Star Corsairs – f2p browser-based space MMO (a first impression review)

Star Corsairs is still a rather new game having been released on October 17 (according to the developer’s blog entry). I added Dave Toulouse on Google+ some time ago. The first time I heard about him was on Massively (his game Golemizer was mentioned there). Anyway, I’d read about Star Corsairs and saw him writing about the release of the game a week ago or so. I’m always curious about indie developers and their games. They may not be as epic as, for example, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be. But they often do have a certain charm and they’re more daring and go for fascinating niches (Minecraft is a good example for showing us that a game can be successful even if it doesn’t have the best graphics). I’ve only reached level 4 in Star Corsairs so far, so this here really just qualifies as a “first impression review” and nothing more.

When I first started the game, I was greeted by a wall of text. Think “Star Wars”. ;) It flows through the screen… unfortunately, I’d just come home from work where I’d been reading all day long and I didn’t really feel like reading more. Especially not at a predefined pace. I only caught half of the text (English isn’t my native tongue and while I usually don’t realise that much of a difference in my reading speed, I do realise it a lot more when I’m tired and have trouble concentrating) and I can imagine that it’s even worse for people whose English isn’t that great. But that was just the introduction into the game world. Still, I missed it, so that was a bit disappointing. ;) On the other hand, I don’t think I missed that much because the game doesn’t have quests or any other things that really give you an overarching story.

There I was, a newbie in a game I’d not read much about (in fact, I only knew what you can read in the subject line here… f2p, browser-based, space setting). You get a starter spaceship and are put next to your space dock. The tutorial (text windows with tips on it that you can click through – and either enable or disable in the settings) was pretty good, though, and told me about the most important things (movement, how to attack, how to gather resources from asteroids etc.). You have enough time to read all the text here! ;) And then it told me how to join a mission. I wanted to test that immediately and an error message appeared telling me that the destination is too far away. This happened for both missions that I could have started. That was too bad. So far, I haven’t been able to do any missions. But that was also the only gripe/problem I’ve had with the tutorial. All in all, it’s nice. It’s not as annoying as some facebook tutorials with their pop-up windows that don’t let you even see the game and demand that you do what the pop-up says right now or else you’ll never get to see anything of the actual game. ;)

This picture shows pretty much everything that I’ve encountered so far. My own ship is in the middle (more or less). Then there’s the enemy ship above me. Note the buttons at the bottom of the screen. The left one’s for your weapon. It shows a little radar which is where the enemy ship has to be in in order for you to fire off your weapon. I found the movement a bit confusing. But I’m slowly getting the hang of it. On the left of the enemy ship, you can see a little cube. You can analyse them and get a random reward (or nothing). So far, I found credits and several pieces of alien data. Once you’re at your space station, you can use those alien data pieces to make power ups. E.g. a 10% damage reduction that lasts for 5 minutes. On the top right, you can see an asteroid which you can use to gather materials. There are 14 different types and each asteroid has two of them. One of the 14 types is “raw illium” which you can trade in for XP. A very nice way of levelling without having to fight if you don’t want to! On the very top of the screen, you can see the federation alert informing you of a new mission (I think… as I said, I haven’t done any of those yet ;) ).

Currently, I’m trying to avoid combat because I’m not good at it (by the way, you can turn PvP on in your space station if you like that kind of gameplay and excitement). In the picture on the right, you can see the space station interface. This is where you trade with other players, repair your ship or craft a new ship, turn on PvP, etc. When you level up, you get another window that lets you choose some “bonus”. A buff to your ship’s speed or your ship’s shield and several other things.

And if you’re lost or want to know how something works, there’s even a wiki. I really love wikis and their structured way of giving information about a game, so I was very happy to see it. I haven’t used it much yet, though. As I said, I’m only level 4 and got there mainly by gathering resources (my ship can carry two types of resources at a time and I usually choose one plus raw illium for the XP). Then I’m trying to sell the resources and hopefully, I’ll be able to get a bigger ship soon!

The one big negative part of the game is that it doesn’t have many players yet. I personally don’t actually mind it that much but I’m sure others do. ;) I like being on my own and knowing that somewhere in this virtual world, there are other players around (and I don’t think I’ve ever had the server only to myself ^^). So far, I’ve managed to sell all the resources that I put up for sale. So I’m rather happy. But I’ve mainly used the game for gathering resources and thus, haven’t really had a need for direct contact with others yet. I’d imagine PvP to be rather boring without others, though. ;) All in all, I’m curious what’s going to happen with the game and if it will attract more players. I certainly think it’s good enough to get a more active and larger playerbase. It’s probably just a matter of time and word-of-mouth to reach others. The chat window that you can see on the bottom left appears to be server-wide, by the way. So you can chat with everybody who’s online and I saw it kind of active earlier today.

To sum it up: I’ve found Star Corsairs to be a nice little game that so far works flawlessly (we always expect that but how often does a game launch without major bugs etc.? ;) ). I’ve not spent any money in the game yet and I haven’t felt pressured to do so this far, which is always good because I first want to make sure that I actually want to spend more time in a game before I spend money on it. It does come with a cash shop and an optional monthly fee. But it’s not unplayable if you choose not to pay for it (though I don’t know if that changes when you want to do PvP). Most of all, it needs more players. And if you only like games that give you quests and tell you what to do, then this is probably not for you. Also, you don’t have an avatar and can’t walk around on planets.