Review: Fractured Space

Fractured Space Featured

Fractured Space is a MOBA from Edge Case Games, the developer of Strike Suit Zero. If the name didn’t tip you off lets just come out and say it, this is a MOBA set in space. I hadn’t seen much of the game until it popped up on my Steam feed but after a few games I’m in love. But just like every good love story, there is a lot of hurt too. Let’s dive in.

Fractured Space Review

The developers of Fractured Space came off of the success of their first game Strike Suit Zero, started their new studio, and began work on the game. After a couple of years of development the game is in early access on Steam now with a very healthy development schedule. I was pleasantly surprised to see such a great dialogue between the players and the developers. I hope to see more of this in the industry in the future.

Fractured space ship

Design

If you haven’t seen screenshots yet, this game is beautiful. I wouldn’t expect any less from Strike Suit Zero’s team though. Still, this game is gorgeous to look at. One of the first things I wanted to see was the “character” designs. A good team-based multiplayer game needs to have easily identified characters to work. I was happy to find that all the ships in the game are unique. Whats more is although they all look right at home in deep space , none of them share the same silhouette. Besides the playable ships, the NPC ships look incredible too. The base ships, mining stations, and even the asteroids look beautiful. The game is one of the more stylish MOBAs I’ve had the pleasure of playing.

Gameplay

The ships in this game feel right. It’s tough to pin down exactly why they feel right but they do. The movement speed is slow enough that I felt like a massive ship, but fast enough that I wasn’t bored. There is travel speed and warping in the game so I don’t think anyone will be complaining about the movement. The level design is… interesting. After starting in your base you need to “warp” into a lane, then if you manage to capture the furthest point in the lane you can proceed from that gate into the enemy base, deal some damage and ultimately win the game. There are only two lanes and not the traditional three, and a middle base which acts as a sort of “Baron” or “Roshan” buffing the team that captures it. You might be thinking “hey that seems totally reasonable” and you’re right, but there are two things left that I don’t really like.

The abilities of each ship are insanely fun. I flew a massive ship that allowed me to send squadrons of fighters to slowly damage enemy ships, and another that allowed me to warp behind enemies and deal massive burst damage. There are support ships, heavy tanker ships, and small damage dealers just like you would expect. The game is very fun while you are fighting. The massive explosions, lasers, missiles, and sheer epic scale of the battles feels awesome. But if you’re not fighting… well…

There is no “creep” in this game. The lanes are pushed by you and your team mates alone. Without NPC minions pushing forward the game forces more brawling and team fighting. There are also no “Towers”. So when you and your group of friends all group up and “deathball” into the enemy there is no where for them to run. I think the game is still small enough for this to be lower concern, but I can’t help but wonder why it was made this way. The game rewards aggression and team fighting, but punishes solo players. Both these are acceptable because the game itself doesn’t suffer now, but I imagine it will limit the competitive aspect of the game. Groups of five will always have an advantage since even if a team splits and captures a lane they won’t be able to hold it. I had fun while playing by myself and pushing a lane forward but the strategy of grouping up and picking off the enemy seems to be the winning way of playing.

I don’t want to say this is a negative thing, since the game is still new enough that players may want this, but I want to stress that this should not be played as a traditional MOBA. The amount of fun I had greatly outweighs the lower strategic aspect of the game.

Space Battle

 Interface

If you have played Eve online this game is a cakewalk. But if you’re coming from League of legends you might have some trouble at first. the picture above represents what you will be looking at during a normal fight. While it might look busy (and it is!) I wouldn’t want it any other way. The game made me feel like a spaceship captain, and the interface reflects that. The only complaint I have is that often the font used and the size it appears on the screen is very hard to read. I’m playing on a 50″ television usually and I couldn’t imagine being able to read it on a small or even medium-sized display. The main menu also could stand for some cleaning up too. There are menus that don’t fit and lots of small buttons everywhere. During a fight I want to feel like a captain of a starship. In the menus it just felt cluttered. The interface and menus were still superior to other games so i don’t really mind any of this, I just hope the readability improves.

Metagame

Rather than runes or deckbuilding Fractured Space has a “Crew”. The crew you assemble will grant you better stats and can be adjusted depending on your play style. While some people might enjoy these systems I abhor them. I don’t want to spend time or currency trying to gain a point or two in my capture rate, or shield regeneration. I think they provide an unfair advantage for players with more time invested and punish new players. While it’s not nearly as bad as the “Rune” system of League of Legends, I never spent more than a moment working with this system. I used the basic team and never felt at a disadvantage for it, but the store bragged of “Legendary” crew members which would increase my stats even further. Not exactly Pay to win, but getting dangerously close. League of Legends runes are only purchasable by the currency earned while you play, but there are bundles which include the crew, which brings me to my last point.

“Free” to play

The game is free to download and play. I never invested a penny and had a great time. But WOW, this game could get expensive. To get every ship in the game and in the future you can buy a bundle for $39 on steam. Compare this to $30 for every god in Smite, which often goes on sale for $15. This is nicer than other games which require you to buy the characters individually. But I’m not going to drop $40 on an early access game. The game also has its own in-game currency which comes in denominations that don’t exactly match up with prices of anything so you will often end up buying more or less than what you want and then having left over credits. This is again similar to League of Legends, but Riot has a rabid fan base that is happy to throw money at them. If you don’t want to spend real money on new ships get ready to grind… a lot. I played a few games and was still tens of thousands of credits from being able to afford the ship I wanted. There are a few basic ships that cost less, but this game is roughly as fast to gain currency as League of Legends…. which is terrible.

I can’t understand the developers goal here. You need new players, but the cost of anything beyond the basics is so high I don’t think players will put in the time needed to transition to long-term players. The ship skins prices are simply absurd. There is a skin that is $60. Let that sink in. Sixty American dollars for a skin. The Arcana skins in Dota 2 are $30, the most expensive sins in League are $48. There is nothing that would make me pay $60 for a skin in a game.

I want to just end this section by saying the prices of items in this game is the largest negative in this entire game.

Score and final thoughts

Score

I absolutely enjoyed my time playing Fractured Space. The atmosphere and design are incredible.  I can’t wait to hop back into my captain’s chair and take to the skies again. From movement to attacking the game feels good. It’s a fun and unique take on the genre and I applaud the developers for doing something so different and executing it well. The lack of creep and lane towers is different but forces a different and more brawler playstyle. This could have long-term repercussions but for now its still really fun. However, the prices of in app purchases ruins what would be a close to perfect score. I cannot justify the prices for skins, ships, crew, or even the “all ships” package. They could have a 75% off sale and I would feel like the prices were finally fair.

Cruising through space, blasting away my enemies, and taking part in epic space battles is worth every second. Download Fractured space and I know you will enjoy the game too! I recorded a video review as well, so make sure to check it out, and while you’re there subscribe and like us!

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