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The Last Federation: Betrayed Hope Review

By on December 1st, 2014 9:41 am

The Last Federation | A Space Grand Strategy and Turn Based Tactical Combat Game by Arcen Games

The expansion Betrayed Hope was released for The Last Federation on November 14, 2014, developed and self-published by Arcen Games. This expansion comes after months of continued support where small changes and improvements were made to the game. The expansion adds even more and offers now two alternative game modes to help diversify the play experience and improve replayability.

Overall, Betrayed Hope does not change the core nature of the game that of a simulator based strategy game, but does a lot to help increase whom might be interested in this title. Go look at our complete review and our first impression of the core game if you wish to know more about this odd title, since even with the expansion the game is still a strange hybrid of a scheming strategy game which plays more like a simulation game with an unorthodox combat system.

A quick reminder, the combat system is an order and execute phase affair, where the player assigns the actions their ship will take for the next few seconds, and then time elapses as the player’s plans are put in motion. However, unlike your typical tactical combat, these resemble more arcade style shoot-em-ups. The player only controls one ship and has an assortment of weapons and abilities to choose from as they navigate the battlefield dodging bullet-storm attacks. It creates a sort of stop-motion shoot-em-up where tactical thinking replaces reflexes.

However, as noted in the review the game does offer the player the ability to auto-resolve battles, which can help those that are interested in the scheming aspect alone to enjoy the game. It should be noted that some battles can’t be auto-resolved.

The Last Federation | Bullet Storm

The Basics

The expansion adds several new features that are not part of the cumulative updates the game has received up to this point:

  • Betrayal Mode: Ignore your ideals and conquer the solar system with armadas of your own.
  • Invasion Mode: Obscura invaders have already wiped out one race, and now threaten all the others. Can you rally a counterattack?
  • 17 new ships, 2 new solar system backgrounds, 32 new abilities, 19 new achievements, 13 new music tracks, and 5 new quests.

The extra sounds and visuals help keep the game fresh. Each race has their own distinct ships that stand out visually, the Obscura faction being the strangest and most alien of them. Also, new bullet-storm patterns are present in combat; this is especially true with the Obscura faction which will have attack patterns that will give many players flashbacks to some of the most hard-core Japanese arcade-style shoot-em-ups of the 90’s.

Other improvements to the game (which came with the free patches), help balance many of the issues with the player feeling unable to influence the flow of events. Now, as long as the player has the credits, they have more impact on breaking deadlocks as orbital bombardment and tactical support is far more effective but costly as well. This doesn’t completely eliminate times the player feels they are doing very repetitive tasks but it does help reduce the occurrences.

There are several extra menu options to customise the player’s play experience like turning off RCI values (economic/health statistics of worlds) or their trending shifts. This makes the game simpler as the player has less variables to worry about. The two new game modes are probably the largest changes in the expansion and they will be both covered separately below.

The Last Federation | More Options

Invasion Mode

This mode stays closer to the original game in concept but introduces a new element that changes the dynamic completely. The Obscura invade and completely wipe out a race and set up shop in the system. The initial force is extremely potent and the player will be hard pressed to attack them headlong as they will soon start to eradicate all other races. This time the player will scheme and help the other races to form a cooperative defensive alliance against an invader. The goal of the game is to survive and beat back the invader.

This game mode is extremely challenging even on the easier levels. Even with the combat difficulty set on: “You are OP” the Obscura stand a fair chance to destroy you in combat. Also, the Obscura can wipe out other factions quite early even before you start to get anything set up, requiring intense attention on the part of the player and maybe even a bit of luck if you want to see all the remaining races survive.

This doesn’t mean the player can’t eliminate a race deliberately, to remove a cancerous uncooperative belligerent from the playing field to make their job easier, but such sacrifice comes at a hefty cost because it means you have one less ally to fight the Obscura with. This sort of common enemy changes the dynamic of the Federation builder to an Alliance of Survival. This mode will appeal to those that liked the overall core game but prefer games with a stronger defined target and foe, or just like fighting against impossible odds of a “Big Bad” to win.

The Last Federation | Obscura Death Machines

Betrayal Mode

This new mode might appeal to those that were on the fence with this title, as it brings the game a little closer to the space 4X genre (though it probably brings it closer to a grand-strategy game). Though there is no exploration and colonisation, you do take control of a planet that you eradicate the native life from and use their ruined world as a base to start your pogrom of extermination and the restoration of your own species (after you killed everyone with your army of mindless drones).

This game mode still alloys the player to scheme behind the scenes, and perform actions to ‘help’ his future targets, but many options are now unavailable as you will only go so far to help and the races themselves know something is up and are not as trusting. This sort of double-dealing is very important as the player will need to deal with all the races eventually and as the old axiom goes, divide and conquer is the best strategy. The player can also help develop their own planets as they would with that of the other races. The player can now manage a swarm of fleets, build them, upgrade them, research tech (or steal it), and send them out on missions to destroy your enemies.

The player has control of fleets on the strategic level, but not on the tactical level (they act as allied ship in combat). The player can still enter battle as an individual ship to assist their own fleet as per traditional gameplay. It should be noted, you still play one Hydral and the core elements of the game remain the same as you can perform many missions on your enemies and engage their ships as a sole vessel. It is just that now you can also send fleets and directly eliminate another race.

Overall, this game mode is actually very interesting and will appeal to the more traditional strategy gamer making the game much closer in feel to a grand-strategy title. As for those that liked the game as is, this offers another option to have a different play experience offering more replayability. It should be noted many of the more subtle or influential manipulation tactics that were present in the default game are now locked out, after all your goal is to kill all other races and they know this as well. Any truce you broker is now temporary.

The Last Federation | Fleet Management

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the Betrayed Hope expansion seems to be worth its price as it does quite a bit to mix up the overall game and adding a lot of new elements to help increase its longevity. The two best features would be the two new game modes, which offer a challenging common foe to overcome which is a staple of many science-fiction stories. While the other, makes the game become a more traditional grand-strategy game where the player actually controls his own empire, one hell-bent to eradicate the other races and become the sole survivor of the star system.

The expansion is recommended for those that enjoyed the core game, as it offers more toys to keep the player interested. For those that didn’t like the game, the expansion won’t be changing any minds, as the game is still heavily based on its simulation model and the tactical shoot-em-up hybrid combat might still be a turn-off to many. As for those that were on the fence, the expansion might just give enough to tip the balance but the player needs to be aware of the unique nature of the game and its combat system.

Personally, I did enjoy the core game despite the flaws I found with it. This expansion does a good job to address many of the issues I had, though the game still has that slow pace where you will have to wait a while to see results. The new game modes are definitely welcomed and are certainly interesting to play through them. This said, this expansion is still cut from the same cloth, and those put off by the simulation aspects or the combat will not be convinced with the expansion. It is an interesting twist to the strategy genre.

The Betrayed Hope expansion requires the core game The Last Federation to play.

The Last Federation: Betrayed Hope

TLF: Betrayed Hope (PC, Mac, Linux)

Available at: GOG, Steam, GamersGate, or Arcen Store.

Space Sector score:
The Good:
– Two new game modes that add variety and replayability
– A lot of extra options for the player and new ship models, music, and visuals
– Continuous post-release support that keeps adding improvements and new features
The Bad:
– Combat can still get repetitive
– The simulation aspect of the core game still remains leaving the player disengaged
– Certain battles can not be auto-resolved

Edward Varfalvy has been gaming since the early days of the Atari 2600. He started playing strategy games on his NES with Romance of Three Kingdoms, but soon graduated to playing on the PC with titles such as Civilization and Master of Orion. He loves sci-fi and fantasy, as well as historical strategy games, be it turn-based or an RTS. His true love is the 4X genre. Interested in covering these titles he hopes to bring reviews, previews, and news updates for the site. See all Edward’s posts here.

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  1. JD says:

    Nice review.

    I would also love to see a detailed interview with Arcen Games about ‘Stars Beyond Reach’, their true 4x game they announced over a month ago. Any chance SpaceSector will do that in the future perhaps?

  2. t1it says:

    Looks like game play is roughly the same. Needs more flesh and give the player a bit more control, or just more (much more!)…stuff..even if it’s simulated. From the let’s-play videos I’ve seen, this looks like a big tablet game.

  3. SQW says:

    That 2nd screenshot is the sole reason why I wouldn’t get this game. I like the premises but the combat is just so….wrong for me.

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