Now, I don’t know about you, but that has me very excited. To begin with, the mention that there will now be detailed star-systems with planetary orbits and space terrain is a welcome change from the simplistic systems we have become used to over the years. Finally, players will have room for strategic maneuvering within a system, not to mention the need to “scout” for the enemy. This change alone has the potential to make for a thorougly unique 4X experience. What is more, the additional factor that players will now give orders in 2-D while enjoying a 3-D resolution suggests a retreat from the fast-paced RTS blob warfare of the original to something more thoughtful and almost WeGo sounding (to be clear, there is no indication that there actually is a WeGo facet to SotS II). I am really tired of just grouping a bunch of ships and throwing them at the enemy while hoping for the best. Ideally, this new method of issuing orders will restore some much needed depth to managing a battle. Lastly, ship sub-systems and long range carrier duels...excuse me while I wipe a tear from my eye. All in all, it sounds like my two complaints from above will be addressed in some fashion by SotS II...and then some!
In addition to those details, GameSpot had the following impressions based upon a tech demo at E3:
“They pulled up the game engine to show a giant cruiser. The ship was detailed and had a lovely, colorful look about it. Stewart pointed out several details, including the holographic badges that appeared on the ship and little animations that helped flesh out the visuals. As for the game, Kerberos promises deeper ship customization; you can even name each individual ship, and the name will be rendered on the vessel. The combat is moving away from traditional real-time strategy combat in which you simply pound on your target until it's destroyed. Instead, ships will behave differently based on what kind of damage you have done. You might take certain systems down or penetrate the ship's armor but not its hull. Certain types of weapons might pierce through to the center of the vessel, while others will barely scratch the surface. In other words, you have to think about more than just your enemy's health bar.”
Sword of the Stars II sounds like a great game in the making. Add in the additional details (from a recent Strategy Informer interview) that empires can now be subdivided into self-governing provinces – with all the subsequent political ramifications that implies - and that a form of abstracted ground combat will be included, and SotS II is a game that is now at the top of my prospective 2011 Hit Parade (Q1 to be exact).
Kerberos is hinting that the first video teaser should be released next week, so stay tuned! In the mean time, check out some incredible new images in the gallery.