Between the Stars, my quick test

Between the Stars is a game developed by Isolated Games and soon to be available on Steam. The game is actually a successful Kickstarter project, and I really wish it will get a lot of success! 

The game is a space action video game with traces of RPG, management and roguelike elements, which can be translated as: a mix between space battle and D&D. Indeed most of the dialogue and decisions work through texts with a choice of answers. For some of them, you will even need to roll the dice and hope making a good score. 

Graphic and Gameplay

Visually, the game is great, very colorful and inspiring, nothing to be ashamed of. Space looks empty enough to be realistic but with enough things to do, and a good speed/distance ratio so it does not feel like flying forever … which can be the case in other space game. 

The space battles are pretty well made, and they are fun to play. Flying the ship is fairly easy but does not feel to arcade. Some perfect balance to be able to enjoy it without making it too close to simulation (and repel some people). 

The hud is pretty clear and offers a lot of options, it is for example possible to focus the power in the engine, the weapons or the shields. Between the stars also offer a vast choice of very different weapons. Some of them needing to be crafted … because yes there seems to be a lot of craft options in the game. Once you destroy other ships, you can salvage them, salvage some component and create a new one.

Open world and Management

You will be able to visit the planet and space station, to recruit some crew member, buy some blueprint, repair your ship (yes, damages do not disappear, it need to be repaired!).

Between the stars is in every aspect an open world with ship and crew management. You will be able to get a different kind of ships, with a lot of customization, so you can really make it match your gaming style.

The creators promise us a lot of mission, from the NPC but also caused by our own actions. Some choices will be made during events and your Captain skills will also influence them. 

Mixing the action with a D&D style really gives a lot of opportunities in term of story. Some can be pure fighting, others can be based on skills or just on dialogue. 

All in all the game is amazing. You should definitely give a go to that game! 

Xbox One S All Digital and how it could have been better

Recently Microsoft announced the release of their Xbox One S All-Digital, a disc-free console. The concept is to have a digital library, everything on the cloud.

A very interesting solution but it looks like the Commercial and or Marketing department could not agree on a strategy. Something that seems to happen more and more often in big companies: releasing products without any plan for it and how to make it very successful.

Here are a couple of points Microsoft could work on to make the console even more attractive.

The price

The price is definitely one of the biggest issues. I mean, just go on the Xbox shop (in Uk for that example) and you can see that the All-Digital is only £29 less expensive. Seriously? Why would someone not pay £29 more and being able to use some discs? That offers the opportunity to borrow a game from a friend or buy a very cheap second-hand copy of it. If the console is made for people with a tight budget, that thought should be take into account.

You could say that this comparison is not fair. The All-Digital comes with 3 games while the other with only one. But the 3 free games are:
Minecraft: an old game, which cost less than £17.
Sea of Thieves: a game which is free if you have the Xbox game Pass, a monthly pass to an online catalog of games.
Forza Horizon 3: a 3 years old game.

They could make an effort and at least give Forza Horizon 4 instead of the third.

But honestly, what should have been done a big discount, or free access for some time to the Xbox game pass, that catalog of games I was talking about earlier.
That console is totally made for that, an online library of games. Currently, the pass can be found for roughly £80. That is even a good way to have people being used to that and keep paying for it afterward. I am pretty sure that this is the direction Xbox want to go, and that is a perfect way to jump start it.

The size

Despite being all digital, the console has the exact same size than the one reading discs. I can totally understand in term of costs that having the same box, the same component etc. is way better than redesigning everything. But again that removes an interesting potential: making it smaller, making it more portable.

Damn, I would be happy to be able to travel with my Xbox if it was as small as my laptop or my Nintendo Switch. The success of that last console has even shown the interest for portable gaming. I know that Xbox is working on a service to be able to play anywhere but this could have been a good start for it. Sure it is nice to play on a laptop, but they are not always powerful enough, and depleting batteries.

The specs

If the idea was really to keep the price at more than £200, the hardware could have been upgraded. Or really play the fully digital and having some kind of streaming gaming.

Considering that the Xbox one S all digital, it most likely needs to be permanently connected to the internet  So why not use it to increase the specs without even changing the hardware? Xbox got the X version, which is the console with the best specs available on the market. But for that console, they kept the lower specs.

 

All of those issues do not make me really confident for the success of that console, but maybe the whole plan was just to get a small sales to boost and get rid of the spare parts to build Xbox. It is just a bit sad to think that it can be much better!