Gaming Features stub

Rebel Galaxy Preview: An Outlaw-Ridden Space RPG That's Not as Time Consuming

Posted on February 9, 2015

With the likes of Dreadnought and Star Citizen looming ominously on the horizon, there's a fair split between impending combat-intensive and sim-intensive space games.

In our preview of Dreadnought, we explain that it plays like an FPS might, but casts players into battleships that move on six axes; this creates a fast-paced, competitive atmosphere without imposing the simulation aspects deployed in most space games. Then there's Star Citizen, which has gone off the deep-end with strategic depth, story telling, combat and mercantile mechanics, and roleplaying options. This leaves little room for players who want a space sim without the inaccessible complexity of X3, Evochron Mercenary, and depth of Star Citizen. Elite: Dangerous took a chunk of this niche, but there's room for more.

Rebel Galaxy is brought to us by the critically acclaimed creators of Diablo, Torchlight, and Fate, formerly key players at Blizzard North and Runic Games. Under the guidance of Travis Baldree and Erich Schaefer, Rebel Galaxy aims to be an outlaw-ridden 'verse centrally focused on a single player, single ship experience (no fleets, no persistent online universe).

What is Rebel Galaxy?

Rebel Galaxy aims to fill a void in the space genre, moving away from small fighter ships and toward larger dreadnought-class ships that slug it out in battle. At the heart of Rebel Galaxy is a gameplay direction that enables action and combat, but doesn't sacrifice dialogue-driven interactions with NPCs and factions. Players build their disposition with various factions based upon dialogue choices in alien encounters (help him, ignore him, destroy him), eventually establishing allegiances and rivalries in space and its claimed sectors.

Sectors of space – and the entire universe, for that matter – are all randomly generated at the game's start. There is no fixed universe, so each game should yield vastly different positioning and faction alignments. To this end, the game lends itself to a Firefly-style of exploration, exaggerated further by Double Damage Games' use of twangy acoustic music in the trailer (below). It's gritty, filled with illicit deals, and ridden with piracy – now we just need Mal to offer free voice acting to Double Damage Games.

Similar to Dreadnought's approach to combat, Rebel Galaxy borrows bits and pieces from naval combat maneuvers (similar in feeling to Black Flag), including broadside guns and ship-circling battles. Broadside cannons aren't the only weapons in Rebel Galaxy; they've also got turrets, lasers, and flak cannons, each of which has various strengths and weaknesses. Ship tuning allows designation of automatic targets (AI-control) for each weapon, so flak cannons could be told to target incoming fire, lasers told to target turrets, another gun shoot down inbound fighter pilots.

Rather than use the entire keyboard for basic movement and guidance systems, Rebel Galaxy has built a more traditional control scheme that'd be compatible with more button-limited controllers. Rebel Galaxy shouldn't be thought of as an end-all space simulator, but more of a middle-ground between roleplaying and combat. Players are ultimately in control of whether they want to make friends or enemies, and Baldree told us he didn't want to get in the way of that – if you want to blow someone up because you're bored, you'll be largely afforded that freedom.

Hands-On Impressions & Rebel Galaxy Gameplay

We had just half an hour with Rebel Galaxy, but we walked away impressed. The game is accessible – to the point that thirty minutes was enough to feel confident with the controls – and it's action-heavy when desired. The NPC interactions offer the chance to bond and build connections, but in a preview environment, we always opt for the most destructive choices. Combat feels cinematic and fairly agile, given the focus on larger ships (we're told that each ship has hundreds of crew). We never encountered a slow moment in the game: warping is near-instant and aims to mitigate the time spent traveling (see: Elite Dangerous), combat is brutal and high-octane, and dialogue isn't weighed down with paragraphs of lore.

Speaking for myself, it takes a lot for me to go “yeah, I'd play this” when previewing a game on-site. I've been gaming – and writing about games – long enough that there's always going to be a comparison to some preceding game, to the point where nostalgia can take over and redirect energy to digging out the optical drive. Rebel Galaxy strikes me as a fun, accessible game that enables pick-up-and-play lifestyle without necessarily removing key strategic and story / roleplaying elements, and that's something I'd play.

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.