Pros:

  • Fast paced twitch gameplay
  • Beautiful colorful graphics compared to other space shooters
  • Varied ship types and roles
  • Unique spaceship modules
  • Several PvP game modes

Cons:

  • Horrible joystick controls
  • Premium currency too strong
  • Frustrating for beginners
tl;dr – Arcade style space shooter and great customization make for a lot of fun.

Star Conflict is a free to play MMO space shooter developed by Star Gem Inc. and published by Gaijin Entertainment. It was first released on February 27, 2013. Star Conflict is currently available on Steam.

Gameplay

Star Conflict is a third person space shooter. You take control of a spaceship and fight with other players for dominance. If you’ve played games like Elite or Freelancer, you’d feel at home with this game.

The game is controlled via the Keyboard and Mouse. Movement is done via the WASD keys, and both aiming and steering are done via mouse movement. In the center of the HUD are a large reticule and a mouse controlled crosshair. Unlike most other space sims, the crosshair is not locked to the camera; you can freely move it on the screen. When your cursor is inside the large reticule, the mouse functions as an aiming cursor and allows you to target an enemy without changing the ships’ direction. Moving the cursor outside of the reticule will cause the ship to steer in that direction.

On the first start, you are required to select from one of the three factions. Each faction has their ships and ship tree, each with their pros and cons. For example, the Empire faction ships’ have strong hulls, and their weapons are high-powered, but they are slow and have weak shields. After you select a faction, you then will have to do contract work from one of the two sub-factions within. Completing a sub-faction contract will give you a loyalty voucher for the sub-faction. Loyalty vouchers are required to upgrade your ship modules to level 3.

Ships in this game are bought using credits, the in-game currency. Ships have tiers, the higher, the better it is. But you can’t just buy any ship, even if you have the necessary credits. You need to have enough Synergy points from its prereq ship first. Synergy is pretty much EXP points, and you gain them just by using the ship in question. They are used to level up a ship. Once you’ve reached max Synergy on a ship, you can transfer the excess Synergy to your other ships by paying with real money.

Ranks in this game are pretty simple. Your rank is simply the highest tier ship you have. So if you have a tier 5 interceptor ship that will also be your rank. Rank affects the amount of contracts you can see and also governs the implants you can have. You can give your player character implants to gain various bonuses. Implants have ranks. There are three implants available for each rank, and you can only select from one of them.

There are three ship types in this game, Interceptor, Fighters, and Frigates. Each ship type can choose from one of the three roles available for the type. Roles determine what modules a ship can equip, and each role has a unique module equipped. A ship’s role is fixed, you cannot change them. There are five tiers of ships for each class.

Star Conflict has multiple game modes: Skirmish, Missions, Sector Conquest, and Tournament. Skirmish is the game’s primary mode of combat, it’s a PvP mode where teams of various size can fight with each other. Missions is the game’s main PvE mode. Under Missions, four players cooperate to fulfill the different objectives presented.

Sector Conquest is the game’s guild combat. Under this game mode, corporations battle with each other for control of the sectors. Under tournament, you form a team of six and go for a best of 3 deathmatches with an opposing team. Winning the tournament gives you GS (Galatic Standard), the game’s premium currency. The amount of GS you gain depends on the number of enemy team you defeated.

The Good

Star Conflict is a fun shooter, and there’s a plenty of customization options for your ship. The three ship types play differently from each other, and the role system ensures that ship builds are varied. There are also a lot of modules and weapon types you can equip to your ship. Mind you these modules are not just “+10% beam weapon damage” repeated n times, nope. They are all unique, and they give different effects each.

What this means is the customizing a ship in Star Conflict is not merely done by stacking endless “Beam Condenser VIII” and similar ilk on a hull and calling it a day. Will you put a self-destruct device and go on a kamikaze? Or maybe you’d prefer equipping an ion beam to lock down the enemy? Since each module has a unique effect, your tactical strategy will vary greatly depending on your loadout.

The graphics are also great. In this game, you are not dogfighting in a bleak blue darkness like in most other space sims. The environment is rich in color and makes for a pretty refreshing and interesting view. The ships are also pretty detailed. While they mostly have the same form, every ship looks different.

The gameplay is also fun. They are fast paced, requiring quick thinking and reflex. This arcade style of gameplay might not be for everyone, but it’s perfect for casual players like me. It’s easy to get into. You don’t need to read the manual or memorize hotkeys like in most other space sims.

The Bad

Unfortunately not everything is good about this game. The game is extremely grindy. Everything requires a lot of credits, and it will literally take you forever to buy new ships. The game also has these so-called “premium ships”, and yes these ships are only purchasable with real money. Not only are they stronger than regular ships they also come with a lot of bonuses. For example, premium ships do not need to be repaired; they’re always at full health after every battle. They also get x2 synergy points.

As a result, while the game controls are easy to get into the game isn’t really beginner friendly. At the start of the game, you will die a lot from these premium ships unless you buy one yourself. Needless to say, it’s an incredibly frustrating experience.

If you have a flight stick or a joystick, don’t even bother trying to play this game with one. The game plays horribly with those. It’s designed for the keyboard+mouse combo and nothing else. Controlling the aiming cursor is an exercise in frustration using a joystick.

Closing Thoughts

In the end, Star Conflict is a fun game but one that as heavily dragged down by unbalanced real money ships. Nevertheless, I still recommend checking it out if you’re into a space MMO with twitch gameplay.

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