the game might be lightweight and uninteresting, but on closer inspection it might not be totally uninteresting at all. I've posted a few choice quotes (plus the latest trailer, again) after the (FTL) jump.
Here's Massively's Beau Hindman on how combat works...
Combat seemed simple and a little clunky at first. Remember that the game is running in your browser using the Unity engine, so take time to forgive it a bit. As I leveled up, learned new skills, and bought new ships, combat became not only much more smooth and dynamic but more strategic. Instead of needing to press a mouse-button every time I wanted to shoot my main guns, I found that they fired automatically. You lock onto a target and fly at it (or around it) while your auto guns send tracers across the dark sky. Items like missiles need to be fired individually, though, and abilities or triggered items like missile decoys are fired with a shortcut.
...and on the scale of the battles....
The variety of ships is nice, allowing players to pilot anything from a basic craft to a massive CM monster. Battles felt very balanced despite the fact that some players were in larger craft. Bigpoint seems to have taken a page from EVE Online's book by making larger craft slower and easier to hit but chock-full of deadly weapons and other electronic goodies. Missiles can literally be shot out of the sky, so even their existence added some element to gameplay. One particularly large battle I was in was filled with talk of "little guys, get the missiles!" That gritty stuff really gave the game some depth.
...and on what's actually happening out there in space.
After my short time in Battlestar Galactica Online, I can say that the game is almost a board game. Some NPCs might spawn here and there, establish bases, and attempt to establish a foothold. Players come to their aid, while other players jump to kill them. I'm not sure what the goal is, but I think it has something to do with resources and mining. I can stick near safer space and mine asteroids, do some basic missions, or level my character. Or, of course, I can jump my way into battle, hoping to die with honor. I loved the fact that fighting was not an instant-death sort of scenario. Even when I was outnumbered, I was able to last long enough to do some damage. The play areas, similar to EVE Online's systems, are large enough that I was even able to escape from my enemies, repair, and come back to shoot them down.
Worth noting that it looks like it's just a game of space combat- any talk of boarding actions or on-world combat is conspicious by its absence, which is a shame. I do love the pinging noise of flimsy human bullets bouncing off Cylon armour. Why don't they make the bullets out of whatever they make the Cylons from? That's what I'd like to know.