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PAX South 2015: Dreadnought impressions

As taken from my preview piece of the game: “Dreadnought: a predominate battleship of the early 20th century that was designed with two revolutionary features at the time: an “all-big gun” armament scheme that featured heavy calibered cannons and steam turbine propulsion”. In other words a really really big ship with just as big, if not even bigger, cannons. A precursor to the modern warships/gunships of the 21th century, dreadnoughts were predominantly used in Europe, and mostly  by either the English Royal Navy and the German Empire in the 19th century. Now a days, dreadnought is not used as a practical class of ship, however the sci-fi community has welcome the word with arms wide open and images huge lumbering space ships cruising and engaging in battle with other giant ships. This is what developer Yager had in mind. From the team that brought Spec Ops The Line comes Dreadnought and I got to see how Yager went from gritty war torn military story to epic space battles.

 

Before we get started, here’s an interesting fact that one of the developers told me about Yager and how Dreadnought came to be. Back in 2004 Yager released a game called Yager, a futuristic combat flight simulator. While the game performed was received above average reviews it was late to the party as it was “too old” and Microsoft was about to release the Xbox 360 the following year. Through they went on to develop more games, the thought of giant epic space battles still lingered inside the devs. With that said, onward to the impressions starting with the graphics.

 

In every game the first thing that will draw you in is of course the graphics. Now everyone knows that graphics are just one component of a whole game. When I saw the trailer teaser trailer for Dreadnought and other videos that have be released prior to PAX South, my first thought that those are just pre-rendered graphics, there is no way that a game that is early alpha can look so good. It turns out it can, and it seems that Yager have been working on the game for a while since they finished up development for Spec Ops The Line. Each of the ships were highly detailed, from the gigantic Dreadnought to the small scout Corvette. Yager really went all out when it came to designing these ship and making them look realistic as possible. And speaking of realistic…

 

Dreadnought’s gameplay mechanics are a mix of realistic and simplistic. Let me start with what I mean by simplistic. The control layout for Dreadnought was pretty simple; the number keys 1, 2, 3, and four were the ship’s abilities, Q switched weapons, R reloads, shift has the ship descend, space bar had the ship ascend, WASD were movement keys and the mouse fired and aimed weapons. Now here is where things things become realistic. In Rebel Galaxy for example ships are on the X and Y axis. With Dreadnought it uses all three axis X,  Y, and Z. So instead of just simply turning left, players would have to either choose to ascend or descend then press W which controls the rear thrusters and then press A to control the right thrusters to move the ship left. It took a bit of trial and error but I quickly got the hand of piloting my ship.

 

 

Another interesting aspect of Dreadnought are the ships themselves and how similar they are to a FPS in terms of classes. There are five different classes of ships: the Dreadnought, the Destroyer, the Corvette, the Artillery Cruiser and the Tactical Cruiser. If you think of them in FPS terms they are the heavy/tank, soldier, scout, medic and sniper. My personal favorite is the Artillery Cruiser. Just like with most FPS games, I like to hang back and pick off other ships with the all powerful railgun. But I have to make sure that I’m not spotted or else I will get picked off myself. With the right mix of these ships players will be able dominate any team. Each of the ships will be fully customizable, both in looks and in weapon/abilities loadout.

Dreadnought was awesome to play. Being able to feel the power of a giant floating railgun blow up an enemy was great. It took a while to get a handle on the controls since it uses all three axis and is more of a realistic flight sim and with it announced that it will be free to play, I see it becoming an extremely popular space game when it comes out sometime in 2015.

 

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