Alright, before we get into this, let me just clarify one thing. Since I have a clear addiction to this game, as the 900 or so hours I have played it will show, I cannot, for the life of me, make this review completely unbiased. Why, you may ask? Well, blaming others would be a terrible thing to do, but I feel like any feedback given to Star Conflict’s developer team is being ignored. We, the community, say it’s bad, they say it’s fine and refine it.
The severe lack of communication between developers and community is blatantly obvious and is a gaping Marinara Trench on the English forums. This is why this particular review isn’t as unbiased as I wanted it to be; it’s impossible to ignore the flaws in the game that are staring you right in the face and go “yeah, but it has X or Y going for it, to compensate.” No. That’s not how I do things and I hope the readers can understand that before reading the review.
What is this!
As of 1.0.5, Star conflict is a Multiplayer Online Free-to-Play Battle Arena Space Shooter in which you fly ships of various shapes and sizes, equipped with a myriad of equipment to kill your opponents as efficiently and violently as possible. I left out the “Massively” because that’s debatable; the game very rapidly sways between 5-7k pilots online to a mere 800, depending on patches and timezones. I played this game for 900 hours, but let’s be realistic, the game has suffered many, MANY changes since the golden 0.7 days.
It’s created by Star Gem, still under heavy development for a released game, and published by Gaijin Entertainment. Wait… this game is still under development, but the patch has reached 1.0? You heard me. Numbers don’t mean a thing. It’s a confusing mess.
The game has, technically, hit release, but there is zero advertisement going around. Quite the contrast to, for example, World of Tanks, who have received a big campaign in recent times. I do hope they get their stories straight soon, otherwise people are likely to stop playing, or not come at all because of this.
There isn’t much lore to the game to speak of. The developers didn’t focus much on this and so the game is very lacking on this subject.
It is the year 4614 and the galaxy is in turmoil. After the fall of any social order on planet Earth, three factions emerged:
- Jericho, once exiles in a prison ship, return from their isolation with incredibly advanced technology, and just as great cruelty, to raid any planets they find in their wake.
- The Empire, protectors of Earth, founded to counter Jericho’s cruelty. Their action? Face Jericho with doubled cruelty.
- The Free Worlds Federation, birthed as a rebellion against the power-hungry Empire, in its war against Jericho.
All three now fight amongst each other in a war of attrition that gets either side nowhere fast. And this is where you come in, mercenary. You must aid your contractors in taking hold of key locations. How, you may ask? Well, read on and find out.
I should start by saying that, as is with any F2P game, it has its ups and downs. But oh boy, this game is a complete rollercoaster! First thing: the lag. It is immense if you aren’t connected or nearby Mother Russia. The servers there are excellent; if you live there, that is. Unfortunately, not all players are Russian and the rest of the world isn’t given that much attention, despite the servers located in Europe, North America and South Asia. They have global coverage, yet most pilots find themselves stuck on the Russian servers anyway.
Progression and battles are done via Tiers, up to 5. Each Tier has 3 Ranks of ships, each with their various bonuses, shining points and horrible manners of death. In order to progress, however, you need to fly each ship individually because to be able to purchase the next ship in the line you need Synergy. Lots and lots of it…
As an example, in Tier 3 synergizing a ship from zero takes around 500 thousand Synergy. In T5, it can go up to roughly 1.2 million. And just how much do you earn per battle? Well, that depends on how well you perform in matches and whether or not you have a Premium License. Licenses are cheap, but they only give you up to an extra 20% Credits and Synergy. With DLC bonuses, this number goes up by a lot, up to 50% more Synergy. Regardless, prepare yourself for a lengthy grind.
But enough sad things. Flying the ships in itself makes it worth installing the game and entertaining yourself for a few hours. Controls are incredibly responsive and quick, even amidst the lag, and don’t affect your playstyle unless you’re too close to a suicidal Frigate with Torpedoes. No matter how you fly it, it is instant. Hit the trigger to fire a missile? Instant, the game doesn’t even think about it, you say bark, and it barks in return.
As I said, of various shapes and sizes. From ants to moons, from giant wings to forklifts. On a more serious note, you can choose three (four once you reach a higher Tier and Rank) to take into battle from the nine ship roles available to you.
- Covert Ops: Tough-hitting, the smallest ships in the game. If you don’t watch your back, they will sneak up on you and destroy you in five different ways and then run away cackling madly. They are, however, extremely fragile ships and can be destroyed very easily.
- ECM: As the name implies, Electronic Countermeasures. These ships will silence, stun, and drain your energy clean from your afterburners. What they lack in damage they more than compensate in their support ability and survivability.
- Recons: The scouts of the game, with the largest targeting range of any ship, but don’t underestimate their combat capabilities, as they will swoop in and rain havoc through your lines. As scouts, they make it their duty to ensure any and all enemy ships stay within the team’s visible range.
- Command: The toughest Fighters in the game, these ships assist your team with bonuses to their tank, weapons, and speed. Mainly a Support ship, this means that their combat capabilities are low-to-average but still deadly with the right weapons.
- Gunships: The killers. Hard tank and hard hitters. They move fast, hit hard, kill their opponents, and survive to tell the tale. However, they are not unbeatable and it takes one mistake for you to die horribly in these ships.
- Tackler: Another support and heavy hitter. They make up their low survivability with modules to slow you down to a standstill and disintegrate you with their weapons. However, their fragile hulls means they must run as soon as they start getting hit, relying on their cloak to do so.
- Engineers: The game’s healers. Their auras and stations provide you with those much needed repairs to your armour and shields after your latest attack run into enemy field and, depending on who flies these ships, they can either be a very valuable asset or a downright criminal move to be flown.
- Guards: The game’s tanks. They have incredible durability and hit just as hard. Their ability to hold ground is both magnificent and terrifyingly successful, if not countered quickly.
- Long Range Frigates: These ships are quite the riddle, even in the hands of veteran pilots. Their main purpose, according to the description, is to be used as long ranged weapons platforms, yet most pilots use them as middle-line combat ships. And, in truth, I can see why they do so. Six weapon mounts instead of the Frigates’ usual four is quite the dps addition.
These are akin to talents or skill points from other games. The higher level the ship you purchase, the more implants you can have in your brain. These alter every single stat on your weapons, missiles, active modules, and ship itself.
Again, it’s up to you how you work with them. Different playstyles have different setups.
I won’t go much into detail about this, purely because there are just so many items to choose from – I’d spend the next day describing them. Besides, it’s more fun to let the readers fend for themselves, I say.
That aside, you do have a varied, tiered choice of modules. The more you move up the Tiers, the more modules you have at your disposal, along with more module slots on your ships. Whenever you buy a new ship, they all come equipped with a basic, pre-made fit, just in case you don’t have the credits to buy your own. These fits are decent enough to give you a general idea of what the ship’s role is, so I suggest you pay close attention to it. These modules are split into several categories:
What you use to kill your enemies, obviously. Every ship comes with a stock weapon, lest you forget to fit your own. You can equip one of 4-5 different weapons for each ship size (Interceptor, Fighter and Frigate), each with its own attributes and damage types. There’s Plasma, Laser, and Rail weaponry that do, respectively, EM, Thermal, and Kinetic damage. All of them have their ups and downs, depending on which ships you mount them to and which ships you target. Experiment, see what works and what suits your playstyle. If you’re into CQC you’ll likely pick close-ranged weapons, and if you’re the kind that isn’t comfortable doing that, sit at the back and snipe at your enemies. The weapons almost bend to your will, depending on your goals.
Weapon add-ons that will alter some attribute of the gun you have equipped, from damage to projectile spread. They all apply different bonuses to your weapons, so see which ones work best for you.
Once a tactical advantage, now reduced to a button you can spam to kill your enemy. Missiles now seem to be akin to a weapon’s autoloader in which you have a handful to fire before they need to be reloaded. But the spam is more evident on Interceptors, with cooldowns being dropped from 20 seconds to a mere 1.1 and magazine reload from 3 minutes to a mere 30 seconds. Each ship role has their own specific missiles, as well. For instance, Covert Ops have access to Nukes, Command Fighters have access to Ion Warhead Missiles, silencing missiles, and Engineers have access to Combat Drones. Every class has its own missile type, alongside the regular set of missiles, giving you the choice of one amongst 3-5 different ones.
These are the equipable modules you use to have the upper edge over your enemy. They can be personal buffs, repair tools, team buffs or direct and indirect debuffs to the enemy. They are role-specific, as well, which means that every ship class has its own set of modules.
Passive modules affect your ship’s stats and you have no active control over them, they perform by simply being there and are split into five categories: Engine, Capacitor, Shield, Armour and CPU.
The basis of any MMO game, you always feel that need to be better than other players and, in this game, it is no different. There are several game modes available to you:
- Detonation, in which the objective is to destroy the enemy Stations by carrying an EM bomb towards them.
- Beacon Hunt, in which Beacons are triggered one by one in order for your team to capture them.
- Domination, in which you have to control up to 3 Beacons in order to win the match. The more you hold, the more points are drained from the enemy.
- Capture the Beacons, is similar to Detonation, only without the bomb and you can only use your ships once. A hard game mode for more seasoned pilots who bring a full hangar.
- Combat Recon, there is an enemy Captain on the field. Take him down so the enemy team stops respawning to ensure your victory.
As is the objective in any PvP scenario, kill the enemy team and complete the scenario’s objectives. Simple as that. A goal made hard by the enemy team, who also want to win just as badly as you do. And they all have the same tools available to aid them in just that.
The secret behind most MMO games are the combat formulas. However, in MOBAs, it’s the Matchmaking that determines how balanced the games may be. In this game, Matchmaking leaves much to be desired. In recent patches, the matches were incredibly unbalanced, turning into spawn camping disputes 80% of the time.
In 1.0.5, the matchmaking is still a little jittery, but a lot more balanced than before. I say this can only get better, but the new system is still too new to be certain.
PvE Scenarios are as entertaining as they are hard to finish if you don’t have the right setup. There are a LOT of npc ships out there, cannon fodder for the most part, so plenty of AoE is the best thing to do. Guard Frigates are in high demand in these maps but, more often than not, speed is of the essence.
Yes, the game has it. Player vs Player vs Environment. It’s a weird game mode I first encountered in Aion and was quite the exciting feature. An open world where you face both npcs and players in a race for survival, loot, and greater glory.
This takes place in Star Conflict’s “Sandbox” mode, dubbed Invasion, where strange aliens have begun to invade our not-so-pristine galaxy for unknown reasons and it is up to the mercenaries to put an end to them. So seek them out, kill them. and return gloriously. Of course, depending on where you are in the map, other players might cut in your dance.
That said, the bad side of the sandbox? It isn’t one. The sectors are all still very much based on arenas, like the matches, all with limited space for pilots. Some lenience might be granted for squads and wings, but it is still arena-based.
So it’s kind of an arena-sandbox, not quite sandbox, not quite arena… Very confusing technical details that pilots tend to ignore and Invasion is misinterpreted as an actual open world when, in reality, it isn’t.
God, this again. If I had a cent for every time I’ve participated in these P2W discussions, I’d probably be a little less poor, truth be told. Still, this is something that irks me in this game and I shall speak my mind on it. I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again…
THERE IS NO DIRECT PAY-TO-WIN IN THIS GAME.
You do not pay to win matches, you do not pay to one-shot everyone you face, you do not pay to have the best gear no one else can have.
Galactic Standards are the Premium currency and it is used for everything. Buying Premium ships, which grant you extra Synergy and Credits, paintjobs and stickers for your ships, and equipment upgrades. Pay-to-Grind-Less is very evident in this game and, as is, it’s a good measure for any F2P game. Regardless, sadly, P2W does exist, atm. It’s VERY discreet and relies on how you both fit and fly your ships, not just the ships themselves. It’s about how the matchmaker handles Premium ships, as well, not whether or not you bought them in the first place.
The way the game’s P2W works is very simple: Premium ships are treated, by the Matchmaker, as ships one Rank below their own. What do I mean by that? For example, your Rank 9 Premium ships will be treated as Rank 8. Rank 11 Premium ships are treated as Rank 10 and so on. The exception to this rule is one T5 ship, called Mauler, Rank 13. It used to be treated as Rank 12, so you can imagine the amount of despair having a T5 ship in T4 matches. That’s long fixed, though.
Sounds complex? Exactly. It isn’t. And why does the Matchmaker treat these paid ships in such a manner? Well, Premium users must have a small advantage in their games. It’s always been like that, but it’s not the end of the world.
Remember when I said that buying the ship doesn’t put you in the winner’s club? Yes, well, that fully depends on your abilities to fly and your knowledge on fitting. If you don’t have either, then I suggest you practice a lot before buying any of these ships.
The P2W is getting more and more evident with each passing patch, however, with the addition of Crews, which are Implant sets that, quite obviously, give you an upper edge in battle, seeing as you can use them in any active slot you have. Another example are the Orange (Mk V) weapons and modules in the higher Tiers. Buying the blueprints for a few million credits (some of them) is a free option, but a lengthy one. The alternative? Buy a 4-6K Galactic Standard module, depending on Tier, that allows you to search for those blueprints in Invasion.
It is solid. The Lens Flare can be a bit annoying when you’re using Lasers at certain angles, but the ship’s textures are magnificent, which you can alter yourself at the cost of Standards. There are three colours to pick from, about a dozen options, and one in roughly fifty stickers to slap on your ship. This all costs Standards, however, though cheap as they are, you should have no problems in using them.
Explosions are very vivid, ship movements are very fluid and responsive (as I’ve previously stated), weapon and missile designs are very detailed. The maps are just mind-blowing. 15-20 kilometres of the most beautifully designed skyboxes and map designs you’re likely to ever see in a space shooter. Of course, the maps still have a few kinks to work out, such as missing textures on one of the new maps and the occasional hiccup in the engine forcing your ship inside a large rock.
Adding to the lovely graphic scenarios are the ships themselves; more specifically, their manoeuvring thrusters. Whichever direction you decide to choose, the thrusters on your ship will act accordingly and counteract the movement once you’re done with the turn. What’s more, those thrusters aren’t just tiny exhausts on your ship, no. They are actually modeled and rendered as part of the ship and that’s something you just do not see very often. Taking a brief comparison, the X-series, renowned for its physics engine, only had minuscule holes or tubes for its thrusters, instead of the elaborate designs Star Gem has used for their ships.
Just put on some headphones. That’s all I have to or can say about it. For you to fully enjoy the ambiance, music, random radio chatter, weapons, missiles, explosions, headphones are a must. That’s how brilliantly well-made the sound is. Even the ear-shattering silence before the hail of missiles and weapons raining down on you when the battle is about to start. It’s almost too perfect.
I’m almost sad in the knowledge that Star Gem cares so little for this jewel of a shooter. There is no advertising, there is no incentive of progression or even to login. I’ve seen P2W games (literally P2W) that have more daily login incentives than Star Conflict. It is a stunningly addictive game that keeps sending you back for more and more. If you have the spare disk space, waste a few hours on it. But beware. You will be forced to fight in hopeless matches that favour those using Premium ships.
Would I advise you to play seriously? Only if you get hooked, as I have. If the game doesn’t quite make you return every day, don’t bother. Star Gem, try as they may, cannot conceal the fact that the game is not what the community likes it to be: balanced, quick, and fair. And it is sad to see the population dwindle with each passing patch. So much that the developers have entirely removed the numbers showing how many pilots are online. Yes, that used to be a feature available to all.
- Highly addicting
- Top-notch graphic design
- Fast-paced gameplay
- Half-concealed P2W
- Incredibly lengthy grind
- Highly unbalanced games
OS: Windows XP SP3
Processor: 2.0 Ghz Intel Pentium-4 / AMD Athlon II
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 3 GB
Video Card: 512 MB NVidia / AMD Radeon / Intel (HD 3000, HD 4000) with support for Pixel Shader 3.0 (AMD Radeon X1000 not supported)
Additional: Broadband Internet connection
OS: Windows 7 x64
Processor: 2.3 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD Athlon64 X2 or better
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 3 GB
Video Card: 1 GB NVidia GeForce 650 / AMD Radeon HD 5750 / Intel HD 4000 and newer
Additional: Broadband Internet connection