Dual Universe Kickstarter Launched

2016-09-10

There’s a new kid on the space-sim block, but is it too ambitious? Or is it a realistic combination of gameplay that is already readily available? Let’s take a look!

Dual Universe has been in development for at least a year and a half, if one is to use their forum as any indication. A quick glance at Novaquark’s founder JC Baillie’s Wikipedia page contends that the game has been under development for a few years now, and was actually supposed to enter alpha testing in late 2015, but was postponed to 2017. Though the initial stages of the game development were kept relatively quiet, Novaquark has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign, as well as releasing some pre-Alpha gameplay footage that certainly looks promising.

The basic concept of Dual Universe is extremely ambitious: a single-shard universe that is fully editable/customizable by each of its players. This includes being able to build things such as spaceships, cities, space stations, or even a Death Star if a group of players were inclined to recreate the Empire from Star Wars. The team at Novaquark seem confident that this is realistic, and that their servers will be capable of having thousands of players potentially interacting in concentrated areas such as space stations without noticeable lag or server issues. One could argue that this is potentially the most ambitious part of the project, as there would have to be some pretty serious computing power behind such a game. CCP is more than familiar with that kind of thing. As much as the computing technology behind the game needs to be groundbreaking stuff, are the gameplay features totally out of this world?

Look at the features proposed in a game like Star Citizen for instance, where it seemed like their next announcement was going to be that they were going to make it so that you could cook and eat in-game pizza, or maybe mix in-game drinks. Many of Dual Universe’s core features aren’t anything mind blowingly new when you look closely, and that could be a good thing in the long run. Where Star Citizen was trying to invent a new type of gameplay from the ground up, it almost seems as though Dual Universe is taking inspiration from several other already existing games and making an attempt at putting them together.

The Market System as described in the Kickstarter video sounds like it will be fairly similar to that of EVE Online. The economy is intended to be player driven, and each locale will have its own market, so players will have to be nearby in order to purchase things, and physically at a container to pick them up. Some will be quick to compare the building system to Space Engineers, although ship building seems to be almost a cross between Space Engineers and StarMade. Combat seems as though it will be fairly similar to EVE Online, but from the sounds of things, will only include Avatar vs. Avatar combat as opposed to Structure vs. Structure at first. Players will have to lock on to other entities, and DPS will be determined by a number of factors, but player aim will not be one of them. Multi-crew ships are also a planned mechanic for Dual Universe, with its simplest example being crew members that operate multiple gun batteries on a large ship.

On the social side of things, Dual Universe is proposing a unique take on familiar concepts. There will be safe zones in the game, but outside of the safe zones will basically be a free-for-all in terms of PvP. Instead of corps, this game will have “organizations”, named so because they will not all necessarily fall under a corporate structure. Novaquark intends on permitting more flexibility in their organization structuring, which could allow players to form a government, or a military organization. There’s no mention of there being a space sovereignty mechanic, but players will be able to create structures that allow them to take territory on planets in the name of their organization, with the ability to restrict access, building, mining, and so on.

Dual Universe’s monetization is planned to be somewhat similar to where EVE Online is currently heading. The game itself will be free, with free accounts potentially being limited in things such as skills, money, or their ability to explore. The subscription plan would run a player $10-$13 monthly if they choose to go that route, or a DAC (Dual Access Coupon) can be purchased for $18, or with in-game assets, similarly to EVE’s PLEX.

In the end, the big question mark is the single shard universe…is the concept ambitious but realistic?  Or has newcomer Novaquark bit off more than they can chew? Only time will tell! The tech demo videos certainly paint a very pretty picture, but space sim fans can’t be blamed for being skeptical with recent releases being somewhat disappointing.

As of this writing the Kickstarter has amassed €191,314 of its €500,000 goal in the span of its first two days, so this may be one to keep an eye on!

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