Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion - 5/20 hours

Real talk, here - I am learning that my playing Breath of the Wild last time I was set to play Sins of a Solar Empire was, indeed, just an excuse. By "sheerest coincidence" I got back into playing Starmade right around the same time I was set to start Rebellion. I think I may be avoiding this game.

I'm not entirely sure why. It's not unpleasant to play. There's a lot of micromanaging production queues, which I like. And at least on easy mode, the combat is forgiving enough that I almost forget it's an RTS. There's a lot to pay attention to at any given moment, sure enough, but the more I play it the more I get used to it.

I think what it boils down to is that I don't care much for the game's implicit story. It's all about expanding until you run out of room, and then absorbing the territory of anyone who does not seek your favor. I guess that's what the different factions are about. Aliens that more or less hate each other and can coexist only with great difficulty.

Which I suppose is fair enough. The opening cinematic told me I was being dropped into the middle of a war, and I guess the defining aspect of war is that the people involved don't want to be friends. The problem is that I'm not really emotionally invested in the outcome. Obviously I want my guys to survive and thrive, but I don't even know who those other guys are. We're enemies because our ships automatically attack each other when entering the same star system and it's hard to build up enough trust to get them to stop doing that, but since it's automatic, it never really feels raw.

Usually, when I go into a video game war, it's because my hand is forced. I expand as much as feels reasonable in the early game (usually less than is wise, but that's just my way) and then I start to focus inwards. I will build up my society as much as possible and seek ways to advance my technology and economy with the minimum of aggression. Then some bastard NPC will swoop in out of nowhere and interpret my peaceful ways as a sign of weakness. I'll have to hastily abandon my self-improvement to focus on my long-neglected military and if the war happens late enough or slow enough, I wind up striking back at the attacker with overwhelming force.

That's how I like to fight wars, when I have to fight them at all. Starting off at war, as a default, really changes the calculations though. I tend to stop thinking of the game as a high-level abstraction of a human (or alien) society and start thinking of it as a living organism, one that must, inevitably, expand to the limits of its available space.

It's a perspective that makes me a little uncomfortable, but only a little, because otherwise I'd hardly be able to play strategy games at all.

Anyway, I've been going through Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion a lot slower than I wanted to, and that has got to change. I've got to embrace my inner virus - all matter in the universe shall be converted to copies of myself!


  1. To be fair, Breath of the Wild is a pretty good reason to forget about other games.


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