Battlestar Galactica Deadlock Jumps Closer to Release With Official Gameplay30 Jun 2017 0
Slitherine announced Battlestar Galactica Deadlock back in May and it's been kind of hard to contain our excitement about it. We've seen it up close, leaning over the Producer's shoulder to see him play it, and heard details here and there that haven't been officially revealed yet. Let me tell you, it'll be worth the wait!
If you've not actually been paying much attention to what Deadlock is about, a quick re-cap: This is a space strategy game with a fairly fluid definition. It's technically turn-based, but turns are resolved simultaneously & in real-time… similar to the WEGO wargames of old, but flashier and with far better graphics. It's been developed in conjunction with Universal by Black Lab Games, whose only prior project was another space-combat game called Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy.
On Thursday, the official gameplay reveal was streamed live via Twitch & other platforms, and featured Producer Dave along with Kevin 'Agrippa' Buster (Slitherine's new PR Manager) as they played through two quick skirmish matches. You can watch a replay of the whole thing in the video below. Dave & Kevin appear at the 8:30 mark, with actual gameplay kicking in about 10:18:
All this Has Happened Before
Star Hammer was already a pretty compelling experience in terms of design. While the start/stop nature of the game could be disruptive, it was immensely satisfying being able to give individual orders to ships, plotting out their fire arcs, weapons, even launching drones. Given that everything is resolved simultaneously, there was still an element of 'chance', for lack of a better word. You send your capital ship up and around for a flanking broadside, only to discover the ship you're trying to target has decided to do the exact same thing. It is Cat & Mouse gameplay at its finest, and Star Hammer's only real problem resided in the fact that there just wasn't much to it beyond the combat engine.
Watching the gameplay reveal on Thursday reinforced the quality of the design behind Black Labs' engine. The graphics still look amazing (even if everything is a bit too reflective?), the UI elements are better than before, and everything has been given a feel that screams 'BSG', even if such an aesthetic is a little hard to define.
More importantly, it's the little details that impressed us the most. When you launch Vipers or queue up missiles, a little pop up appears on the map above the ship doing the action so you can track what orders you've done. Fighter-class units, which were only really represented by 'drones' in Star Hammer, now have a more prominent place. What was neat about these is that you can view them as a single, large holographic image to abstractly represent their position, or close-up and see the whole squadron represented as individual attack craft. Markers also exist at more extreme ranges so you can keep track of where everything is.
The challenge with a game like Deadlock is that there's a lot of information to present to the player. Your ships will have different armaments & weapon ranges, their on board DRADIS will be able to detect ships at variable distances, and of course ships can exist across several 'levels' of the combat area. Being able to present all that to the player without overwhelming them was never going to be a simple mission.
Clicking on any single ship can bring up their movement range, as well as guide-markers for distance. Going into the turret interface can shows the max range of weapons as well as their optimum range – in general, the closer you are the easier it is to score hits with your turrets. Slightly counter-intuitively, this is represented by green colouration at the extreme ranges, with redder hues closer to the ship you are checking. True long-range firepower comes in the form of missile ordnance, like torpedo or nukes. A great example of this mode in action can be seen at 21:30 on the video and again at 22-23 minutes.
Other great touches can be seen during the second match, prior to the first salvos being launched. Enemy ships are marked as unknown DRADIS contacts in the distance, which required Kevin to send out his scout-like Manticores (with their longer detection range), to change those markers into 3D models so you can tell what you're up against. It's these little details that really bring the combat engine together. We imagine that, given the time and effort Black Lab have put into refining their engine, a lot of those 'finer touches' will probably make it in to the single-player mode as well.
So Say We All
The single-player of Deadlock comprises of a string of 14 story missions, interspersed with light skirmishes to form part of a larger, fairly free-form campaign. After a terrible blow is struck to the colonial high-command, the player is tasked with the defence of the entire twelve colonies of Kobol, and you must travel all across the Cyrannus system to fend of the Cylon invasion.
Battlestar Galactica Deadlock is due out later this year, although it can’t be too far off if Slitherine are actually showing off gameplay. Co-op has been talked about as a post-launch addition, 1v1 Multiplayer and of course Skirmish will be there form the get go, and it will be interesting to see how else this game is supported after it releases. For now, just going to have to sit patiently and wait for the steam code to FTL into my library…
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