The gaming environment is getting hit hard by shooters and free-to-play games. Some of these games thrive, some struggle to garner a foothold but still survive, while others crash and burn at the starting gates. Is there hope for a game to enter the arena and still make it out on top? Yes. One game has a lot of potentials to do just that: Spacelords, by MercurySteam.
What is Spacelords?
Previously known as Raiders of the Broken Planet, Spacelords is an epic, free-to-play, sci-fi, third-person shooter, developed and published by MercurySteam, a video game developer based in Madrid, Spain.
Currently available on Xbox, PS4, and PC, with cross play, Spacelords takes you through the core of a massive conflict on the “Broken Planet,” a location some 25 light years from Earth. The players pick from a handful of characters in 4v1 counter-operative campaigns to free the Broken Planet, or they can join the invading hordes as Antagonists to make sure the Raiders fail, at the behest of a larger power.
What’s the story?
Humans made an incredible discovery on one of Saturn’s moons: a new type of travel technology, alongside a new source of energy, called Aleph. Aleph grants unbelievable power to whoever wields it, and even greater power to those who control vast amounts of it. Eager to get their hands on the source of the Aleph, the humans invaded the Broken Planet, but got stuck with a one-way ticket. While multiple factions end up at war to control this new-found energy source, and secure their way back to Earth, a group of local inhabitants, and a motley crew of renegades, join together to take the Broken Planet back from the humans.
What are the core elements of the game?
You start off with one mission unlocked and 4 initial characters, or “Raiders,” to play as. As you level up, you unlock more missions, get the ability to recruit more Raiders, and obtain cards to enhance your Raiders; your Raiders also become tougher and stronger across the board.
Before each mission, you can visit the “Hideout,” where you can see the stats of your weapons, build one of a handful of unique character-specific weapons (you’ll need blueprints and gold) and open “card slots” (using Faction Points from using specific characters in missions) to reveal cards that are modifiers. You can also choose Raider skins and the weapon you want to use for your next mission.
The vibrant characters may, initially, seem to fall into certain RPG roles (ex. Tank, Healer, Damage Dealer etc.) but as you play, you quickly learn that your choice of weapon (and how you build out that weapon) as well as the cards in your loadout, can change all that. These aspects can make a well-played character feel new again, or make each Antagonist battle something to be cautious of.
The cards help you customize each character to suit your play style, and can impact a multitude of variables, from health regeneration and ability alterations, to an increase in damage if certain aspects are met.
There are two different decks (one based on the original Faction of the character and another based on the specific Raider) and you can pick one card from each deck to modify your selected Raider. Cards can have a huge impact on the character and how they are played. If you don’t like the “hand you’re dealt” you can always reshuffle some, or all, of the cards to see if you can find the ones that work better for you.
Once you’re happy with the loadouts for your characters, you can pick specific missions or just select “Quickplay” for random missions. You’ll then be placed in a Matchmaking session to wait for 3 others to join your fight. You will select your character and dive into the story.
Each mission has an intro cinematic and a closing cinematic at the end of a successful mission. The rich cinematics help you better understand the reasons for the specific mission, the next steps, each character’s personality type and the relationships among the characters. You can also skip the cinematics and jump directly into the action, if you want.
Once you’ve loaded into your mission, the pilot, Cortez, will let you know what the objectives are, as well as what to keep an eye on during the mission. Make sure you pay attention to the objectives, and don’t just run through enemies with guns blazing, as that will become your downfall.
Each mission will offer certain rewards, which can be gold and/or faction points. Some missions also have an extra reward that can either be boosted faction points, boosted gold or a blueprint (Common or Rare) that can be used to create a weapon for the character you just played.
The combat is a mixture of weapons, abilities, close-quarter combat (CQC — based on a “rock, paper, scissors” system), and interacting with specific aspects of the environment. Full success comes from understanding, and being able to utilize, all aspects of the combat. Knowing the impact of your ability, the character’s specific weapon’s impact on each enemy, mastering the CQC, and utilizing the environment to your advantage will go a long way.
The “Rock-Paper-Scissors” CQC is the combination of dodging, striking and grappling. In this combat style, a strike interrupts a grapple, grapple interrupts a dodge and a dodge avoids a strike.
If this is free-to-play, how does MercurySteam keep the lights on?
Whether you need to unlock a new Raider or create a new weapon, a major element you will need is gold. Gold can be achieved in two ways. One way is to grind for it, by doing regular missions and taking on missions that involve bonus gold (if you win!). The other way is to use real money to unlock “MercurySteam Credits” — which can be used to purchase in-game gold.
MercurySteam also creates very beautiful, detailed skins for the Raiders that can also be purchased with MercurySteam Credits. These skins have absolutely no stats, but can be a cool change-up for the look of a character you may end up playing a lot.
As a side note, if you want to learn a lot more about each Raider, every item each raider has also has lore attached to it (even the skins)!
What does MercurySteam have in store for the future of Spacelords?
To the excitement of current Spacelords players, there is the potential for a very bright future. To celebrate their one-year anniversary, MercurySteam released a roadmap and blog article that breaks down what’s in store for the game. There are four major updates (i.e. milestones) with several regular updates ranging from overall game updates, new skins, weapons and characters!
The four major milestones are Space Guilds, Spacelords Identity, The Great Clash, and The Aurora Specters.
This will be the first major milestone, and it will allow players to create and customize their own Space Guilds within the game. This means there will be full cross platform implementation and expanded communication options. Guilds will be able to coordinate their games as well as prepare for the conflict to come (i.e. milestone 3).
Players will have the ability to truly customize their characters with new outfits, weapon customizations, emotes, new fighting styles, melee weapons and even finishing moves. This will make it so you can truly have the character(s) that best represents you.
The Great Clash
Space Guilds will be able to compete to show who the best is! Guilds will take on different missions to obtain the best scores, and literally plant their guild banner on the mission to celebrate their hard work and dedication.
The Aurora Specters
To add to the 4v1 excitement, things will get kicked up a notch with the arrival of the Aurora Specters. These specters are daemonic entities on the search for Raider blood.
With all of the work done thus far to this action-packed game, and with so much coming in the future, now is the perfect time to jump in and try it for yourself. And better yet, it’s free! Make sure to also join us on Twitch each week to see live gameplay and to learn more from our awesome community.
We’ll see you on the Broken Planet, Raider!