Published on May 6th, 2014 | by JC Richardson0
Starborn Wanderers Review
Watching a trailer with no gameplay footage always makes a reviewer suspicious. Do GIGL have something to hide with Starborn Wanderers, their spacefaring MMO? Actually, no. If anything, a glimpse of the gameplay’s neat graphical flairs and smooth sprite animations would have a lot more players flocking to the game. Talk about hiding your candle under a bushel, guys.
Starborn Wanderers plays something like the old Freelancer or ‘X’ series on the PC, with a 2.5D view rather than the traditional cockpit view we’re all used to. There’s a lot to take in initially, but everything has a familiar feel and you’ll never feel adrift. As a frontier spaceship pilot, you take on missions for various races and factions, trade commodities, mine, hunt for pirates and all the usual stuff associated with the genre. Your ship can be upgraded with a whole wealth of weaponry and defensive gear, much of which is highly imaginative in its inception. There’s also PvP available in the form of tournaments, although after multiple attempts across various wi-fi networks, I never got this feature to work.
Space battles, PvP or otherwise, are turn-based affairs played out in a neat ballet-like style with the opposing ships circling each other and letting loose their various weapons. It’s not the most hands-on approach to space dogfights, but it works well and you feel firmly in control of your chosen strategy. Early on in Wanderers, your character discovers a mysterious ‘Force’ called Alpha Energy which you accumulate during battles and can unleash on enemies in the form of lightning and other elemental attacks. It’s actually pretty neat using your telekinesis to rip an asteroid out of its orbit and into an enemy. An interesting addition, but just where do these dev’s get their ideas from…
The Force, sorry, ‘Alpha Energy’, is one of the few commodities you can’t buy with IAPs here. Traversing the galaxy burns fuel, which you can buy with in-game money, and GIGL are quite generous with it in the first few hours. Upgrading your ship, though, often requires crystals, which are harder to find and therefore more tempting to pay for with IAPs. It’s the classic dual currency that’s a feature of many such games, and it’s not to everyone’s taste. Combined with the many prompts to earn crystals via social networks, some will find Starborn Wanders a little needy in this respect.
Summary: Overall, Starborn Wanderers has a lot going for it, with great graphics, a vast game world and a tight battle system. The pervasive IAPs and temperamental PvP will turn off a lot of potential players, though.