Released a year after its announcement, Empire of the Eclipse has been available on the app store for about 2 months. There was much anticipation for a game of this scope. One can research, explore, expand and conquer. It seems that the holy grail for 4X space strategies now days seems to be one of the MMO type.
Multiplayer has always been the ultimate of challenges because they are obviously more complex than even a well written AI that cheats. EOTE is a subscription based pricing model. Prices range from Lifetime $99, 12 Mo $19.99-1 Mo $1.99.
Before you start a game I suggest you search youtube for Zarksoft, because the in-game tutorial basically points you there. Once familiarized the first major task is to select one of three specialties. They are Trader, Researcher, and Warlord. At launch the intention of Trader was to be the only one who can produce Rare Ore, and could win the game by collecting a huge amounts of resources. Their ultimate techs allows you to steal resources through piracy. The Researcher acquire techs 25% faster, and you can eventually create Black Holes out of stars. Your goal is to make a certain amount of Solar Core Taps. The Warlord obviously gets the baddest Supercapital ship, the Super Dreadnought, and you can eventually even deploy a planet killer. Your ultimate goal is to destroy a number of planets.
Prior to release Zarksoft’s goal was to encourage the Trader because they were the only one’s who could mine Rare Ore. Rare ore is required to build intermediate to advance items. This would encourage the other player types to conduct diplomacy with Trader players. However, there are planned changes to the whole dynamic because Zarksoft is talking about allowing all players to mine Rare Ore. So making the Trader player more viable will be a challenge. I suggest making them acquire minerals at insane rates, and make their ships cheap.
There are two types of economic resources in the game: Common Ore, and Rare Ore. The latter is required to build the more than basic units and buildings. I will add a third type of non-economic resource and that is: time. It takes time to build, research, and move units. When you first start a game, you begin with a Home Planet and have outposts on the other planets in your starting system. Getting your economy going is simply a matter of building Harvester ships and setting them on a route to each outpost planets to ferry the resources back to your homeworld. Generally you will not want to expand with more than one colony per system because you need the outpost for minerals. On top of this your Planet can have up to 4 factories per planet with 400m population (100m per factory). I find this amount fine, and you actually run out of minerals first.
The method for expanding is to build many probes and start exploring your surrounding area. This will scout out potential colonies, and other players. Sending a probe to explore is simply a matter of sending them to the far corners of your quadrant exploring whole columns or rows with a single distant go to point. There is no need to explore one box at a time. Once you scout a decent system with a high terraform level, research and build the required tech for a colony ship. I would also recommend the required outpost ships and harvesting ships to setup a mineral supply for your fledgling colony. Destroyers/Cruisers would be nice for some defense as well.
Expanding to other systems also provides you a higher unit cap. A unit cap is a limit on how many ships or orbitals you can build, and a shipyard gives you 10. Additional shipyards increase by the same amount, and research will also improve this bonus. Planning your research to allow expansion and protection is essential to winning in EOTE. You will have plenty of time to do so, because research takes anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
The UI is nice looking on the iPhone 4+, and playable even on a 3GS. Music is decent. Colony management can be a chore when you start to become a true Empire, and there is a minimal screen to help you with this. Although, it does little to ease the micro management. The colony screen allows you to sort between colonies and outposts. You can rename your planets, but I only bother to rename actual colonies to help with their management.
When the first servers were released they were huge with 14×14 sectors available. In each sector you have a roughly 30×30 grid of space with each single space containing a system. You literally could have gone through a few days of no contact with other players. Zarksoft has been addressing this with a 4×4 sector, populated with roughly 50 players.
Unfortunately EOTE has been struggling to maintain a populated server, and grow on its user base. This is attributed to basically a non-existent tutorial system (youtube videos just don’t cut it.), many bugs, and unstable servers. A quick visit to their forums and you will get a quick impression of all the issues currently plaguing EOTE. This is very sad news indeed because anticipation has been building for fans ever since the press release over a year ago.
After lurking the forums a couple times over the past month, with no apparent update from the devs, there are rumors of a large 1.8 patch that some players say will rescue the game. I unfortunately disagree, and I am taking an opposite view. Unless major changes are introduced, I don’t see this one improving much and only attracting die hard fans. The basic factor for any game in any genre, is the fun factor. I simply cannot see any fun factor in playing a game like this. Combat is basically a small animation of ships shooting at each other, and then seeing who the new owner (if any) is. There is no real feedback on what happened. Another point is that text messaging is supposed to keep you updated, however this feature is still broken.
The distinction between the three skill routes is not enough, and actually does not encourage player interaction. The game is basically a battle of the Warlords and who can batter the other players first, or when they’re offline because notifications are broken. Exploration is rather boring, and there are no random events. The chat interface is also horrid and it is rather a pain to try and communicate within the game with other players. With all the issues Zarksoft has to surmount, it has left me thinking: what could have been done with a single player experience?
Space Sector score: 4.5/10
– Crisp graphics on the retina screen
– Decent touch interface
– So many bugs remaining
– Unstable servers
– Broken notifications
– Three skill trees not balanced right
– Tedious late game micromanagement
- Empire of the Eclipse Gets Delayed – Combat Preview
- Empire of the Eclipse: iPhone Gameplay Video Show Off at GDC
- Empire of the Eclipse: Sign-up For Beta Round 2 Started
- Empire of the Eclipse has been Approved by Apple!
- Interview with Lee Dotson, President of ZarkSoft Games