Game loaded very quickly. Nicely polished interface. Checked the game options and then went to look for the single player mode. I decided to select ‘Battle’, and it appears to be the equivalent of the campaign mode. Upon entering the fleet deployment screen I was assailed by a series of tutorial messages. The boxes were rather randomly positioned and actually covered part of the screen that they were trying to explain to me. As such I was reading about something that I had not yet fully seen. I don’t know if I can make the tutorial messages appear again. They pressured me with answers to questions that I had yet to ask. I feel that the tutorial needs reworking. How about a delay or only showing the messages when that part of the screen is clicked on for the first time?
I then proceeded to examine the fleet deployment itself. I found that I couldn’t assign Escort or Formation orders. As a new player I could not figure out how to do this. It always displayed a red line regardless of what ship I placed the mouse over. When I clicked it did not assign the ship name into the dialog box. A mis-click that displays the delete or rename ship dialog locks up the order dialog and I have to close it.
I ran the game battle and watched the fleet be defeated by the enemy. I noted that selecting the camera follow option caused the motion blur effect regardless of whether the ship was actually moving. As a result I later disabled motion blur in the game options. Moving the mouse over a ship showed its name with a brown background. I had difficulty identifying which fighters belonged to which player. I thought that it would be better to have a different background colour behind the ship name text for each player. I also noted that, while there were sound effects and music, the game lacked any fleet speech. I recall fleet combat speech on the game ‘Homeworld 2’ and the ‘Star Wars’ films. I really feel that the game would be greatly improved with emotion rousing fleet combat communication. In addition, this enhances feedback to the player without the use of statistics. Certainly, such combat speech should be combat event driven.
After the battle I was automatically taken to the upgrade screen. I soon decided that it would be better if I was not forced into either this screen but to the post battle statistics screen instead. I found the unlocked technologies did not appear to be highlighted in any way. It would be nice if they were categorised or possibly if some upgrades require others to be unlocked first.
Returning to the fleet deployment screen I added some additional ships to the fleet. I noted that, sometimes, a ship would be created with a generic ‘ship_0000’ format name. I discovered that I could deploy ships, in particular Cruisers, between the menu buttons in the lower left area of the screen. I also found that I could overlap ships. I soon decided to create a mob of completely overlapped ships. This ensured that I would engage the enemy fleet only a little at a time and ruined the whole fleet deployment aspect. It felt wrong that I could overlap deployed ships at all, especially since the enemy fleet never has this. It would be better to highlight overlapped ships in red and prevent launching the battle until ships are no longer overlapped.
Back in the battle I found that I had no information on the enemy ships other than the visual indication of damage. I decided that this was fine but found that I couldn’t effectively create a fleet when I know nothing of the enemy that I was facing. Other than the appearance of a probable missile, beam weapon, etc, I could not determine strengths and weaknesses.
The after battle statistics screen showed me plenty of information. I felt that the ships faced area at the bottom the screen served no useful purpose. I felt that it would be better to show a list of ships damaged and how much damage was done to each ship by that one ship. Instead I was presented with mostly a series of fully red boxes.
I decided to design some new ships. I was again assailed by tutorial messages. They served less use than having a paper manual. Since a paper manual allows interaction with the game while reading it and doesn’t obscure part of the screen. I again felt that the tutorial requires reworking. I then had difficulty selecting a new ship hull. The list had no order to it and no buttons at the side to select a specific category of ship. It felt awkward to go back and forth trying to compare ships of a particular class. I also had to select each one to see how many weapon slots each ship had. This really needed displaying in the hull selection box, if not a miniature view of the module layout. I found that the modules list was not sufficiently ordered. I couldn’t get a feel for how the weapons would perform in battle. I feel that a test ship option would be useful. It would start a battle with your new design vs a generic training object. This would good for gathering information without the chaos of an active fleet battle.
After creating two fighters, one Frigate and one Cruiser, I created another overlapping mob in the corner and proceeded to win several battles in a row. I noted that the fleet was lost with each successive mission. I saved the deployment, but although it was available to load in the next mission - I could not load it because its value exceeded the maximum fleet value for the current mission. It would be better to allow me to load a fleet that exceeds the maximum value, but disallow launching the battle until I have removed enough ships to lower my fleet below the maximum value. I noted that the ship design list had no order to it. Also the names were not automatically displayed so I had to hover the mouse over each in order to determine which design was which. I found it laborious to drag each ship out individually. Especially since the fleet configuration is lost when I advance to the next mission.
Thankyou for reading and please take my beta testing report into consideration.