So I have played for a couple hours. These are my first impressions, so take with a grain of salt. (I did play a lot of GSB1, so I’m not a total noob)
The campaign is super easy using default ships. Just stacking a bunch of dreadnaughts in a corner, and add as many anti-fighter ships as required, and you will beat every normal level as fast as you can play. I unlocked every module, race, and ship part in about 20-30 minutes of playing, and that was with frequent crashes. I never gave any orders (!!!). I never used cruisers (because the default design disappeared after the first mission), and I never tried any other tactic than stacking default dreadnaughts, just to see if it would work. I only ever dropped below 90% fleet health during the no-shield and no-dreadnaught anomalies. No thought required.
Stacking everything on top of each other is nearly game-breaking, in my opinion. What really got me excited about GSB2, was in an interview (https://youtu.be/bXTQUoGNFn4?t=3077), Cliffski specifically said that he wanted to avoid that, and have a focus on big formations and cool looking battles. That sounded great, as GSB1 became an effort in how many ships you can stack on top of each other. Imagine my surprise when the optimal strategy is once again to stack as many ships as you can. Very disappointing. Hopefully this will change. Making cruisers and dreadnaughts have a minimum spacing distance would enhance the game greatly. Let the little ships go wherever, that is fine. But having the winning strategy always be ship stacking is honestly just ruins the game.
Moving on, the graphics are beautiful. Super slick. However, as good as they are, the graphics are too over the top. It feels like George Lucas got hold of it. So much stuff is crammed on screen, it is nearly impossible to see what is going on. Between the asteroids, rubble, cloudy things, so much stuff obscures the view. Pulse lasers, point defense, flak, fighters, basically anything not a beam or missile are way too tiny to discern if they are even firing, let alone what they are shooting at. GSB1, whilst technically inferior graphics, was much cleaner and easy to see exactly what was going on. GSB2 is a real struggle in this regard. Obviously a ton of work went into the graphical engine, but I feel like it actively hurts the game by denying the user to see what is happening.
Ai and orders have some issues. If I make a dedicated anti-fighter ship, and tell it to ONLY attack fighters and gunships, guess what it does? Does it attack the giant swarm of gunships flying right by it? Nope, it heads straight to the bottom right corner of the map because there is a tiny squad of fighters escorting an enemy cruiser. This is really frustrating, and requires an escort order to keep them from leeroying to certain death. Why don’t they attack the fighters right in front of them first? Additionally, If I tell my big ships to NOT shoot at fighters or gunships, guess what they do? They blow their loads on the fighters they will never hit. Then when something juicy comes in to range, all their stuff is on cooldown. This makes the ending statistics pointless.
Speaking of statistics, GSB1 had better and more informative breakdowns. There is little useful information in GSB2 provided post-combat. This makes it difficult to make informed decisions about anything. Coupled with not being able to see what is happening in the actual battle due to over zealous graphics, this is an issue.
Custom ship design is sexy. I’ve spent more time making hulls than anything else. I have a feeling that will be a common experience, which is a good thing. The making of composite pieces is slick. Steam workshop will likely explode with tons of crazy stuff. Going to be great.
Also, lots of crashing. Sometimes it crashes on startup multiple times in a row, then on the third or fourth try it starts just fine. Also crashes in the game. Design screen, campaign screen, after battles, etc. Are there log files or something I can submit that would help pinpoint these errors?
- ship stacking is evil and should be terminated with extreme prejudice
- graphics are over the top, making it difficult to see the battle
- ship and hull design is great
- new hulls (gunships, destroyers, dreads) are great additions
- AI following orders is sketchy
- lots of crashes
Overall, the game is shaping up. I think just simply fixing the ship stacking, and making non-beam weapons easier to see would solve nearly all of my gameplay issues. The other stuff, like crashing, is bound to get fixed eventually, so I’m not too worried about that. Keep up the good work.