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Preview: Dreadnought (PC)

Taking space battles to a new level
Taking space battles to a new level
Screenshot provided by Sandbox Strategies

While most space combat titles typically have gamers flying fairly speedy ships around in space, the upcoming title Dreadnought, from developer Yager, does things a little bit differently. In this PC title, coming in 2015, gamers will get to take the controls of some pretty big ships, some behemoths, in fact.

Dreadnought is a 5v5 free-to-play multiplayer game that lets players choose from one of five available ships. There’s the Destroyer, Corvette, Dreadnought, Tactical and Artillery, each with their own unique abilities and deficiencies. According to Yager, the game will feature in-game purchases, though we still don’t know what exactly to expect. However the game will reward players with unlockable items that let you customize the ships, as well as make use of various perks.

During the demo, we were allowed to go hands-on with the game, and I first chose the Destroyer, since it’s the game’s more well-rounded ship. The ship had decent speed and did fairly well defensively. Unlike other games I’ve played in this genre, you don’t fly around at high speeds, shooting at everything that moves. No, this feels almost more like a chess game, where you’ll need to strategically place your ships in order to make the most of your opponent’s oversight. More importantly, you’ll want to be on the same page as your teammates, especially with those using different ships. What I noticed pretty quickly is that these ships, even the fastest ones, don’t move particularly quick. In fact, they kind of lumber around the air and reminded me of a sea battle, where you have slow moving cruisers and battleships that can do plenty of damage, but can’t really move out of the way much.

As such, I found myself under heavy fire right away, but little by little I begun to understand to concept of positioning. Each ship performs differently and has primary and secondary weapons, as well as the ability to pull off moves that can boost up shields, engines, or weapons.

That the game moves at a slower pace also lets you appreciate how detailed the game looks. In fact, Dreadnought uses Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, and it shows in how gorgeous each ship looks. The environment itself, and we only played in one, looked decent, with industrial buildings in the background, surrounded by mountains and lot of greenery. However, the lighting and particle effects were impressive, especially when ships are getting blown to bits. You’ll see individual pieces of metal and other materials getting blown off, and offensive projectiles, such as missiles, can be seen from a distance in a fiery display.

As for the other ships in the game, the Dreadnought is essentially like a big tank, with heavy armor and powerful weapons, but it moves like molasses as the slowest ship of the bunch. The Corvette is the speediest of the bunch, though it’s light armor makes it vulnerable to heavy fire. On the flipside, it can maneuver quite well around it’s enemies, making it the perfect vessel for reconnaissance, as well as to draw attention away from other teammates. Then there’s the Tactical, which is a cruiser that serves as a sort of medic since it can repair shields, and makes for a solid companion ship. Finally the Artillery is another cruiser that fires slowly and has some really weak shields but can attack from the opposite side of a map, essentially playing like a sniper class.

At the end of the day, these ships need to work in unison, whether a team elects to go with one of each or multiples of a certain ship. Either way, strategy is super important and more importantly position. That could entail a Dreadnought being in the thick of things while a Corvette or Artillery maneuvers its way around enemies from various angles to shoot and move. Regardless of how you choose to play, it’s a team effort and those who go around thinking only of themselves will surely get punished with gunfire and zero back-up. The game is slated for a 2015 release, so we’ll keep an eye out for this one as more details are revealed.