PAX East First Impressions – Deadrock Divide
Everybody and their undead mother loves zombies, but you know what we don’t have enough of in games? Space. Space as in outer space, not as in I need more room between shooting lanes. What’s that? Space games are just as prevalent as Zombie games? That might be true, but I hate zombies and love sci-fi, so I say we don’t have enough space games. (#DealWithIt) Lucky for me and every other sci-fi fan out there, a new squad-based tactics game called Deadrock Divide was shown off at PAX, and it looks to fill the dark void in our collective cosmic hearts.
Players begin with a small crew and tiny ship as they adventure in search of Deadrock, a miner’s dream that ushers in a new gold rush just as resources were beginning to dwindle. Of course, everyone else has the same idea too, so it isn’t long before corporations, pirates, and mining factions begin to set up shop and harvest the coveted resource. As the new kid on the space block, it’s the player’s job to decide who to side with, or otherwise venture out in hopes of mining their own success. The sandbox design allows players to roam each area and discover locations and secondary missions as they see fit.
In addition to offering players the freedom to explore, the team at Bootsnake Games has also created a narrative and gameplay system that equally embraces choice. Faction and corporations will react to players differently based on previous decisions – such as what side quests are completed, and which organizations players side with – and Deadrock Divide even allows players to become pirates themselves, starting out in opposition of other pirates until earning their respect and even joining their ranks. On the gameplay side, players can modify their ship in a variety of ways. Each class of ship has a set number of “rooms” available, and each room serves as a utility slot for the ship which can be filled by a med-bay, beds for the crew, or a mining drill, among other things. Each type of room offers a unique advantage, so depending on individual playstyle, ships will contain different utilities.
While mining for resources and playing politics with big corporations is one way to go about striking it rich in Deadrock, landing and exploring mines and derelict ships is equally useful. Upon docking at one of these areas, the players assume control of a squad of three, using an XCOM-inspired turn-based system to move about the map and engage in combat. Combat, whether it be against pirates or aliens, makes use of the environment in addition to typical strategy-based decisions. The environment and surround objects are destructible, so cover doesn’t last forever, and some characters have telekinetic-based abilities to further reshape the battle by lifting opponents into the air, or pulling them to another part of the map entirely. Each character can be completely customized, from physical appearance to loadout, with a number of branching skill trees to choose from. It’s important to note that any character can access any skill tree, but specialization can be key to victory, so playing to one’s strengths is worth bearing in mind. There are no weapon classes either, so your medic is free to carry a heavy weapon, while the soldier equips a lighter, faster assault weapon.
Combat and exploration reward both experience that is converted into skill points upon leveling up, and resources needed for crafting. Crafting is an equally important aspect of the game, allowing players to build their own items and equipment as well as upgrade their ship further. The crafting components players will be searching for take the form of various types of crystals, some more valuable than others. Ultimately, survival will hinge on a mix of resource management and calculated risk-taking, but such is life, right?
Deadrock Divide is currently in Alpha, but the game is already shaping up tremendously. I did encounter a few bugs during my time with the demo, but nothing game-breaking. Considering that they were minor hiccups like invisible button prompts and menus that were finicky to exit out of, and that combat itself was fluid and functional without any snags, I’d say this is one to watch as it heads into Beta. Targeting a final release sometime next year on PC, more information about Deadrock Divide can be found on the Bootsnake Games Twitter, Facebook, and website.