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Worlds of Magic | Early Access now available on Steam

Sword of the Stars 2: Enhanced Edition Released

By on November 30th, 2012 4:32 pm

Sword of the Stars 2: Enhanced Edition

Paradox Interactive and Kerberos Productions have just released Sword of the Stars 2: Enhanced Edition, which is the same as saying Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter with all the patches since its debacle release plus the new expansion End of Flesh.

In an attempt to seek redemption from a host of disappointed 4X fans, the publisher and the developer are offering this new expansion to all the people who bought and own Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter. To update and get the new expansion you just need to launch your game on Steam and it will update automatically to this new Enhanced Edition.

The expansion End of Flesh brings the following:

  • The new Loa race with a new drive for their ships – the Neutrino Pulse Gate
  • Over 25 new technologies including a new tech tree for cybernetics
  • 10 new weapons and attack systems
  • Expanded ship building options for all six original factions, including new Leviathan class ships
  • 2 new independent races to seduce or bludgeon into your imperial orbit
  • New random encounters and mission types
  • All previously released faction based DLC – the voices, the badges, the avatars, the skins…all of it.

The bundle is now selling for $19.99 on GamersGateGameStop and Steam.

Expect a review, which is the same as saying a SotS2 re-review + End of Flesh somewhere in the next couple of weeks.

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176 Comments


  1. Kyle Rees says:

    That is very gracious of them to do that for their customers. It certainly goes a long way to making up for early issues. We can only hope that other companies will follow their example.

    • JohnR says:

      I agree totally Kyle. Kerberos seems to have a sense of honor and the willingness to do the right thing. I may have to spring for this SOTS2 ‘compete’ once I’m ready to give Distant Worlds a rest. I did mostly like SOTS1, in fact liked it a bit better than SINS (a good game but maybe a bit overrated IMHO).

      As always Adam, thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Yes, it’s indeed a nice gesture and proof that both the publisher and the developer were serious all along about trying to get it right. Let’s see now how well things have really turned out.

      Some parts of the game always shined bright but they were totally overshadowed by just too many problems. I’m eager to find out how good is this Enhanced Edition. Will let you guys know my thoughts as soon as possible.

  2. Happy Corner says:

    I didn’t even like Sword of the Stars 1 and there’s no chance I’ll buy the sequel (or anything else Kerberos will ever publish), but I’ll grudgingly admit that it’s nice they’re putting in the effort to fix it, and even throwing in a few extra features for the trouble.

  3. Sanford says:

    Just bought the enhanced edition on Steam for $19.99. Downloading it now. Hope it works.

  4. FalconGrey says:

    Though not as detailed as Adam’s review is going to be, my first impressions of the ‘Enhanced’ edition is impressed. Many customer/fan based requests are now in the game as the base game and not once did I find a problem and crash or any issues other than a miss spelled word (oops). The new addition of the Loa is to say the least, alien to the rest of the 6 species in how it plays. In a brief description of what it feels like, combine Battle Star Galactica Cylon technology (and kind of story line) with Star Trek’s modular Borg technology and remove the organic components from both sides. You can build ships in either finished states or in raw ‘cube’ states and build them into anything you need as you need it. The drive system is unique but similar to Hiver, only I think superior. There are draw backs to playing as these Sentient AIs however. Psionics and cybernetics are alien and they can not comprehend it. However, like the Cylons you can develop advanced viral attacks against anything non-sentient such as missiles, drones, and even ships. Take over the enemies ships and turn their own weapons against them!

    Like the Borg, everything is modular and can be interchanged with other things to form new things. You have a construction fleet mostly comprised of cubes. You launch the fleet to construct the Neutrino gates to make progress to the system easier. Next you change the fleet configuration to a survey and have it survey the system. Next change it to a colonization configuration and colonize the system! (This is a simplified description of the process)

    All in all, I am impressed with the re-release stabilities and updates along with the expansion End of all Flesh.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Thanks for sharing your impressions, but, how did you manage to play End of Flesh already? It launched just a couple of minutes ago. Part of the test team? Or I guess you were luckier than me with getting an early copy? :)

      • FalconGrey says:

        I’ve had mine from steam for most of today (5:31pm)… O.o I’ve been playing it straight for nearly 4 hours. You only just got it?

        • Adam Solo says:

          Kerberos tweeted about it 3h ago. It seemed like minutes, but in fact it was already a couple of hours ago :)

        • FalconGrey says:

          I’ll agree, it has seemed like minutes, been a blast with the new toys. It was noticing your tweet on my sidebar that drew me out of the game for the moment. The Loa is the first race outside of the Hiver and Humans that I found I liked enough to play.

  5. David Carron says:

    The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

    I hope that things have, at long last, gone past feature complete and is a whole real game.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a game to not only have all the features (let alone some polish).

  6. t1it says:

    Awesome. I’ll dive deep into this this weekend.

  7. Darth Xilef says:

    Sorry this is a little late for some who have already picked this up via Steam, but Amazon has a bundle on sale that includes Sword of the Stars II for $9.99!

    Plentiful Paradox Package
    http://amzn.com/B008G0ZDZI

    (You also get Victoria II, Crusader Kings II, Magicka Complete, Sword of the Stars Complete)

    I got this, activated on Steam and got the expansion as well!

    Hope this helps someone save some $$$ like it did for me.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Thanks a lot for sharing this. The bundle was $135,94 now $9,99? lol :) And includes Crusader Kings 2. Didn’t play this one yet but it’s supposed to be a good grand strategy game.

    • Kevin says:

      Wow, thanks for that, such an awesome deal :-) I already had Victoria II but the rest is a steal.

    • lammaer says:

      Very tempting offer, I’m just not familiar with the amazon digital download. Is it constantly gets updated just like the steam version?

      As far as I can see, the devs are still churning out patches very frequently…..

    • Deemen says:

      Yeah, 10 bucks for 5 games and you get the free expansion. Thank you VERY MUCH for this. Steam was all like you are registering retail version of the game…No problem we give you Enhanced Edition.

  8. Higgs says:

    Just bought it on Steam, they should give you credit, youre their entire marketing strategy :P

    Cant wait to try it.

    ~Higgs

    • SQW says:

      A standard expansion launch will receive minimal coverage in the blogsphere and no one’s likely to buy the expansion anyway considering what happened with SOTS 2. At least this way, the gesture will definitely generate some positive press and good will.

      There wasn’t much Kerberos could’ve done but I’m still glad they went through with it. Hope they will make enough money from their next project to show the gaming world that honourable business practice does pay off.

    • Adam Solo says:

      It’s true, not a lot of press coverage out there. Nevertheless, this new bundle is still an important event for us strategy and 4X gamers. I’m eager to find out how better the game is now. So, it’s two events: The new expansion is out, and people who own SotS2 get it for free.

      And, if you add to this the fact that the devs swear that “it’s all clear” now, it’s enough reason to give them a second chance. Everybody deserves a second chance, especially when they were always so open about it from day one, kept working, and now released some new content to try and compensate for the initial failure.

      I’ll do my best to get the bundle review out as soon as possible. We may have here one great space 4X game, and that needs to be discovered as soon as possible. Please, feel free to post your first impressions here to help others.

    • Higgs says:

      First Impressions / confusion :

      1 – I dont mind a steep learning curve, but a overly complicated UI without tooltips was a bad start.

      2 – Every single planet attack mission I go on ends with the timer at 0:00 with me barely getting to a targeted planet. Why are all battle on a 5m timer?

      3 – Half the systems I survey cant be colonized.. im getting two options, strike and patrol… but they are empty unclaimed systems.

      4 – I wanted babylon 5 style cutting beams. Got them, built a bunch of heavy beams specialized Dreadnaughts… wont fire their Cutting Beams :(

      Im trying hard to like this game but I just quit my first game around turn 285 and I wont go back in till I find a proper guide to find out what im doing wrong. Sent 5 fleets to attack a capital system, always comes out a draw… dreadnaught fleet. wtf.

      Any tips are welcome !

      ~Higgs

      To cheer me up ill just start up a goold old Moo2 game. Fun inc.

      • tim says:

        1. the ui gets some getting used to, but once you understand it, it’s actually ok, tooltips aren’t really that important imo, since there’s a detailed manual available

        2. you can set the battle timer to any value you want when you create a new game, so set it at 10 min if 5 is to low, a handy trick to stay in a system for a longer time (mulitple battle sequences in a row) is to send extra fleets with your dread fleet (they can be simple weak or outdated fleets doesn’t matter) and for every battle sequence that gets anounced at the start of your next turn, you select your dread fleet – so if you sent 3 extra fleets with your dreads you can now stay in the battle 4 times longer, each time a new 5 min timer starts you resume from the position you ended up at last battle, so it becomes very easy to take out a system that way :)

        3. not sure what you mean? perhaps the hazard rating of the planets is to high for you to colonize? planets are randomly generated into systems so maybe you were unlucky

        4. heavy beams usually aren’t put in moveable turrets, and are stuck in a forward firing position, so they need to point directly at the ship you want them to fire at, trying the ‘facing’ ship stance with ‘close to attack’

        beside a couple of ctd’s since the expansion i’ve been having a blast, quit a game with tarka at around turn 250 because i got a lot of bad random encounters, and right now i’m at turn 210 with morrigi and doing very well, anyway don’t give up, this game is awesome!

        • Adam Solo says:

          You’re obviously playing and liking this game, judging from the amount of turns spent. What turn-time do you get in your games? How many seconds and map size? And, about the UI, how much time do you get between screen transitions?

        • tim says:

          @ Adam Solo
          (can’t seem to reply to your post directly?)
          i loved sots prime and it’s expansions and so far sots 2 since the all clear and new expansion has been great

          as for your questions:
          the time it takes to complete a turn at later stages really depends on a lot of factors, like combat, random encounters, fleet movements etc. but if i were to guess i’d say it’s around 5min if i really don’t do much, to easily 20 min, can be more if i really need to take out an enemy system, of i get invaded by multiple ai fleets

          so far i’ve played 3 games on the 6 player disc map

          time between screen transitions is 1 – 2 seconds tops

          the only thing that really bugs me is the fleet manager ui, i’ve had some bad thoughts towards the devs that designed that part of the game, since it’s so incredibly frustrating when your ships don’t stay put where you want them to go in a formation and have to put every ship in the same position 10 times in a row because it keeps popping back to the bottom :( :P

        • Adam Solo says:

          @tim
          Yes, but I meant turn-time in the sense of time between turns, cpu time. Time from hitting end turn till the turn ends.

        • tim says:

          @ Adam Solo

          oh, sorry misunderstood you, in the mid to late game it takes no more than 5 seconds and that’s with the 3 second countdown, as a comparison it really doesn’t take longer than let’s say civ 5 mid or late game

        • Adam Solo says:

          @tim
          5sec is quite impressive. What configuration? (map size, AIs) I’m in the 10sec turn-time range. In Pillars[4] at turn 80.

  9. Towerbooks3192 says:

    So is it deeper than the first one or still the same? I really wanted to love the first one unfortunately its just too shallow after getting used to distant worlds

    • SQW says:

      SOTS has always focused on combat more than the micro-management aspect of 4x; you don’t play the Crusaders series for its combat or the Total War series for it’s accurate portrayal of political intrigue.

      Unfortunately, if SOTS prime didn’t hook you in, I doubt this one will change your mind.

      • Towerbooks3192 says:

        Well if its still the same as the old one I guess its not for me. If something is combat focused I prefer it to be either like total war (its a beautiful game but I am more of a civ type of person) or something like SPAZ (I want to shoot things with my space ship)

        I was hoping it is a deeper one compared to the combat focused original

        • Alien JD says:

          The combat is very deep and tactical and there are many strategies/options you can pursue. Everything else in the game is geared towards building/customizing large fleets and going to war.

  10. Mark says:

    Bought it based on this news and it just finished downloading.

    First impressions: Very pretty game, probably the prettiest 4x I ever saw, the graphics engine is a work of art, kudos to the team. No crashes yet, I’m hoping that all the major bugs have been squashed. Don’t like how you must have at least 3 planets to begin a game, I would rather start with just one. Cant really comment on the game play yet, so far I’m pretty satisfied overall.

    I wish it had the ability to generate random maps, it would seem to be *basic* functionality in this day and age and its omission suggests a lack of polish.

    • Adam Solo says:

      I also don’t like the fact that you’re forced to start with 3 planets minimum. Doesn’t feel right. Every 4X game starts from the very basics. I hoped they would have changed that by now.

      Not being able to generate maps is also a minus, although there are many to play. I remember reading that maps are the same, but objects vary on each play through (stars and planets, or just planets).

      I also miss the ability to rename systems and planets. You can name planets when you colonize them but you can’t rename them after, nor the systems themselves. This is basic 4X stuff, and don’t tell me it’s that hard to implement.

      • Mark says:

        No I totally agree, its just sloppy of them. Didn’t know about the inability to rename planets and systems either, that’s another small minus.

        Love your site by the way, its a really good central point for the type of games I love and the reviews are often better than bigger sites like Gamespot. Keep up the good work.

      • Jesse says:

        Just so the info’s out there, the save games are simple database files. You can change colors or names, as well as many in game options, pretty easily with SQLite Browser. Not optimal, and it’s a shame that they don’t include more options for those sorts of things in the game, but it’s really pretty easy if such things destroy your immersion. A couple of the first things I do on a new game is give myself a cool looking color other than the defaults, and good name for my home system.

  11. DevildogFF says:

    Not too impressed. The issues you have already brought up (no renaming, three colony minimum, no random map generation, not enough game creation options) and the lack of a 2D map irk me. I also have very little idea of what to do. It’s *kinda* like SOTS1, but it feels different.

    Bottom line: Kerberos still doesn’t have a product I really care about yet.

    • FalconGrey says:

      Um… question on the 2D map topic… how do you make a X and Y only map when you have stars also in the Z plane? Last time I checked the universe also didn’t work in X and Y… Even if you go and play Sins of a Solar Empire (love the rebellion expansion) it too isn’t X and Y, there are some Z elements. The last 4x type strategy I’ve seen that was 2D was called Galactic Civilizations 2 by Star Dock. Good game, still have it, but rather limited in its abilities in comparison. Also I think it’s almost 10 years old.

      As for random map generation, the placement of the stars are the same yes, but the systems and their content is always random. There has been talk of random maps, however no yes but not a no has been the official answer. On the website (Kerberos) you can get a random map generator but it is not officially supported.

      As for the 4 colony minimum, they explained on their forum and I think it was also in the manual as the reason for this is the game isn’t like the first one, a fresh start, this more of a continuation from an already built up empire. A continuation of the original story.

      • FalconGrey says:

        Sorry 3 colony. (mistype)

      • Mark says:

        I think its all about choice and options.

        Would it really kill them to allow those of us who are 3d challenged to play on flat maps?

        Would the designers really suffer many sleepless nights if they allowed me start with only one star system, even though the game is supposed to be a continuation of SOTS1? I mean I wouldn’t force *them* to begin with 1 star. They need never know that I wasn’t playing it the way it was “supposed” to be played.

        What about an option to scroll the screen instead of (or as well as) focusing on an object. Would the thought of people scrolling in their game make them grind their teeth and kick their dogs?

        Why cant these people just give us options so we can play the bloody game the way we want? Oh well I guess they have my money now. Too late.

        • FalconGrey says:

          I do agree and would prefer starting with 1 system instead of 3. My gaming preference also. Currently I live with it until either a mod comes out to adjust that or they give that option. It was, last time I checked, on their ‘mull over’ list.

          As for the flat maps, the closest that the game code will allow for flat is a Disc map. They would have to literally re-write the whole engine of the game to accommodate a 2D flat map and that would simply be too difficult to do.

          As for the option of scroll verses focus on an object, that has been up in debate with gamers from the beginning of the first SotS release. Again, it sums back to the capabilities of the coding and to add that alteration to the code would simply bring a whole world of headaches and problems for everyone not to mention months to more then a year of work by the developers to rewrite the code instead of fixing bugs and adding content. Sadly, adding code to do what sounds simple isn’t all that simple on the programing side.

        • zigzag says:

          @FalconGrey

          Implementing flat maps wouldn’t require anything like a re-write of the entire engine. I wouldn’t be surprised if it could be approximated entirely in data.

          It’s a matter of preference, and unfortunately for Mark, myself, and other 3d challenged folks, ours is a minority opinion. ;)

    • David Carron says:

      “and the lack of a 2D map irk me.”

      In 1 you could always do a flat map. Did that change for 2?

      • Ashbery76 says:

        It has a disk maps and many others that are not confusing round 3d map types.Not sure what this guy is talking about.

        • RandomBlue says:

          The disc maps still have a decent amount of depth to them, they’re not entirely flat.

        • FalconGrey says:

          No, they are not. And they were not entirely flat in the original SotS either. But they are fairly close in comparison to all the other maps. You will never find a completely flat, 2D map in a 3D mapped space game. The coding simply can not support having your cake and eating it too.

          If flat is what you want, look more to games such as Galactic Civilization 1 and 2 or try the new Endless Space game which is more of a 2D based map.

  12. FalconGrey says:

    The same ‘Disk’ maps exist in SotS2 as they did in SotS1. What I think he is complaining about is the fact that you are not always looking at a top down look and can rotate things. Some people are unable to think three dimensionally very well and unfortunately get confused or frustrated when faced with the problem of having to navigate three dimensionally instead of simply left, right, up, and down. For those people, this game and game similar are definitely not for them. Endless Space might be more of what he is looking for. Game play is more 2D in design though the game is much more limited in what you can do. Still a good game, have it an play it from time to time. The latest patch for it was nice actually.

    • SQW says:

      This is also the reason Kerberos went for the 2.5D approach to space combat – early testing showed majority of people had bad z-axis spatial awareness. A true Homeworld style combat would be awesome (especially with SOTS 2′s armour coverage) but I guess 2D just feel more natural even to those of us not bothered too much by 3D.

  13. Tristrim says:

    Basically sots 2 is supposed have empires that are somewhat established, coming from sots1 where you started with one planet now you have 3 star systems. The one thing i miss from sots1 is the notes you could leave on planets to remind me of what I wanted to do with said planet. But so far after 30 turns no problems.

    • RandomBlue says:

      Yeah, I used to leave those notes all over the place. Generally either to mark planets as good for colonization or to place reminders about asteroid monitors or swarm on those planets.

      • FalconGrey says:

        I actually believe they will eventually add the notes in eventually. In Prime, if memory serves right, it wasn’t until after the second major expansion that the notes were introduced.

  14. Tristrim says:

    Let’s hope so, also always been a lurker here. Thank you Adam for having a site like this dedicated to space games, specifically 4x ones :D

  15. BTJ says:

    Hmm, after reading 44 comments, I can summarize that people are complaining about missing a 2D map and not being able to put notes on the map.

    So, my conclusion is that SotS2 must be a fantastic game right now… ;-)

    Funnily enough, people always complain about the lack of features that comparable games also do not have. For example, ES got and still gets a lot of bashing for the combat system. However, as a game of grand strategy, nobody complains about the combat system in the Civ series. If you look at it that way, the ES combat can be seen as a nice animated visualization of what happens in a second if a unit attacks another unit in CiV.

    I found some 90 min to scratch the surface of SotS2 today and I must say that I see a lot that I like. Sure, there are some issues still – most obvious one being the AI -, but I think this has the potential to become one of the best TBS in space.
    I takes a lot of time to grasp and I can only advise all readers here to try it. Snorting comments do not do it justice. If you come to the conclusion you do not like it after seriously trying, that is a different matter, of course.

    • SQW says:

      Which part of the AI do you find the weak?

      As much as I love the original, the aweful tactical AI usually stops me from completing a game half way. =P

      • BTJ says:

        I do not doubt that! :-)

        I am far from an experienced player as well and guess it would beat me as well. The AI has definitely improved over the las patches.

        My point is more that the AI is not yet capable to fully use all the features the game offers. For example I observed strange decisions in fleet composition and movement.

    • Happy Corner says:

      If it makes you feel better, I don’t quite get all the hate for Endless Space’s combat, either. That’s an interesting comparison you made to the Civ (or even GalCiv) series, where you might control what units get into the battle, but otherwise you have to hope the dice roll your way. At least ES gave you different options to try to alter things once a battle’s in progress. Maybe people are just wishing that turn-based battles (ala MOO2) will finally come back.

    • FalconGrey says:

      I must admit I love your description of the Endless Space combat system. Thinking on that idea you really are right about it. I like ES but to me, it just seems to be lacking depth. But then again, this is a first release of this kind of game for Amp and with the G2G approach has made it very decent. They have a FREE WEEKEND for Endless Space right now on Steam and it is also discounted for those interested in trying it out. It is worth the try in my opinion.

    • RandomBlue says:

      Wish I could get Endless Space’s empire building (with a bit more random events/flavor) and SotS ship building and combat.

  16. zigzag says:

    I hadn’t played SotS II since it was released, but the changes are impressive.

    I didn’t like SotS I as much as other games in the genre, but bought Sots II to support the developers since they seem like decent folks. I’m glad that my support was rewarded!

  17. Towerbooks3192 says:

    Anyone wanting to get this, at this moment its $7.49 off Gamersgate and I think its for both enhanced edition and complete collection of the first.

  18. lammaer says:

    http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?650303-Patch-Notes-2.0.24320.2&s=7f7b3e07eb04fa9e4c7b85f124eca507

    I wonder they said the game is all clear…. yesterday patch on the Enhanced Edition… they are still fixing CTDs????

    r24354(2.0.24320.2)
    Critical fixes:
    - Fixed CTD when loa system destroyed
    - Fixed endturn CTD caused by locust scout
    - fixed gardener waypoint CTD
    - Fixed rare mission CTD
    - Fixed suulka repair CTD
    - Fixed CTD entering battlemanager
    - Fixed CTD entering research screen

    Other fixes:
    - Fixed NPG moving in auto-resolve combats
    - Fixed not being able to scrap stations
    - Fixed being able to edit accelerator fleets and scrap the NPG
    - Fixed loa fleets not including production cost bonuses when forming ships
    - Fixed loa construct station ui not presenting composition selector when manually placing station
    - Supernovas will now follow max number of GM’s rules
    - Fixed issue where Deploy NPG fleets could get stuck in space
    - Fixed bug causing loa to secretly pay corruption expenses

    • Adam Solo says:

      I had one CTD on the Fleet Manager yesterday. A bit disappointing, after so much time has passed, and after the “all clear” flag has been raised. Hope this was an isolated event…

    • Mark says:

      That’s a bummer, no CTD’s for me… yet….touch wood! I’m loving the space combat, honestly nobody does space combat like these guys. It looks totally awesome and is so tactically deep. If it were not for the annoying lack of options and other minor niggles, I would be in heaven.

    • slyostinato says:

      Well, after so much hype and so many comments here, I decided to download this large puppy. BUT…if *I* experience even ONE CTD, I’ll be deleting the game, writing it off and sharing my experience here. Yes, I have such a high standard because when a developer gives the “all clear” and “thumbs up” sign, I don’t expect to see a QA faux pas like CTD’s being present – that is akin to Programming 101 – don’t send it out the door if it is crashing.

  19. lammaer says:

    Well… I’ve just fired up the game to run a testround.

    The UI is still ridiculous (ugly and slow, there are some amateur problems like how the list elements overlap in some cases – oh boy, they should take lessons on UI creation from the Endless Space folks)

    The fleet-mission system is unneccesarily clumsy (I remember endgames in SOTS1, had several fleets, I bet handling that will be tedious in SOTS2)

    Next turn takes 10+ sec even at the very beginning.

    I admit just played an hour or so then quit – maybe will try again later.

    But had a question all the time in my mind: why I don’t play SOTS 1 instead of this? How is it better than the first game? I found NOTHING where this game improved over SOTS1. Overall it’s just became clumsy and half baked compared to the original.

  20. Ace of the Stars says:

    Now I can begin playing this game, I waited till it was “finished” (is it really? I hope so) to see if this is superior to SOTS1, which I actually enjoyed it.

  21. Suikostinger says:

    There ha already been 2 updates for this “finished’ game. I tried playing it just now, no tutorial whatsoever!? I’m pretty sure I can figure it out EVENTUALLY but a tutorial would have been nice.

    I’ve found paradox’s tutorial on youtube and while that helped it wasn’t as good as I would like it. Here’s my question…… I’ve found a few other youtube videos from other people and I’ve found the SoTS 2 manual on the web, should I download and read/print that manual or has the game changed so much that it’s now obsolete?

    • Suikostinger says:

      I need a patch for my typos, SECOND word…… /sigh

    • Adam Solo says:

      Reading the manuals is mandatory for SotS2, or you will NOT understand parts of the game. Having an in-game tutorial or plenty of tooltips would be preferable, but unfortunately one needs to stick to the manuals.

      You have a beginner’s guide, a manual for SotS2 and an additional manual for the End of Flesh expansion. You can download them when you launch the game, in the options panel. Look into the image and then below. Yea, quite hard to spot.

      The manuals help, but I hope that they have improved the game with more tooltips now (I found some new already). It’s too soon to tell if the manuals will be enough to understand the game. They weren’t at release and release+4months. Hope they are now.

      But, in summary, SotS2 is a hard game to get into. Not really because the gameplay is hard but because the UI is poor at describing things and helping you understand the game (the opposite would be the Endless Space UI). SotS2 is not a game you can pickup easily but I suspect there’s plenty of fun somewhere hidden in the UI and when you get used to the game. If, if, there’s sufficient stability now.

      I’m already working on the review. Will do my best to publish it as fast as possible.

    • BTJ says:

      The devs have released a patch on Saturday and on Sunday to fix occurring problems with the new faction from the expansion.
      I do not know any other company doing that.

      • lammaer says:

        Well… most of the companies don’t ship unplayably broken game full of CTDs either :)
        Especially after that disastrous launch, where 1+ year was needed to patch the game playable.

        People would expect they learned from that… I wonder if this time also they claim it is fault of the distributor. Maybe they are just not good enough developers.

        So really, praise people who deserve it, but don’t praise they are great because they release patches on weekend. If someone makes good quality, then no weekend work is necessary.

        • BTJ says:

          Well, I certainly do not praise them. But I think the devs deserve respect for the fact they did not abandon it, kept working for a year and now offer a free enhancement. Look at Legends of Pegasus for what,could also have happened.

          Also, releasing an expansion for such a beast of Software without bugs is unrealistic. So I,think they deserve a shoulder pat also for accompanying the release over the weekend.

          Too make things clear: I also think some more work needs to be done. I will wait some more months, before I dive into it. But I am sure, it will be worth it.

  22. Tristrim says:

    It is quite hard to test for every type of computer configuration, you can expect since Kerberos is small that their quality assurance is also small scale. Hell massive devs like Blizzard release patches and expansions that create more problems. I was one of Kerbero’s biggest fans pre sots 2, the launch made me fee somewhat betrayed but releasing a free expansion after working their asses off fixing shit they deserve some credit.

  23. JohnR says:

    I asked Scott Tortorice at GameSquad about the SOTS2 ‘All Clear’, and he said that he’s skeptical since Kerberos has not released a demo. To his way of thinking this is a big red flag. Revisiting this thread now, however, I can see a few people here do seem to have some issues with it, so for my part I think I’m going pass on SOTS2 and keep enjoying Distant Worlds, maybe give SINS: Rebellion a try, and hope that Zer0SumGames doesn’t take too, too long in finishing up StarDrive. ;o)

    • SQW says:

      Can’t remember when’s the last time I played a demo. In days where the only review you get was via a monthly PC mag or hear it from a friend, a demo was useful guide for making a sound purchase. Nowadays, between blogs, forums, youtube etc, I don’t really see the point of demo other than as a marketing tool to drum up some interest for new IPs.

      • Suikostinger says:

        I agree. The only time it gets iffy is when major websites don’t get a review copy.

      • FalconGrey says:

        Agreed SQW; only time I see demos today is either when its a new company trying to drum up interest in their product or a company tries a new path they normally don’t go down. I.E. Kerberos’ Demo for “The Pit” which is totally different from their normal line of games.

      • lammaer says:

        Well… demoes still exists, but thats called black market (aka piracy) nowdays.
        Don’t know how common that people try the pirated version of a game first then buy the original if they like it, but I know at least 2 guys with such attitude.

        • Mark says:

          I have done that before, usually with games containing ultra-draconian DRM, but I only bought the game if I liked it. If I didn’t like it, the download was consigned to the trash bin.

          I bought SOTS II without any prior playing though, based on the “all clear” given by Kerberos. Not sure how wise a move that was.

      • Varquynne says:

        This is a nice explanation of why we don’t tend to see demos nowadays.

        http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/demo-daze

  24. Dagonite says:

    No offence to some of you guys, but instead of focusing on the little details the game doesn’t have, try to look through to see what it does offer that is so different from the standard currently on the market.

    Give it a playthrough. I find the UI fairly serviceable – just needs some getting used to. The absence of random maps compensated by the variety of each map (every playthrough the planets & type of stars will be different). Randomized tech tree prevents cookie cutter starts and adds variety every game. Tactical combat is a blast. 7 different races with very different playstyles (compare that to sins….). Ship designer with 3 main classes, yes, but so many subclasses it takes a lifetime to learn advantages and disadvantages of all. Replayability is huge. Honestly, I could go on forever listing features that make this game extremely fun to me.

    I have collected over 300 hours on it despite the buggy start. I am not a kerberos fanboy, it has its problems (for example the AI: it’s getting there, but needs some work still) and I fully understand some of you are put off by the absence of a tutorial due to the stubborness of the devs, but do yourself a favour and give this game a try, it is truly a rare gem in its class.
    If you don’t like it after giving it a fair shot and learning some of the mechanics on the internet, than, to be honest I am very glad my idea of what a 4x should be is so different from yours and that someone took the time to develop this wonderful game for me.

    • lammaer says:

      Oh, you are my man then: could you please summarize what are the changes/improvements in SOTS2 over SOTS1?

      These obvious ones I’m aware of: new race, fleet management “change” (I count it as a step backward) and some new techs. Is there anything more significant?

      • Dagonite says:

        Aside from what you said…off the top of my head: Graphics much improved, tactical combat is now system wide opening up a variety of very interesting options, the government bonuses can be an interesting mechanic (your actions determine your form of government giving you different bonuses, not your click on a menu), ships can gain random attributes that can make them a little better or worse than expected, admiral traits, new ships/sections…battleriders add a new dimension to combat,…i’m no expert but there are quite a few differences, not all of them are major obviously. Overall the feel i get is that SOTS2 is a much more ambitious project compared to its predecessor, while being at the moment a little less polished, it is getting there and it is quite enjoyable,

        The thing I like the most is the added tactical aspect of having a solar system to deal with: having to defend multiple planets, stations, contending with fast battlerides….Overall the tactical feel is one of the best out there. Tbh, I was hoping for better diplomacy/spying, which irks me, but I still hope these aspects willl get some love eventually.

        if you are looking for a difference as in radical changes, nope, not that I can tell, but if you liked the first one and want to expands on its concepts with a new race and quite a few new features, than go ahead and give it a shot.

        • lammaer says:

          Thank you for the summary, much appreciated.

          The tactical combat improvements sound VERY tempting (that part I enjoyed most in SOTS1, visually it was also great even there), so I will definitely will keep trying this game then.

  25. Azalrion says:

    For anyone who was wishing for more map or random map choices, check this out:

    http://www.kerberos-productions.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=25072

    Fan made custom map generator, and if you look at the way he explains using it allows you to regenerate on the fly in game as long as you have at least one version of the map to begin with.

    • Mark says:

      Lol, it takes modders to come up with a basic 4x game component (random maps) that has been around in various forms for 25+ years and should have been in the very first release of the game.

      Shame on you Kerberos!

      • RandomBlue says:

        Yeah, I was disappointed this wasn’t in the original release (among the massive pile of disappointments) and surprised it wasn’t in the “all clear” version, then surprised again when it wasn’t in the expansion.

        The only excuse/reason I’ve heard is that it makes it easier for them to reproduce/fix bugs if there aren’t random maps. However, with a decent random map system all they’d need from a player is a save game with which they could extract the random seed for the map and they’d be able to regenerate the exact same map. You also hear how there are a lot of maps included with the game. Uh, no, not really. There are 25 or so maps of different sizes (number of players) and layouts. For a given number of players you’re probably looking at 5-10 maps.

  26. Adam Solo says:

    But why don’t you guys just wait for the reviews? :) Not only here but also in other gaming review websites? Why the need to buy immediately?

    As some have noted, playable demos are becoming a rare commodity these days. The consensus conclusion seems to be: “it doesn’t help sales”. Well, I would say that it doesn’t help sales when your game is not very good. If your game is good you’re more than happy to release a demo. Look around. What games have a demo and which have not? Note how usually the good ones offer a demo. Not that it is a direct pattern, but…

    So, we, as consumers, lost an effective way to assess how good a game really is. Not that the demo would be the all and all but it would help.

    So, the only way to be sure is to wait for reviews and then decide to buy or not.

    I’ve been noting that more and more publishers and PR agents are holding off giving early review copies to many gaming sites, including SpaceSector.com, for all sorts of games. This is not an accusation, it’s just an observation. Maybe they just don’t have available copies. So, I think it’s wise to wait one or two weeks for the reviews to come out before buying a game (when we don’t get early copies).

    If you can’t wait, then by all means buy it for the reasons you may have, but, understand that you’re taking more risks when you could have waited a few more days to have at least a few more bits of first-hand information.

    We are here to help you decide better, that’s our job. No paid reviews, no favors, independence and no rush reviews, only honest opinion from gamers to gamers. That’s what you can always count with on SpaceSector. But, of course, we are not the holders of truth. So, by all means always seek a second or third opinion. Then you’re in a good position to decide to buy or not. The more information we have the better.

    • lammaer says:

      “Why the need to buy immediately?”

      The best question ever asked in this topic.
      The answer is simple: people are inpatient. The world is now about “New stuff, I want it all, and I want it NOW”. Not just the young people, but also the older generation – just think about why almost everyone get loan even to buy a new TV set.

      I’m not wondering, why pre-orders also exist today…

      • Adam Solo says:

        And that’s the second best question on the topic. “Why do pre-orders still exist today?”. I’m not talking about alpha pre-orders or Kickstarters to help the development. I’m talking about pre-orders of FINISHED games with no possibility for a game to run out of stock (in the case of digital download) and when the perks involved are usually not worth it (subjective I know but still my opinion).

        Can’t people wait a week or two to find out if the money will be well spent? If they can’t then don’t say you weren’t warned :)

      • Mark says:

        Guilty as charged :(

    • RandomBlue says:

      It’s because we’re 4X junkies. There are so few good ones released that every time a new one comes out we’ve been jonesing so long that we whip out our credit cards as fast as humanly possible and buy/preorder that crap. A lot of the time I preorder just because I want to help ensure the company doesn’t go belly up before they finish it. :)

      Yeah, if the game comes out and is terrible and/or buggy we’ll whine and complain and maybe wait on the next one for reviews, but probably not. Hell, how many of these games have most of us kickstarted recently? I’ve kickstarted 11 games so far, most of them 4x or space related, and alpha-funded Star Drive.

  27. slyostinato says:

    Okay, so…first impressions are lasting impressions. My first impression…mehhhhh. VERY HIGH learning curve – to the point where after an hour, I was done. This game screams TUTORIAL. As in…GET A TUTORIAL, or at the least lots of gaming-tips popups. I just don’t have hours to watch videos on YouTube or read a ton of pages in a manual to learn how to play this. This is “supposed” to be a game. Something “fun” to do. There is lots of nice eye candy and stuff like that. Eerie space sound effects and music are good too. Not very intuitive, not in the least. Laamaer has summed up alot of my sentiments. Especially about overly praising developers who release patches on the weekend. Hey, if it’s broken because you didn’t do it right the first time around, well then, you better fix it or I’m asking for my money back. Alot of younger gaming studios have no real sense of the importance of QA (quality assurance), in other words, test, test, test and then…test, test, test some more before you start putting out your hand and asking people for their money on a product that is not fully ready for prime time. And it is sad, but true, that the current trend in the PC gaming industry is to ‘get it done fast and get it out even faster…so we can start raking in the cash’; with the underlying mentality of…’we’ll fix it en route after we start to see the money rolling in.’ And this is a very wrong way to capture customers. Only the hardest-core gamers will put up with companies like that while other more mainstream gamers will just say, ‘Sayonara’. Never to return to buy anymore of that studio’s games again. I know I have my list of companies I won’t buy from any longer.

    Anyway, I would not recommend purchasing this at the moment. It needs some more flushing out, so to speak. If you’re curious, maybe you can find one of those…ahem…”demo” sites and give it a whirl before you open up your wallet to Paradox and Kerberos. And if either of those two are reading this, HINT HINT…get a demo on your website to entice people to buy. NEVER underestimate the importance of a demo to help capture potential customers. Take a cue from Sam’s Club and Costco. Giving out samples of mini cherry cheesecake cups and mini Vienna sausages is a surefire way of getting people to buy something they don’t really need. ;-) (Oh how I hate you Costco on cheesecake distribution day, because then I end up going home with a 36-pack of mini cheesecakes. Haha…)

    • Happy Corner says:

      I concur. I wish there were more demos, AND fixing a SOTS2-style debacle isn’t as worthy of respect as just getting it right in the first place. Granted, Star Ruler wasn’t finished when it was first released, either… but at least their guys were up front about their situation and made it clear that the first-buyers would be funding the rest of the development.

    • BTJ says:

      One of my most favourite games – Distant Worlds – has a very lacking UI, no tutorials worth the name and you need to read a ton of pages in a manual to understand it. Also, I watched a lot of Let’s Plays on Youtube. This I consider fun and it helped me to get into the game and was very motivating.
      I for my part like complex games.

      As I stated above, I agree that there is work still to be done on SotS2. I also agree that Kerberos wastes a TON of potential of the game and is scaring customers away with not making this game more accessible. But I recognise that Kerberos did not abandon it, kept working for a year and now offer a free enhancement. Look at Legends of Pegasus for what could also have happened.

      Interesting to observe how people like to apply double standards sometimes.

      • FalconGrey says:

        And also have to remember they are down 2 people on their development team. One in particular was the script writer for the scenarios. They still haven’t been able to find someone to replace him.

        I think with the staff they have left that they are doing a good job at sticking in there with all the negativity they got hammered with and not just saying ‘to hell with it’.

      • lammaer says:

        “My first impression…mehhhhh. VERY HIGH learning curve”

        Do you have experience wiith SOTS1? I’m just wondering if people with SOTS1 knowledge also think the learning curve is high….

    • RandomBlue says:

      I just wish there team would put a minimum QA time of at least a day before releasing patches. They seem to cause almost as many issues as they fix (if not more) by not testing their patches/hotfixes. If you’re going to hotfix something without decent testing, then you should ONLY be fixing CTDs or issue preventing the game from running. Too many times they put out a hotfix without seeming even playing the game for a few minutes first.

      For example, the hotfix they put out on Friday basically tripled the cost for Loa to convert ships to cubes and then did apparently zero play testing. As a result, the default fleets you start the game with don’t have enough cubes to convert into the default fleet compositions (Survey, Colonization and Construction) and some of those default compositions are now too big to even fit through the starting gate system.

      Of course the Kerberos fanboys flock to their support and invent elaborate, barely functional ways to get around the NGP limit (cube fleet size limit) that is easy to exceed even at the max size of that system. In late game it’s even possible to design a single cruiser (the smallest stand alone ship) that exceeds the maximum limit of the NGP system. The fanboys have decided it’s perfectly reasonable, and awesome, to break your fleet down into a large number of small fleets (it can take up to 40-50 fleets) and send them to the target system manually, one at a time basically, and then re-assemble them. It’s ridiculous, the game has enough micro and busy work as it is. See stations and trade.

      However, the game is pretty playable now if you don’t play Loa and don’t let the AI play them.

  28. Ace of the Stars says:

    Played for half an hour maybe, what a disappointment… Very slow, seems like every action requires the game to stop and think (WTF?!?) and on top of it all I also got a fleet manager error (Yeah!!!!).

    I will wait (again!) till this is properly fixed.

    • RandomBlue says:

      One of the funnier bugs I’ve encountered is that when you assign a fleet to a mission it draws a travel line to the target system. However, if you cancel that mission the line remains in place. I posted about that bug on the Steam forums and one of the Kerberos people actually said that’s an optimization, not a bug and that the line stays there until the next refresh (apparently next turn, which is true).

      So somehow you can make the line magically appear when the mission is created with no performance issue but removing a travel line is some huge performance hit that must not be done except during end of turn processing. LOL.

      • FalconGrey says:

        Well, from a programing perspective and system resources perspective; which is easier on a computer: leaving a drawn line in or redrawing the whole map to take it out when it will be doing just that on the next turn?

      • RandomBlue says:

        Done right, removing an object from a 3D scene is easier than adding it. When adding the object you have to define it, allocate assets for it, skin it if necessary, then place it. To remove it you locate the already built object and remove it from the scene. With a 3D scene in a game the screen is redrawn continually anyway, which is why you have an FPS measurement for 3D games (Frames per Second), each frame is the screen is redrawn either as fast as possible or as fast as the game limits it to or your monitors refresh rate if possible if vsync is enabled (60 times per second for most LCDs).

        • FalconGrey says:

          Heh, I guess I still don’t understand the ‘object’ oriented graphical programing. I use to do the old school of programing late 80s early 90s. Looking at it like that, would seem odd. Perhaps he/she was just stating that it wasn’t really hurting the game at the moment so they were focusing energy on other fixes being they are down a couple people in their development group.

  29. SQW says:

    Say what you will about the quality of SOTS 2 but when’s the last time a post on Spacesector garnered three figure worth of comments. =)

    Looking forward to that review Adam.

  30. Mark says:

    After a few days of play I have reached a few conclusions about SOTS II.

    - The game is stable and playable but some aspects of the UI are horrifically cumbersome.
    - The game is extremely pretty, never seen a graphics engine like it on a 4x.
    - The disc shaped maps in the game are acceptable to a 3d challenged player like myself. Not perfect, but at least my brain isn’t exploding.
    - The Nebulae on the star maps is REALLY irritating! I wish I could turn them off, they always get in the way!
    - The game is a lot of fun. But then so was SOTS I
    - The game is not quite as good as SOTS I for a lot of minor reasons which together add up.
    – No random maps, In SOTS I you could at least select the # of stars even if the maps weren’t entirely random. This is a DISMAL fail in a sequel, the devs should be hanging their heads in shame.
    – No ability to play a random faction at start-up (you have to choose). No ability to play against random opponents, you see what you’re up against before you start. In SOTS I you could make everything random so that your opposition was a surprise. Again, very lame Kerberos.
    – The fleet system in SOTS II is immensely frustrating (although arguably more realistic). The system in SOTS I was more fun.
    – It seems to take forever to enact strategic decisions in II that were relatively simple in I. The fleet system is largely responsible for this but the UI is just generally more obtuse.
    – Ignoring the slick graphics of II, The space battles were better in I, I hate having to search the solar system in II. This was implemented badly IMO.
    – SOTS I appears to be better balanced (in terms of weapons vs weapons and faction vs faction) than II.

    Bottom Line: SOTS II is a good game, but SOTS I was better. The shiny graphics alone *almost* make II worth buying.

    Ok, they do make it worth buying, I admit it, I’m a graphics whore, but the gameplay simply isn’t as good as SOTS I, which is a massive shock. How long have they had to get this right?

    • Adam Solo says:

      Stable, hum? I already account 3 crashes. 2 in the fleet manager (when adding ships to a recently created fleet) and a recent one when issuing the “Evacuation” action. Did you experience any crash? I’m afraid to create a fleet. Err…

      - cumbersome UI: check
      - annoying nebulae in the way: check
      - no random maps shortcoming: check
      - slick graphics (in battle): check

      Then, there’s:
      - laggy UI (screen transition). Very disappointing that they didn’t fix this by now.
      - UI glitches (overlapped text, non-fitting text, not all characters displayed, …).
      - switched description of damage and deviation tooltips (Q&A anyone?)
      - a combat screen appeared saying “Pending…” with a few icons and a timer. Reached the end and nothing happened. No, it’s not the battle screen, it’s something else …
      - why can’t I see a weapon numerical damage when designing ships but can when checking weapon details in research and when building? Why?
      - going to Windows and back to game doesn’t maximize game. Need to hit Alt+Enter. Ok. But I need to close the chat box everytime I do this. Very annoying.
      - I found an asteroid base protecting a system and lost my survey fleet. But then the map shows nothing and I need to memorize they’re there? What was the system again? What?
      - I can upgrade a naval station. Why?
      - I can’t upgrade a science station. Why?

      I read the manual and the beginners guide. I was forced to. There’s no way you can learn to play this game without reading the manuals.

      Can’t survey a planet. Why? Need to re-check fleet ranges. Can’t colonize? re-check ranges. Can’t ____? Re-check ranges. But, it’s all guess work. Have an endurance/range 3? A..aa… maybe I can go till there? No. Maybe here. Try again.

      How many ships can be based on a system?

      Diplomacy is already there but it’s so … ugly, and static.

      I’m already experiencing a few glimpses of fun here and there, but at the moment I’m still struggling my way through. The worst is the UI, lack of tooltips, laggy transitions and a sense of not knowing what’s going on.

      I simply don’t understand how they didn’t fix some of the points above, the UI glitches most of all. Not all characters displayed? Overlapped text? At this stage? Nobody else is seeing this?

      Oh well…

      • Mark says:

        There were some strangely long lags where it seemed to freeze for a while, but no actual crashes….yet! I’ll probably get them eventually since everyone else seems to be reporting them.

        Yes and Yes to all the extra thing you posted that I missed. They’re all relatively minor, but cumulatively they really add up to one frustrating game. Worst thing is that few of these things were a problem in SOTS I.

        How could they have gone backwards? I mean bugs I can understand, but a lot of these problems are by design. I really have to ask myself what the hell were they thinking on so many of these design decisions.

        Add to that the still existing bugs after the so called “all clear” (boy did I fall for that one hook line and sinker) and general lack of polish and…… well……at least the graphics are shiny….:)

        • Adam Solo says:

          I’m relieved to know someone else is experiencing these shortcomings. As you say, some are minor, but when you add them up, the experience is ruined.

          I read people in the game forums saying how fantastic this game is. But it’s true that some of those people are saying that almost since day one. I want to find that fun and that joy, and all I find is frustration, set backs, doubts, leaps pf faith and guess work. And a few strings of pleasure and fun in the middle, yes, there’s also fun to be found no doubt.

          Yes, the graphics are shiny. Yes the concepts are great. But, why does it need to be so painful to experience that? The learning curve is so steep that even an experienced player like myself needs to struggle like hell. I can’t imagine how a person new to the genre could like the experience.

          Sometimes I just wish they dumped the UI and started over from scratch.

      • Suikostinger says:

        So what you’re saying is…….that your review is going to tell us how great this game is….?

        • Adam Solo says:

          I’m not sure I follow you. What do you mean?

          Consider these to be my first impressions. They aren’t the best, no. The review will be more thorough. Exploring the good, the bad and the ugly, to the best I can.

        • Suikostinger says:

          Was a bit of sarcasm. I know you are going to re-review this game but from your posts and comments it seems that we don’t even have to wait for your review, seems like we already know what it’s going to say which is pretty much that it’s not worth the time and effort to try to learn this game for hours to have a mediocre experience.

        • Adam Solo says:

          I spotted the sarcasm. I just wasn’t sure what the direction of the sarcasm was.

          The purpose of the re-review will be to understand IF it is worth the trouble to learn the game. Sometimes, as you probably agree, it is more than worth it. We’ve seen that before. Other times it simply isn’t.

          That’s part of my job here, doing the dirty work for you, to pave the way for you guys spend well and have fun.

  31. Ashbery76 says:

    The game is complex and requires the manual to be read mutliple but the richness to the game particularly in the sim like miltary game make all other 4x games childlike in that area.It it worth the steep learning curve in the end.The SOTS2 wiki helps a lot.

    The UI lag had more of less gone before the expansion and from I read the new update will help that issue again.

    • Dagonite says:

      yes, learning curve is very steep…though I recentrly dicovered there is a marvelous general chat: if you need help its a quick way to get some explanations (press “enter” to access the chat, works in single player as well)

    • Adam Solo says:

      Are you saying that the lag got worse with the expansion? The lag is not acceptable as of now, even in small maps (3-4 players). I do hope they mitigate that very soon.

      Yes, the learning curve is as steep as can get. And, I don’t doubt there’s richness to be found. I did experience some of that already. But, I mean, I’m not new to SotS2, and I needed to re-learn the all thing from scratch.

      And what’s infuriating is not how bad the game is but how better it could have been with the design and foundation it seems to have. Remove the easily identifiable annoyances and the experience would have been so much better. I’m not talking about gameplay here, but bugs, stability and usability.

      It’s incredible how some companies got it so right in some areas and other companies got it in others but it seems that nobody, or just a meager few, can achieve the whole package. I’m sure lack of Q&A has a lot to do with this.

  32. lammaer says:

    All clear was a lie…. as I wrote that time:
    “I wonder that the game is all clear now…. maybe they are out of the money again, and trying to milk the rest of the playerbase.”

    1 year, and the UI is still looks and work like a 3rd place contestant of the primary school programming contest.

    This game is not complex, simply just the UI makes everything more difficult, hides the information -> that LOOKs like complexity.

    SOTS1 was not less complex, but it was not difficult to play.

    • Dagonite says:

      i disagree. The complexity is there, its just hard to discover due to the lack of a proper tutorial. The UI isn’t a nobel winner, sure, but it definitely isn’t a game breaker for me. This game is hard to learn, and harder still to master, but I am finding it very rewarding once you start “getting it”. With a little more polish and a some more extensive guides for new people it could really become a classic, more so than its first iteration IMHO.

      • Adam Solo says:

        But, haven’t we been saying that for a year now? Even a 4X gamer’s patience has a limit.

        • slyostinato says:

          I’m going to have to echo Adam and concur with lammaer. I understand you are a supporter of this game, Dagonite. Perhaps you have some ties with Paradox or Kerberos. Nonetheless, this game was NOT ready to be released the first time around and now repackaging it as “enhanced” and trying to sell it yet a second time around is just poor business ethics. There is NOTHING rewarding or fun about wasting 2 hours of clicking on everything and anything under the sun to figure out how to make this game playable at the enjoyability level. Yes, it’s complex, yes, it has nice graphics, yes, it has potential, but I’m getting so tired of hearing that as a way of propping up bad game releases to somehow justify what a studio has done in releasing it in such a deplorable shape. This is yet ANOTHER example of a youngish gaming studio doing the money grab thing by turning out stuff that is not fully ready for consumption. I will continue to advise people to NOT purchase this game until Kerberos pulls their head out of their ass and do what people have been screaming for – FIX THIS GAME RIGHT!

        • Dagonite says:

          True, but it has been improving over the year, and the developers have shown an “uncommon” level of commitment to say the least. Tbh I have played quite a few games in the genre, and as you said earlier they all seem to get “something” or most things right but never the whole formula. This one, has a lot of interesting features buried in there, some more obvious, some less so.

          While being critical of what it doesn’t have is perfectly legittimate, and I agree its not perfect, I don’t believe it deserves to be thrown to the wolves yet. Not many other games can offer 7 seriously different races, that vary so greatly in playstyle as well as looks. No other game offers a tactical depth at this level in addition to the strategic aspect and empire management part, the eye candy is definitely there (I know, gameplay >>> eyecandy, still, this looks seriously good!), ship editor with a great deal of options that REALLY change the way the battle is fought in tactical, tech tree is big and changes from game to game (some more explanations there would be nice, true).

          In no way am I saying this is perfect, and I honestly don’t like EVERYTHING (diplomacy, spying, AI, no tutorial) but at the same time, I wouldn’t tear EVERYTHING down because of the UI and transition lags (which improved with the last patch btw) it just doesn’t do the title any justice. Once you learn the UI and start really “playing” (as opposed to making sense of loads of unexplained info) the level of frustration goes down quite a bit, and it is actually very enjoyable.

          I know its just opinions we’re talking about, and the ultimate opinion that matters is the very subjective matter of… is the game fun? For me, it is. I like the level of abstraction it puts in some aspects and the depth it has in fleet management and combat. I dunno, I wouldn’t give it a 10 for obvious reasons, but it sure ain’t a 4 as metacritic says.

  33. Dagonite says:

    Honestly, I took my time to spell out why I believe its good to add another side to the debate. I’m not here to convince anyone, I just think that sometimes on the internet its too easy to start unfair lynchings that lose contact with reality. If wanting to add some debate to the matter makes me a kerberos employee, well, good for you, keep throwing them rocks!

    • Adam Solo says:

      I understand what you mean to some degree, because I share your sentiment in some aspects. But look at these keywords, that you wrote yourself: “buried in there”, “some more obvious, some less so”, “level of frustration goes down quite a bit”.

      A game isn’t supposed to be a frustration at all. The game must offer you a fun and challenging experience from the standpoint of gameplay. As it is now this game can only appeal to 4X hardcore fans, that are willing to put the extra 50 or more hours just to learn how to play, to then start to get some reward.

      Look, we are all different here, even with everything that brings us together. People value the different aspects of gaming differently. Some are more patient, others aren’t, many value their time and money preciously, others don’t care.

      In the end, as you said it yourself, it all comes to: “Is the game fun?” And, I would add, “Does the game provide you with the value you paid for it”, not only the entry cost but also the time required to learn the game and, in this case, pass through the initial frustration barrier, which is absurdly huge here, even for a 4X game. Ultimately, the review scores reflect the answers to both these questions, among other factors of course.

      • Dagonite says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more, I used those words deliberately. I am trying to be balanced, if slightly biased in favour of a game I undeniably like and would love to see developed further (I assure you I have no ties with the developers as some have speculated…lol).

        As I said, it is just my opinion, and while I agree with you that the entry barrier for this game is fairly high, I also wanted to voice some of the positive aspects which deserve to be exposed just as much as the negative ones IMHO.

    • Mark says:

      Dagonite, I’m interested in your opinion as someone who has genuinely found the game fun.

      Ignoring the obviously better graphics, do you think that the gameplay of SOTS II is better than the gameplay of SOTS I?

      If so, could you tell me why because I’m having a hard time seeing it. Maybe you could put me on to something that I’m missing.

      • Dagonite says:

        I’ll do my best, I have to go to work so I probably won’t have time to proof read much :) (i’m not a native english speaker)…so, main differences:

        1) The fleet mechanics starts to shine when you have many of ships, at first it seems like an unnecessary complication of something that worked, but in fact it simplifies your job in the when you have to manage “an empire worth” of ships. The fact that you have admirals and perks for them also adds to the mechanic imo, as it makes everything a little more “unique”

        2) The mission system, while cumbersome for some things, does try to set a standard in a way. You have to survey a system, find out what it has, then send a colonization fleet, then support it and protect it. If its worth it, build a station and develop further. Develop it into a base. The fact that you have to add a naval base in order to expand your reach means you’ll have to make strategic choices on which systems are more important in your defensive network.

        3) Stations can represent significant investments that can give significant bonuses. For example, a fully developed zuul station gives you the chance of obtainig “hero” leviathan ships (the suul-ka), a fully developed science station gives large bonuses to research. Makes them tasty strategic objectives

        4) Tactical combat: You have a system to defend or attack now, with stations to protect, significant investments to your empire, planets, asteroid belts to hide in to attack, system defence must be placed accordingly…its all more chess like compared to the “arcadish” approach SOTS1 had.

        I really have to run now, i’de love to keep writing as I really enjoy this game. I’ll try to cram in as much as I can

        Single player is somewhat diminished by an AI that doesn’t fully use its capabilities, but it can still be fun. The core concept I like is: you have to make strategic decisions that can have a great influence on how a war goes. The new tactical map offers possibilities which go beyond the simple “go in and smash everything”. Also, I hated in SOTS1 that you had a cap on how many ships you could deploy that wasn’t “inspiring” —> you lose ships more “appear”? Couldn’t we all go in at once? Here, on the other hand, the fleet mechanics adds a “logistical” excuse to explain why you can’t deploy that many ships to kill a planet.

        You make investements, you have to protect them, adding a layer of importance and personal commitment. In SOTS1 everything felt more “impersonal”. Here, you can get attached to ship classes or fleets, planets can have significant infrastructure that took you tens of turns to develop, and it can all be smashed if you make the wrong choice.

        Overall, I like it becaue I think its a very good war sim, covering many aspects that usually get neglected in the genre. To be fair, its not all rosy, it has some issues that have to be addressed, but once its done I believe it will be superior in some aspects to the first! I hope that answers your question :)

        • Mark says:

          “I hope that answers your question :)”

          Wow, it certainly does! Thanks for the very extensive and detailed reply. You have clearly progressed a lot further into the game than I have. I re-started about 10 different games without getting very far in any of them. I think I’m going to stick at it and try to find some of the interesting things you mentioned.

          I honestly think that Kerberos should include something like this in their marketing pitch so that players will continue to climb that steep learning curve and not get disheartened. Its good to know that the view from the top of the mountain is actually worth the grueling climb :)

          Sorry to rush you, and just for the record your English is fine (and I don’t really care about perfect wording anyway).

          Once again, I appreciate the all the effort you went to to define your position, you make some very good points, all I need to do now is confirm them for myself.

          Cheers.

        • BTJ says:

          Thank you for this summary. However, i fea, only few players will we experiencing the richness of this game as the hurdles to dive into it are so high (make a statistical evaluation of the 130+ posts here and you know what I mean)… :-(

  34. salvo says:

    does anyone know what the little clickable stars to the left of the weapon icons on the design window do? No mention of their use neither in the manuals nor in the wiki

    • RandomBlue says:

      That sets your primary weapon for the ship, used when you choose the Close to Attack stance. Your ships will automatically move to the maximum range of the starred weapons to attack I believe. I think for the Stand-off option it just keeps your ship at the range of your longest range weapon. At least that’s my understanding of it.

      Would be nice if there was a handy tooltip explaining exactly what it was for but naaah, that would be too easy. Tooltips are for suckers.

  35. Adam Solo says:

    They fixed some CTDs in a recent hotfix. I’m not having the “add ships to fleet” crash anymore. And the UI screen transitions are smoother now also. Much better now, although turn-time is still quite high.

    • t1it says:

      A significantly faster UI – finally. Now just need to fix full screen alt-tabbing permanently windowing the game ^_______________________________________________________^

      • RandomBlue says:

        I thought alt-enter would return it to full-screen but I could be wrong.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Alt+Enter works but then you get the annoying chat window that you need to close everytime… That needs to be fixed.

        • RandomBlue says:

          Yeah. They added an option to join global chat that was supposed to default to disabled but on my system it defaulted to enabled. Regardless, they should definitely fix it so that alt-enter doesn’t open the chat window.

        • t1it says:

          Damn I never knew that. All the restarts lol…

        • Adam Solo says:

          @t1it
          Don’t feel bad about it. I was annoyed too not knowing how to get full screen. Then I found the answer in some random thread at Kerberos forums. It is on the manual though. Unfortunately one needs to read the manual top to bottom to know how to play this game. It isn’t so bad after a while.

        • RandomBlue says:

          I really dislike the external launcher/options app. All of those options should be in-game and generally not require a restart to change (just as most every other game works). They also shouldn’t be reset with every patch, which is currently about every day or every other day. Resolution should also be set with drop-downs after detecting the supported resolution for the machine, just as pretty much every other game does. I’ve gotten in arguments with the devs on the Steam forum about the the last one and they are not planning on changing that.

        • Adam Solo says:

          @RandomBlue
          I completely agree. Not showing default resolutions but need to set manually? Not having those options in-game but in launcher? Options reset on every patch?

          What were they thinking?

          Sometimes I get the feeling that the first SotS2 dev team jumped ship, left their wreckage code behind and it was up to other guys to fix the mess.

        • FalconGrey says:

          I do agree with the problem of resetting options every patch, that is annoying, and agree with the need to be able to adjust the graphics in game. However, nearly every single game that allows for in game adjustment of graphics settings requires a restart of the game, depending on what was changed.

          Additionally, the launcher is awesome and if you want to make a shortcut to the actual game exe you can bypass it. Why it is awesome is for people with multiple monitors or odd desktop sizes; games that base your default screen size from the desktop (such as Stronghold and several others) will set the defaults to an improper setting and can also damage your equipment. Again an example: I run 2 monitors. My desktop size across both monitors is 2560x 1280 (on 1) and 720 (on 2). Several games (Star Wars the Old Republic Online as one) sees the default screen size as 2560×1080 at 170hz frequency. This is a SERIOUS problem when you look at the frequency and can make a LCD or CRT go ‘pop’ fairly quickly if it isn’t sat in it’s hardware to ignore an out of frequency and out of range screen size.
          Now complicate it more, you can’t edit most of these games configuration files manually. Some you can but for games like stronghold that did this, I had to have firefly send me a modified configuration file to replace mine and get me into the game where I could set the correct settings.

          So having the launcher to me and many others is a good thing.

        • RandomBlue says:

          That’s a fine theory about why the launcher is awesome FalconGrey, except for one small flaw in it. The launcher doesn’t let you set the refresh rate, only the resolution. Further, the manually set resolutions really only work for fullscreen if you specify a fullscreen resolution that’s supported by your hardware and drivers, otherwise it defaults to max for a single screen. Try it, disable windowed mode and put in a resolution of 300×300. As for windowed mode, you can simply resize the game after it’s been launched instead of manually typing in the resolution you want. For most of us that’s far easier and the game _should_ remember what resolution you resized it to in windowed mode.

          Some games do require you to relaunch the game depending on graphics options you chose, but not all and it’s primarily just when changing texture resolution options as it has to reload all current textures. However, some of those games will reload the textures on the fly only requiring a restart if you change graphics engines (DX9 to DX11 for example).

          I also run dual LCD monitors and have never had any issue with any game either harming the monitors or letting me change the resolution properly within the game or switch to windowed mode within the game. The worst I’ve seen is some fullscreen games that mess up app positions and partially obscure the second monitor.

      • FalconGrey says:

        By using the launcher it doesn’t change the refresh rate from 60hz to 170hz

  36. Suikostinger says:

    So I watched a Let’s Play youtube video and started playing it myself. It’s somewhat fun. I’m getting used to it, at times I find myself sitting there trying to remember where I sent my fleets and so on. My biggest flaw with it so far (besides the obvious flawed, confusing UI) is that with my empire I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished all that much. It’s the same problem that I’ve had with Endless Space (not so much with ES because you CAN put enhancements and so on on the planets and with SotS 2 it seems like it’s just a bunch of sliders) because the ships are just static icons until you get into combat. That’s why I like Sins of the Solar Empire somewhat because you get to see the ships and buildings you put your hard work into, but that game is a little too simple. I’m guess I’m looking for a 4x game that’s between SotS 2/Endless Space and Sins. I guess I’m looking for a X4 game that is part RTS like Sins and part like ES/SotS 2.

    I guess I’ll try to play Distant Worlds and see how it goes from there. I also played X3 which was AWESOME and was exactly what I’m was looking for, but the learning curve is STEEP and I was actually starting to learn it but I stopped playing it for awhile and will now have to relearn it again and don’t feel like it.

  37. Drake says:

    There are just a few quirks that disturb me about this game and take me out of total immersion. Other aspects of gameplay aside, the clumsiness of the battles themselves is the topic here.
    First, the difficulty in targeting specific ships. The pointer must be just SO to tag a ship, and it is almost impossible in a busy screen. The camera angles are a bit tough to get into position.
    Second, since the enemy fleets invariably attack along certain lines in your planetary system, not being able to defend along those lines is absurd.
    Placing stations can be done, but forts, which are the secondary static defenses to planets themselves, are random at best. I had 14 forts in one system with only two planets colonized, but only one fort would appear at the planet under attack.
    Also, fleets cannot be stationed along lines of attack or defense and must repeat the same process of detection and approach whether on defense or attack. If we can learn this and want to rectify it, then the developers should have as well. Being on patrol doesn’t seem to make any difference. If a turn ends with your fleet right next to the planet you are attacking, then the next turn should begin the same way.
    With a bit more thought into the actual state of fighting a space fleet put into it, this could have been a great game. As it stands, it is something to play until something better comes along, and it, and we, deserved better.

    • Dagonite says:

      Before the battle, you can select the “battlemanager” both from the prebattle screen and from the galaxy map. Can place all the defences including fleets that way. Remember that without a naval station you are limited to 3 forts per system. This is what happens with no tutorial what so ever :(

  38. salvo says:

    well, I tried it once again, but IMHo the game is simply not playable yet

    abysmal peformance (more than 5 minutes for turn resolution on big maps)
    CTDs
    non existent diplomacy (non aggression pact signed, a few turns later declaration of war)
    frustating features like feasibility study and prototype building which don’t add anything to gameplay but do add a lot of frustration
    missing ingame infos constantly forcing you to search on forums for relevant infos
    missing UI elements (how do I access the admirals screen directly?)

    no, I tried once again but I won’t spend anymore time with this game

    • Adam Solo says:

      I get around 10 secs turn-time in small-medium maps with 3AIs. But, i’m still below 100 turns in my current game, so, don’t know how worse it will be further ahead. I have 3.3Ghz max CPU power.

      I also feel that the AI is somewhat hollow and nonsensical. I got a “Demand info on planet X” twice in a row (SAME PLANET!). Many times the AIs refuse treaties without you having a clue why. Other times they accept and again you don’t understand why. Aesthetically the diplo system is also very poor, you simply don’t feel attached to it and engaged in any way.

      Well, feasibility studies is another feature that adds more uncertainty to your research, on top of the random tree. You may be able to research that particular tech or you may not, leading/forcing you to pursue a different strategy from previous games. I’m ok with feasibility studies. I think they add a little bit more depth and make research more interesting. Prototypes is another gimmick to force you to plan carefully. A “not so fast” kind of feature to force you to think if it’s already time to upgrade your designs or perhaps you can still use the old ones, because prototyping is very expensive. I’m ok with this also. It’s something new. However, I’m still evaluating all this.

      The missing in-game info “constantly forcing you to search forums, wikis and the manual” is perhaps the worst of all. “How do I access the admirals screen directly?” Exactly! You can’t. Ridiculous right? And if it’s there it’s even more ridiculous that I didn’t find it yet after 300 or so experimentation turns.

      I’m not getting any CTDs now. Was getting fleet adding and fleet creation CTDs but not anymore after Kerberos have launched some hotfixes after the Enhanced Edition release. Another thing that they fixed was the ridiculous amount of time required for screen transitions. This is fixed now, at least to a very good extent.

      I’m probably half way through my review process, or perhaps not even half way there. I think the game is playable, no doubt, but there are still many areas that make it a non-fun game to play. The diplomacy part is one example, the sense of not knowing what’s going on or where your fleets are is another bad aspect. This is somewhat serious because a 4X game requires that the UI presents you with all the information required to understand how developed and how well you are doing. You do get a sense that all that info is buried somewhere but the UI does a terrible job in showing it to you. So, you keep asking yourself: “Which systems have station X type on it?” (yes, it shows that but only if you’re zoomed-in, that’s not enough), “Which systems have fleets patrolling?”, “Which systems are more developed?”.

      • salvo says:

        well, I like to play on big maps with a lot of AI, at least each playable race, and from turn 50 or so the turn resolution starts taking a couple of minutes, from there on it takes incrementally longer so as to make the game indeed unplayable. Comparing to DW where you can have hundreds of systems without any performance issue, the game is horribly optimized

        I get random CTDs on turn resolution, not constantly but sometimes

        there are some features which I might accept though I don’t like them but a non working diplomacy is just too much, signing a non aggression pact and getting a war declaration a few turns later, that’s just ridiculous

        back to civilization

  39. RandomBlue says:

    The last patch, which I think was on Friday, made it so stations now spawn in planets and cannot (usually) be attacked. That means you can’t take over a system, which basically makes the game unplayable.

    QA THE FREAKING PATCHES KERBEROS. Who cares if you’re fixing stuff every day if your patches keep breaking important gameplay elements?

  40. Alganhar says:

    I have been playing SOTS II for a while now, so thought I would leave a few comments based on play so far.

    First, issues. They do exist, as many have noted the UI can be clunky, and tooltips could do with (and are slated for) some serious loving. There is no admirals screen, you only see your admirals when you are creating a new fleet, which personally I think is bad. There is a planets screen which actually works well, and while there is a fleet screen also it could do with a few extra options when it comes to filtering (like filtering out reserve fleets!).

    My turn times tend to start going up after 150 ish turns, though that is partly my rig is old, long turn times is something my PC suffers from with every turn based strategy thats on it, so SOTS II is hardly unusual there in my case. UI lag got worse after the Enhanced went live, but is already back down.

    The learning curve is very steep, personally I would prefer to see a tutorial in place to take some of that guesswork and frustration from newer players of the game.

    AI isn’t great at the moment, and from what I have seen the Diplomacy and Espionage systems are not fabulous, that does not really effect my game too much though as I tend not to use either to any great extent.

    That being said, there is a lot to look at that is good.

    The combat system is very good, fleet actions in SOTS II can take many turns as you hunt down your opponents fleets, reduce his static defenses and then finally crush his planets. While it takes a while to get used to the system wide aspect of it, it does allow for a great deal of tactical flexibility, and requires considerable thought when designing your fleet compositions and armaments. It is also worth bearing in mind that you dont need to do this with just one fleet, you can have multiple fleets hit the system at the same time, I often lead in with a heavy ship to ship combat fleet or two, a fleet designed to chase down surviving enemy ships (Battlerider and drone heavy), a fleet designed to reduce planets (with bio weapons or assault shuttles), and finally a repair and salvage fleet. This all means I can not only choose which fleet I use, but means I can have each fleet led by an admiral suited to the fleet type.

    While you dont get random maps, it is worth bearing in mind that for every map *except* Sotsverse, node lines and orbital bodies are randomized. If you want random maps there is a Galaxy Generator that has already been mentioned which is not too bad. Word of warning with the GG though, it can spawn some ODD results. I am in two minds about not having random maps, in some ways I am alright with it as I have yet to see the orbital bodies remain even slightly similar between two iterations of the same map, in some ways I would like to see a random map generator included in game.

    Technology and ship design wise SOTS II as far as I am concerned stands head and shoulders above any other game in the genre. The randomized tech tree means there is always some *vital* tech you have to do without, you have to constantly adapt, try to think of ways around new problems in each game which helps keep it fresh. Design wise, with the new prototyping you do have to think very carefully about whether you need a new ship design, often you are also thinking about upgrade ability in your ships. Ships can also be retrofitted assuming you have a level 3 naval station in system, allowing you to upgrade weapons (to better in the same class) and modules. Do I really *need* this new design is a common question I ask myself!

    In SOTS II you do not pick your Government type, it changes depending on your actions, this mutability of your Government type can have major benefits, and major issues play wise. Are you at war? Oh dear, your Government has changed to a type that loses morale while at war! If you want a specific Government type you have to *work* to get there, and *work* to keep it there. Again, it forces you to think.

    There is a lot to like in the systems also, generally larger systems with multiple planets (especially larger planets) are incredibly valuable, they are also much more difficult to defend. Again, defense is something that requires thought and planning. You can no longer simply spam stations, you have to decide where to place them, how far to upgrade them, and how to defend themas well as the planets they orbit.

    I find SOTS II far more strategically pleasing than its predecessor, it requires far more thought and planning. When things start getting hairy, the sometimes slow pace vanishes, there are times in the game where you simply dont have enough fleets to meet every threat, which threats do I respond to? Which assets are most important? Quite often you find yourself making some harsh choices, leave those colonies to die because you have to defend that tiny one size 1 planet Border world because if you dont you lose a size 4 Naval Station vital to the defense of an entire Sector? If that station falls then you will lose more than a few new colonies as your logistics is forced back and you can no longer maintain your main combat assets on the Border…

    It does take some work to learn the game, it would benefit from a tutorial in some respects, it most certainly needs better tooltips, but once you have scaled that almost Eve Online learning cliff, its a gem.

    • Adam Solo says:

      Hi Alganhar, welcome to the blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the game.

      I agree with you that the combat system, research and ship design are quite good, I would even say that they are very good. But, that was already said at release time, we just couldn’t experience it much because of major stability problems.

      The thing is. Now that this game is much stabler, how much fun and enjoyable is it really? Why play this game and not another one? Does it justify the time required to learn the game between reading manuals, wikis and the game’s forums to fully grasp how to play it?

      I think everybody agrees that the learning curve is very steep. I would add that it is probably the steepest of all 4X games I’ve played to date. I think almost everybody agrees that the UI feels clunky and is not very helpful to ease your task of learning and play the game. Lack of tooltips is just one part, the other part is where the UI lacks to give you sense of progression and of being in control, in my opinion it fails in both aspects.

      Then, there’s the lacking diplomacy aspects, that I think many people also agree it’s nothing special or even nonsensical at times – which is very bad since this is a 4X game after all, where diplomacy aspects are paramount.

      I hear people everywhere talk of AI shortcomings, not that the AI is perfect in other games of the this genre – in fact far from it – but this also doesn’t help in one’s hopes.

      So, in the end – and although I didn’t finish my assessment for my review – I think we are left with some great features (research, ship design and combat) but also a good handful of major and a lot minor shortcomings that hinder the game’s enjoyment to a point where probably only hardcore fans of SotS, and a handful of 4X gamers, will have the patience to endure and accept them and learn how to enjoy the game.

      Like you say SotS2 does feel like a gem (at places I would add), but, at the moment – still, I would say gem in the rough at best.

      • Jesse says:

        On a bright note, I expect tooltips will eventually become more plentiful, and the AI will evolve, given time. Yes, it’s been a year, and it’s still not fully there, but my understanding is that the AI of SotS Prime also took years to be fleshed, and this is one of the few devs who continue to work on a game that they’ve already sold. Diplomacy is pretty weak, and I hope that it sees some major improvements, but definitely not a deal breaker, as it’s a war game at its core.

        The game’s learning curve I find a plus. If I have a game figured out thoroughly after 4-5 hours, it’s probably going to hold my attention for 40 hours tops (if it’s a good). After 40 with SotS2, I finally felt I had a good grasp of the basics, but much more to learn. I’ve got somewhere in the neighborhood of 200+ hours in now, and I’m still learning new things. Not bad for an 8 dollar Steam deal. Still, the learning curve is pretty tame when I look at some other Paradox titles I’ve wrapped my head around(HoI3 anyone?).

        I’m just grateful a space game with so much depth has been made that also looks beautiful. Deep games usually get no financial backing, so you end up with a great indie idea played out with 2d static sprites; often you’re lucky to get an animation. While SotS2 is still a bit rough, it’s been constantly improving since I first found it, so I’m excited to see how it looks in a year, two years, ect.

        • Adam Solo says:

          “If I have a game figured out thoroughly after 4-5 hours, it’s probably going to hold my attention for 40 hours tops”.

          Well, that may work fine for you, but in my book it’s not how hard a game is to figure out (learn how to play if that’s what you meant) that is enjoyable but how much fun the gameplay actually is, how much surprises it holds for players, and how replayable (since this is a 4X game), that keeps me coming for more.

          Having a very high learning curve is always a bad thing, except in special occasions where people actually enjoy the time required to learn how to play a game. Again, we shouldn’t be using our precious time be learn how to play – and in this case it’s a considerable amount – but to actually enjoy the experience of playing. There’s a difference between a game with depth and a game with a high learning curve. You can, and should, have the former without the latter.

          But, it may be worthwhile still to invest time in learning how to play a game with a very high learning curve if it’s really worth it in the end. Meaning, the return is equally or more times worthwhile the time required to learn how to play. Some will probably say: “Yes, it is” for this game, others will say otherwise.

        • Jesse says:

          I’d say people not willing to spend their precious time learning to play a game is both a cause for stagnation in the industry, as well as creates a lower level of re playability that is achievable. A high learning curve in and of itself is a bad thing, I agree (though I enjoy the epiphany of discovery), but often, as is the case with SotS2, not every feature is needed to successfully play the game. They’re just new avenues to pursue victory through. The game does a horrid job of telling you the necessary features vs. optional features, I’d say, and a straightforward tutorial that doesn’t bother with the advanced stuff (and explains that you shouldn’t even touch these features yet) would help.

          Anyway, the bottom line is, I played the game so many hours because I genuinely had fun, both learning, and dominating things. Much of that time was when the game was far buggier than it is currently. It definitely has some technical frustrations, but the pleasure I receive from building fleet compositions to combat enemy fleet compositions then playing it all out in real time more than make up for those (when the AI works properly). Of course, others results will vary, and the game does require an investment most people won’t make.

          And I’d say god forbid that devs completely subscribe the the idea that learning curves are bad. Such a mindset from publishers has already stifled innovation to the point of near nonexistence from any studio considered AAA. “Rehash and repaint, never innovate” BS. Risk aversion = mediocrity.

        • Adam Solo says:

          “A high learning curve in and of itself is a bad thing, I agree”

          “god forbid that devs completely subscribe the the idea that learning curves are bad”

          So … where do you stand in the end?

          I agree that there’s nothing wrong with a learning curve that provides good return. I think that’s what you probably mean. But I think we both agree that a very high learning curve is always a bad thing. Because when we say “very high” we are already assuming that the time required to play a game is exaggerated for what it offers, already considering the type of game in question. I think we can agree that the learning curve is particularly exaggerated in this game.

          About your point about learning curves being good for innovation I fail to see the direct implication. You can innovate and still do a good job getting your players to understand how to play your game. It’s all about the quality of your UI, the usability, the quality of your in-game tutorial or manual.

          But, all that said it would be good if learning curve was the only problem here.

        • Happy Corner says:

          I concur, Mr. Solo. I have no idea how innovation and a user-hostile learning curve are at all related. If they were, Derek Smart would be celebrated as the greatest game designer who ever lived. (The reality, of course, is the opposite – he’s among the worst.)

          I can think of quite a few games that had a soft learning curve, yet were perfectly innovative. Hell, look at the beginning of pretty much every genre gaming has to offer…

        • Jesse says:

          I mean that innovation often requires a new approach to thinking about things by the user, which in itself creates a learning curve. I look at the fleet movement in this game as an attempt at innovation, which shines later in the game, but it’s just not how gamers are used to doing things. It’s kind of like how Windows 8 is bombing, in part because its doesn’t do things in a way with what traditional Windows users are familiar. I don’t think the two ideas are connected at the hip, but often, one accompanies the other.

          I also don’t necessarily think a very high learning curve is always a bad thing, because “very high” doesn’t mean exaggerated beyond its offering to me. It’s just something that’s hard to market. Take a game like Dominions 3. Very high learning curve, and you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time with the old school bible manual it comes with if you decide to undertake it. However, the depth of gameplay that can be squeezed out of that game more than makes up for the time required to learn to play it. Once you have your head wrapped around the mechanics, some of the units (of which there’s something like 1600 of), and abilities, the same map can be played thousands of different ways. It’s a game that 90% of gamers would take one look at and say “I’ll pass.”, but that in no way makes it a bad game or a bad design. Just a niche game for those willing take the time to learn (which are a minority of gamers). Not EVERY game needs a low bar for entry.

          As to SotS2s, I agree, lack of tooltips, tuts, and fairly weak UI cause unnecessary frustration at first and make the learning curve worse than it needs be, which could be considered just bad design (though a good manual is an acceptable replacement to tutorials to this old gamer). Better explanation would be nice, and the game fails on that front. Still, I find the game quite fun now that I’m accustomed to it.

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