Drox Operative Review (PC)
Drox Operative is a space based RPG created by Soldak Entertainment. During the game the player takes control of a spaceship. This spaceship is not fully customizable in terms of looks; instead you get to decide which of the extensive list of races (10!) your ship and starter crew are going to be. Each race has a different distinct looking ship as well as racial bonuses, such as extra weapon slots or more damage per skill point, that sort of thing. When creating your ship you also have the choice of activating a couple of mutators for each ship which effect the difficulty of the game. These are things like “unlucky” which lowers the chance of you finding rare items or “hardcore” that makes death permanent.
The game does not have a story or game levels in the usual sense. Instead most of the gameplay revolves around you being a “Drox Operative” (a sort of universal diplomat) and as such your job is to travel to various “Sectors” of the universe and develop diplomatic relations with the local alien races. Sectors are comprised of various galaxies holding many planets all interlinked by various Starlane’s which teleport you to other sectors. Each “Sector” is randomly generated, however you have a few options which you can choose from to tailor the sector more to your needs. These are options like Game Pace, Sector Size, Settlement State (effects how settled each of the races are), Number Of Races and overall sector difficulty.
Once the sectors been created your ship is randomly placed in one of the many galaxies. From here on out you get to explore the sector galaxy by galaxy as the whole sector starts off covered in a fog of war. Various things you will find as you continue your exploration include ship debris, forgotten storage containers, drop pods, recharge stations, anomalies and of course planets and enemy ships. Most of the things you find in the game drop random items, currency, or heal up your ship, however some of them can cause explosions, set off ambushes or teleport you to a random galaxy. On higher difficulties this can make you think twice about trying to fish through debris for some phat loot.
As for the enemies in the game, every race starts off neutral with the Drox Operative, but there are various fleets of raiders and pirates that you will initially have to contend with. These enemies have a large variety of ship types and change depending on the level and difficulty settings. They also level up as the game progresses so as to pose a continual challenge throughout the game.
Each Sector can be won by accomplishing one of these five scenarios “Legend Win”, “Fear Win”, “Economic Win”, “Diplomatic Win” and “Military Win”. Not exactly the most exciting names for win scenarios, but they are very intuitive! Economic wins are accomplished by gathering credits (the games currency) via some form of Drox Operative tax that siphons a small percentage of credits while selling items and completing quests. Fear and Legend wins are accomplished in a really similar fashion. You gather fear points and legend points by completing quests and killing various enemies that are causing trouble in the galaxy.
The last two win scenarios, Diplomatic and Military, are also similar in nature. The diplomatic win requires you to ally with every existing race in the sector and have them ally with each other, and the military win requires you to be allied with the most powerful race and for that race to be the last existing race. To ally with a race you however need enough diplomatic clout with them. This requires you do various menial quests for them which are the standard rinse and repeat “get this”, “escort this” and of course my all time favourite “kill x amount of this”. The other option is by fast tracking your way to love by murdering any race they are currently at war with! However, taking sides can be very dangerous as I found out in my first game as me and my alliance of super best friends got our butts handed to us by some super-technologically advanced badasses.
The main source of advancement and enjoyment in this game (at least for me) comes from levelling up your ship. Every level-up gives you a number of stat points that you can place in various stats like command, which gives you a bigger ship every 5+ points, or stats that increase defence and attack. Every stat also has a link to what type and level of equipment your ship can equip.
Another source of enjoyment in this game is the items you pick up. These items vary from new types of weapons, armour and shields to crew, power sources and fighter ship bays.
The combat in the game isn’t exactly the most exciting thing. It basically involves flying around spamming the skills that the ships weapon modifications give you via the standard RPG style UI of having sets of skills on an action bar at the bottom left of the screen. You have the ability to target specific ships with laser weapons and such, but your more than welcome to just let it auto-lock to enemies for you.
Overall I feel the game brings something unique to the table as diplomacy is the pivotal objective of the player, however I feel it falls into the all too easy pitfall of tedium and repetition far too quickly with the way it treats quests and combat. I feel the game would have been much more enjoyable if they didn’t take the tried, true and tedious “quest” route to base a large part of the game around. However if space RPGs with a diplomacy twist sound like the kind of game for you then you might want to give this game a shot!
6 diplomats diplomating out of 10