My expectations for ground combat have gone through a complete cycle from apathy to excitement. At first, I didn’t really care that it was being revamped. I’ve preferred space combat since the very first time I played the game and always treated ground combat as just a delay before getting back to my ship. As I started to get an idea of what Cryptic was doing from listening to interviews, reading the forums, and seeing sneak peaks on Twitter, I started to get more and more excited. The duty roster is still the main feature I’m looking forward to in Season 4, but ground combat has become a close second.
So I’ve spent a couple of hours playing on Tribble tonight, and I have to say that ground combat is a lot of fun now. Switching from RPG mode to FPS mode is smooth and easy to do. Opening my crew screen automatically switches to RPG mode so I can use my mouse to switch equipment around, I can tell this is a beta feature though since opening the map doesn’t do the same. The FPS aiming takes a little bit to adjust to, and it’s a little weird that your beam doesn’t hit exactly where you point since really what the aiming is doing is selecting a target not actually pinpointing where you’re firing. But it is a vast improvement over the current system.
Combat is much much faster and more exciting. Changes to shield and health stats as well as weapons, mean that battles are over in one or two minutes instead of five or ten. There’s also much less of the goofy backpedaling to deal with melee enemies.
The guns are also much more interesting and varied. In taking my main to Vice Admiral 1, I only ever used two weapons: a stun pistol and a sniper rifle. The only variation was what beam type I used. The new weapons are really fun though and I forsee a lot of swapping between the different rilfes, pistols, and assault weapons.
The only downside is, I don’t think I’ll be able to tolerate ground combat on the live server anymore.
Besides the big combat update, there’s also a neat new animated loading screen as well as a really cool new interface for ship requisition (not the C-store).
I took a few Fraps videos while playing tonight, I should have some up tomorrow to share for anyone who doesn’t have an active sub right now or doesn’t like to mess with the test server.