The upcoming title, Star Control: Origins (available on GOG and Steam), now has an early access beta ready for testing, to celebrate 25 years since the launch Star Control II. It's a limited experience, only including the ship creator, fleet battles, and online play, but it's an early look at what's to come. And this beta is only unlocked by preordering the game for $24.99.
What Star Control: Origins is all about
The game itself will take you to various parts of the galaxy, engaging in battles, taking on quests, collecting resources, and kitting out your ship with awesome upgrades. There's also the multiplayer element called Super-Melee (available in this beta). For those of you who may be familiar with the series of games before Stardock bought the rights from Atari, this isn't a sequel of sorts, it's more like a game set in a different universe. It'll be interesting to see if Stardock gets the balance just right to please new and old fans. I, myself, never really got into the original series.
The fleet battles allow you to assemble a number of ships in a fleet and engage either the AI or humans in multiplayer. You can design and build your own ships using the crafting system, which is in a rather basic state (this is beta after all). It reminds me much of the system used in Galactic Civilization and should feel familiar to anyone with experience with the strategic series of games. As an added bonus, Stardock even allows ships to be shared and downloaded so you can add ships from other players if you're not much of a shipbuilder.
Everything looks good, namely the ships and visual effects. As for the combat, it's OK. I had some fun taking down ships with different designs but found the controls to be slightly difficult to get my head around (WASD and mouse). Weaponry is restricted to primary and secondary mounts, handled by the two mouse buttons, but it took some time for me to grow accustomed to how the various weapons worked. The AI messed me up multiple times. Luckily, Star Control: Origins is set to be released next summer, so I'm sure I'll be able to get some more practice in before then.
It was fun and I enjoyed creating some whacky-looking ships that wouldn't really work in reality. It's difficult to get a feel for how the game will play out in this early beta since it's fairly limited, but I'm liking what I see thus far.
While I'm mostly against preordering games in general, especially when it comes to early access and other exclusive content, the beta is rather fun and allows you to get your hands on the game in its current state. If you wish to preorder a copy, it's available on Steam and GOG right now for $24.99.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.