Free-To-Play First Look: Fractured Space

2016-05-27

Who here likes space ships? I get the feeling that was pretty much all of you. And who likes free stuff? I’m pretty sure that’s all of you again. Well friends, feast your eyes on Fractured Space: a game that was released from closed beta into Early Access, and made Free-to-Play this week! Fractured Space is a 5-v-5 space combat game where you pilot capital ships against your enemies in a multi-sector arena environment in hopes of catching the enemy base. I have to tip my hat to our intrepid editors here at TMC, who are quickly expanding my gaming horizons with the second MOBA I’ve ever played, all in the span of a few weeks! I’m going in with an open mind, and fully prepared to fail! …or succeed. Maybe I’ll try and succeed!

The moment I fired up the tutorial, I felt that this game plays somewhat like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag pirate-ship-style battles mixed with an atmosphere a-la Eve Online. That may be simplifying things a bit much, but moving the big capital ship around and trying to broadside my targets immediately brought back memories of doing the same in Black Flag. That’s really only from a feel standpoint though, so let’s dig a bit deeper!

Capital Ships And Crew Mates

The player’s effectiveness in combat is determined (on paper) by two things: your crew, and the ship you choose. Crew members are unlocked through DNA points, and modify characteristics such as weapon firing rates, hull strength, maneuvering, and many others. It’s worth noting that both DNA points and Crew Templates are something that can only be awarded through the recently introduced Drop System. Completing up to six games unlocks a total of three Drop Pods, which reward the player with prizes ranging from in-game credits, to platinum credits which unlock premium ships, as well as the aforementioned DNA and Character Templates. This development also  introduced “Crew Collection,” which will add items to the drop system that will improve the crew members the player is currently using and allow them to tailor themselves an “elite crew” so to speak.

One of your starting ships in Fractured Space is a kilometer-long vessel with over five thousand souls aboard

The ship types are split into three classes: Attack Ship, Support Ship, and Defense ship. Each of the ships within those categories has its own loadout of unique abilities and stats, consisting of Attack, Defense, and Utility, so it seems like an effective strategy would be to find a ship you like and stick to it, rather than bouncing around all the time. Premium Ships and skins are offered in exchange for money (or patience, if you wait to get your Platinum Credits through drops), but they don’t give much of an advantage in terms of overpowering the regular ships, and are identical in gameplay to the other ships in their respective classes.

Once you’ve got your ship and crew all picked out, it’s time to load up a battle!

Ready, Set, Space Combat Arena

[3 Minute Timer begins] Okay, so maybe it’ll be time to load up a battle in a few minutes, but at least they’ve given us a little Asteroids minigame to pass the time! Granted, the game does a good job of keeping you informed, and posts average wait times to get into the game at around three minutes, with 300 players online at the time of writing. This isn’t terrible, but also is not great if you just wanted to stop in for a quick round of action. That being said, each engagement lasts anywhere from 20-25 minutes as long as the other team isn’t sleeping, and there’s plenty of action to be had that makes the three-minute wait a little less painful. By comparison, the first MOBA I played (Atlas Reactor) had varying wait times to find a party, so the consistent wait time of three minutes for a regular round of Fractured Space isn’t totally unreasonable. The game mode window also gives you the option of playing competitively with your friends, which is handy if you have pals online and don’t feel like waiting to get loaded into a random match.

Once your party is put together, you’ll have a moment to chat and go over strategy with the team before spawning, as well as to pick a ship and crew that fits your strategy, but after that it’s fairly hard to get any typing done while flying your ship. This is definitely a game that would benefit from use of voice chat, and I was actually kind of surprised that it isn’t something that was already in place. Nonetheless, engines are firing and we are ready to launch!

Ten Ships Enter, Five Ships Leave

Though this game is a MOBA by definition, it is also a space game that echoes the feel of naval combat, so I immediately felt at home as soon as I was piloting my ship. As I mentioned earlier, the handling of the ship felt somewhat comparable to that of AC Black Flag if not a bit more responsive, as well as having the ability to change altitude. The game format is similar to the “assault” game type in Unreal Tournament, in that you have to capture a handful of intermediate bases to unlock access to your opponent’s main base. Additionally, the smaller intermediate bases generate resources which unlock upgrades to your team’s ships, so though they may not be necessary to capture the enemy’s main base directly, they’ll improve your chances of success when you get there. The main base is surrounded by powerful turrets, and of course your opponents will know you’re there, so it’s not exactly a cakewalk – you can’t just waltz in and win in a matter of seconds. There’s also an additional base in the middle of the map which unlocks at certain times in the match, allowing the teams to capture it and reap a bonus to their capture speed and attack power.

My team managed to get together something of a cohesive strategy as we grouped together to assault down the side of the arena opposite the other team. It almost felt too easy, until we were about to capture the last intermediate base when the other team warped in, and the action didn’t stop after that until the game was over! Although the big fat capital ships of Fractured Space handle like old pirate ships, the combat is anything but sluggish, as teams volley back and forth at each other while trying to hold defensive positions or flank and assault. With the ability to find cover behind the bases or the various asteroids and debris floating around, there’s plenty of room for strategy on how to attack and defend yourself, and even though I was the lowest level player in the battle, I found plenty of opportunities to get the jump on my opponents and score some righteous kills. In the end we even managed to win the game, even though one of my teammates insisted that the rest of us were “nubz” and had no clue what we were doing.

No clue whatsoever!

All The Combat Without The Commitment

This game has plenty to offer for fans of space combat games such as Eve Online. Though the scale of the battles is far smaller than those found in Eve, the arena-style combat of Fractured Space can get pretty hectic at times. The thing with a game like Eve is that some of the battles can at times be preceded by a big form-up, and then traveling to the enemy, chasing them around, blowing them up or getting blown up, then heading back home. Before you know it a couple of hours have gone past, not to mention that you can potentially lose an expensive ship that you’ll then have to replace one way or another.

By comparison, Fractured Space is a great way to get yourself into a heated space battle that demands some strategy and teamwork if you want to win, with really no consequences other than a bruised ego if you lose. With each game clocking in at basically 30 minutes, the player is able to jump in, blow some stuff up, and get onto something else if that’s what they want to do.

Next time you’re getting the appetite for some quick space combat mayhem, I recommend giving Fractured Space a try…you have nothing to lose but some space on your hard drive!

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Macky Avelli.

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