8th best game of 2019: Rebel Galaxy Outlaw

This is my game of the year, unless I’m forgetting something (I may well be). I have had, and continue to have, a great time with this.

It’s totally my game of the year as well.

And it’s even coming to consoles soon! I like to think that’s happening because I hounded Travis about it in the game thread.

I guess I wrote Outlaw off too early!

And me. I tried playing Freespace 2 with a joystick a while back and I couldn’t even pass the tutorial. Just completely could not grok how it was supposed to work. The joystick has gathered dust ever since.

(Okay, so I also haven’t been playing them with a gamepad. or at all, really. But still!)

This makes my heart weep.

I thought I-War was brilliant, and the sequel too. The combat was great once you learned how to circle-strafe with your lateral thrusters. I still have my original boxed copy with the huge manual (remember those?!).

Also, I-War had autopilots, including a kind of pursuit mode.

Is the Valerian movie a hot mess? Maybe. Is it my idea of a great time at the movies? Absolutely.

“Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is also [a] smooth smooth smooth game”
“it[’]s currently using to bait its whales”


So again, I actually think the space battle stuff holds up nicely. I don’t mind the sprites for the ships, and space is mostly just black stuff, which is not hard to render. The interiors of the ships in Wing Commander games have always been great.

The part that doesn’t hold up is the long slog of endless similar fights. There’s just not enough game going on. Had it actually simulated faction activity, like Pirates!, it would have been more interesting. Instead is just proc-gens enemies per mission.

So I hope everyone realizes that autofollow is basically just an aid for controllers – like aim assist, but for space games. Joysticks are built to have a large dynamic range of movement – from large banks to minor adjustments. When you put tiny joysticks on a controller, that dynamic range is lost, or at least becomes very difficult to use consistently. Autofollow reduces the range of output needed by the input device to an amount that those tiny joysticks can handle without causing frustration.

I sort of liked the first one, in a way. Playing as a corvette/frigate was unique at the time. The story was pretty decent for a space sim. The missions could be tense and well designed. The lack of checkpoints and scripted waiting every time you tried again can go FUCK themselves though. That part was turned up to 11 in the expansion and I quickly uninstalled it.

I-War 2 fell flat on its face for me. It tried to be Privateer, but instead of money, it forced you to buy stuff using bartering of very specific pieces of loot from a giant pool of hundreds. It was essentially crafting, and you were constantly stuck from upgrading because you were missing ONE component out of a dozen and you just had to hope that component dropped somewhere. And as far as loot went, I remember attacking freighters and it all came down to waiting at a jump gate until the AI pathfinding had 2 freighters crash into each other and explode, and you could just scoop up the loot without triggering hostilities.

Epic Store exclusive :(

It doesn’t use any Epic Game launcher/store DRM.

Save the Epic store kvetching for the other thread.

Yeah, except circlefests always sucked, we just didn’t notice at the time. It’s not like I enjoyed cursor chasing with a joystick any more than I enjoy it with a controller. If it can’t be removed from the design entirely (which I’d prefer) I approve of any attempt to at least make it less irritating.

I quite enjoyed the first one because of this, and because of the music. Actually played it all the way through. It’s unfortunate that this one went in such a different direction, and on a platform I’m not interested in doing business with to boot.

Please don’t gamesplain to us.

I’ll post about the Epic store in whatever thread I please, Tim Sweeney!

Preach, brother.

Oh I’ll gamesplain all day long.

Right, well, the basic problem with dogfighting in this artificial space environment is that there are no constraints (as Tom alludes to in the review). In theory, if both you and the enemy are using autofollow, there should be no firing solution for either one of you, and the game has to cheat somehow to let you have a chance at firing. Also, the concept of shaking the pursuer goes out the window, but again this requires some real constraints based on ship type, speed, turn radius etc. You don’t have to have gravity to have good dogfighting, but you do need constraints on what the ships can do. Then it’s more a matter of situational awareness, which is always lacking when peering through a screen. I do wish somebody came up with a space sim that was still non-Newtonian, but also had real constraints – even if they’re just based on what the pilot can endure before blacking out. Alternatively, they could make it Newtonian and give us some sweet, sweet Expanse-style combat, including the blackouts.

You’ll get no argument from me on either of those points, autofollow is basically a patch on a larger problem. I always did want a B5 game with proper Newtonian physics so I could get some backwards-flying-Starfury going.

This game had such a limited release I haven’t yet played it, so it can’t appear in my 2019 list. But since the wider release schedule is stretched out over two different years maybe it’ll show up on my 2020 list.