Yesterday, legendary game creator Sid Meier sat down with Firaxis Games’ own Pete Murray to demonstrate a short in-game playthrough of Sid Meier’s Starships for the first time. Players watching the above video got a great look at the start screen, the main principles of fleet building and basic combat, as well as expanding their galactic influence and meeting other civilizations. We took a look at the video, and have a rundown on what to expect in Sid Meier’s Starships based on the 30 minute demonstration.
The game ties in with the end of Civilization: Beyond Earth, which tasked players to colonize planets. Expanding upon this idea, Starships is all about defending these planets and expanding interplanetary borders under the name of a galactic federation, which as Sid Meier explains, is no easy task.
The first big choice players will face is what kind of affinity they want; they have the choice of going for Supremacy, Harmony or Purity. Supremacy brings a focus on science and technology, allowing them to start off each game with one Wonder already built. Harmony values peace and kinship, granting a bonus that repairs each fleet for half the cost. Lastly, Purity is all about the continuation of Humanity, and players who pick this affinity will get double the resource rewards for each completed mission.
Every single ship in Sid Meier’s Starships is comprised of several modules, which can be upgraded and changed by the player if they have the resources to do so. These modules range from modified weapons to stealth cloaks, and are one of the most important aspects of the game – as fleets engage in combat mode, utilizing ship strengths and minimizes their weakness in the battlefield will make or break most campaigns. In the case of cloaks, enemy ships must pass within a certain distance to actually see where the ship is, which gives players more time to position their cloaked ships effectively and retain the element of surprise.
Within the battlescape scene, players will see the starting points of their enemies on a randomized map littered with asteroid belts, narrow passages and jumpscapes. Here’s a condensed version of what we learned about this map items in the above video:
- Asteroids hide ships from enemy fire, but also prevent any ship from moving on that tile of the map.
- Narrow Passages function like asteroids, but on a turn-by-turn basis have a change of opening up, allowing traversal on that tile.
- Jumpscapes will teleport a ship that enters its map tile to a random section of the map, unless the player has a particular Wonder which lets them control where they teleport to.
The most interesting part of the battlescape demo was showing how quickly fighters could navigate behind enemies, effectively flanking them and getting massive bonuses for doing so – as well as combining the Battle Card system, which gives tactical bonuses to fighters in the battlescape. In the case of the above video, the Battle Card gave Sid Meier and his Firaxis cohort enough additional speed to move their fighters two more tiles, allowing them to get in close behind the last enemy Marauder and blow them to bits, resulting in total victory.
The demo also goes over aspects that will be familiar to fans of Civilization, including setting up trade routes with neutral groups, and building enough influence to have said neutral groups consider you allies. Leaving fleets hovering over these planets at the end of a turn indicates they were there on shore leave, which will not only rest that fleet’s crew – who get tired over long voyages and extended combat, needing rest to return to full operating efficiency – but also helps build up trust with that neutral planet, since your crew spent time resting within their borders.
Which planet a fleet is orbiting over also has a significant impact on how any battles occurring there will pan out. The 30 minute playthrough revealed that unique planet attributes introduce gameplay modifiers – for example, the planet shown in the demo had massive solar storms, which meant critical hits against ships could not be repaired in that particular star system. Players will have to judge for themselves which planets are worth fighting for, and it’s a nice feature that adds an element of surprise to the galactic map.
What do you think about Sid Meier’s Starships, Ranters? Does the game feel to similar too Civilization, or are you excited to reach for the stars?