Strike Vector EX Hands-On Preview

When Strike Vector was released on PC in 2014, the sci-fi dogfighting game was online-only, and just had a handful of arenas and multiplayer modes, though they added more of the former later on. But in bringing the game to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as the rechristened Strike Vector EX, which they’ll be doing soon, the good people at Ragequit Corporation are not only adding more multiplayer modes, reworking a couple of the maps, and rebuilding the game on a new (read: better) engine, but they’re also adding a story-driven campaign and a training arena as well.

Strike Vector EX 01

Last week I had a chance to try out the offline modes of Strike Vector EX while the game’s art directors Paul Chadeisson and Pierre-Etienne Travers sat nearby, ready to answer any and all of my stupid questions. Of which there were many since I hadn’t played the original version of the game.

In Strike Vector Ex, you’re casts you as the pilot of a mech-like craft called a Vector, which you use to defend the skies, as well as some large oil rigs. But unlike a dogfighting game where you’re piloting a space ship or plane, or a mech game where you’re running around on the ground, your Vector can, at the touch of a button, transform from a fast-moving ship to a hovering one, not unlike a Harrier Jet. Or something out of the anime Macross.

As with the original, Strike Vector EX is multiplayer-centric, and includes such modes as “Deathmatch,” “Team Deathmatch,” and a “Domination” variant where you have to protect a large bomber while taking out your enemy’s ship.

Strike Vector EX also boast fifteen different arenas, and allows you to customize your Vector with numerous weapons and defensive systems, as well as different body parts that can be painted a wide variety of colors. Not only can you chose between seven main weapons — including a Gatling gun, homing missiles, and a shotgun — and can add modifiers to improve their range, strength, and other qualities, but you also have options when it comes to secondary systems, which can be either offensive or defensive. For instance, you can go with a Tesla coil, which causes electrical damage to any nearby ship, or you can opt for an EMP, which will temporarily stun nearby ships, but won’t cause any damage. Finally, there are also some passive options for your Vector, for those who’d like to add additional armor and so on.

Strike Vector EX 02

All of these options (save for the aesthetic ones) are available from the beginning to players in the online modes, which supports up to sixteen players, as well as in the “Skirmish” mode, a training area where you can play all of the online modes against bots.

But while Strike Vector EX was built as an online game, the most interesting addition is one for people like me who don’t play well with others: a story-driven campaign. Granted, this mode is largely like playing multiplayer against bots, but unlike the “Skirmish” option, it has a progression and a narrative. In it, you go on fifteen different missions — one for each battle arena — during which you’ll take on a squad of enemies both on your own (“Deathmatch”) and with a squadron (“Team Deathmatch”), and will, you guessed it, have to take out an enemy bomber while protecting your own heavy ship.

Though there will be missions in Strike Vector EX that are not just multiplayer modes with bots. Though I didn’t get to see it, Paul and Pierre-Etienne say there will be one mission where you’re tasked with attacking a massive ship. You’ll also, unlike the multiplayer and “Skirmish” modes, unlock new weapons and other perks as you progress through the story.

As excited as I may be to play Strike Vector EX this way, though, even my brief time playing the game revealed a couple of slightly sour notes. First, while there are missions where you’ll engage in boss fights, those bosses are just regular Vectors that are heavily armored and have special abilities; they’re not gigantic Vectors or multiple ships that connect to form Voltron.

There are little touches in the campaign that make this seem a little, well, game-y. Mostly how points pop up when you destroy an enemy Vector, and how there are power-ups floating around that can restore your health or quicken the cool down of your special weapons.

Strike Vector EX 03

That said, these are minor issues, ones that could be fixed when Paul, Pierre-Etienne, and the rest of their Ragequit Corporation cohorts make Strike Vector EX II: Electric Shock Boogaloo. As for how well the game will do without them, well, we’ll see when the game is released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year.

 

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