In this edition of ‘Why you should be playing…’ we’re going to be taking a look at an online, multi-player class-based game about heavy ships and heavy firepower. If this sounds familiar, then that’s because in many ways there’s a lot of similarities between Yager’s Dreadnought and Edge Case Games Fractured Space. Both feature online multiplayer combat in big, lumbering ships, with sizes and roles ranging from light support ships to lumbering behemoths that lay down massive fields of fire. Like Dreadnought, Fractured Space is free to play on PC, but in terms of actual gameplay the two are quite different.
While Dreadnought focuses on more old-school team deathmatch/elimination style gameplay, Fractured Space is modeled more along the lines of DOTA or League of Legends in that its main gametype is more like a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) where you compete to control “lanes” and resources, fighting your way from control point to control point until you open up access to the enemy home base. Destroying this wins you the match. Tactics and communications are key in this mode, and matches tend to be either drawn out affairs where neither side can seize a decisive advantage, or one team simply rushes the other and wins the match in short order. Whichever team is better coordinated has a massive advantage in this mode.
There is also a new game type that’s just come out in the last couple of weeks called “Catalyst” where your start with your opposing teams in their bases on one map, and between them is a highly explosive and unstable payload, the catalyst of the title. To win, you need to push this payload into the opposing team base where it will then explode. This leads to a lot of frantic, frenetic slugfests around the payload, with massive capital ships trading salvos of fire while support and raider ships dart around them, healing and harassing in equal measure.
Fractured Space features three sizes of ships – Heavy, Medium and Light – and three manufacturers who each have their own unique styling. USR (United Space Research) ships are white, curvy, bristling with antenna and armoured panels in a pleasingly Space 1999 sort of way. Zarek Industrial ships are sleek, grey and orange affairs, more squared off than the USR designs, exuding quiet menace. Rounding out our manufacturers we have Titan Defence, who specialise in deep black and yellow ships that are faintly reminiscent of submarines in their design.
You are able to purchase any ship from any manufacturer with either premium “Platinum” currency bought with real money, or with in game credits earned through playing matches. Each ship has customisation options which, while not being as deep and varied as those found in Dreadnought, still allow a fair degree of flexibility in how you build out your particular version of that ship. Each ship also has a crew which offers further customisation options. You can augment each crewmember with “implants” that offer benefits such as armour increases, fire rate increases, better sensors, etc, etc.
As with Dreadnought, there are many visual customisation options in terms of the look and feel of your ship, with many skins available for purchase with Platinum, and free ones being made available from time to time. There are also bundles available both in game for Platinum, or in the Steam store for real money if you’d like to support the game.
We have to keep referring back to Dreadnought here as really it is the only game that’s anything like it. As with the other game-whose-name-has-already-been-mentioned-plenty in this review, Fractured Space just feels RIGHT. The ships respond well, moving as if they really are massive, heavy juggernauts in space rather than some nimble little fighter. The weapons and abilities are satisfying to use, every design is different and beautifully detailed, with weapons tracking and firing in real time, making sure you always have to be aware of your ship’s facing before you get into a fight. As you take damage, bits of your ship are blown off, fires start to billow from within, and smoke pours from your increasingly crippled craft before you finally succumb, list helplessly in space and then explode in a rather satisfying cloud of bits before a screen flashes up, informing you just who killed you and the weapons they used to do it. After all, revenge, as the Klingons tell us, is a dish best served cold. <Khan>It is very cold in space.</Khan>
If you are a fan of space games, or of shows like Battlestar Galactica and the like, Fractured Space is well worth a look. As with Dreadnought the player base is somewhat on the small side, the latest Steam stats suggesting an average daily player count somewhere around 300, though there’s less likelihood of you running into the same players again and again as you do with Dreadnought.
With devs issuing regular fixes and updates, Fractured Space is a game that’s only getting better and at the bargain cost of free, why not give it a chance? We promise you won’t regret it.