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Endless Legend | Officially released. Available now on Steam

Starvoid Review

By on November 12th, 2012 3:37 pm

Starvoid

Starvoid is a multiplayer-only sci-fi RTS developed by Zeal Game Studios and published by Paradox Interactive, and it was released on August 30 2012.

I obtained a key two weeks later and downloaded and installed the game via Steam. Eager to start playing, I clicked on the Play button, and got the choice whether I wanted to play ‘Battle’, ‘Sabotage’ or ‘Team Deathmatch’. I selected ‘Battle’.

In ‘Battle’, one has to capture Extraction Points.  Simple as that. After selecting the type of game, you get to select one of four ‘Commanders’, each with its own features, gear and units. I decided to start with Cleburne the Destroyer. He can spawn  units which resemble the droids from Star Wars. Funny, but not original.

Once connected, disappointment. No other players in the game. 

Starvoid | Lobby

I walked through the map for a few moments, only to decide to go back to the lobby to see if I could find another game which did have actual players to compete against. Clicking on the ‘find game’ button, a list of available servers becomes visible, with stats like ping and amount of players.

Ping times were not very good, but that might be related to my ADSL line at home. Anyway, the disappointment continued: The list held about 12 servers, divided over the three types of games. But there were no players online. Bummer! 

I decided to walk around through the maps to get acquainted with them, but there was only three maps to choose from: Black Glade, Forsaken Oasis and Makami Desert. Black Glade resembled a dark, gloomy map, with a rather dark green color palette.

Your commander can only see a limited distance, due to the ‘fog of war’, which gave the map an extra creepy factor. 

Starvoid

Forsaken Oasis looks like a deserted desert Oasis, with, how obvious, a yellow color palette and Makami Desert has a brownish palette, which looks pretty dark. The maps are fairly small, which, for my feeling, don’t give a lot of room when 12 players would be running around, each with around 10 units on average under his command. I assume this would be very hectic, but I wasn’t able to check this in-game.

All in all, it was quite disappointing that there were only a few players, divided over all the available servers, if any. Lots of times the servers were just empty. 

Starvoid

During the weeks that followed I was able to play a few games of Battle and Team Deathmatch, but with a maximum of 4 players. That was in a game of Battle, where I had one ally and two enemies. I just ordered my units to attack my opponents, but got killed quite quickly. Also, I couldn’t really get a hang when I should use which unit. In the beginning, a pop up appeared when units spawned, but the info in here was not very useful. Another thing that I found strange was that I couldn’t perform attacks with my Commander. It appeared as if he could only spawn units and nothing else.

Another time, I could play a Team deathmatch against one other opponent. Deathmatch follows the same rules as  Battle, kill your opponent, as fast as you can, but without conquering the extraction points. Actually, in this game I figured out the actions buttons I could use with my Commander. Duh! Several actions were selectable (move, stand ground, and special moves which differ for each Commander). However, this did not give a huge advantage over my opponent. Most moves had quite a long cooldown timer, so I could not use them often.

Starvoid

I think the game in itself has potential, but for some reason it lacks players. Quite a shame, as I think it deserves a chance as it looks nice. Graphics are quite nice, though nothing extraordinary. Same applies for the sound. On the other hand, the lack of maps and units, which are not very original, might be a disadvantage. Also, I found the units lacking creativity. I often got the feeling that I’ve seen them all before in other games or movies.

So, all in all I would not recommend this game. The game itself can be enjoyable, but the biggest disappointment is the lack of players. Kind of killing in a multiplayer only game isn’t it?

Starvoid

Starvoid (PC)

Buy at GamersGateGame StopSteam or at Amazon.

Space Sector score:
6.5/10
fair
The Good:
- Low learning curve
- Easy to use interface
- Custom contracts to build your own Commander
The Bad:
- Lack of players
- Lack of gametypes
- Lack of creativity in units
- Lack of maps
- Maps are quite small

Unforgiven, in real life known as Andy Kannberg, is a long time gamer. Having played lots of genres through the years on many different media, his heart still beats faster when he plays spacesims or 4x games on a PC, though he also like (MMO)RPG’s a lot. Though the little spare time he has he hopes to contribute in a positive way to the SpaceSector community with interesting articles, reviews and previews. See all Andy’s posts here.

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Endless Legend | Officially released. Available now on Steam

7 Comments


  1. Zero says:

    I think a multiplayer-only title was the big mistake here for Paradox and Starvoid. The concept seems good and the engine looks great. But the Multiplayer RTS world is vast and also occupied by some very heavy hitters. To put a MP only title out into the same space that is occupied by games such as StarCraft II, League of Legends, DOTA 2, Smite, etc, etc, etc, I think there needs to be a sort of bet-the-farm, all-or-nothing approach to marketing. Because really, that’s what it comes down to here. Starvoid has nothing. It’s really quite sad because the game seems to be very well crafted.

  2. lammaer says:

    I guess the game name is just about it’s current state… void…. no players, no content. Empty.

  3. SQW says:

    The lack of response to this post alone is indicative of this game’s future prospect.

    To release a MP only game of no discernible unique selling point into a saturated RTS/MOBA market with almost no marketing…might as well flush money down the toilet Zeal Game Studio.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Yes, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in this sort of games, here at least. I remember the same happening with Stellar Impact, another sci-fi MOBA (or DotA) style RTS.

      These are multiplayer-only games, with no single player component, only PvP. And as a recent poll here showed, people like to have MP options, but they still prefer to have a single-player experience, and only a few play only MP.

      Poll: Is multiplayer mode important to you when playing strategy games?
      (September 17, 2012)

      Not at all, I only play single-player: 139 votes
      I prefer single-player but like having MP options: 110
      Very important, I only play multiplayer: 24

      Having a “unique selling point” as you say, and a clear business model is key. I think Stellar Impact’s and Starvoid’s problem was that they weren’t free to play since the beginning. They have a solid base but they are not WoW or SWTOR (and even the latter struggles). SI people changed to free to play at some point, but, as it seems, not even that has saved them.

      And the sad thing is that these are good looking and even quite enjoyable games but they fail to capture players…

      • SQW says:

        Ah, Stellar Impact. I was with them from last Aug. Good game, great potential but god-awful business decision making ruined the game.

        The on-then-off F2P model, the roll back to Beta months after release, zero active promotion in the gaming community, the decision NOT to work on connectivity issue or address falling player base but work on paid DLC instead and having the gall to expect people to pay $5 per new ship model. HA!

        The frustrating thing is, I told them exactly what they are doing wrong business wise, what they should be doing and the correct price point for DLC. Obviously, the dev didn’t have to listen to a random player but they end up doing most of what I suggested in the end but 6 months too late and now the MP only game has only 2 dozen hardcore players left. =/

  4. Evil Azrael says:

    And it’s hard to bootstrap an online multiplayer game.
    You start the game, see no games/players, and decide to leave and to do something different. A Vicious Circle.. (Teufelskreis/”Devil’s Circle” in German).
    I think it’s very hard to get such a game going if there is no big hype in advance and that proably needs money.

    • SQW says:

      Actually, SI had great niche appeal. Totalbiscuit did a WTF on the game and the server crashed for 2 days due to exploding popularity. Then they rolled back the game to beta, cancelled the F2P and went for paid DLC for their business model and the player base dropped like a rock.

      You can tell they are talented programmers but they also had zero business sense what so ever. There’s no vision of what they want their game to be and consequently always on the back foot on a lot of issues which a proper studio would have anticipate beforehand.

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