Guardians of Orion is an offering from developer Trek Industries. The game is available on Steam through the Early Access program. The price is 17,99 euro but there is a loyalty discount for those who own Orion Prelude. According to the devs it will be completed by the end of 2016.
Given its early access status, when I initially launched the game I expected some serious issues. I mean it would have been understandable (if not expected). Happily even in this early stage the game surpassed my expectations and showed no sign of performance problems or game-breaking bugs. Sure, there was the occasional crash, sometimes the AI gets stuck in the rocky environments, and there is a weird bug where the player does a double teleport (leaving them motionless).
The inconveniences are small and in no way brand the game a bad product. The frame-rate was pretty decent when I was playing the title at 1440p resolution (that is 2K!) and everything else maxed out. Although there were some FPS dips here and there, in general I was getting above 60. This shouldn't come as a surprise because the recommended specifications claim that a 1GB of video memory is enough to enjoy the game in the highest graphical fidelity. Turning on virtual synchronization will help a great deal with screen tearing. I am not aware if the issue was with a certain map, but that could have been the case. The last noticeable defect was that a couple of times the texture for the cactuses didn't load properly. The game does take quite a long time before starting each mission, specifically to load the textures on all objects, so it is odd that a problem like this occurs.
Co-op is how this game should be played:
Guardians of Orion was meant to be played cooperatively. Up to 4 players can participate in a single match and it is perfect that way. Having to coordinate with your team is very important. You will often end up being overrun by enemies while your Harvester goes down and has to be repaired. What keeps you on toes in this situation is that there is a time in which you can perform repairs. After the three minutes run out,you are out of luck and the mission fails. Time is of the essence. It makes distraction a viable (if not essential) tactic: one player draws enemies away as the rest of the players focus efforts on repairing the Harvester.
Guardians of Orion offers quite a lot for a game under development. It has 3 character classes, with a few more already confirmed by David (Developer at Trek Industries). The existing ones are pretty basic: assault, recon and support, with a predictable assortment of weaponry. But it is the additional classes that make this game a lot more interesting. With the planned additional characters I believe everybody will find a role that suits them. So far the following extra classes have been announced:
Rockeeter guardian (has a rocket launcher as his main weapon),
Pyro guardian (flame thrower as main weapon),
Demo guardian (light machine gun and proximity mines), and the one I find the most interesting,
Tech guardian (carrying an SMG and a portable turret. Seriously, who doesn't like turrets?).
Updates are planned on a monthly cycle, and the full release game is planned in 12 months time. The first expansion to the map roaster will be with a snowy map. The biggest update will come in the beginning of January, with a swamp-based map and a new game mode.
What challenges can you see in the game?
There is only one game mode available at launch, and unfortunately it just doesn't show the potential of the game. It's survival. You have to endure eleven waves of enemy AI, protecting an interesting machine that harvests minerals across the map. Appropriately, this machine is dubbed "Harvester". Another feature that would have been nice to have available in early access is the collection of gear and having an inventory. When I think of an early access release, I assume that the core game mechanics of the title have been completed, or at least the fundamental ones. Not having anything to strive for in the beginning is definitely going to be a problem for most players. This doesn't mean you cannot spend over 30 hours in Guardians of Orion, but when you cannot customize your character in any way, it's a little disappointing. It makes it harder to justify spending time inside the game world.
The most feared creatures will hunt you!
Enemies are vicious and diverse. When I first tried out the game the I already knew I would be encountering dinosaurs. I have to praise the amount of detail in the models for the dinosaurs. They all look very well made. Raptors, Triceratops and the mighty T-Rex are just some of the enemies you will face - and they are scary. You will be attacked from the air and on the ground, you will feel like escape is impossible. That tension and challenge is what makes this game superb. Those aren't all of the adversaries you will face. The game also offers robots to destroy you. Drones can launch grenades with a large explosive radius.
The harder the level is the more enemies will appear. Also as you level up, more difficulty modes will be open to you. Right now there is easy, normal, hard and ridikulous (it is spelled that way in the game). I have talked to players on our stream yesterday and I couldn't find anyone to have actually completed the 11 survival waves on the highest difficulty. From the info I've gathered, the number of adversaries could rise above 230 as you complete the waves. Talk about a challenge!
How do the maps look in-game? They aren't very different. On all three available maps you will have a rocky terrain with some plants. I would suggest you play only the first one at the moment because the vegetation truly shines there. It makes the game very enticing indeed. Also the minerals aren't in different colors on the maps. I did want to see some variety in the color palette but I am sure that Trek Industries had a lot more important things to work on.
Performance is good - no serious bugs
Skill tree raging up to 30 levels
Awesome character abilities
Dinosaurs and robots ready to make your life miserable
Support for gamepads
Lack of game modes
Skill tree is pretty identical for all characters
Maps aren't that different from each other
After spending a fair amount of time in the Steam Community hub for this game I got to see how the developers interacted with the community. I am more than pleased by how they were handling communication! Developers were very open about the state of the game, what they planned as updates for it and were taking in the player feedback. I am happy to say I saw very little threads left without an answer.
David Prassels took the time to answers some of our questions directly in the chat during our broadcast and gave more fantastic information about the future of Guardians of Orion. Below is posted the exact copy:
Dprassel:David from Trek here
Dprassel:I can confirm that Silly Waves will come back via Redik modes
Dprassel:We already have a move for the Anky where it rolls forward like Sonic the Hedgehog
Dprassel:Rocketeer Guardian is coming
Dprassel:Has a Rocket Launcher
Dprassel:Pyro Guardian is coming
Dprassel:Flame Thrower + Napalm Grenades
Dprassel:Demo Guardian is coming (light machine gun, proximity mines)
Dprassel:so many more are coming
Dprassel:Tech Guardian has an auto SMG and portable turret
Dprassel:So if you like the rifle, youll love that SMG
Muppetmaker:Fuse from deadisland epidemic was nice to play just as an idea for a flamer
Dprassel:we have 1+ years scheduled already, the plan for this game is very detailed but also very open to community feedback as we kept that 1 year pacing a bit slower TO integrate community feedback
Dprassel:more maps are needed too, we scheduled an emergency update to get it in time for the Winter holiday
Dprassel:Originally the first update was Jan 2016 (Stegosaurus update)
Dprassel:but we wanted something sooner, we've been playing these maps so long
Dprassel:So now there is a Dec 2015 update with a snow map coming
Dprassel:The next new mode is inside the Jan 2016 Steggo Update
Dprassel:Itll be called Slaughter, and its about how long you can survive against endless waves of enemies
Dprassel:It supports 4-player online coop
Dprassel:AND 4-player local coop (same screen)
Muppetmaker:melee berserker also planned ? ~.*
Dprassel:Winter Update is coming with a snow map
Dprassel:Steggo Update (jan 2016) is coming with a Swamp map
Dprassel:Yes a brawler guy is scheduled to arrive
Dprassel:Archer*Sniper Guardiana few dueler guardians are scheduled
Dprassel:PvP is scheduled for Summer 2016, subject to change
Dprassel:PvP will be in third person
Dprassel:ala gears of war
Dprassel:and its called VITAL
Dprassel:The best or worst part of me and orion is im the biggest fan
Dprassel:so I basically want to add everything, every time
Dprassel:Yes - gear, loot, drops
Dprassel:Those are all scheduled to come
Dprassel:Inventory, someone seemed to find it
Dprassel:We also have a future system planned called MY GUARDIAN
Muppetmaker:sounds good and some very good ideas
Dprassel:lets you create one, base mesh, ethnicity, gender, armor, armor color
Dprassel:weapon load out
Dprassel:voice type, etc
Dprassel:2 main developers full time, two testers, 10 contracters/content producers
SpellshaperCZ:hi guys, is there a local co-op?
Dprassel:Guardians of Orion WILL be the shooter to own
Dprassel:Local Coop in Jan 2016
Dprassel:and monthly updates will make it easier
Dprassel:Even though small, we're quicker than 100+ people teams
Dprassel:in large teams you waste time and resources micromanaging
Dprassel:10% discount for ALL steam
Dprassel:50% for loyalty members
Dprassel:(owners of Prelude, $1 on Steam)
Dprassel:10% discount is one week
Dprassel:50% discount is two weeks
Dprassel:50% discount LASTS two weeks
Dprassel:10% discount lasts one week
SpellshaperCZ:u will have it hard -> HellDivers coming to PC
Dprassel:I liked Helldivers
Dprassel:they are the reason we made our muzzle flashes huge
Dprassel:but we have a lot more gameplay than them
Dprassel:let alone in the future
Dprassel:3 fallen chances
Dprassel:can self revive (via kills)
Dprassel:or get picked up
Dprassel:after you go down 3 times, itll be just death and respawn
Dprassel:each chance of fallen has LESS time than the one before
Dprassel:two swords robot
Dprassel:If you're on Easy/Medium/Hard
Dprassel:he usually come Wave 7+
Dprassel:if you play Insane/Redik, he can spawn wave 1+
Dprassel:We have more creatures/dinosaurs/robots to add
Dprassel:And likely will get to insects, for any starship trooper fans
Dprassel:I have to hop out for a second, fiance is home and have to have dinner
Dprassel:I hopefully will be back