City of Steam first look


City of Steam open beta started at some ungodly hour this morning and I definitely didn’t stay up for it because I’m old leave me alone sort of thing. This morning however I logged in to have a look. It’s quite nice. There are some techno-niggles, but it’s fun and light and it runs. Being a browser game downloading wasn’t a problem. Unfortunately the screenshot I took came out black, will try later, but you can doubtless see what it looks like from other places in the meantime.

The Unity Web Browser chugs, no doubt about it. I’m not sure it’s great on complexity. My fps was between 2-5, but the game was still playable by some miracle. I meandered through the tutorial until the part where I have to find some coal wagons. Got two, couldn’t find the third and it’s time I did something else. I think we are all evacuating from a city, but I’m still not properly awake, and I’ll pay attention next time I promise.

Mainly I was exercised by the control system and camera which combined are annoying. Perhaps the people who made this game played a lot of isometric games, just guessing. WASD, AS= strafe, no turn, never a good sign. Then the camera which you can toggle out of isometric follows very loosely and definitely does not turn with your character. It’s ok, you get used to it. Use right mouse button to turn, go forward, adjust view with rt mouse button. Constantly tweaking the view via mouse though, which does not make the gameplay flow.

The other problem which is minor or major depending whether they address it, is needing to be exactly positioned to pick things up. Things despawn. Plus lag = annoyance when I cannot get into the exact position fast enough to loot. Opening doors temporarily freezes the wasd buttons. Opening doors also needs pixel positioning, and opening doors can leave you running on the spot (even with click to move disabled). Meh, these are all just niggles. The game itself is nice, nice enough to go back for another look for sure.

There are some  things I bet they are glad they included given the astounding lag and chuggy engine:  pressing an attack autotargets anything attacking you. That’s helpful given the awkward controls – means you can fire back before you struggle around trying to see what is having a go at you. And also helpful is that the basic attack is an autoattack (well mine was on the arcanist), meaning even with the lag some shooting at nasties happens. At tutorial levels this is enough to triumph.

I do think though, and same with Neverwinter,  if the only real fight is with lag and the controls, I won’t be playing that much which is a shame. Doubt the makers of City of Steam would be wanting to port their game away from Unity (I’m guessing here) at this early stage, but maybe an autoloot keybind and a bitty work on door opening could be considered if there is no way to deal with the lag. And best keep the fights forgiving. Oh yes, also,  I never found the logout button, if there is one. Logged out via esc and then logout option in what looks like an unrelated menu bottom right. Made the game feel as if it was still in it’s IDE.

Anyway that was all fairly pleasant, if a bit worky. Nice things! Loved the train window when you first enter the world with the blurry scenery (sort of) going by. The cityscape and graphics are interesting, and the story seems to hang together (what I remember of it). There are instanced minidungeons even in the tutorial. Can’t comment on any other systems (I think I have the bare beginnings of some kind of spec). Most of the game works fine as far as I can tell which is all I ask from the tutorial phase of a newly released game.

It’s later on that I get picky!

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