I pretty much grew up on flight simulators. I was weaned on traditional, realistic flight sims like F-15 Strike Eagle and then moved on to seminal classics set in space: X-Wing, Tie Fighter, and the Wing Commander series. As I moved on to college, I never really had a gaming PC and moved to console gaming where flight sims just aren’t as prevalent. At the same time, flight sims started dying on the PC as well as developers moved away from games that required a peripheral, the joystick, to play.
Throughout this time though, space sims and space battles are one of my favorite themes in videogames, and we may very well be at a renaissance for the genre. Chris Roberts of Wing Commander fame has raised an unseemly amount of money to fund Star Citizen, seen as a spiritual successor to WC: Privateer. CCP has a viral hit in EVE Valkyrie, originally shown as a small Oculus Rift spinoff from EVE Online that is now being developed into a full game. So how does German developer Yager, known for Spec Ops: The Line and now working on Dead Island 2, fit in?
In a purely CG trailer Yager announces Dreadnaught. There isn’t a whole lot to go on, but in the initial setup the player will assume the role of a mercenary captain in charge of a dynamic fleet focusing not on dogfighting, but larger scale capital ship battles. It will feature episodic single player content in addition to competitive multiplayer. While this may seem as a huge departure for the developer, Yager’s first game was actually a space sim developed for the original Xbox and Windows.
The idea certainly seems promising, and after the slower paced ship battles many loved in Assassins Creed: Black Flag, this could be a game to keep an eye on. There has been some positive buzz from E3, but also some reason to worry. The game is set launch on a free to play model, and many gamers have already made up their minds on F2P games. Also, while The Line received some critical praise for its unique approach to storytelling and player choice in the normally color by numbers military shooter world, it wasn’t necessarily the best game from a technical standpoint.
At the very least, hopefully Dreadnaught can serve as a proof of concept that may be picked up and incorporated into future space sims.