First of all, I shall mention I rarely play PC games. However, I used to do so playing strategies such were Heroes of Might and Magic III, the Civilization series or X-COM/UFO games. As the short list shows, when it came to playing, I always went for a complex strategy rather than for anything else. Exode seems to be one of that kind at the first sight. I had bought a starter pack a while ago and yesterday, I tried the demo about five times. Here are several suggestions in case anybody’s interested in my thoughts.
Real time may not be the best way to go
Sure, real time games are cool. Alas, you need to have a top-notch user interface that allows players to control every single aspect of the game in the blink of an eye. For a game like Exode, you’ll need to use keyboard shortcuts for everything as mouse-clicking wastes time when you need to browse several screens and menu options for giving an order. On the other hand, implementing keyboard shortcuts would bring disadvantage to anyone playing on mobile, tablet or such devices. I am sure you’re not willing to do so as the mobile gaming industry grows way too fast to lose it.
As I mentioned in the brief introduce-myself opening, most of the games I’ve played were turn based, or at least offered the chance to play in turns, the last volumes of X-COM series for instance. Turn based games don’t look that cool at the first glace as the concept is as old as chess, if not older. Though, is there any better game that would prove your brains and wit than chess (or Go and such classical old fashioned board games)?
The thing is that turn based games give you time to think your strategy through. Real time games usually emphasize your pace rather than your wit – you need to acquire several strategy patterns that you keep following almost mindlessly not having time to reconsider or analyse them within the game. Sure, you can do so afterwards if your game was recorded.
The times have changed. People are quite reluctant if you force them to study the game mechanism in its whole complexity. The keen thing any game should provide is an opportunity to relax, to have fun. Sure, there are super-dedicated fans of football manager type of games with zillions of stats that you have to micromanage for dozens of hours in order to be successful. However, in most of the difficult games, all the things are in a common sense and players don’t actually have to learn them.
Football manager players are great fans of the sport itself, they already know most of the tactics, they know the players and everything important. Playing Civilization, for instance, is natural in the way that you already know what would happen if you research certain tech or act in a certain way as the game tends to reflect real culture-determined behaviour of several nations.
While browsing Exode card database, I got completely lost not having any previous knowledge regarding the fractions and almost none of the game mechanism. I got a starter pack and two boosters, opened all of them a yet I am unable to tell how good my cards are. I didn’t even know which particular ones I should wish for.
Similarly, when it comes to the evacuation mission, I understood that I should check my crew’s stats and make notes which one suits best for escorting citizens and so. I did no, as it is super boring. As far as I know, the crew will be picked from my cards in the next version of the game so I would be more familiar with it. Though, what if I had hundreds of cards and wanted to do several different missions? Will I have to spend a great deal of my leisure (i.e. gaming) time sorting my cards before every single mission of new kind?
Inside the mission, I would appreciate at least labelling of my crew. If I could do it in general settings for all cards at once, it would be perfect. I mean adding coloured labels or signs that would be shown all the time at all screens. Give me a “Shooter ++ Cargo carrier +” labels or so. I won’t even consider letting this guy doing anything else but guard or carry cargo. I won’t have to spend almost any time in the preparation screen and I’ll spend more time in the game itself. And give me a sorting option when I am choosing my cards. Sort by any ability so I’ll pick the best cards easily.
How did I enjoy?
As I’ve already written, I played like five games in a row yesterday night. I got better and better, though my ship was completely destroyed once. My last attempt ended up with something that seems to be a nice score to me – 1600+ points. However, I am not about to play it again for a while. I didn’t find it that catchy. Yet.