By Jaime Skelton (MissyS)
As a young girl, I was a captivated spectator of my dad’s playthrough of Wing Commander: Privateer. Looking back, I can’t remember the details of what struck me about those moments, but the lingering hunger for a freelancing space odyssey has remained with me. While I’ve found tiny bits of satisfaction in games since, I’ve never really found a title that resonated with that urge to be a space outlaw – even Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen held no allure for me (before it became the monster that it is today).
After a few minutes at the Rebel Galaxy Outlaw booth at PAX West 2018, I knew this was the game I’d been waiting for.
That might not surprise fans of the original Rebel Galaxy, but I am a newcomer to the game series. In hindsight, I’m not sure how Rebel Galaxy dodged my radar. When the developers, and fans, of a game throw around names like Firefly, Freelancer, Sons of Anarchy, and Cowboy Bebop, you know you’re in for a wild ride. Those are big legacies to live up to, but Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is ready to fill those shoes.
If I’ve already lost you, allow me to take a step back and cover the basics. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is an open world adventure RPG set in a fictional space. The player takes the role of Juno Markev, a lone pilot with plenty of problems. It’s up to the player to crack their knuckles (and maybe more than a few hulls) to find solutions to those problems via missions, gambling, stealing, trading, or whatever suits their whims. It’s a prequel to Rebel Galaxy, and to the joy of many, features full spaceship combat with six degrees of freedom.
I met with Travis Baldree, co-founder of RGO‘s developer Double Damage Games and the game’s engineer, to get a guided demo of the newly announced title.
There are about 40 systems to visit, most of which are named after U.S. States. Each state has its own regional vibe along with its bases that host a variety of activities. You can visit the bar to interact with NPCs, including gathering rumors and local information. You can play various games and gamble ship parts or cash, like playing slot machines, dice, poker, and 8-Ball; each of these games is fully integrated as a sort of “mini-game” to participate in, ala Red Dead Redemption or Grand Theft Auto.
Spaceships are unique, each with their own unique interiors and cockpits. As mentioned earlier, flight and combat in Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is in a full six degrees of freedom like most space fighters (rather than the naval style combat in Rebel Galaxy). While third-person view is available for those that prefer it, the cockpit is where the game’s personality can be felt most, from the placement of bobbleheads on the dashboard to seeing Juno’s hands move around as she flies, fights, and throws rude gestures around. There’s even space radio to listen to, featuring about twenty one hours of music across seven different stations, plus DJs and appropriate commercials.
From what I saw, combat is about what you’d expect in a space dogfighter. It’s designed to be friendly for players who prefer an easier time in combat, including an auto-tracking feature that allows your ship to lock-on and follow a ship you’re pursuing. However it’s also complex enough to support those players who want the full experience, including the use of a HOTAS controller. You can even talk your way out of situations at times, including abandoning some of your cargo if the heat’s too much.
Ships are pretty customizable and come in a wide variety. I was shown a glimpse of a few, from the “garbage truck” starter ship, to a “two-seater semi” style ship, to a military ship and a sleek fighter. The PC version of Rebel Galaxy Outlaw also features a 3D-ship painting application with an impressive amount of graphics features including layers, pressure sensitivity, custom stenciling, and more. This allows you to custom paint your ship down to the pixel – and even send it off for 3D printing. The game will also support modding, so if you have a 3D rig for a ship from a popular TV or film series, well, no one’s stopping you from living out your secret fanfiction.
If you prefer a calmer lifestyle, you can even participate in a wide economy across the systems. Each time you visit a system, you will log data on the price of goods, creating an internal chart of prices that you can reference when considering where to buy and where to sell. Different systems feature different goods, too, making it rewarding to learn and master what sells best where. Great for those of you who have found yourself running merchant runs in Mount & Blade like I have.
Like RDR or GTA, you can participate in countless numbers of side activities and missions as you’d like. You can also progress a main story line that drives you through the game. You can trade, you can mine, you can steal, you can hunt bounties, you can enslave; the choices on how you put in the work to continue your story and upgrade your ship are up to you. Some side activities even unlock additional content.
You can build your rapport with the police, earning trust and perhaps a blind-eye; or you can sully your name and be a true outlaw. You can ally yourself with one of the many factions running in the systems (designed to be like biker gangs but in space). There are also guilds that you can join to earn extra missions and favor with. A mission board is available at bases to pick from randomly generated missions, allowing you the freedom and option to complete missions for extra cash and goods. These missions can be more complicated than missions in Rebel Galaxy, including multiple stages and participation in side activities, not just trade or combat.
RGO is aiming to be less grindy than its predecessor, but with more activities and game depth. While Travis couldn’t nail down a solid estimate on game completion time, he reassured me it would be at least as long as the last game if not more (considering the 21 hour soundtrack). It will also be a single-player experience, for those of you who are sold by the presence or lack of multiplayer.
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is planning to release in early 2019. Find out more about the game at its official website.