There are just so many places on our planet where an epic battle can occur. A terrestrial throw-down within the trenches, naval warfare across the seven seas, or even a massive aerial dog fight in the skies. But all the stages I’ve stated seem to have set limitations for the combatants involved in that the battlefields constrict the factions to a corresponding place. Tanks and infantry are just as effective freefalling in the air as battleships and submarines are on the ground and fighter jets sinking in the ocean (though should this juxtaposition take place, it can lead to some terrifyingly unintentional hilarity).The next logical place to engage war in seems to be in outer space because there is ample room for all parties involved to go and bombard the hell out of one another (we’ll leave the other logistics like building a space ship and weaponry to the said parties; they want to blow each other up, so let them figure this one out). That’s what the developers must have been thinking of when they made VEGA Conflict.
VEGA Conflict is a free-to-play, MMO Real Time Strategy browser game created by Kixeye, the same folks who brought us Battle Pirates, War Commander and TOME. Players are designated rogue miners in space seeking to have total control over the remaining valuable resources that are located within asteroids in each sector. This is done by managing their own fleet of hulking space ships and command centers until they are ready to strike down the tyrannical VEGA Corporation who has a stranglehold over the said resources.
So does this spaceships and lasers, browser-based MMORTS give its players an experience that reaches to infinity and beyond, or does it leave people wanting to get sucked into a black hole of disappointment? Let’s find out!
Galactic Conquest Await You!
Aesthetically, VEGA Conflict looks sharp and complex. The building and ship designs all have that futuristic element to them that is expected for any game that will run with a space theme. Structures in one’s command post flicker and emit beeps and clicks that note that people are inside them operating on valuable processes to ensure everything’s working in optimal condition, as do the battleships once in combat mode, with their multicolored projectiles lighting the field of battle. Both also tend to stick out of the game background which makes for a good visual contrast, as the background captures the idea of space being a lifeless, asteroid-filled vacuum.
Of Space Stations and Spaceship Scuffles
VEGA Conflict’s gameplay is one part Real-time strategy and one part economic simulator. For the latter, the game controls are pretty straightforward: you have control over a space command center where you are tasked to collect resources which are conveniently found in one of the many asteroids that are close to your vicinity. There are three resources that can be mined, and two of those are harvested from the asteroids – helium and mineral. These two resources are essential in creating your fleet, upgrading your base structures and interstellar weaponry which you will need for the fun part of the game (read: blowing up opposing space ships and other players’ bases); the higher the buildings’ levels, the more access you have for creating different space ships, grade-A defensive shields, and a vast array of armaments. Personally, it feels fulfilling to see your base of operations develop and become more formidable compared to your not-too-distant neighbors.
For the fun part of the game, VEGA Conflict’s take on the real-time strategy element is pretty simple – players can choose to wait for the VEGA Corporation’s fleets that are returning from their supply runs and ambush them for a quick skirmish and claim their recently-mined resources for their own (in space, there’s no shortage of evil, corrupt corporations to overthrow by means of piracy, am I right?). This serves as the game’s PvE part of VEGA Conflict, and the difficulty increases exponentially with each level. One needs to be wary when trying to take down these fleets, as being overzealous can lead to one biting the (space)dust and be forced to retreat. Here lies the strategy aspect of the game – players are tasked to create a sizable and formidable fleet of spaceships in order to get a hold of the resources and use them as they see fit. The ships, armor, and weapons available for players depend on how far along they’ve leveled up the corresponding buildings, and each ship has different strengths and weaknesses – some are highly mobile yet one or two shots will turn them to smithereens, while other ships can take quite a beating but move slowly; different armor plating are more susceptible to certain weapons than others and vice versa. It’s up to the players to mix and match the many kinds of shields, plating, ship hulls, and laser weapons that would suit their respective play styles.
The PvP aspect of the game revolves around trying to ambush another player’s fleet to snatch their cargo from them. It works similar to ambushing the VEGA ships, but the difference here is that your opponent is another player. For those who want to raise the stakes, they can opt to siege another player’s command center to gain another territory for their own. But if you don’t feel like pub-stomping other players, you have the option to just go about your merry way and continue to instigate the evil corporation by ransacking their homeward bound cargo vessels.
Solving the Space-Time Conundrum
While VEGA Conflict is a fun game to play, there are still some issues that needs to be pointed out. For instance, with regard to the story, VEGA Conflict’s…conflict between the corrupt authoritarian corporation and the oppressed space colonies offer nothing new to the tired narrative. It’s a very lazy attempt to create opposition that makes the game lose some of its gravitas because the story is forgettable at best and feels like a mere afterthought.
The battle sequences also seem to be lacking due to the simplistic approach the game took with tackling the real-time strategy portion of the game. For the most part, the ship battles are just point-and-click events. Players can navigate and control each individual ship that they’ve set out to engage the enemy, but the controls are too simple – you can just up and select any one of the ships you control or all of them for that matter and have them fire at the opposing ships; lather, rinse, and repeat that strategy until the enemy ships are all blown up. The player-controlled ships do not have special abilities apart from their equipped weapons, and this proves to be a major letdown because the players’ involvement just relies on selecting one ship, clicking on what ship he wants to do battle, and just hope for the best. It would have been better if the game incorporated abilities to the different ship hulls that can be used whilst in the midst of the skirmish. This would make players more involved with the gameplay.
But the biggest issue VEGA Conflict has is got to be the time it takes for structures to finish being upgraded and for armor and weapon enhancements to be researched. In the early stages of the game, upgrading your buildings and researching for new shields and laser cannons complete faster. But as the game progresses, leveling up your structures and equipment can be frustrating because it takes absurdly long for them to finish. While the game tries to cushion the waiting time by allowing players to queue one structure, one ship, and one upgrade at the same time, not being able to research multiple upgrades and level up multiple buildings at the same time proves to be frustrating at best. While waiting for your upgrades and research to complete is something all RTS games have, developers know that there should be a fine line between what’s an acceptable duration for completing a ship, cannon, or any facility. Having to wait for your upgrades and research to complete for an hour or three hours is not something an RTS game should have because it really kills the whole strategy part for players, and being that VEGA Conflict fancies itself as a Real-time strategy game, it begs the question if they took the “real-time” part of RTS games too literally.
VEGA Conflict strives to create a user-friendly and easily accessible real time strategy game that can be played in browsers. It does that part well, considering that it takes five minutes tops to learn most of the ins and outs of this game. But the simplicity that seems to be the overarching factor for VEGA Conflict somehow makes the game a bit plain and ordinary, as space-themed games tend to have a complicated edge that makes it enjoyable to play. For what it is, VEGA Conflict did an okay job, it’s just that they didn’t deliver anything new to the genre with this title.
Pros and Cons
Here are the pros and cons of VEGA Conflict:
– highly detailed structures and spaceships
– diverse and comprehensive ship builds
– intense battle sequences
– game mechanics are fairly easy to learn
– get to see your space colony expand
– incorporates Real-Time Strategy elements
– unoriginal and overused story element
– battle sequences feel sluggish and awkward
– becomes a waiting game as players’ levels progress
– the game can be played without social interaction
Rating: 5/10Related: MMORTS, Review, Vega Conflict