Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of WTF

1. Welcome to W'Kanda
W’Kanda, Planet of Lights, Planet of Magic!

So nearly a year ago, Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter came out, but sadly, my rig at the time wouldn’t run it, so I put it on the backburner until I could run it properly. By the time I COULD run it, there were tons of other games in the queue, and since it seemed to still need time to percolate, I figured I’d give it some. Now, however, I’ve reached it in my queue and…boy, it is something, isn’t it? Read on to find out how my first session of Sword of the Stars II turned out.

5. You There, Survey That System!
Ships, Do Things!

I’m gonna admit right off the bat, I didn’t read the manual for the game and just jumped right in. Why? Because I assumed this game had a tutorial, like just about any 4X game these days, and would work with that. I mean, this game couldn’t be as complex as Distant Worlds, right? Welp, guess what? Nooooo tutorial. None, zip, zilch. Honestly, in this day and age, I find this unforgivable. I know, the game comes with a manual, but how many gamers these days actually read them? I betcha not as many as years past. I try to approach these games like a normal gamer would, and I figured a normal gamer would load the game and go to the tutorial. Ah well, I forged ahead, not knowing really what I was doing or how to do things.

4. Building a Station. No Idea Why.
Why am I Building a Station? Dunno, Really.

For this game, I chose a spiral galaxy, the Liir-Zuul Alliance as the race and a random name (W’Kanda). I tried to do what you normally do in games like these, send scouts out to explore nearby systems. Imagine my annoyance when, upon clicking a scout, and then clicking on a system, nothing really happened. I tried to click and right-click the system to set a course, but no go. Eventually I figured out the backward-ass method of selecting a system, then select a ship to go there. I’ve never played ANY 4X game that works like that. WTF? I was, honestly, very confused at this point, and not having much of a good time.

3. Setting Up Research
Yup, That Looks Right. I Think.

So after figuring out what to do with ships and setting some research, I clicked the button to end the turn…and the game froze, or so it seemed. The game froze for a moment, did nothing, and then resumed the next turn. Usually in games like this, there’s some indicator that the other sides are making their turns, but nothing here, which was honestly disconcerting. I thought the game seriously froze for a moment. I eventually figured out how to build a station, though I wasn’t sure WHY I should build it, I did anyway.

6. You There, Colonize Something!
Yes, Colonize!!

Eventually I found out how to colonize a planet as well, so I set that up, Eventually I built some new ships, but for some reason couldn’t deploy them, so I tried to make a fleet…which I couldn’t make without a command ship, so I built one. When I then tried to make a fleet with my new ships, the game actually up and crashed back to the desktop. It was likely just as well, I wasn’t having a good time, and was quite confused.

So what have we learned? A game needs a tutorial and clearer controls. I’ve been told there’s plenty of depth here, but I felt like I was fighting with the game to find any of it. This session lasted only ten minutes, so I’ve got a lot more to play. Yay? Stay tuned for the next entry, in which I play after having glanced through the manual (which I’m skimming through right now and it’s something of a confusing read). Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Author: Brian Rubin

14 thoughts on “Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of WTF

  1. Yeah SotS 2 is pretty opaque. However, the controls are actually logically consistent once you grok them: select where you want to do something and right click to tell a fleet to do something there.

    The manual is pretty useless IIRC. Unfortunately, this is a “learn by doing (and failing a lot)” sort of game. And a fair amount of checking in the wiki: https://sots2.rorschach.net/SotS2_Codex

    However, despite its many flaws, there is a surprisingly deep game in here. I don’t know if it is necessarily your cup of tea, though. I look forward to the next in the series!

    1. Please, I LOVE deep games, but it shouldn’t be this…opaque, to use your word, to see where to dive in, you know? It felt like people who hate gamers made this game. ;)

  2. If there’s a “?” Icon on the bottom of the screen click it to get an overview of the controls.

      1. Kerberos hasn’t issued the all clear yet so I’d be a little wary of judging certain systems too much. I know that a tutorial is planned but isn’t going to be made until everything is pretty much finalized as some things have changed a bit over the last year.

        1. I have to be honest and somewhat blunt here, if you don’t mind. :) I’m judging a fully-available-to-purchase game by the game’s merits and issues as they are when I play it, as anyone else would and should. If this were a pre-release game, I’d cut it some slack, since that’s what you’re supposed to do since there’s an understanding that stuff isn’t fully ready and the public doesn’t have access to it yet. Here, the public has full access to this game, so I treat it with all the openness and honesty that readers deserve out of a review. I’m glad they’re still fixing it, and maybe I’ll revisit it once this all-clear is declared, but right now, this is still a fully-released and available game with some…issues, and I plan to treat it as such. Being “wary” for the sake of being kind to the game would only be a disserve to myself and anyone who I hope will read this blog.

          I hope this doesn’t seem harsh, but this is something that’s very important to me and close to my heart. I hope you understand, and thank you for your open and honest comment, as well as your patronage. :)

          1. No, Brian you’re not being too harsh. There’s still a heap of work on SOTS 2 needed, especially on the A.I. but the game is still fun once you get your head around the difficult UI. To learn from history, SOTS 1 took multiple expansions before it became IMHO one of the best 4x space games available.

            1. Oh sure, but I still have to judge the game as I’m playing today, not some happy future. ;)

  3. This game has a pretty deep learning curve, even by the standards of this genre. It’s noticeably more complicated than SOTS1, which took an “easy to learn, hard to master” model. This game has a hard to learn and hard to master model, although right now it still has some stability and AI issues.

    As a game, it’s clearly got a lot of complexity. It’s aimed at hardcore 4X players. Imo, it’s perhaps the best series of it’s genre to be released in recent memory.

    1. Hey Chris, welcome to the blog. It’s awesome to see how positive you are on the game, and I hope that by playing it more I’ll be able to share in it. :)

    1. Hi there, andrewza, and welcome to the blog! I did see that it was given the all clear, but thank you for saying so regardless, it’s always appreciated (as I’m one guy and can’t always catch everything). :) Are you enjoying the game?

  4. Playing a Paradox game without reading the manual is a dangerous proposition, to say the least. I have yet to be able to jump into one of them without at least skimming the manual and reading guides. For that reason though, I absolutely love their games.

    1. After my last session, I actually tried to read the manual, and honestly found it horrid to read. :/

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