Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Drox Operative Gameplay Review

I'm playing Drox Operative, a space action role-playing game by Soldak Entertainment.

Instead of playing a 4X strategy game, in Drox Operative, you are a mercenary that can choose sides and align with the victor. Victory conditions includes allying with any surviving races, accumulating a significant amount of money, or destroying lots of monsters to increase your notoriety. Each race has different starting bonuses for their ships, and the difficulty level can be adjusted by changing the level of the enemy units. Each universe is randomly generated, with planets linked by wormholes and jump gates. Once you win a sector, you get a reward (lots of loot) and dive in to the next one. Drox Operative also supports cooperative multiplayer: a great feature. Controls, like most action role-playing games, are mouse-driven: the left mouse button is used to move (although you can use WASD, which I found to be easier), attack, or select items, the right-mouse button fires a specific weapon of your choosing, and moving the mouse over an enemy will target them. The interface gives a lot of information through extensive tool-tips, and all of the informational screens (character stats, inventory, map, relations) are one keypress away. Defeating enemies rewards items, of which there are plenty to choose from and mount onto your ship. These include weapons (lasers, missiles, mines, EMPs) and items that increase your shields, armor, speed, or power load. You are restricted in the items you can use by their level (you must upgrade your ship’s capabilities to support more advanced items), size (light, medium, heavy), and power consumption, and cargo bays can hold items you’d like to sell to the various factions. Aligning with the best faction is accomplished by completing quests (of which there are several types), trading, and destroying nearby monsters. The monsters are very basic in behavior (they attack when you are near), but the faction AI plays the 4X game well and makes the game world interesting to interact with. The penalty for death is minimal (just a small XP decrease) as well. Overall, Drox Operative is a fine adaptation of the action role-playing game to a space 4X setting, providing varied quests, interesting diplomacy, randomly generated worlds, lots of items to equip, and multiple victory conditions.