Today we have the pleasure of taking a look at Dreadnought for the PlayStation 4, which has just entered the “founders” portion of the closed beta. What this means is that you’re able to purchase a version of the game (the two currently on the PlayStation Store are $9.99 and $39.99) for access to the closed beta and some pre-order style goodies. For the purposes of this game, this included “Elite status” which grants more rewards and XP from battling as well as some exclusive ships that really pack a punch. But how is the game overall?
The first thing I’d like to say is that this game is “free to play” from developer Grey Box, which means that you can technically pick the game up and play it for free when it’s released. For the time being, you can play it by purchasing a founder’s pack or by signing up for the closed beta. Purchasing a founder’s pack will guarantee access to the game right away, along with some cool stuff. As is usually the case with free to play, you’re able to bypass some limits that free to play players must endure, but I didn’t see anything that indicated an unfair play environment in my time spent online.
The game gives you a rather thorough tutorial and once that is complete, you’re allowed to play against other players or to join other players and fight against the AI in a horde mode that only ends when you die. It’s nice to see developers include both options these days, so that you can still play with friends even if you’re not hardcore into the competitive scene that games like this tend to generate (read: Paragon).
Gameplay is focused around controlling one of several ships in your fleet; a fleet is composed of up to five ships that you customize and outfit, and they are restricted only by the tier of the ship in question. Recruit, Veteran and Legendary are the fleet classifications, with Recruit being restricted to Tier 1 ships and Legendary being restricted to only Tier 4 ships. Veteran seems to offer the most wiggle room for fleet composition, and I imagine the Legendary category would be the most competitive style of fleet.
The customization options for both the appearance and function of a ship are tremendous. I found myself able to customize absolutely everything about my ship’s appearance, including adding a very cool ornament to the front of the ship. Purchasing either of the founder’s packs grants you a large amount of the in-game currency that you can use on aesthetic items such as this. In addition to tricking your ship out, you’re able to customize the weapons and defense systems that you use to fight as well as research new tiers of those weapons and defenses. There is a lot here for even the most ardent fan of spreadsheet style games or RPG’s in general, and there is a robust amount of strategy to consider when kitting out your fleet. This reminded me so much of EVE Online, which I’m a very big fan of.
Visually the battle environments look great, and they’ve managed to give space the right balance between flashy and functional. You often fight around asteroid fields, space stations that are under siege, and planets that are facing an assault from the stars. I never thought the areas of battle were boring or cumbersome, and this is somewhat helped by having a full 360 degrees of freedom with regards to motion. This allows you to think outside of the traditional planar box of many competitive shooters, and opens up pathways for very cool strategies.
My only complaint about the game is the menu interface and text in general; it can be very hard to read or downright illegible playing on a television. I know this game was designed for PC first, so this is likely a port, but upscaling the text should be an easy problem and hopefully it’s addressed at some point.
If you’re looking for a science fiction space battle with some real depth and strategy, then I can highly recommend Dreadnought to you. It isn’t action packed by any means, but the battles are still thrilling and engaging without surrendering to a faster pace that might spoil the experience of being a tactical military space simulator in some regards. Overall if these things sound fun to you, then this is a game you don’t want to pass up.