After a few weeks with Dreadnought on PS4, it’s obvious that this free-to-play space battle simulator has a lot of potential.
After a great start to the match, my team and I had split up and were being annihilated. The opposing team had us beat all over the field of battle, pinning us further back into our spawn region. They were organised, roaming around in packs of complementing ship types that were wiping us out one by one. We were one ship loss away from defeat and we still had 24 points to score.
It was then, in the jaws of defeat, that we organised ourselves and set a plan in motion. The 2 of us who were playing as Artillery Cruiser’s (the long-range sniper ships) huddled together and got low along the ground, hiding behind a rock structure while our 2 Dreadnought teammates, supported by a Tactical Cruiser, rose into the air. The trap was set and our opponents fell for it.
As the opposing fleet rose to meet our Dreadnoughts, the other Artillery Cruiser and I circled around behind them. When we were in position, we quickly reconfigured out ship to do max damage and unleashed everything we had. First their support vehicles fell. Their shields stood no chance against our Barrage mode. With the healers taken care off, we turned our attention to their Destroyer to make sure it didn’t take out any of our ships. We blasted it full of holes while it tried to turn. Lastly, their remaining Dreadnoughts. Caught between our Dreadnoughts and Artillery Cruisers, they stood no chance without backup. Seconds later, we won. I couldn’t believe it but we’d won. In just a few minutes, we’d gone from being on the ropes and likely to lose to unexpected victors.
These are the types of exhilarating moments that Dreadnought is capable of. This space ship battle simulator has you take control of a variety of ships with different abilities to battle it out against other humans online or with other humans in co-op and it’s a whole lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong though – this isn’t high octane space blasting action. This game is about methodical, strategic and deliberate combat testing your Art of War and cunning rather than your finger response times. That doesn’t make it any less entertaining though. In fact, it’s oddly engrossing for a slower paced game. I’ve team-killed entire fleets, fell into a number of traps and made huge tactical errors that have cost my team the game – and I’ve enjoyed almost every second of it.
In the current PS4 Beta, there’s not a whole lot of content and it’s rough around the edges but what is available shows incredible promise. There’s a few different maps, a hand full of PvP modes and the new Havok co-op mode. All of these modes have held my attention over the past few weeks because they all offer something a little different.
In PvP you team up with 4 other humans to take on another team of 5. There’s no lore learning requirements and only a mild window-dressing on the combat in Dreadnought and it’s all the better for it. Once you’ve picked your ship, you’re straight into the action. No messing around. In the Beta presently there’s Team Deathmatch which tasks you to be the first team to earn 100 points, winning 4 points for every kill. Here you can let loose and have some fun with the ships because you’ll respawn after a few seconds. The other Beta MP mode is the Team Elimination match. Matches are played out over 3 rounds and you only get one life per round. Die and you’ll be waiting for the round to end. This match type is tense. It’s nail biting stuff, floating around the map trying to get the jump on someone while trying to cover your own rear just hoping you have an appropriate ship type to deal with whomever you bump into.
Alternatively, The co-op Havok mode has you team up with 2 other players to take on waves of AI controlled opponents. Each wave brings something different with Modifiers thrown at you for as long as you can survive. E.g. One round might remove all of your energy (meaning you can’t command your ship to prioritize movement, damage or shielding) and the next might remove health regeneration. Both players and the AI ships are similarly affected to keep things fair but it certainly spices up the game. I’ve had some great fun with this mode, especially when my teammates and I have picked complementing ships and have worked together.
There’s a plethora of ships you can unlock via a tech tree then control. Each ship has their own strengths and weaknesses – amount of armour, weapon fire range, weapon power, speed, manoeuvrability and more – as well as bespoke skills which are specific to particular classes and can be customised. For example, the Dreadnought ship is your typical agro-tank type. It does just enough damage to be annoying and attract attention and can take quite a beating compared to all other ships. On the other hand, its weapons don’t have a massive range and its best offensive ability (the Broadside) requires you to get side on to the target, potentially opening yourself up to be flanked. Alternatively, The Artillery Cruiser has long-range weaponry but it can only be fired forwards and the ship takes a long time to turn and the Destroyer class is powerful but more fragile than Dreadnoughts. Your preferred play-style will determine your favourite ship type (and there’s something here for everyone) and after playing for a while and getting comfortable with other ships, you can adapt to your situation by switching classes during a respawn.
Like all free-to-play games these days, Dreadnought has in-game currencies. After 30 or so hours of playtime, I’ve earned enough to buy a number of new ships and upgrades and the game hasn’t been pushy or demanding of my money. Like most of the best free-to-play games, Greybox, Yager and SixFoot have adopted the “build it and they will come” philosophy. They’ve offering valuable content and boosts for real world money but they don’t try and mug you out of it. Dreadnought has quality, engrossing game play that has kept me coming back for more and I’m starting to think I might *want* to join the game’s Elite service, rather than *need* too. I’m going to be picking up a Founder’s Pack this week too because, for what you get, it’s a good price for a game that’s not cost me a penny yet.
All in all, Dreadnought is basically World of Space Tankers and I’ve enjoyed myself a lot over the past few weeks, exploring everything the beta has to offer. The gameplay is working well, even in this beta and is very enjoyable and as long as Greybox continue to build around this, Dreadnought could be something quite special indeed.
If you want to join me in the far reaches of space warfare, you could try your luck in the Beta sign ups or purchase a Founders Pack and get instant access to the game as well as extra goodies to give you a running start.