|Release: Summer 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Robert VerBruggen
The strategy genre is notorious for its massive, complicated games, but the sub-group of "4X" titles are even less accessible. The X's stand for explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate (yeah, we know, they're actually E's), and these games typically take place in outer space, though there are traditional fantasy-themed 4X games as well.
This summer, 4X fans are in for a treat. Not only will they get a new game from the 4X giant Sins of a Solar Empire, but developer Novacore is debuting a title called Legends of Pegasus. New IPs are always a risky business, but in a recent trailer Novacore and publisher Kalypso had the guts to call out the Sins franchise as competition. These guys are itching for a fight, and in a few short months they'll get it.
As Legends of Pegasus begins, Earth is attacked by an alien race. The attack is devastating—in fact, the player isn't even told whether the planet survives. Fortunately, some human ships do manage to escape through a wormhole, which transports them far, far away from home. The purpose of the game is to return to Earth and confront the attackers—exploring, expanding, exploiting, and exterminating as you go.
The main character, Daniel, will spend some time among the game's various races during the single-player campaign. There are two besides the humans; one is a race of huge robot insects called the Xor, and the other has yet to be announced. There will be a total of twelve playable factions, in addition to assorted non-playable civilizations. The various groups should be visually distinct, making it easy to tell what's going on in the universe at a glance—which is a great feature for a game this massive.
Like many modern strategy games, Legends of Pegasus will feature a blend of turn-based and real-time elements. The overarching game will take place on a turn-by-turn basis, giving you plenty of time to explore new territory. This is also where you'll "terraform" planets, turning them from useless space rocks into inhabitable dwellings. As you work your way home, you'll leave a trail of colonies in your wake—which, like the various species that inhabit the universe, will stand out visually. You'll notice an Earth-like atmosphere when the planet is ready for you to colonize, and when settlers arrive, they'll leave their mark, too.
However, once you decide to attack, you'll enter a real-time mode for battle—assuming you don't choose to auto-resolve, which is also an option. Interestingly, during the transition, your ships will maintain the same layout they had in the turn-based mode. The developers hope to offer a good variety of tactics and weapons, including flanking, tractor beams, and even the option of loading a kamikaze ship full of explosives. Once the carnage is over, you can comb through the wreckage for usable scrap metal.
Legends of Pegasus also promises intense, detailed customization. You'll build ships out of hulls and modules, and a creative player will be able to make each ship look recognizably different from the last. Of course, the customization doesn't end—you'll be collecting various upgrades you can use to make your ship deal more damage and look even cooler.
In fact, the game will practically force you to build a good variety of ships. Your civilian ships will look different from your warships, and you'll need a mix of sizes, too. Small ships are versatile enough that large ships can't even get a good aim at them, so you won't be able to just build a ton of huge metal monsters and conquer the universe.
If the plan is for Legends of Pegasus to compete with Sins of a Solar Empire, of course, well-honed multiplayer is a must. The skirmish modes will support at least eight players at a time, but the developers are shooting for sixteen. If co-op is more your thing, there will be both a standard co-op mode and an "Emperor" mode, in which you can place an avatar near your ships to buff them, though your game ends if that avatar dies.
4X games are also known for their dedicated modding communities, and Legends of Pegasus should be no different. The developers promise that the game will be open to alterations.
As for graphics, early screenshots show decent visuals for a game of this size. It might not quite be Mass Effect, but you'll get enough eye candy in the form of cool ships and bright explosions that you won't be bored looking at the screen.
Every new game has the potential to completely flop, and a game with this much size—and this much bravado in going after a much-loved competitor—is no exception. But Novacore is offering a ton of content here, and they're aiming to put Legends of Pegasus among the top tier of 4X. Those are big aspirations, deserving of big respect.
Date: May 9, 2012