I certainly welcome our new startfighting overlords! I did get a chance to try out the Galactic Starfighter expansion in the close beta over the past couple weekends. With the NDA lifting this morning I figured I’d take this opportunity, along with everyone else that was in the beta, to write up my initial thoughts.
Here are the key ideas and impressions that I think are useful when looking forward to what we have coming:
- GS is Fun: Just to kick it off, let me say that GS was certainly quite a bit of fun. I’ll talk next about how this is certainly PvP, but that said, I think the appeal and fun factor will be a bit more broad than typical PvP. There are some extra twists with ship collection, customization and leveling that extend the fun a bit in those directions as well.
- GS is PvP: The core of GS is certainly PvP. There is a PvE tutorial space where you can get used to flying a ship around and shooting a couple stationary targets, but all the actual gameplay is based around shooting other people. The couple maps we have seen so far roughly equate to an in-depth version of the Alderan Civil War PvP warzone. Inexperienced players may find some frustration in getting in there and getting blown up quite a bit but the ramp-up isn’t that long in getting used to the controls and the fun of flying a ship around freely softens that ramp-up time.
- 3D is a whole new dimension: I really appreciate the lack of “up” in the control scheme but it will be a challenge for new players to wrap their head around at first, especially since you are locked into pretty much a 1st person view, close up on the tail of your ship. Rotating 180 degrees in a barrel roll, for example, will have you flying around in effect upside down. Took me a bit to get used to it and once you embrace the 3D space, you’ll gain more control. Think “the enemy gate is down” as a concept and you’ll be a step ahead.
- Control: The controls nearly feel like they should be joystick/controller based but there are some nuances, especially with regard to targeting enemy ships and needing to lead them, that will make it difficult to support those control schemes. It takes some getting used to but isn’t overly complex.
- Customization: With different ship types (small and fast, bigger and more powerful, special use (minelayers), etc.) as well as different possible weapons, different abilities depending on which “crew members” you select, and the leveling system to build out the skill tree for various ship components, there will be plenty of opportunity to mess with that meta game in a meaningful way.
- Strategy: I think this is something we will see develop over time. 12v12, free for all, “go control some points” will be the starting “strategy” but there are many nuances to various ship abilities (defensive/offensive mines and drones, abilities to drop respawn locations, ship roles working in concert) that have the potential to allow some very interesting fleet mechanics. It will take some team practice and expertise in strategy to see these emerge but I think this could be very interesting in the long term.
That’s plenty for initial impressions. I’ll see about adding notes on specific topics over time and am certainly happy to answer any questions I can on what I’ve seen so far. I’m sure we’ll cover it on the SWTOR Escape Pod Cast as well.
Looking forward to it!