So I’ve finally gotten to play Infinity Battlescape for a few hours, and it can be a fun game, but there are also a fair few things which should get improved/fixed before the full release, especially for new players. I’ve put my constructive criticism below (which I hope can be used to improve the game), and I hope others will also post their own thoughts on the game…
- The initial controls pop-up helps a lot get past the complex controls, so the HUD is the biggest obstacle to learning the play, as it looks quite complex - but also unclear & hard to read. This photo shows how hard to read some of the icons & text can be, especially the weapons info in the top left:
The text is way too small, the icons a bit too small, and the pastel colours can be hard to read against some backgrounds (I’d suggest stronger colours, say orange or green, and a black outline).
A lot of the generic icons are also unclear as to their meaning, so it’s something you have to read elsewhere (or eventually deduce) & then memorise (the game’s own built-in guide bears little rebalances to the Interceptor you start in). Elite Dangerous does this better, with text for the most important stuff, such as WEP (weapons), ENG (engines), SYS (system), PRIMARY/SECONDARY (guess what they are!).
Really the gauges should also change colour as they get low, e.g. low shields & armour should become yellow/red to show they are dangerously low.
It’s also not clear that the ship’s “physical” buttons & screens (lower down in the cockpit) are just for show, and so they just distract & confuse as you wonder what they are for.
Lots more I could say about the HUD, but they’re the most important things.
- One of the game’s most important aspects (where to go & what to do) is hidden away on an entirely separate screen (you have to press Tab), so you may not realise it’s there, and even then it’s hidden behind 4 tabs, with the default tab (Starmap) being non-functional at the moment & unimportant even when that gets fixed. The most important tab (Missions) is on the far right, and so typically the last one that anyone will look at (we read left to right).
Missions tell you where you need to go to attack or defend, and let you select them as a destination. At least this should be the first tab (on the left), and really there should be a cut-down version part on the main HUD, so players stand some chance of not feeling completely lost & with no idea where to go or what to do. (Flying around randomly in this game won’t get you anywhere!) Or at least some flashing text saying “Press Tab for missions”.
- The starter ship (Interceptor) feels crap to fly (surprisingly slow to manoeuvre) & is very hard for beginners to play, as the guns are fixed, so you need to aim your ship exactly right hit anything (which is very hard). Bafflingly, some of the more expensive ships (e.g. Corvette) are easier to fly, because at least some of the guns auto-aim - and the Corvette even heals itself!
My feeling is that this would mostly be fixed if the Interceptor responded to your movements much quicker (less inertia). I don’t see that mattering too much, as long as it has weak firepower (against bigger ships) & weak armour.
- The screen where you choose your ship gives only a little idea what the purpose of each ship is, and no idea what it’s pros & cons are. This screen should say how manoeuvrable each ship is, how fast it is, what weapon types it has (and what they are used against), how much shields & armour it has, and a brief description saying what the ship is good for (and what it isn’t), etc.
The Corvette is especially unclear, as that name means nothing to me, and yet it’s arguably one of the best ships in the game, having (some) auto-aim, the ability the heal allies, and even heal itself.
The mission screen needs to make it clearer that you don’t just attack enemy ships, but that you should also attack the enemy base (if you have suitable weapons - but I’m still unclear what weapons should be used!).
When using Warp to get to another place, the visual warp effect can be way too strong when you are in space, such that you can’t even see you are flying towards or away from a nearby dark planet (unless you happen to notice that you see stars in one direction but not in another). I almost crashed into a planet one time, before I realised!.
When you arrive at a mission target, there should be some ON SCREEN indication of the objectives AND how well your team is (or is not) doing. At the moment I have to remember to Tab away, often to find we’re loosing badly.
When you select a (ship) target, there’s no way to tell what kind of ship it is, until you get very close, which makes it hard to tell whether you should go after it or not (given the ship you are in). (By comparison Elite Dangerous shows a nice picture of the ship.)
Stuff disappears from the chat window too quick, and there’s no way to scroll back in the history. So you may only notice the tail-end of a conversation & have little idea what it was about, or miss part of it while busy fighting. If I press the key to start typing, then Page Up/Down should allow me to scroll.
The one time I was able to afford a Cruiser, I accidentally flew it into the ground near an enemy base. Surprisingly it took little damage, BUT I was then unable to fly into the sky again - it seems I was stuck “in the ground” at roughly 1km altitude (my view was underneath the ground, which I could see was made of squares). After 10 minutes or so I was eventually destroyed.
I easily got head look working with my ED Tracker (it emulates a USB joystick), and it works quite well so far, but (a) there needs to be some way toggle head look off (like you can in Elite Dangerous) as it can get tiring trying to keep your head still so you can aim well, and (b) if I look far left then the camera temporarily makes me face forwards, which is jarring. The other directions are fine, at least in the Interceptor.
The X key allows me to choose a weapon to (de)activate (although can be hard to know if I’ve selected anything or not), but it would be great if I could (de)activate a weapon without the weapons choice list disappearing (nor loosing my selection), so that I could easily click again to undo it if I chose the wrong one (I have no idea what name relates to what icon), and also so I could easily (de)activate other weapons.
There are too many different reticules, so it took quite some time before I worked out what I should be aiming at what, so that my fixed guns hit the target. And even now I can feel a bit uncertain, as the one I should be paying attention to is much fainter than some of the other ones.
The visual & audible difference between firing energy & physical weapons is very hard to differentiate (I still haven’t learnt it yet), and I can’t remember which button does what, so I usually fire both to be sure (but that tends to mean I overheat quickly).
I’m still unclear how much effect energy & physical weapons have on shields & armour, so I again tend to fire both. I’m also still unclear how much heat each generates (it seems like physical weapons generate lots of heat, which confusingly is the opposite to Elite Dangerous!).
Probably more stuff I forgot, but I hope this provides food for though, and you will be able to address at least some of these issues before the game is properly released.