Explore The Stars In Double Damage Games' Rebel Galaxy
Described as "space combat, trading, exploration, adventure, slightly RPG," by Double Damage Games co-founder and developer Travis Baldree, Rebel Galaxy is one of the games that caught my eye the most at Sony's PlayStation Experience in Las Vegas. Baldree continued his comparison, saying, "if you took Sid Meier's Pirates, Star Control II, and the naval combat of Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, and you sew it together with a little bit of Wing Commander: Privateer – that's sort of what this is."
It's an ambitious blend of genres and games, yet the development team is just two people: Baldree and Erich Shaefer. The names may ring a bell, as they were the co-founders of Runic Games, the studio behind Torchlight and Torchlight 2. Baldree and Shaefer told me development is moving along nicely, and they hope to have the game out on PlayStation 4 and PC in 2015.
In Rebel Galaxy, the player basically plays him or her self. The real star (or character) of the game is the ship they pilot. At the outset of the game, the ship is a derelict piece of junk, looking like something hobbled together poorly that might not even be space worthy. One of the big hooks of the game is to upgrade this vessel, adding new warp technology to it, a tractor beam, weapon stations, cargo capabilities, and basically customizing it how you see fit. From there, new ships can be purchased, and that process can start all over again. The introductory ship is bigger than you would expect, looking a little bit like Princess Leia's Tantive IV from Star Wars: A New Hope (seen in the image above). The biggest ships are close in size to the Empire's Star Destroyers and are loaded to the hilt with firepower.
This ship can be obtained through a number of gameplay methods. "The game kicks off with a number of story missions," Baldree says. "Your aunt gave you that ship and asked you to meet her in some backwater galaxy. You arrive and head right into the story. There's a story path to follow, but there are also plenty of side missions, and exploration. With this being sort of space trading game, you have the option to embody the role of a trader, mercenary, smuggler, or pirate. That's all tied into our faction system." Certain ships and upgrades are only available if the player sides with specific factions.
All of the audio in the game is voiced with lip syncing, much of it coming from aliens that don't speak English. In the first conversation, Baldree's character talks to an alien at a space station. "All of the backwater space stations have bars," Baldree jokes. "I'm going to talk to him there." The point of the conversation is to locate the aunt, who has gone missing.
Baldree's character agrees to do a little whiskey smuggling for funds that will help him upgrade his ship enough to continue the search for his aunt. He can also use that money to pay the bartender, who has a wide knowledge of what is going on in the galaxy, for inside bounties, or to hire a mercenary to help with his mission. The bar also serves as a point where players can check the galactic news. "We have a reactive world," Baldree says. "So events are taking place all of the time. There could be a mammoth war out there. Ships are also going about their business. You can choose to intervene or get involved with those events. We have a lot of unexpected, reactive stuff happening. If there's a famine and a ship is deployed to a planet to deliver food, you can find that ship, destroy it, steal the food, and go sell all of the food for a ridiculous markup on the station that has the famine." If violence isn't the preferred tactic, players can hail and talk to most ships in the game, potentially finding a diplomatic solution that serves both parties involved. If the player is feared enough, the vessel may just hand over the goods without any questions asked.
The game is fully built on player choice, allowing players to pave their own way through the universe, which is gigantic."The solar system we are in is randomly generated. You can zoom all the way in or out to see what is going on at any given point. There are thousands of ships out there going about their business. The main story missions are kept the same, but where they are isn't necessarily the same, or the circumstances around them. The game is different for everyone who plays." While it sounds a little bit like No Man's Sky, the player won't be able to explore planet surfaces. All of the action takes place in space.
The player has complete control of their ship, and can hit the thrusters for shorter travel means, or kick in the warp drive to travel a great distance faster. Bigger drives are needed to warp to bounce between solar systems. The battles are reminiscent in look to Star Trek fights, in which a sizable vessel unloads a variety of attacks at swarming fighters or another large spacecraft. The gameplay is similar to Assassin's Creed: Black Flag's naval combat, allowing the player to navigate the ship while also guiding turret and missile fire from the sides of the it. The player can also take direct control of the turrets to handle fighter assaults. If a ship has 17 guns on it, control can be switched to any one of them.
If you're a fan of any of the games Baldree listed for the sake of comparison, put Rebel Galaxy on your radar. This looks like a universe that you can lose your life in.