Sometimes, size really does matter. We’ve covered Greybox and Yager’s giant spaceship combat game Dreadnought a few times here at MMOBomb, and I got my first chance to try it out at PAX South last weekend.
The game has five classes of ships, each filling a typical role: the Dreadnought (tank), Destroyer (DPS), Corvette (stealth), Artillery Cruiser (sniper), and Tactical Cruiser (support). Each has different weapons, shields, and maneuverability, and four special abilities. As a new player, I could have used some kind of indicator – either a text pop-up or some kind of voice-over, perhaps – that told me what special ability I was selecting, though I’d wager that you’d get used to them after a little while. These ships are massive, there are lots of lasers and explosions going on all the time, and it’s tough to tell exactly what’s going on, with your ships and everyone else’s, at the same time.
General maneuvering will also be something you’ll probably struggle with at first. Big as they are, these ships turn… very… slowly… and it’s best to build up some momentum through forward movement to carry you through turns. It’s a little like how I imagine a game like World of Warships will handle, but since I was flying, I went into it with more of a World of Warplanes mentality, and I feel like that cost me early on.
One final disconcerting bit is that you’ll often move in one direction while your weapons, which are omnidirectional (though perhaps not in all cases; I didn’t have the chance to try every ship) will fire in another. None of this is impossible to overcome, with a little experience, but it messes with your expectations about how a game like this “should” play; again, I’m used to firing straight ahead.
As someone who leans toward support roles, I took my first go-round with the Tactical Cruiser. It didn’t go well, as I was still learning the controls and the TC isn’t meant to go one-on-one with other, better armed and armored ships. Midway through the match, I switched to the Artillery Cruiser, and that really clicked for me. Normally, I’m a bad sniper, but my targets’ massive size, combined with that lack of nimbleness I mentioned earlier, made my job fairly easy, and I led my team with nine kills. I don’t know if that means ACs are overpowered or if everyone’s lack of experience played to my advantage. When someone did get to me – like one of those sneaky Corvettes – I was pretty much toast, though I did manage to escape once by boosting my shields or engines and hiding behind an ally, who finished off my pursuer.
Energy management is a vital part of the game’s strategy, and something that the demoers made a point to call out. You can quickly use your auxiliary power to boost your ship’s engines, shields, or weapons for a limited time. Naturally, I tended to pour everything I had into my Artillery Cruiser’s weapons for maximum damage. The information card I have says “Shift energy to weapons to decimate enemy ships with several well-placed shots,” and all the descriptions call out wise energy management as a key to victory.
My awkwardness aside, I thought Dreadnought was one of the most outstanding games being shown off at PAX South, and the long line to get into the booth seemed to indicate that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. And as you should already know, Dreadnought is a visual spectacle, one of the prettiest games in development, a game you could lose yourself in for hours just admiring the particle effects. The controls might take a little getting used to, but it should be a fantastic ride.