GoD Factory: Wingmen / 19th of September 2014
The space shooter genre is seeing something of a renaissance these days, thanks in part to the work of Born Ready Games and their excellent, Strike Suit Zero, but Canadian developer Nine Dots Studio, through their latest effort, GoD Factory: Wingmen, have attempted to take the genre in another direction altogether, with somewhat mixed results…
Designed to replicate elements of the ever popular MOBA genre, Nine Dots Studio have created a 4v4 online arena shooter where the primary goal of the game is destroy the enemy’s 13km long carrier ship, all the while engaging in intense dogfights with enemy players and avoiding the fire emanating from the stationary turrets littered throughout the arena. Carrier ships are decimated by removing their integrity points through the destruction of component parts, or by being attacked by its main gun. Interestingly though, losing parts of the carrier ship can have a big impact on the way that the game plays, with the ammo depot gone, players will be unable to restock more than 60% of their ammo capacity, reducing their effectiveness in combat. There are in fact a whole host of other effects that can be triggered in this way, from reducing the regeneration rate of ship shields, decreased radar capabilities and many more. In GoD Factory players must be aggressive to see off their enemy, yet conversely, they must always be mindful of the state of their own carrier ship, which adds a much needed tactical edge to the proceedings.
Typically in space shooters, the player is pitched into a battle against overwhelming odds that they must overcome single-handedly, yet contrarily, GoD Factory is about teamwork, encouraging perfect strangers to work together in order to achieve a victory that appears to be a fleeting hope at best, especially at first. GoD Factory does also allow players to compete with bots, but this removes a great deal of enjoyment from the game due to the generally incompetent AI that turns an already difficult task into an exercise in futility. And therein lies the greatest obstacle to GoD Factory: Wingmen’s success, it is perhaps too difficult for its own good. Victory seems to be an impossible goal to begin with, yet it is something that will come over time, but to achieve this, the player must be prepared to invest a great deal of time and effort into honing their skills and buffing their ships with some of the numerous upgrades that are available. The game is especially hard on newcomers, and it is unlikely to win over a legion of fans as a result, which is quite saddening as the actual combat itself is rather satisfying on the whole.
Upon starting the game, the player is tasked with selecting two races, and with them, two ships, doubling the amount of upgrades that they can unlock and apply, and it is this that is perhaps the game’s strongest feature. There are literally hundreds of parts (in fact, there’s over a thousand) that can be sourced for the gunships, these being divided up between the four species’ that feature in the game. Such items are purchased using the money and experience earned from partaking in combat, and are essential in not only becoming, but remaining competitive. There are plenty of areas where ships can be improved, from new cockpits, to shield generators, wings, thrusters and various weapon variations, which can offer both aesthetic changes as well as performance boosts. On top of this though, there are also dozens of special abilities to unlock and utilise, meaning that there really is much more to the game than just dogfighting.
Another interesting fact about the game is that the player takes two ships into combat, flying one whilst the other remains in the docking bay with its shields regenerating, in effect this adds a hint of resource management to the title, though if players manage to lose both ships they can also assume control of drones, though their combat effectiveness is severely reduced as a result. This is simply another way that developer Nine Dots Studio have succeeded in adding strategy to what could otherwise have been a simple 4v4 shooter.
The biggest problem with GoD Factory: Wingmen is its lack of content, there is simply a 4v4 multiplayer, and a hangar mode where ships can be tinkered with, but that really is it. Nine Dots have stated that they are developing single player and multiplayer experiences wholly separately to ensure a high quality level of polish in each, and whilst this is undoubtedly proved true by the mechanics that Wingmen offers, it certainly isn’t backed up a wealth of content. The studio intend to release further games in the GoD Factory series, starting with a single player, narrative driven experience, and while there appears to be no intention of converting Wingmen to consoles, I am hopeful that its successor could eventually land there where it may appeal to an even broader market. Though surely such future endeavours will be determined by the success of this first game, and unfortunately, I just cannot see that happening.
With solid visuals and audio, and a deep, interesting play on the space shooter, GoD Factory: Wingmen really ought to be a winner, yet its harsh opening will likely see many gamers turn their backs on this otherwise excellent MOBA styled shooter. Priced at £14.99, GoD Factory: Wingmen does offer value for money in terms of time investment, despite is lack of content, but that will only become apparent to the very few players determined to discover everything that this game has to offer them. Ultimately then, Wingmen is certainly still a very good experience, but it’s just not quite the complete package that most gamers will be looking for.