After four years (not a typo) in Early Access, Star Valor released earlier this month. This is a top-down, sandboxy action rpg where you can be a pirate, trader, miner, etc. As with the forerunners in this genre, you start with a small ship and have to earn money to buy bigger ships and upgrades for them. I’m about thirty hours in and having a blast.
For those of you that love mining like I do (all two of you), be warned that the mining start is REALLY slow. But the reason is pretty damned cool. You see, the materials you recover are much less dependent on where you are mining than on your geology skill, which is a slow process to level up. So until you can mine Silver, income is pretty awful. Not to mention, early on I was too slow to run from anything and too weak to fight (I was killed dozens of times).However, from that point on, it starts to take off and before you know it, you are clearing entire asteroid fields with ease and raking in money hand over fist from gold, platinum, iridium, etc.
There are six classes of ships, from shuttles and yachts to cruisers and dreadnaughts. Each faction has their own versions of these and there are also independent ships to acquire. Each ship class has bonuses (e.g. the bigger ships have increased weapon range), as do the specific style of ship (e.g. carriers have fleet bonuses), and the faction (proxima mining ships have better mining speed and cheaper repairs).
Each ship variant has a certain amount of space for weapons, equipment, and cargo, but how you fill that space is entirely up to you, which makes kitting out your ship a lot of fun. Want more boosters? Just make sure you have enough reactors to power them. Add shields, armor, batteries, asteroid analyzers, scanners, cloaking devices, energy capacitors, heat sinks, towing arrays, repair drones, and more. Weapons and equipment have a Diablo-style rarity system, so you might buy a white variant and upgrade it to purple (I was 5-10 hours in before I realized I should be making much more use of this feature). You can even custom craft weapons, though I haven’t seen the need.
I’d love to tell you about the story, but… I haven’t touched it beyond the intro mission. I think I will have to soon, though, because of some equipment I want. There are plenty of bog-standard mission terminal requests to do, but no sign of any quest chains aside from the main quest (unless those are only available after doing more of the main quest).
The Galaxy is created when you start your game. You can set the Galaxy size, but I don’t think there’s a ton of control over other details. That’s one thing I find unfortunate. I’d like for there to be much broader clusters dominated by particular factions, like the maps used to be in Escape Velocity, rather than this area is controlled by Venghi, the next jump over is PMC, and the next one is syndicate.