A selection of badass factions, check. Fluid and fun gameplay, check. Memorable and iconic cards, check. It seems from the get go ZiMAD’s take on the virtual CCG genre really has a charm and polish to it. With the announcement regarding Star Crusade‘s release and upcoming appearance at GDC San Francisco, I’d like to tell you why you should really check it out.
Essentially Hearthstone in space, is Star Crusade heavily influenced by the current leader in CCG games? Definitely. But did I enjoy it? Hell yes.
A huge draw of the title that ZiMAD producer Alex Rechevskiy has spoken so passionately about is their incredibly unique emphasis on varying deck sizes. With the ability to build a legal playing deck anywhere between 25 to 40 cards there are fascinating implications on how some individual players could build smaller decks to create blistering momentum in the early stages of the game while others will build larger ones for the sake of endurance and late game tactics. I fully intend to dive straight back in to carry on doing some experimenting myself.
‘War for the Expanse features your standard casual and ranked game modes as well as an ‘arena’ inspired draft mode in the form of ‘raid’. For those of you who haven’t quite yet dabbled in Hearthstone, the premise is that you create an arsenal of thirty cards (choosing one out of three random cards each time until you have a full deck) and keep matching opponents until you’ve lost three games.
‘Raid’ perfectly emulates the thrill of doing an ‘arena run’. Featuring the exact same deck-building start, but rather than randomly matching up with opponents, you’ll work your way through an FTL-esque galaxy map, facing players according to their skill, matching assigned difficulties of each system you travel to and liberate.
You’ll come across six unique and fascinating factions in Star Crusade, each with a deep backstory. Ranging from noble soldiers, to greedy corporations, to my personal favourite, the telepathic Annunaki who take on the form of all things beautiful to whichever race they meet before draining their life force. (Pretty scarily cool huh?)
Despite missing a few concepts and card abilities out in the tutorial, leaving me a tad confused with what my hand is capable of from time to time, I’d say what I’ve played so far has been exceptionally smooth and newbie friendly despite the niggles. Given the nature of the genre nowadays I strongly believe there’s also massive potential for a competitive scene to flourish in Star Crusade.
At launch Star Crusade will feature over 400 playing cards, and with new ‘units’, ‘tactics’ and playing modes already planned there’s no doubt that you can expect regular post-launch content updates from the devs. ZiMAD have also announced that upcoming features will include a 2 vs 2 co-op mode and ‘modules’ that will give players the opportunity to finetune their faction heroes unique abilities before battles. Needless to say, I can’t wait to experiment with the tactical implications this’ll bring.
Already in beta and open to all on Steam, ZiMAD has announced that as well as launching the full release of their free to play title in the Spring, they’ll also be making an appearance at the San Francisco Game Developer’s Conference next month. For those of you Stateside I would highly recommend checking them out if you happen to be around the GDC area this year.
Check out the open beta for Star Crusade now. Have you played the beta? If so how have you found it so far?