Dead Star is a twin-stick competitive space shooter, with some MOBA similarities. I know, it doesn’t sound like the most glamorous thing right off the bat, and I had my doubts too when I first went into it. Fortunately I had one of the developers from Armature there with me to explain the complexities of a seemingly simple space shooter, so that I could learn to appreciate the 10 v 10 space shooter in a way that I didn’t think previously possible.
It’s a battle for control of an area. Depending on the size of the map, there are a variety of different sized control points to capture zones. This points are usually surrounded by mines and ships to stop you from getting anywhere near and outfitted with things to blast you should you manage to do that. The more points you control, the faster your team will earn points. The faster your team earns points, the more likely you are to win. Everybody on the same page?
Pick Your Ship
The basic story of Dead Star is that you are in a prison sector of space where people who break the law are sent. It’s inescapable without a ship that has a warp drive, and the outlaws are fighting for control of the prison colony.
There are a number of different ships to choose from, each with their own unique specs and abilities. For quick reference, smaller ships move faster and capture points faster, but are much more susceptible to damage. Larger ships take a very long time to capture and are slower, but generally take more damage and output more firepower. There’s also a ship in between, and if you guessed that one is a jack of all trades (yet master of none), then you’d be right.
The great thing about Dead Star is that is supports all play styles. If you want to mine for ore in asteroids and build up the defenses of your own captured bases to stave off the enemies, you can do that. If you want to be a scout, helping your fleet to capture points, you can do that as well. There are many play styles, and Dead Star tries to make finding your specific niche on this space battlefield easy by letting you create a loadout of three ships to swap between during the match.
It’s a game that rewards team communication and play. Going off by yourself is a sure way to get yourself blown up. I found that taking a targeted approach with the rest of my team and utilizing our individual unique skills and strategies was the only way to effectively take zones from the enemy players.
One Way to Escape
The new game mode announced at PSX 2015 was the Escape Run mode. Remember how I told you that this sector is inescapable without a warp drive? When outlaws find a ship with a warp drive, they attempt to fire it up and make their escape. The only problem? They will have to go through other live battlefields in order to make their escape run. This is a dynamic mode that can appear at any time while playing the standard game. Players playing Escape Run will warp into existing matches. The blue and red teams can then decide to team up and destroy the bigger ship, or the bigger ship (the yellow team) can help whichever team is winning in order to end the match more quickly.
We didn’t get to play the Escape Run mode, but with as much fun as the regular games seemed to be, I can only imagine how great throwing in dynamic events like having a third player team entire the battle would be for the competition.
It’s difficult to get the depth and scope of a game like Dead Star from the brief demo that I had on the PSX 2015 show floor, but as I skimmed the surface, I was able to see what the game hid below. Armature’s got something special coming with this competitive space shooter, and I’m excited to see how it’s received when it releases next year.