My opinion on the game
Some facts (so far):
- 194 recommendations by friends on steam
- Metascore of 61 (based on 4 critics and half of them from Czech sites)
- Metacritic Userscore of 4.2 (out of 10 based on 26 ratings and getting zeroes even from early funders during pre-alpha)
Now here is where the "fun" starts. There is a total of 3 franchise games so far already! (Although the main game is barely a beta version full of bugs and optimization issues).
- Minerwars 2081 (main game)
- Minerwars Arena and
- Minerwars 2.5D.
Supported Platforms in total: PC, Xbox 360 and iOS
Ironically Minerwars Arena gets higher user ratings than the main game and e.g. LEVEL (one of the Czech review sites) gives it a lower score than Minerwars 2081.
Most people blame the DRM but that is NOT really what the frustration is about I believe. Most die-hard fans (probably the 126 people who recommended it on steam) defend it based on that logic mostly and fail to see the bigger picture: Where are the great reviews? Where are the fans on steam? Is everyone wrong by just having a negative opinion even and especially if that appears to be the majority of players? Why is it being ignored that most of these people even bought the game?
I have bought the game during pre-alpha. I'm a sci-fi fan and I like space games and sims. I bought Freespace 2 like 4 times for example. Defending this game by just trying to put out the DRM fire alone won't save it either. There are MANY games out there with crazy DRM and yet the sell. Why?
Well there are many reasons but here is why I believe MinerWars is receiving a lot of negative feedback:
The developers way of communication is shady. It had seen better days but they are now over. Even on this forum. There is a pinned "review" from a person called Miss Athena! Playtime? 1,2 hours... Now my playtime on steam is lower than that - but I played the non-steam version already and Miss Athena said she bought it on steam! Something smells fishy here - and overall this reflects the attitude of the devs nicely.
Instead of improving the game the developers have a very strict set of goals. Now this can be a good thing is you have a brilliant idea and a great plan of execution - but that wasn't the case. All voices that saw bigger potential than just a plane and aged descent were quickly squelched. If issues like the DRM came up it they were ignored and people just blamed and even lied to.
2. No development focus on the main game
When they announced side projects like minerwars 2.5D my trust was broken. There were issues before but at this point I knew the game would fail. And it did. Marek promised it wouldn't sidetrack the efforts. But the results clearly show how wrong he was. Gamers rate the side project higher than the main title which has buggy code, weak design and questionable storytelling. Even the mechanics are questionable and the 6DOF doesn't really play out well. Bots still hover in front of you like ducklings and move very rail-ish. It feels unfinished to me.
3. Weak gameplay and campaign content
The main campaign to me has almost no value. Descent is simply outdated and even stardock failed at producing a 6DOF space game (Shattered Horizon) which frightingly featured many of the same elements: shooter gameplay, suit shutdown, simply generic weapons etc.).
The campaign is not athmospheric at all (at least to me). Cheesy factions were made up like the fourth reich, China and of course Russia. Aside from that there are smaller side factions like neo japan etc. The voice acting is somewhere between okay and good but not nearly as convincing as it would have to be for me to be really engaged. There are no "wow" moments. They tried to put some in the game (like when you start out and see the big chinese ships attack the base) but they are not emotional or memorable at all. Maybe that's just me but I couldn't even bring myself to play through the campaign at all. Maybe I never will but I still hope that the game will be fixed.
4. Co-Op / Sandbox mode potential completely wasted
When I played the pre-alpha I was just pulled in by the sandbox potential. Drilling into asteroids, collecting rescources and possibly use them and build with them. All that the most interesting part for me. Not realized at all in the final game. Why? Did the devs really believe that Descent is still something that players crave for? All the games that tried to resurrect descent failed. Most games even ended up with simplyfied dimensions (flat space). The co-op is now hard to fully use. Flying through a finished and edited map is not nearly as engaging as building it together with friends in a living and breathing space with pirates attacking you and eventually even having to trade or visit foreing systems to gather materials.
Keep in mind that most viral games had great sandbox / co-op modes. It doesn't even have to be amazing graphics (Minecraft anyone?)
5. Not absorbing player suggestions and models from players
During development they declined many player submissions and said it was due to quality issues. But what's left now is not better at all. The ship designs look generic, almost familiar (homeworld), models and engine seem to be suffering from optimization flaws.
Even problems like the weak cockpit designs could've been solved. I even remember trying to point out why smaller ships should be "remote controlled" as it'd be more realistic and would avoid having to design a cockpit for each ship. In the end I would've applauded if they would've overcome the issue and provided us with amazing ship designs and cockpits. But none of that happened.
Other projects, like Star Citizen, proof that the developers of MinerWars were just wrong. StarCitizen will have a semi heavy DRM for the official multiplayer server but will still provide modding tools, single player, has a great playerbase developing fantastic ship models and even got more than 7 million just from donations alone without anything else than screenshots and videos. MinerWars could've done that - but didn't. There are a lot of space game fans out there but the end product is mediocre and unfinished. The development until then was questionable. Maybe focusing all efforts on one single game would've been enough? Maybe putting some emotion into the campaign instead of trying to revive a zombie game of the 90's with simple duck-hunting shooter mechanics would've also gotten more fans. I'm not sure what it is that made this game such a bad experience to me - especially since I enjoyed the sandbox mechanics during pre-alpha so much. But one thing is very clear to me: only talking about DRM is just being blind about the real issues that make players, or at least me, feel very unsatisfied when playing the game.
I assume this thread will not end up stickied like the "unbiased" view of a player with 1.2 hours playtime on record. Maybe it'll even end up getting deleted.
I just hope it'll remind the devs that I dislike the game for reasons that were already pointed out by myself and many others during development. To pretend that all the negativity comes just from the DRM and trying to fix it by talk alone is just wrong.Devs: If you have any love for the community at all then get back to the drawing table and fix this game. And maybe try doing that without creating even more games that you won't support fully. It's not just about DRM alone. Be creative, be professional. But deliver and don't just talk and censor. If you'd do that for starters then I'd be happy already.
I am still hoping that the co-op mode will be improved. And by that I'm talking about Minerwars 2081.
Final note: this is MY opinion. Feel free to comment but keep in mind that my take on the whole issue is subjective and NOT unbiased - just honest. Thank you.