Posted: November 3, 2014
Early Access Review
This game looks beautiful and I hardly ever encountered game breaking bugs, i.e. on average less then 1 in 10 hrs.
The game starts of nice and smooth, pacing feels good but soon turns into tedium. Around player level 10 you rarely get the feeling of progression. Still the game is quite addicting. It scrapes facebook-ishiness but manages to keep the player occupied, i.e. you don't have to wait for some stupid energy bonus to pop up every X minutes.
The reduction of player progress to a crawl is what makes me not recommend this game.
Fortunately this game is still in development (2014-11-04: version 0.3.1b.62) so you don't really need my partial venting below. However here are some pointers as to pros and cons for Steam Bandit Outpost. The wishlist at the end may also give more insights.
* Nice graphics featuring multiple biomes and a multitude of NPCs and support characters
* Potential to be developed into a well-balanced game
* Good enough story
* Almost no game breaking bugs and only one so far a restart won't fix
* Highly addictive
* No character development, only new characters and new equipment
* Combat disregards attack power and defensive capabilities
* Next to no rewards for grinding which is still essential to game progress
* Combat feels like stupendous clicking with unnecessary animation
* Bad management of Captain Missions
* Bad management of equipment (obvious tablet user interface structures)
* Bad crafting management
* Highly addictive
* Upgrades are expensive and their respective usefulness not well documented
Outside the main story line which is bound to player level progress it gets pretty hard to acquire XP. For example, progress from level 13 to 14 needs 3,676 XP. The main story line provided something like 1K XP, don't really remember, let's say 2K. So you need over 1,5K XP to get to the next level. By that time I have occasional access to repeatable fights granting roughly about 8-15 XP. So in the unachievable best case that's 100 fights which you need to unlock as battle islands in repeatable captain missions - as opposed to player missions they need time to finish (10-20 minutes).
Now, the actual bad thing here is that you need to go through fights and fights are boring. The standard attack does not develop yet, neither does defense - both are roughly fixed right now, i.e. a standard attack does around 10 damage except for misses or critical (x2). So you need to find weapons which have special attacks dealing triple, 10-fold, 14-fold damage. Those weapons are given to you at some predetermined points in the main story line and with them you have a good chance of winning a 15XP fight but the enemies may also just wipe the floor with your three fighters.
So, apart from a few boss fights, the "strategy" is hit enemies indiscriminately with your strongest attacks until one party is defeated. This alone calls for an autofight feature - right now your click and confirm each attack, targets are auto-selected and can be changed. The battle animations are unfuriatingly slow or rather feel that way after hundreds of fights. This calls for a skip animations feature.
Basic fights feel like obstacles rather than challenges. They require unending clicking and give almost no rewards - human enemies drop money (up to 8 gold; my next financial goal is 10K :( ) and the very rare random enemy may drop equipment. I almost want to request a throw dice option to just tell me if I win or lose simply in order to not have to sit through the fight.
In order to progress you need resources of which there are 5 types which come in different qualities, e.g. Wood can be made into Planks which I guess can be made into Sturdy Planks. I know there are Sturdy Planks because I found them in a chest but I can not yet produce them. Why is this important? Because crawling progress. I can make Planks from Wood, i.e. 1 Plank from 28 Wood, a process which must be individually scheduled for each Plank and takes 10 seconds to complete without scheduling (which takes about 2 seconds). While a workshop produces nothing else can be scheduled.
The last level upgrade for my main building, I think to level 4, requires 96 Planks. So whatever amount of Planks I don't find I need to schedule in a workshop. I can have three workshops in parallel (actually more but then on different sites switching between those being to slow to be considered feasable). The upgrade also needs 96 Glass which can be produced from 28 Silica (sand) each - again in 10-second individually-scheduled production cycles.
This is fun for about 30 seconds.
* No Click-Through; clicking some UI elements also counts as a click on the terrain below deselecting buildings or resulting in unwanted movement
* Easier Captains Management; If there is a picture of a captain have access to load-out
* Easier Missions Management; Show all Captains with stats and all Missions as list
* When equiping captains make other captains easily available
* Have every time displayable on map, e.g. resource gathering buildings
** Display progress bars in interaction UI (bottom right), maybe along the circle, don't forget actual time
* Crafting queues
** In Engineering have a slider to order multiple productions of the same higher-level resource
* While equiping display in-battle skills (Heal, Smash, Poison etc.) with equipment
* It's bad design to have equipment that is a wrench not affect Engineering
* Have pets display required items before they are used
* Have building extensions show what they do (harvester 20->30;tavern 50->70->100)
* Have building show current stats, resources held vs max capacity
* Auto-fight/deactivate combat animations
* Remember starting settings
* Toggle animation of essential action aka less animation, more effect