Friday, September 07, 2012

Starvoid Gameplay Review

I'm playing Starvoid, an online real-time strategy game by Zeal Game Studios and Paradox Interactive.

The game is basically a light version of Defense of the Ancients, where you primarily control a hero and (here’s the difference) manually summon creeps to fight by your side. The game only has three maps with three game modes: capture bases, capture bases in a slightly different way, and team deathmatch. Starvoid has quick match durations, with a single game clocking in a ten minutes. The game is entirely online with no single player content to practice with. The online servers also seem to be in Europe, as the poor pings and subsequent lag is noticeable and negatively impacts the gameplay. New items and abilities can be unlocked as you play; while you level up quickly, most of the interesting content is reserved for high-level players, so you must use one of stock characters to be competitive early on. It’s disappointing that there is a significant amount of customization to be had that is needlessly locked away from beginners. There is a commander for each play style (assault, ranged, stealth, support), and you can summon one unit of two or three different types simultaneously, which really limits strategic variety. The limited unit count does reduce micromanagement, however. Eliminating an enemy commander will remove all of their summoned units from the game, so that is the primary objective. Starvoid utilizes RTS-style controls with helpful tool-tips and unit descriptions, but lacks a “select all” shortcut, which makes for some very tedious unit selection. Battles are usually a chaotic mess, and the few special abilities and units you can control really limit your options during the bland combat. In the end, Starvoid offers streamlined gameplay that doesn’t offer enough variety to hold interest for very long, especially early in the game.