PAX South 2016: Dead Star
Imagine a competitive Geometry Wars type game. That is what you get with Dead Star, a competitive 10v10 twin-stick shooter. It’s not just shooting other players though. You’ll need to capture bases, upgrade your ship and strategize with other teammates to be successful. Various sections in each level will need to be controlled and surrounding the other team with captured bases will lead to victory.
The mode I played was a smaller 5v5 mode that included 6 bases that can be captured. Each team starts with a base on each side of the map, leading to 4 other bases that can be captured. When a base is destroyed, your team can capture it. Capturing all of the surrounding bases will lead the main base exposed for attack. Capture it, and you’ll be victorious. However, that’s not the only way to win in Dead Star. When killing enemies, supporting teammates or capturing bases, you’ll charge an orbital laser. Once this orbital laser is completely charged, the match will end in the opposition being completely wiped out.
There are 12 ships to choose from in the game. Each having their own abilities, movement speed and function. Scouts are smaller ships that can move quickly and capture outposts faster; while a larger ship can decimate smaller ships with ease, but they move slowly and capture bases at a slower pace. Each ship has 4 abilities that are tied to the shoulder buttons. Some abilities increase speed, reduce damage taken for a short time or fire secondary weapons. These abilities recharge over time. With the number of ships at 12, there seems to be a good range for players to switch between. Upon respawn, you can change to different ships, and knowing which ship to change to at a certain time will be imperative to success. If an outpost was just destroyed, you may want to switch to the scout to capture the base quickly, but if a base is being overrun, perhaps a larger, more powerful ship will be of use. I didn’t get to use all of the ships available, but I did get to try out a few. From what I played, if you want to be successful as a team, you’ll need to master each of the ships to fit each situation at hand.
At the beginning of each match, you’ll begin at level one. Completing objectives and gathering points will grant you with upgrade points when each new level is obtained. These points can be spent on different attributes, such as damage dealt on weapons or the recharge rate of your abilities. A nice twist, is that if you level up with one ship, you will automatically be granted upgrade points to another ship, if you choose to switch. The upgrades have actual impact as they are substantial in what they help.
Outposts have their own AI controlled defenses. Several smaller turrets and a large turret will surround each enemy base and you’ll need some communication with your team if you want to capture one. Going in guns blazing will most likely end in death, as I know from experience. While at one of your bases, you can gather various AI ships to aid you in battle. These aren’t the most powerful ships, but they will follow you and attack various threats in the area.
At the end of the match, medals and accolades are awarded for just about everything you do. Eliminating enemies, assisting teammates and even upgrading the more than others will give you access to medals that give you more experience points.
Dead Star supports cross-play with PS4 and PC, which is exciting, as it adds to the wealth of players in the online community. I personally wasn’t too excited for the game before I played it, but I walked away impressed and am waiting to see how the final game checks out. The full release of the game comes out in the Spring of 2016, but if you pre-order now, you’ll gain access to the beta currently underway.