Our good friend Brian Rubin, the Space Game Junkie himself, has been playing a lot of VoidExpanse lately, as have we. VoidExpanse is currently undergoing its early access alpha, and Brian he recently did a great Q&A with Atomic Torch about VoidExpanse. After chatting a bit we thought it might be nice to do a VoidExpanse player Q&A about the game to give everyone a sense of what the game is like from our point of view. So, Brian and I sat down and discussed a range of topics regarding VoidExpanse, and you can read the transcript below. Enjoy!
How would you describe VoidExpanse in 1-2 sentences to someone who didn’t know about the game?
SGJ: A space-based action RPG with skill-based combat, several ships with plentiful weapons, equipment and consumables to equip said ships with. The game generates random universes and includes both story elements and random missions such as transport, mining, combat and so on.
DBB: I agree with that. I would say the closest comparison out there is SPAZ, and if you have played that you will already have a sense of what VE is about. I feel VE is less about missions and more about sandbox than SPAZ, but close enough to make the comparison.
SGJ: SPAZ with a mix of Drox Operative with a mix of Subspace I think.
SGJ: I do love the missions though. All about missions in games like this.
DBB: For me it has been less about missions and more about exploration so far, which I guess shows that the game caters to all play styles.
SGJ: Ohhh, what does exploring get’cha besides pirate battles? I mean are there things to discover and such?
DBB: Not much yet, but I have enjoyed looking around the galaxy.
SGJ: Yeah, I could see that, there’s plenty of AI traffic, which is cool.
DBB: I haven’t really found much to do with doing missions yet. It would seem we have had opposite experiences, which, for a game like this, is good.
SGJ: So there have been times where I’ve had to go out and make my own way. This usually involves mining. I love mining. Love.
DBB: Same, I have enjoyed the mining, and that leads into our next question…
In general, what types of activities have you tried the most in the game?
DBB: For the most part I have done exploration and a lot of mining so far. Mining has been fun, because it involves hunting for rare asteroids and fending off pirates. Missions I have done less of, but mostly because the mission system is still incomplete (but getting better). How about you?
SGJ: SLAYING PIRATES, because no matter what I do, those damned pirates won’t stop putting themselves in front of my guns. Even though it is incomplete still, but I swear, I’ve found some damned fine transport missions.
DBB: Really? I must look for those sometime.
Any thoughts about the classes yet given they aren’t meaningful right now?
SGJ: Well, don’t you get some extra points in a few things?
DBB: Not that I have noticed. I have looked at the skill trees when I started new characters and I don’t see a difference…however I do know that the classes will eventually have unique skill trees according to what the devs have said on the VE forums, so I am looking forward to that.
SGJ: Oohhh that makes sense, awesome.
Let’s talk about the ships, starting with the flight controls first. How do you like the flight controls in VoidExpanse?
SGJ: I dig ’em. They took some getting used to, but once you do they’re immensely satisfying.
DBB: I agree. Not using the mouse to steer seemed odd at first, but I grew to like keyboard steering and mouse for turret aiming. You really have to pay attention to turret arc angles and rotation speed.
SGJ: Yeah, makes you feel more connected to the ship. I like it.
DBB: Plus, have some amount of Newtonian physics in the game means the heavier ships tend to drift and take longer to bring about. It makes for some interesting combat
How about the ships themselves. How do you like them?
SGJ: I’ve only flown maybe 5-6 so far, but yeah, I love the designs, how asymmetrical some of them are, for example. They feel different too, which I also like.
DBB: Yeah, very different handling and feel. Which is your favourite ship so far?
SGJ: I think it’s called the Avalanche. The Mk 2 I believe, she has one forward gun and two turreted guns. Maneuverable, tough and fast, she’s the one I’ve flown the most so far.
DBB: Yeah I really like the ship designs so far as well. They look good and are fun to fly. My favourite ships are the Orca light cruiser for faster combat flying, and the Freighter transport ship for mining. The Hammer heavy cruiser is one I have just started flying, and it is quite impressive, but not as fun to fly as the Orca.
SGJ: Ohhhhh, the Orca looks nice, I think I just upgraded to light cruiser in skill my own self.
DBB: Yeah try it out, you will love it. And we should mention that currently only relatively few ships are available to fly, but they are adding more ships in the future.
And combat in VoidExpanse. How do you like it?
SGJ: Ships blow up real good. 😉
DBB: LOL, indeed!
SGJ: It’s pretty satisfying, both from a visual and audible perspective. I love the sound ships make when they explode, sounds like metal being torn apart.
DBB: Yeah, it is quite nice. I find the combat quite fun. At first it is quite challenging until you upgrade your ship, then it settles down for a while and it fairly simple. And then it ramps way up again as you enter alien controlled space. The alien ships are tough. Some are easy to kill if you can hit them, but they are fast and pack a HUGE punch. Even in a heavy cruiser it is dicey to take on more than one at a time. So combat is a challenge, which is good.
Any thoughts on the missions and their structure?
SGJ: So far they’re pretty simple. Go to the screen with the people on it on a station (I forget the name) and certain people will have different types of missions, like mining, transport and so on. You can take multiple missions too. But so far it feels a bit incomplete. One thing I wish was in the game was a better navigation system. Right now if a mission is three systems away, I have to manually find each gate. I’d at least like some sort of system that points to the gates you need to go to in each system to get to your destination.
DBB: Yes, although that has gotten better in the latest patch.
SGJ: Hahaha, I know, right, earlier the gates weren’t even named! You’d fly up to one and check the map to make sure it was the right one. SOOOO glad they fixed that, but more needs to be done. Like, on the map I can click a system as a destination, but right now it doesn’t seem to DO anything.
DBB: Yeah, and it will improve, I am sure. Speaking of which, this might be a good time to point how involved the devs are in improving their game and the community. I really appreciate the constant stream of patches, and that they talk with players in their forums to discuss ideas and upcoming features. It gives me great hope for the game.
SGJ: Yeah, already I’m really having a lot of fun with it, and it still feels early yet.
How about the faction system? Have you done much with it?
SGJ: A little bit, done some missions for one of them that I was asked to spy on or some such, but it’s not really complete yet I think.
DBB: Yeah that was my impression but I haven’t checked it out much. However, I like that there is a faction system that will have consequences in the game. Blow up the wrong ship and faction rep will go up or down, as an example.
SGJ: Yup, so aim carefully.
DBB: Oh, we should mention that there is friendly fire in the game. Enemies can hurt each other, and you can hurt allies.
Let’s talk weapons and mods. How do you like them in VoidExpanse.
DBB: I really like the variety of weapons so far. Most of them have a risk versus reward feel. Equipping big guns that use lots of energy can pack a punch but leave you unable to fire. Ballistic weapons and missiles have limited ammo. All kinds of weapons for different combat styles.
SGJ: Oh yeah, all kinds of lasers, mass weapons, missiles and so on. Great vareity indeed.
DBB: I really like the new deployable weapon concept, although so far mines aren’t terribly useful in their early form. And the devs have mentioned that drones and other deployables will eventually be in the game.
SGJ: I love mines in Drox Operative, so I’m hoping they’ll be as fun here. I also love the consumable items. They’re like potions in an ARPG.
Have you run into any annoying bugs yet?
SGJ: I ran into one wherein I’d launch and immediately die, like the ship got stuck upon leaving and just blew up or something. Thankfully resurrection doesn’t cost much, but losing one’s cargo is annoying.
DBB: I ran into a similar bug where mt visuals would freeze but combat and movement kept happening in the background. I could hear my guns firing and the enemy shots hitting me. Relogging fixes it, but still annoying. There are a couple of minor UI bugs, but overall the game is relatively bug free so far for me.
SGJ: Still an alpha, yeah, and bugs will happen, but so far it’s been pretty solid.
What would you like to see added into VoidExpanse? Any feature you are dying to see?
SGJ: Hmmmm, for some reason I’d love to see races in the game. First thing that came to mind. I’d also like to have trade made simpler if possible, like something that told you how much something was in another system so you’d know if it was worth a trip or not.
DBB: Oh, yeah,trading. Have you tried that much? It hasn’t been clear to me if it is implemented, by which I mean, I haven’t really tried doing it yet. I have noticed that mined ore sells for different prices at different types of stations, but beyond that not much is in the game yet from what I can see.
SGJ: Just selling what I’ve looted from other ships mostly. I tried it once I think, wasn’t much to remember.
DBB: For me, what I would like to see is more skills in the tree, and more ships. In particular, I would like more early ships that are meaningful for the classes. Like a small starter ship for mining, or a starter fast ship for courier missions, etc.
SGJ: Haha, more more more. I hear that. I like the skill trees though.
DBB: Right now the ship progression is pretty much the same for every class. The skill trees are great but need variety for the different classes.
What do you think about the variety of the systems you fly around in, such as space traffic, stations and so on?
SGJ: Personally I’d love to see more traffic.
DBB: Yeah! It does feel a bit empty at times. Having the main systems a bit more populated would be nice. Oh, and speaking of which, any thoughts on the multiplayer aspect of the game?
SGJ: I’m not much of a multiplayer type, so I’ve not dabbled with it, but I’m glad the option is there for players who want it. If I recall players can set up their own servers too, is that right?
DBB: Yeah. It has some nice options for both single player and multiplayer. PvP on or off, for example. Also, VE will support modding so servers can have their own rule-sets and content. Many players will like that.
SGJ: Oh that’s cool, I should set up a SGJ server once it goes live.
DBB: Yeah that would be great!
What do you think of the graphical and music style?
SGJ: I like how kinda spartan it is. Oh, also the music. I dig it, but the girlfriend thought it was from a 70s sitcom. 😉
DBB: I like it a lot. Sort of cartoony but not too much. Yeah it has a slight retro-flair but it works. And the best thing is that it is lightening fast so most people will be able to run it easily.
SGJ: This is true, it should be very scalable to a lot of different machines.
DBB: And is it just me or did the last patch improve the visuals? They seem better.
SGJ: I think they did add a little flair, yes.
So, gun to your head, what is you overall opinion of VoidExpanse? Would you recommend it now in early access, later when finished, or not at all?
SGJ: I would totally recommend it to spacey gamers who enjoyed skill-based combat and RPG elements, yeah. It’s a lot of fun even in it’s early access state. As long as they know it’s an early access game, that’s a thing these days.
DBB: I agree. It is always tricky with early access games because you have to consider both the present state of the game and where it is heading or its potential. I think the game has huge potential given its current state, which I find fun, even if there is a limited amount of stuff to do right now.
SGJ: Yeah, I find myself playing it even when I don’t need to for the blog. It’s fun and easy to jump into for a little while.
DBB: Plus, considering the low price, it seems really worth it for space game fans that like sandboxes.
SGJ: Yeah, it’s like $10 or $15, right?
DBB: Yeah. Three options, $10, $12, and $15.
OK I believe that is a wrap for this VoidExpanse Player Q&A! Thanks to Brian from Space Game Junkie for taking the time to do this discussion with us about VoidExpanse. Don’t forget to check out the VoidExpanse site and considering getting into the VoidExpanse early access!