Beyond Sol Review – Rangers of Orion Space Masters
Turn after turn I spent blasting pirates and helping protect merchants before I realize that I wasn’t meant to be a merc ship for hire. I was meant to strike out on my own with a shiny new space city! I save up my credits and eventually did just that. As my city grew and I learned the ways to benefit from trade done in all of my sectors, a nearby city also grew in size and strength that I didn’t realize I should keep in check. With a pirate base on my outskirts and suddenly a new militaristic city just beyond them, I quickly realized that I built my city too close to all of the action!
Beyond Sol has managed to find that perfect balance between a 4X strategy style game like Master of Orion and an RTS space sim like Space Rangers. Space pirates, customizable space stations, easily manageable fleets and bases, and understandable diplomacy make Beyond Sol an interesting take on a genre that is often either too boring or too difficult to really sink your time into. Thankfully, after spending about 30 minutes with the game, I was able to feel comfortable with my survivability and potential to grow in ability and strength.
You begin win a lone ship and are expected to upgrade the offensive capabilities of the ship and build your ‘fleet’. Then, when you’ve the money and know-how, you start your own base of operations in an empty sector. There you build your empire based upon radar stations that enforce trade route tariffs, mining stations, and security based military stations. Build your home city with technology increasing research buildings, population centers, hanger bays (for your reserve fleet), storage containers, shields, turrets, power generators, and possibly more to come (as developer Praxia Entertainment listens to the highly impressed and involved community).
The game conveniently notifies you of nearby (and far off) events that you can choose to ignore or strike out and complete. Everything from distress calls, ship debris, resource heavy comets, wars, treaties, and more will keep the available tasks and opportunities to earn money coming. This makes for a well balanced pace that allows you to choose how much ‘action’ you’d like to get into at any point and time. Otherwise, you can concentrate on your neck of the woods and manage the grow of you and yours.
Don’t think that this means you’ll easily grow and dominate the competition though. Just when you thought your base and fleet were strong, you’ll regularly encounter other empires that were already established at the beginning of the game as a force to be reckoned with. You just have to hope that the strongest one around isn’t militaristic in this randomized open world experience. Bored with the competition? Then tap your friend to come into your match and spice up the competition with multiplayer action!
While addictive for action strategy buffs, it is not perfect. Graphically, the game does look a bit dated with wireframe styled craft that look like late 90s or early 2000 styled 3D graphics. Also, after awhile, the randomized events get repetitive REALLY quick. While they occur in a good frequency, there could be a bit more variety in the types of events. Let’s see some ancient derelict spacecraft in unexplored sectors. How about larger maps to allow for more exploration? Also, why aren’t there more planets or even planets that would allow for new cities? Since there aren’t inhabitable planets in the field of play (which I thought was just odd) maybe a new aspect of the game could be troops. This would allow you to disable ships, board them, and take them over rather than always destroying them. Adding a new way to increase fleets would vary the combat and ways to grow. Ah to dream.
This well paced action strategy space adventure will have strategy buffs absorbed for quite some time. Praxia Entertainment may just have a solid franchise to dominate the field.