Last night after Steam rebooted itself for an update, I decided to look through the front page because I hadn’t for quite a while. I’m currently on a Citadel: Forged With Fire kick (with some co-op The Division 2 thrown in on rare occasion) and haven’t been super into gaming recently, but I like to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on out in the world. During my perusal, I lingered over one of Steam’s “recommended for you” offerings called Astrox Imperium.
From the thumbnail it looked like a space sim of some sort, and as you may know, I am a sucker for most space sims. I have several of them already in my Steam library, consider Star Citizen to be my “holy grail”, and have previously mentioned how I’m running a Tradewars server here at home. Still, some games are decidedly beyond my grasp, and one of those is EVE Online. While I enjoy EVE immensely, the whole “other people” factor always gets in my way, so color me surprised when I found that this is where Astrox Imperium could come in handy.
Nutshelling it, AI is “EVE Offline”. To start the game, you choose a job archetype (for your starter ship type) and a faction to join (assumed for your starting location as well as initial skill loadout), and then it’s off to the initial flight tutorial. After that, you can elect to take a few more advanced tutorials, but you’re otherwise let off the leash to go about your own business in the universe.
Aside from simply finding where the corresponding buttons are in Astrox Imperium, EVE players will have a very flat learning curve here. You dock at stations, which are presented as menus with your ship floating in a “glamour shot” in the center. The station menu is painfully similar to EVE’s, right down to the sidebar home and choice of services. Flying your ship is a matter of scanning a target (or selecting it from the — wait for it… — sidebar scanner listing major items in the system) and double-clicking on the item to autopilot there. Your ship is small; everything else is massive, and you can zoom in close enough to actually get a cockpit-eye’s view of the universe, or out far enough to get a map of your known universe. Even the music is eerily similar to the eerie music from…well, you get the picture.
I can’t really tell if I’m excited by Astrox Imperium‘s homage or terrified of the implications. Wishing for an EVE free of griefers and troublemakers is a dream for some, but a pointless shell for others. A lot of what makes EVE EVE is the ticker-tape speed of PvP stories that the game provides; a lot of the mechanics of the game when soloing are just time-sinks. Mining alone is a matter of sidling up to a rock, activating the mining lasers, and taking a bathroom break. Traveling is pretty at first, but then becomes a disappointment when you realize there are 20 more jumps before you reach your destination (most of which can be made by autopilot). In EVE, the bulk of attraction for many is the very thing which drives others away. While many will say that you can play EVE solo in high-sec systems, it’s not really the point of the game, is it?
This is not a review as I’ve only owned the game for less than 12 hours and have played for about and hour and change. Mind you, I do have a level of excitement that goes beyond my usual initial charge due to the new experience because while I do love the idea of EVE, the circumstances surrounding it have always kept me at arms length. As Astrox Imperium seems to be EVE without those circumstances, it’s time to see exactly what “be careful of what you wish for” can truly mean going forward.