First of all, let me start off by saying that I love this game. I love all things sci-fi and all things naval, and when the two come together it’s even more wonderful.
A few things I’ve noticed – and I know that most of these have been mentioned before – while playing almost non-stop since yesterday.
Alphabetical order for everything is no good. I’ve gamed the system where I could by giving fighters “A” names and bombers “B” names and so on, but sorting by pretty much anything else would be better. Hull length or total free slots for hulls, cost for ships, damage for weapons, power or crew or thrust for the rest. At the very least, make the basic hardware in each class have an “I” at the end so that you don’t always get the “better, best, good” order everywhere.
Lower case names are a little annoying. Ship classes should always be capitalized. The DDouble and TTTriple CCCapital LLLetter bug is a pain.
Targeting seems to be messed up. Often the massive initial salvo is wasted on orbiting fighters instead of the capital ships, even if you set fighter attack priority to zero percent or delete the order entirely. This makes specialist ships very weak, since bombers or long range missile ships just plink away at the slightly closer fighters uselessly. If a ship can’t ever hit the closest target with its main weapon, it’s essentially useless.
Similarly, frigates seem to be equally useless. Since every ship larger than a fighter closes to maximum range and just stops, frigates get torn apart by anti-capital ship weapons. Any speed advantage that they once had is wasted, and they can never be shielded and armoured enough to make up for that. The only use I’ve found for them so far is to give them massively long range weapons and park them way at the back and rely on the closest target only thing I mentioned above to hide them behind massive tanking cruisers.
These two factors combine to make only one real fleet design feasible: fighters built for speed, which rules out anything but standard guns, and cruisers built with a combination of anti-fighter and anti-cruiser weapons. Generalist ships, at the extreme ends of the size and speed spectrum. If I see a group of capital ships with no fighters at all, I’ll drop some torpedo bombers across from them for some cheap ans easy damage, and I will throw in some long range glass cannon frigates behind the line of battle, but that’s about it for specialist ships.
There needs to be a better way to target enemy ships of the correct size and speed, especially since you can’t micro-manage the targeting to avoid the really dumb waste of ammo that you see. Also, all ships should, by default, move around a bit more. They should orbit and try to maintain max range, especially the frigates. They are sitting ducks when they stop. It would also make for a more cinematic fight, as an added bonus.
There’s a really good game in there, but it’s not quite there yet. A bit more AI and a few little tweaks will go a long way right now.