Drox Operative is a starship action RPG unlike we've ever seen before, think Diablo in space, except whereas Diablo is an open expanse that eventually ends, Drox Operative gives you system upon system in a tiny sector of an epic galaxy which you can explore, and not only that, but the galaxy is full of warring alien races, in a dynamic and evolving environment that goes on with or without your input.
Drox Operative is the fourth title from independent studio Soldak Entertainment who specialise in the brilliant field of dynamism, and their latest games takes on the immense pursuit of never-ending space with all of the traits of an RPG, real time space battles, and the ability to create one kick-ass ship.
The Drox Operative ruled the galaxy for over 100,000 years, thousands of years later they are practically all but extinct, however the Operative Guild still lives on, and as a fledging member it's your job to observe all of the major space races as they scout, colonise and expand their empire to take over the galaxy, and it's your job to make the call on the winning side, help them conquer the galaxy, and rake in the credits whilst you build the best darn ship that ever flew.
Despite the look of it, Drox Operative is actually a very traditional dungeon crawling RPG that is merely set on the backdrop of a massive expansive galaxy brought to life with beautiful NASA photography. Each system in the galaxy is made up of living races that will declare war on each other, trade between planets, colonise, terraform and pretty much carry out anything that you yourself would perform in a 4x strategy game and more so! It's at about this time that you realise just how alive the 'world' you inhabit is.
The future has never been depicted as full of puppies and rainbows, and the galaxy of Drox Operative is cut-throat; anyone in the universe can spread lies, sabotage planets and steal technologies from one-another, and whether you instigate these immoral acts or not, some race at the other end of the galaxy is plotting to overthrow the perfectly innocent race sailing by without a care in the world. What's brilliant is that it is all as sinister as it sounds, and ends in planets rioting or even starving to death, and it's all dynamic, so no matter what sector of the galaxy you, or your friend across the road is in, each of you will have a unique experience.
There are no true allegiances in warring space, and you'll pick and chose the weak from the strong at the drop of a hat, and even if you don't, the colour of money will always force your enemies to forget past grievances, however if you manage to piss off every race in the sector, don't expect your name to be taken down in history, and if you don't manage to stay allied with a surviving race the Drox Operative will disappear once more.
Not all negotiations take place on the end of a gun, and Drox Operative is full of peaceful trading options through the relations screen, for instance you may have technology that another race is interested in, and they may have the control over a jump gate in a particular system, of course throwing a few credits in here and there will sweeten any deal, trading is a brilliant way to strengthen bonds and get what you want, but everything has a consequence in a dynamic 'world'. Give them the technology, or a prime location for expansion, and they may well go and overthrow the Dryads in their system, take over a few empty planets and before you know it they are the strongest force in the galaxy, but that wouldn't have happened unless you sold them it right?
The number of civilised races in a galaxy are not all you will encounter on your space travels, and like any locations on land, sea or indeed space the universe is full of down-right bad eggs just asking to be shot out of the sky, which is where many will turn to, to level their ships, after all, it's a tricky business to shoot down ships when politics are involved. Sticking to space pirates is far safer, you won't find yourself signing Mutual Protection Pacts with them.
As an RPG, the game is classless, and instead focuses on the ship you command, individuality is dictated by the stats of your ship, where you chose to upgrade them, and the components you apply to your vessel, at any time you can switch out components to create a ship to suit your environment which could mean applying more batteries so you'll have more energy to shoot at your enemies, or stocking up with doomsday weapons to send the universe packing, now this isn't simply nuts and bolts ship building, depending on the stats of your ship you are limited to a certain amount of components, and it's juggling the necessities from the requirements that adds a tactical flair to the normally simple task of levelling.
However what is most impressive about Drox Operative is that it doesn't actually require your input to progress the game, the galaxy is alive, and races will exterminate each other and expand and grow, and if you have trouble removing one race as the last two are quite chummy with each other, all you need do is start spreading viscous rumours and watch as the two tear each other apart, or just get your hands dirty and exterminate the troublesome races.
After helping a race to conquer that particular sector of the galaxy, you then go onto the next, as you continue to progress the challenges get tougher, and your ship gets all the more impressive, and the game only really stops when you want it to, the possibilites are endless, and whether you just want to sit back and watch a galaxy writhe in civil unrest, or play an active part in ensuring that Humans successfully dominate the galaxy is entirely up to you, for once, you get to play the game the way you want to.
Drox Operative is still in its beta stages, and as so not everything quite works as it should, but the potential of what is present literally had us playing for days on end with many more to come, if you want to experience the plight of a Drox Operative first hand, you can pre-order the game now from the Soldak website and get instant access to it with 25% off the retail cost.