As announced today at the PlayStation Experience event in San Francisco, Armature Studio's 10v10 space shooter Dead Star will actually support an experimental, Battlestar Galactica-inspired 5v10v10 mode. And the plan is that you will be able to try it today if you pre-order the game, since pre-ordering immediately gets you into the game's PS4 beta.
The game's newly-revealed Capital Ship/Escape Run mode will allow five players to team up to escort a massive spaceship that will jump into the middle of one 10v10 match of the game after another, hoping to protect the ship and survive after a half dozen jumps.
"The clearest inspiration of the new game mode was the episode titled '33' of Battlestar Galactica," Armature's Jack Mathews told me earlier this week while explaining the new mode. "That's the episode where the ship had to jump every 33 minutes in order to survive. We thought it would be really cool to realise that feeling in a video game, and to do it in live matches would be more unpredictable than anything else."
A new trailer for the game shows this in action:
The 10v10 matches are Dead Star's main mode. They involve players flying upgradeable spaceships through procedurally generated levels, while defending, attacking and upgrading bases. Armature's developers have created different types of ships and upgrades to allow the game to feel like a class-based space shooter.
While the two teams of 10 are fighting it out, the five players playing in Capital Ship mode are essentially invading their game. Those five players have their own goal: to keep their mother ship as undamaged as possible while surviving each jump. Players can repair the main ship and assign specialists to bolster its capabilities as they play. They can also fly around to harvest resources, but it won't be easy, since they will be jumping into pitched battles. It's up to the other teams of 10 to decide to ignore them, attack or team up.
"Damage to the Capital Ship carries over between jumps," Mathews explained. "So you have to balance defending the Capital Ship with repairing or upgrading its systems. If you jump into a match where the players are lower level, or more timid about attacking the Capital Ship, you want to take those moments to get in any repairs you can."
The game is still in development, so the mode isn't fully figured out. Mathews said his team is thinking that Capital Ship players will make five to seven jumps for an experience that lasts about a half an hour. "Clearing a capital ship is the only way to get the best versions of our rewards.These include elite pilot portraits and skins as well as the highest level augments."
Dead Star isn't slated for official release until next year, but it is expected to be available in open beta on PS4 today and will also be released on PC through Steam's Early Access program. Those who buy into the PS4 beta or Steam Early Access will pay $US15 ($20) and will have access to the full game when it is officially released. Those who wait for the full release and buy then will be paying $US20 ($27).
"We thought that an early access model leading into launch would be the best way to help us balance the game to a wider audience. Preorder-for-beta seemed like the way to make this happen on PlayStation, assuming that the beta could stay online for a few months until the game comes out. I ran this by our friends in Sony Third Party Production, and they helped to make it happen."
Given that the game is made by some ex-Metroid people, I did have to ask about the ships we might see. Any chance that one of the ships in the game will be sort of golden with a green windshield? Maybe flown by a woman? Said Mathews: "That's not a terrible idea for a ship skin."