Evochron Mercenary and Space Sims

Over the last couple of years, space sims have gone from being ‘dead’ and a relic from the 90s, to one of the most popular genres of games currently in development. Star Citizen and Elite are the big ones obviously, but there are a plethora of other titles such as No Man’s Sky, and Starpoint Gemini 2. Many of these titles aren’t out yet, but there have been a few standout space sims made in the last five years or so. Games like the X series and, one I’ve been playing a little this weekend, Evochron Mercenary.

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I’ve always liked space sims ever since playing games like X-Wing and Wing Commander: Prophecy way back when I was about ten or eleven. These days though, I always seem to find myself falling between the stools of what the genre is offering. It seems that space sims have become either a very simplified casual sort of experience, much like Freelancer offered, or they’ve become incredibly complicated and slow paced titles, with vast systems to learn and realistic flight models with complex controls. I guess what I’m looking for is somewhat in the middle. I like there to be a bit of depth to the game, but not so much that it’s boring in the beginning, which is what’s always been my problem with the X series. I know I played Eve, but in truth the spaceships thing was almost incidental to me, what held my interest was the emergent player gameplay experience, not the setting.

Evochron Mercenary looks like a decent option for me so far. Navigation takes some getting used to, as it involves a lot of punching in co-ordinates, but if you approach it in the right frame of mind is actually pretty immersive. I’ve only scratched the surface of the game so far, and have only tried a little bit of mining and selling goods, as well as taking a passenger to a destination for a fee, but it feels like it could be an interesting game for me. Flight is complicated, but not insurmountably so, which suits my sensibilities.

I’ll have to wait and see how I get on with it once I begin to get a little deeper into its systems, sometimes these games have a tendency towards repetitive content which would certainly put m eoff. With all the new space sims on the way though, I’ll hopefully be able to find one that ticks all the boxes for me.

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Star Citizen: Too Big Not Too Fail?

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Star Citizen is a game that has generated a large amount of discussion since its crowdfunding campaign first kicked off in 2012, both about the game itself, and its business model. Ever since Star Citizen reached its funding goals, it has continued to take new backers, offering many multi-tiered backers levels and in game items such as ships, as well as physical items like t-shirts.  Heck, they are practically running an in-game item store right now, years before the game even launches.

All of this has led to some players being invested in the game to the tune of several thousand dollars. As I did when discussing Shroud of the Avatar, I can’t help but wonder what game could ever be worth that kind of investment to you without you feeling that whatever is released does not offer sufficient return on investment. I mean, what if you drop $5000 on a game, only to hate it when it launches, or 6 months later. As always I imagine some people are wealthy enough to treat this investment as some sort of a donation, well aware of the risks of doing so. Yet, you can’t help but think that there’s going to be at least some extremely disgruntled people post-launch who’ve heavily invested financially in the vision of the game.

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I say vision, because that’s really what we have at the moment. Some brilliant sounding features, and the dogfighting and hangar modules already released, and the dreams of a whole community. I’m extremely interested in the game, but I’m very aware that it is promising to be all things to all people, and many gamers seem utterly convinced it’s going to be the best game ever. It very well might be, but at this point, when we aren’t even fully aware of what minute-to-minute gameplay even consists of, I think caution is advised.

Maybe I’m being overly cynical, but in all my years of gaming, I’ve never seen hype like this turn out well. It’s very possible that when all the post-launch drama and recriminations die down, we’ll be left with an excellent game that just couldn’t please everybody, but what worries me is that it just might be trying to.