E3: Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter

E3: Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter

image

The sequel to Sword of the Stars is as pretty as its strategic battles are complex.

After three expansions, a sequel updates Sword of the Stars with space eye-candy (via the new MARS 2 engine), a new faction (The Suul 'ka) and features that fans have been clamoring for on developer Kerberos Productions' forum. The original SotS was a passion project by six guys in Vancouver, but with over double the staff and 16 months of development Kerberos has been able to make the sequel they could only dream of back in 2006.

Beyond Galactic Civilization II and Sins of a Solar Empire, there haven't been many games of this ilk since the original SotS's release. Despite a lack of competition, Kerberos seem to be self-motivated in their efforts to improve its 4X space strategy game. Those unfamiliar with the 4X sub-genre: That's explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. SotS is best understood as Total War in space with planets to conquer through epic space battles. The latter of which has undergone some significant upgrades made possible with the new MARS 2 engine.

The detail on the new ship models is immediately apparent when jumping into one of the game's real-time battles. Customizing a ship's paint job and features is nice, but it's how it all factors into gameplay that matters. Taking down an opponent's ship in the original SotS was as simple as destroying two parts of it, but now players must factor in how individual sections power a ship. This makes formations and rolling all the more important in this sequel.

With improved rolls, formations based around a new three-dimensional playing field, and a tweaked targeting system, the combat system will incorporate updated features of expansions while including some exclusive to this sequel. The developer promised annoying cat-and-mouse matches with an enemy's command ship will be a thing of the past, this time out. While the strategic depth of this sequel might scare away newcomers, Kerberos are doing their best to streamline combat (now most encounters last 4-5 minutes) and the game's interface.

The original was made by just a couple guys and it showed. The interface catered to the hardcore while scaring those new to the genre. The sequel cuts off the fat by hiding unnecessary info and smartly organizing the numbers that do matter. The game's menus and art assets have also undergone a makeover. Everything from character avatars to the returning randomized tech tree have undergone visual improvements, making for a professional looking game made by a modestly sized team.

With an emphasis on streamlining combat and exploration (troop orders now take one command and turn), Lords of Winter walks a fine line between appeasing fans of the original while beautifying what's there for a new crowd. Kerberos is transparent about their efforts to broaden the 4X genre - if this demo is any indication, they could have the next Civilization V on their hands.

We'll have to wait until August 18 to know for sure.

Permalink

Can't wait for SotS 2. Love the first one.

Splashing Down Now

Still a great game, and far more replayable than Civ.

These guys hammer a game out like a Katana, they just keep beating it and beating it until its perfect. To think its only just a few months away is just fantastic, hopefully it all comes together for them and they take their rightful place as the kings of 4x they so richly deserve because they took a decent game like sword of the stars and through 3 expansions and countless patches to create the most awesome 4x experience you can get I think.

I really would have liked to see more about this game in E3 but the fact its still seems to be on target for its release date is more then good enough to me. What better way to cap the end of your summer that waging galactic war on your friends for the rest of the year.

I do hope they decrease the load time of big battles in LoW and created more options for multiplayer because it looks awesome as it is. It's my most anticipated game of the year.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Splashing Down Now

Still a great game, and far more replayable than Civ.

you and your space dolphins in their space fish tanks :p

What does irk me is that they haven't really shown the empire management part of the game. So I hope they haven't botched that part.

TheBlackKnight:

The_root_of_all_evil:
Splashing Down Now

Still a great game, and far more replayable than Civ.

you and your space dolphins in their space fish tanks :p

Psychic Teleporting Space Dolphins, TYVM! ;)

i was never to fond of the first one even compared to other games of the genre its was painfully slow and battles just seemed to be fire until everyone is dead, i did like the ship design aspect of it though

I'm definitely looking forward to this in the fall. I loved the random events, races all having strategically different FTL methods, interesting tech trees (AI rebellion!) and ship designing of the first game.

The thing i love the most about SoTS is the different styles of FTL. That was the winner. The game is streamlined, however. I tend to find the tactical battles boring, and the economy oversimplified. However, its ok, because i'll buy and play it for the hiver action.

I just really like economics in space games, i want to really feel like i'm exploiting those worlds.

O_O

OMG!

They have fix the interface!?
YESS!

I tried the first game but couldn't get past the turnbased stuff. Maybe this will cover it up better.

I'm certainly getting this. Though I'm a bit worried about the sentence 'troop orders now take one command and turn'. Does that mean traveling to other planets takes only one turn? The different FTL engines were one of the great points of the original game, but if travel is either impossible or takes 1 turn, that'll be out of the window. Hope I'm misunderstanding it...

Nimcha:
I tried the first game but couldn't get past the turnbased stuff. Maybe this will cover it up better.

I dont think games like that are for you then, because you're not supposed to want to get past the turn based stuff as soon as possible.

It could be the next Civ V? God I hope not.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here