Starhawk’s private beta is in progress.
Initially, I thought I would write an essay or a very verbose analysis of what Starhawk is and is not.
But, I changed my mind. Instead, I will gather a series of impressions, as they came to me while playing in the beta.
It will be more messy and less structured, but it will also be more natural and less formal.
Build and Battle is a lot of fun, but you’d better hope your teammates know what they are doing.
It’s arcadey. Nothing wrong with that. But weapons sometimes feel “weaker than they should”.
It’s not StarCraft, but it definitely has elements of a traditional RTS.
It’s a shooter, but the knife can trump the carbine in the blink of an eye.
It has a Texas flavor to it, just as Rage was influenced by the environment its developers live in.
CTF plays as it usually does. Sudden death is both fun and tense.
It’s pretty clear the team behind the game has poured their collective heart into its making. This alone is worth rewarding.
The game has enormous potential, but a lot of balancing and tuning might be needed to keep confrontations engaging from the first minute to the last minute of a round. Remember: The final outcome of a great many Warhawk matches was surely determined during the first 5 minutes of gameplay. It was fun for the dominating team, but quite frustrating for the team that messed up during the first few minutes.
The art style is great and the frame rate is good enough.
This is not Warhawk: Squander your rift and it won’t matter how good a pilot you truly are. (although, you get rift for eliminating your enemies)
If the infrastructure around the game is set up right, Starhawk has as much potential as StarCraft as a vehicle for online competition.
The knife really is crazy. That guy sponged up my assault rifle bullets for 5-10 seconds before running straight towards me and planting his knife in my face.
The speed at which rift is collected could be tweaked forever. While it was too low at first, recent tuning sped up the collection rate quite a bit. My very personal opinion: Don’t tweak this after the game is released. Get it right before the game ships. If possible, make it a parameter of unranked private matches. [Rant: The Battlefield 3 team constantly buffs and nerfs their weapons and attachments...it's annoying beyond belief: At times, the game doesn't play at all as you left it. Overnight, your favorite weapon can turn into a pea shooter, while a simple pistol was upgraded to have as much range as an assault rifle. Too many knobs and too many dials to mess with.]
Killing enemies as a way to harvest rift is a risky proposition compared to passively waiting at your base and letting rift come to you. That’s going to be another tricky balancing act: The collection ratio difference between killing and passively waiting. Again, hopefully, this is something that can be tuned for good before the game ships. (Sorry to insist on this, but changing these parameters after the game has been played for weeks or months would be equivalent to changing the rules of Chess today.)
Not sure if there should or should not be a limit on how far from their base a team can build structures. In a game, we got an automated turret within shooting distance of our flag and it was quite a source of misery.
A part of me kind of feels that gameplay could have been split into 2 phases:
- A turn-based Build phase,
- A real-time Battle phase.
It’s somewhat what happens right now anyway, but turn-based gameplay makes strategic decisions more interesting and rewarding, particularly if you can make them in response to the respective decisions of the opposing team.
Jetpacks. I love them when I have them. I hate them when I don’t.
Yes, those graphics have great art style. Love it.
Using the carbine to kill someone can take a while. I know, it’s arcade-forgiveness, but…
As far as its multiplayer mode is concerned, Starhawk is a team game, a social game even, a game that begs to be played as a strategic shooter where macro-decisions get unwound in epic firefights…please do not force me to play it with random online players. A randomly selected team versus another randomly selected team will still be fair, but it will provide more frustration than joy. Instead, allow groups of friends, teams and clans to make the game their own. Let them play it as they want, without any restriction enforced to protect the validity of any ranking or leaderboard. (These will always be abused eventually, anyway.)
Also, see my recent rant for details.