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Horizon Gets a Big Patch, Also On Sale This Weekend

By on April 18th, 2014 12:37 pm

Horizon | Turn-based space 4X strategy game by L3O Interactive and Iceberg Interactive

Horizon, the latest entry in the space 4X gaming arena, was a big let down. An example where sometimes good and even excellent ideas end up not working. At least, that was the case at release. But check out our review for all the details.

Now, as I said in the review, we don’t give up on games so easily here at SpaceSector, especially not the ones of the type we love to play anyway. The devs have been releasing patches since release, and that’s a good thing (in a slower rate as time passes by though). So, if they keep releasing patches, there’s hope that Horizon may turn into an enjoyable game at some point. It has happened many times in the past with other titles, so it may well happen again with Horizon. And, we’ll be here to re-review Horizon in a later occasion if the right conditions are met. Of course, when exactly that may happen is still unclear. It will, depend on how committed the devs are on keeping improving their game, and the extension of such improvements.

Horizon | Patch

Well, this week, L3O Interactive, and the publisher Iceberg Interactive took of what looks like a good step in the right direction by releasing a considerable update to their game. The update/patch version is and brings quite an extensive list of changes attached. The full list of changes can be found here.

But, here’s a summary of the more important update notes as described by the publisher:

  • UPDATED: Improved fleet managing A.I. for attacks, or rallying to defend a system.
  • UPDATED: Rebalanced economy and race relations.
  • UPDATED: Improved UI .
  • ADDED: French language now supported.
  • ADDED: A new refit system is added to more easily change the design of existing ships.
  • ADDED: New UI icons added making it easier to distinguish surveyed planets.

Also, to coincide with this update, the title is now on sale with a 33% discount available on Steam through the weekend.

Now, even with the discount, this is still a $20 game, and I have no recent impressions to give you, I’m afraid. Which means I have no news to give you on the impact of this patch. At least it’s good to see that the game isn’t dead. Hopefully this will be the first of many updates. So, at some point in time we may give Horizon another shot and we’ll let you know our impressions by then.

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  1. Happy Corner says:

    It’s nice that they’re not giving up. Unfortunately, though, you’re right – even with the discount, $20 is too much to gamble. Especially when there are other choices out there.

    Perhaps someone who took the plunge can chime in about how much the game has improved?

  2. Njordin says:

    i´d really like to know that, too. Has it improved critically ?

  3. Ermdog says:

    I don’t think patches can save this game in my opinion. They need to overhaul the colony management, economy, research, and combat. I don’t like the core concepts behind them and would like to see something totally different put in. That’s likely to never happen. I do like them addressing the UI issues, but I’m afraid this game can’t be saved.

  4. Cargus says:

    I will take a look at the patch, but I don’t see how it will help much. This is one of the most boring 4X games in existence, and a lot of it is due to core concepts. Research could have been very coo, for example, but in practice it’s one of the most derivative, uninteresting features of the game, and the research breakthroughs are so marginal as to be even more underwhelming – and a lot of the tree is downright useless, as there are tons of near-identical techs with just name changes. The AI is extraordinarily weak, and that’s something that would take a pretty hefty patch to fix methinks. In short, I’ll fire up another game, and if I’m wrong I’ll happily report it here, but holding my breath I’m not.

  5. Suikostinger says:

    Hate to post this here….but Interplanetary went on sale today, and it’s 50% off. Game is quite fun, and it’s only 5 bucks. Sure it doesn’t have THAT much depth to it, but for 5 bucks, me and 2 friends are having tons of fun with the hotseat multiplayer.

  6. Alien JD says:

    Have they fixed the issues with combat? This video makes combat look pretty fun:

    But I’ve heard combat is limited to 20 turns and it can 16 of those turns just to get to the enemy :(

    • Mark says:

      You’re right, the tactical combat actually looks pretty good!

    • Ermdog says:

      That vid is over a year old, but looks can be deceiving. When it was released the combat was horrible. The battlefield was too huge and everything felt sloppy. I haven’t tried the game since its release it was so bad. As I said earlier, I think their core concepts make certain parts of the game unchangeable and unfixable.

  7. Mammoth_IL says:

    Hey All!
    Completely off-topic, but have any of you heard about a game called “The last federation? It’s on sale in steam, and it made by the guys who made AI Wars. Looks interesting, but i was wondering if anyone here got a personal experience with it?

    • Happy Corner says:

      I actually picked Last Federation up! Mostly because I appreciate Arcen’s ability to think outside the box, even if the results can be hit or miss.

      I’m not sure Space Sector would review this one, though – it’s not really a 4X, it’s more like being one of the recruitable heroes in MOO2 or Endless Space (albeit one powerful enough to meddle in what all the empires are doing). And for some reason there’s only one star system, and every planet has a different race.

      I haven’t had a chance to play enough to know if I really like it yet. I’ll come back and post again when I’ve played more.

    • Keith Turner says:

      I haven’t had a chance to try this one out. It looks like it only just recently released.

      I appreciate the fact that Arcen thinks outside the box, as Happy Corner mentioned. Creative new ideas are something I really appreciate as a long time gamer. For that reason, I really want to like their games. Unfortunately, for some reason the games I’ve either tried or looked into from their studio just haven’t appealed to me. Maybe this will finally be the one I can enjoy. Sadly I just don’t have the time I’d need to investigate right now.

    • SQW says:

      Neither was XCOM a 4X. =P

      We give Adam some flexibility thanks to all his good work. I draw the line at shooters tho. =)

      • Happy Corner says:

        Yes, that is true, there was an XCOM review now that you mention it. ; )

        And now that I’ve played Last Federation a little more, I can say there’s more of a strategy element than it first looked. You may not be an empire yourself, but you’re still making a lot of the same kinds of decisions. “I need this planet to build up its fleets” or “I want these guys to build this facility” or “I need to get more of resource X to planet Y” or “I want this race to pulverize this other race who’s giving me crap” or “This race has a tech I want, I’m going to steal it” or “Fucking pirates, I’m gonna wipe them out” and so on.

        It looks very intricate, too. You’re given an overall goal (create a Federation that includes every race), but a lot of different ways to go about that goal – especially given that at least one of the races hate you right out of the gate, and some of the things you can do will help one race while pissing off others. So you could start your Federation with the races who like you, build them up, and then wipe out the races who won’t join. Or you can be more political and get the hater races to join by manipulating them through another race that they’re on good terms with. On top of friendly missions that improve a planet’s resources or conditions, you can also meddle destructively with races, like attacking/looting their fleets openly, raiding them for techs, planting informants who can do terrorist acts, and so on. On top of that, each race has a different government style, as well. Some of them can be bribed openly, another has a senate that you have to curry favor with, another has warlords that you can duel or blackmail if you want to influence them, and so on.

        So, the politics/diplomacy in Last Federation is more lively than about any 4X game I’ve ever seen.

        There’s combat, too, but it’s more like Space Rangers than a 4X – it’s top-down and turn-based, you only have one ship, and every turn you have to pick a movement direction and a weapon to use. It looks like there’s a lot of customization here, too. The techs you’ve researched/stolen can improve your ship, and you can also find special equipment/abilities to equip. One neat feature is that you can choose where your engine’s power goes, whether you need more weapon power, shields, or speed in a given turn. The battles have a little variation. It’s not always “kill the flagship” or “destroy the base”, sometimes you just have to get to a certain point on the map. There are probably other types of win conditions – I’m still not very far into the game yet.

        I also liked the soundtrack. Arcen have sometimes recycled music between games (some of the themes in Bionic Dues I definitely remember hearing in A Valley Without Wind), but this time they’ve got an all-new score, and it’s pretty good.

        All things considered, it suffices to say that Arcen have once again created a game that isn’t quite like anything else, and I actually WOULD like to see Space Sector’s thoughts about it. I’d say it’s worth a look for 4X fans, if nothing else but to see a different take on the formula.

        If you’re going to try it, I would buy it now rather than later, while the launch discount is still active.

        • JD says:

          All music in Arcen Games is composed by Pablo Vega, who is an actual composer. All music is composed original per game. Soundtracks can even be bought separately.

        • Happy Corner says:

          “All music is composed original per game.”

          If by that you mean each game has had 100% all-new music, then you are wrong.

          Bionic Dues had at least three tracks – Special Mission, Lava, and FreeFall Theme – that were also used in A Valley Without Wind 1. Not even remixes, either. They sound exactly the same, and their .ogg files in the game directories even have the same name.

          Curiously enough, I do not see these tracks on the bandcamp page for the AVWW1 album (only the Bionic Dues album), but I can assure you (having logged only about a zillion hours in both games) those tracks were used in both titles.

          On the upside, thank you for telling me that Pablo Vega’s soundtracks are available for purchase. I was not previously aware of that, and – this debate aside – his music does deserve support.

    • Adam Solo says:

      We have top men working on it right now. Top men :) Stay tuned.

      • Keith Turner says:

        Ahh, that is exciting news. I’ve watched about an hour worth of Let’s Play content for the Last Federation, but I’m not sold yet. It does seem like a game that takes awhile to ramp up though. In that time only one two of the planets had space flight. I am looking forward to some analysis.

  8. Keith Turner says:

    I’m hoping that by the time I finish exploring all of the fantasy 4x games that are coming out that one of the new space 4x games will be ready to feed my hunger for something outer-spacey.

  9. Jeff P says:

    Does ANYONE like Horizon? It got a lot of positive feed-back in the Steam forums when in early access, but as soon as it went “gold” the knives came out.

    • Ermdog says:

      I’m not a fan of it, neither was this site according to the review score. I haven’t tried it since a few weeks after it’s release, and I don’t I think I want to again, regardless of patches. Definitely not worth the full price thats for sure, maybe a $10 game.

    • Alien JD says:

      I picked it up last night. I just had to try it and I am desperate for a new 4X game in space. Anyway, here are my first impressions after a few hours and a few hundred turns. It does seem like the UI and AI and economic balance problems people complained about were fixed with this patch.

      Combat is very strange. It takes place sector wide. A sector is a star with up to 9 planets. Ships can orbit any of the 9 planets. And they are all in the combat. Even if they are at a planet on the opposite side of the sector to the one under attack. You don’t select the ships in the order you’d like. The game selects them for you in initiative order. Faster ships go first. You can choose to wait and the ship will go after everyone else but that is the only change you can make to their order.

      So for example some pirates attacked my colony on Mars. I had a fleet orbiting Pluto. Every round of combat the game would select my ships orbiting Pluto even though it was too far away to do anything. All I could do was click wait and eventually everyone had moved except the Pluto ships and I could end the round. This was confusing at first and very annoying even once I figured out what was going on. There is an option to lock on to a taskforce (what the game calls a fleet) but this didn’t work for me as my Mars ships weren’t organized into a coherent force. I wish there was an option to lock combat to ships in orbit around a planet. I think the idea is that ships in the same sector can come to each other’s aid; however, when dealing with massive distances between planets this is impractical. The reinforcing ships can’t get there before the 20 rounds of combat are up.

      Another odd design decision is fleet size. You are limited to 10 ships in a fleet (or taskforce). So you have huge sector maps where combat can take place on multiple fronts but then you have tiny fleets involved in that combat. It doesn’t really make sense. Maybe this changes though as the game goes along.

      Combat has some very cool features. Where you place weapons and ship facing makes a big difference. If you’ve had a side damaged you can turn the ship around and protect the damaged side while continuing to fire weapons that still work.

      Colony management is odd as well. You have a percentage of the population devoted to food. Once their needs for food are met the remaining population can work on production and research. You can’t control this directly but you can influence it based on whether you build industrial and research facilities and how much you upgrade them. Everything is very abstract and I didn’t really feel like I was doing much of anything.

      Research is no fun at all. You research everything at once but you can choose what to focus on. This is realistic I guess. But as you achieve things you don’t seem to unlock new toys. You just improve what’s there and it is really abstract. For example, I researched genetic manipulation and now my population does 10% better at the stuff they are doing. I’ve unlocked about 10 other techs so far. But I have nothing new to do or build. It all just sort of happens in the background. I’m only a few hours in so this might change as I get new techs and make new discoveries.

      Ship design has good and bad. It is easy to design the ships and there are many options. The downside is that you can only have 4 designs at any one time for each of the 4 sizes. So I’d like to have a short range and a long range colony ship. But doing so will take away another slot from other transport ships. Large ships have lots of options and space but you have the same amount of design slots as small ships that have few options and space. I just don’t need 4 different scouts but would like to have more than for frigate and cruiser designs. Oh, and as near as I can tell you have to overwrite a design when making a new one. So no experimental ship designs. This is kind of annoying. No, it’s very annoying.

      The game doesn’t seem to have much to do. I find myself just hitting end turn a lot while I wait for things to happen. Oh, I need some ships. I can buy them or wait 12 turns. Might as well wait. Nothing much seems to be going on. I’m still early into the game (only a few hundred turns) so this may change as I move forward. In fact, the game has an option to just let turns end automatically until something happens.

      The game is pretty good about letting you know what stuff does. IE if you build X it’ll cost Y and give you Z. Some things are still confusing. For example, I found a planet with rich gem deposits. The games says I should build a mining colony there to reap the rewards. But there is no option to build a mining colony or any mining structures as near as I can tell. I guess I’d need to colonize it and once food was taken care of put all my development into industry as that is the closest thing to mining that there is. But this is very abstract and doesn’t feel very satisfying.

      I should stress I’m only a few hours into my first game. But so far I agree with Ermdog’s comments and regret not just listening to him in the first place. I’m paying for my lack of vision.

      • Jeff P says:

        Thanks for your effort. Doesn’t sound like much fun. Bad design can’t be fixed with patches. I think I’ll pass.

      • Njordin says:

        I actually like the combat and sector view.
        Research reminds me of space empires and i like it, too.
        4 slots for shipdesign? absolutely sufficient.

        it´s a mediocre game, i like many of its ideas but some are bad implemented. there is room for improvement.

        so far i don´t regret spending money for it.

        • Njordin says:

          … and the last patch improved the game greatly btw.

          take a look at Star Lords, too.

        • Alien JD says:

          I think the game can be fixed with patches. Most of the problems are pretty minor from a technical standpoint. For example, I think combat could be fixed by just giving an option to exclude ships that are too far away to be useful from the initiative order (or, if that is already there, make it clearer how to do that). Add in larger fleet sizes and turn based sector wide combat on multiple fronts would be freakin’ awesome.

          4 slots are sufficient for ship design but I think it would be more fun without that limitation. Or at least let me decide how to distribute my 16 total designs. I just don’t need 4 different frigates and 4 different scouts. But would like more than 4 cruisers and capital ships.

          I like the part of research that is like Space Empires. I just thought research was boring and unsatisfying. But maybe as I play more and get more breakthroughs I’ll unlock more toys and abilities to play with. So far all research has got me is some abstract buffs to existing things (for example, my workers are all 10% better at their jobs).

          Thinking about it, I would like to take back the part about regretting buying the game. I think there is enough potential to be worth risking $20.00.

          I hope the devs can keep working on it.

      • Ermdog says:

        If you are looking for a new 4x space title, I would look at Star Lords. It’s in early access on Steam but its already better than Horizon (in my opinion), and cheaper. It’s by no means a finished product and there are a lot of things that need to be worked on still, but I like the direction they are headed and it feels a lot better than Horizon.

        • Evil Azrael says:

          Looks like Star Lords was renamed to Lords of the Black Sun yesterday.

        • Happy Corner says:

          According to them, they changed the name to avoid confusion with a comic property that was already named “Star Lords”, or something.

          “Lords of the Black Sun” is a better name, I think. I’m just glad they didn’t pick “Lords of the Dark Sun”, or they’d have to change it yet again.

        • Ermdog says:

          Yes, I just saw the name change. I was confused at first. But they just moved up to Beta. I’m really excited for this game.

  10. Alien JD says:

    @ermdog and Njordin — thanks for the recommendation. Star Lords looks really good.

  11. Alien JD says:

    I’ve played Horizon for a few more hours and wanted to add a few notes about the combat system.

    You can limit your moves to a give task force in a specific area of the sector. But when attacking you have to make sure that you place your ships in a single task force and have them orbit the planet you want to attack before engaging the sector. By doing this you can use the task force lock feature to more easily fight combats at multiple planets in a give sector or to more easily control multiple task forces at a given planet.

    It takes some getting used to but I’m really enjoying the combat now. I’m still having a little trouble getting used the facings and how weapons work and I’d like a few more keyboard shortcuts (to be fair, they might be their but the tutorial and manual are still lacking).

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