The Pegasus Expedition has some strong and weak areas in its review. Developed by Kalla Gameworks, it offers a grand strategy game set a few centuries in the future, where humanity must seek refuge in another galaxy after an invasion of the Milky Way. You control one of the 3 major powers sent to Pegasus and must establish yourself in this strange new galaxy.
Whilst it contains a good story and some great visuals, it doesn’t succeed in distinguishing itself within the genre. The gameplay is satisfactory but requires more of a hook to escape the feel of a mobile game. A very good mobile game, but a mobile game nonetheless. More than anything, it needs an improved tutorial or it could lose players who aren’t used to the genre.
The Pegasus Expedition will release to PC on October 20th 2022.
Story: How Brutal Will You Be
The Pegasus Expedition has a story that in some ways flips the genre on its head in interesting ways, and is the highlight of this review. Normally you just expand as you like in these strategy games. You don’t tend to dwell on the ramifications of your wars. It works well to encourage aggression whilst questioning your actions along the way. The story is a sci-fi epic set in 2262. Humanity is facing an overwhelming threat from a species known as the Colossals who are rapidly gaining territory and approaching Earth.
The major factions on Earth have sent their best fleets through a portal to the Pegasus galaxy to find refuge for humanity, or find and produce weapons capable of winning the war. These are the Zeus Link Fleet of the EU, the 1st Expeditionary Fleet of the US, and the Al-Musta’mara Fleet of the Daras Combine. It’s a great starting narrative and the game looks to delve deeper into the ethics and consequences of your actions.
The Pegasus galaxy is already home to several space-faring species and your arrival posts problems to the political stability and factions of the area. You face a number or moral conundrums as you go. How far are you willingly to go to potentially save humanity? The colossal are 15 years away so you need to establish yourself quickly. But doesn’t this make you the equivalent of the Colossals to the denizens of this galaxy? It’s a strong story and one that is interesting to see develop as you are encouraged to reflect on your choices. This area is where the game is at its strongest.
The Trouble with the Story Focus
There is something of a catch 22 when it comes to large scale strategy games such as these. Having a more involved story that follows its narrative beats can be really good, but on the flipside it can hamper the player’s choices. You don’t really get to choose how you want to deal with the galaxy’s inhabitants, at least until later in the game. Early on wars happen as is required by the story which leads to strong narrative moments. However, it does dampen your own ability to interact with galaxy and make your own calls. I’m not saying it’s bad, just that it’s something to bear in mind if you were hoping for a more free sandbox experience from the get go.
Gameplay: Commanding The Pegasus Expedition
The Pegasus Expedition is a turn-based grand strategy game that has you control the fleets and planets of Earths forces in this new frontier, and this works well in review. Specifically, you control the Zeus Link Fleet of Earths forces. You control the broad strategy and must deal with narrative crisis as they pop up. This is through 3 main components: combat, infrastructure/logistics and diplomacy.
The combat in the of The Pegasus Expedition is done through your fleets, which is a mixed bag to review. You build and maintain fleets which are used to take and defend star systems. Upgrades to your fleet come through developing your infrastructure and advancing the tech tree to get higher tier units and buffs. Special Forces can be recruited to perform sabotage on enemy fleets and planets.
The assaults and defences give you a few different options on how to approach. You can group your units into large battle groups, or split your forces into detachments to flank enemy positions. There are also ‘All Means Allowed’ tactics, such as using nukes, which are more effective, but come with higher casualties and damages your diplomatic reputation.
It’s satisfying to build your forces and expand, especially when you pull off effective strategic plans. For example, isolating and eliminating an enemy fleet. However, the game feels like it needs a hook. You select at the start which approach you want to use, but you can’t change plans on the fly, or get involved on a more granular level for harder battles.
I think this is an area that could use improvement. Too often it feels like you have no real say in why you win or lose, beyond having a stronger fleet. The other problem is the fleet repair mechanic. It takes up to 10 turns to repair a fleet, usually at the total cost of the units. This is way too slow. You can build a whole new fleet in about 3 turns. Either repairs should be faster or cheaper than building new ships, or you should have the option to merge two crippled fleets into one combat effective unit.
Infrastructure and Logistics
To maintain the fleets you need to have your infrastructure and logistics in order. You do this by building on planets you control. You can build civilian, shipbuilding, research and industrial outposts on a planet. You’ll want to choose wisely, for example planets with rare earth minerals are better for industrial outposts. The planets come in a plethora of different types. Colonisable planets are rare but can be host to massive cities, whereas habitable planets can host mid level settlements. Then there are buildable and hazardous planets that can only sustain minimal structures, or none at all depending on how far down the tech tree you are.
This all works pretty well, but can be frustrating at times, as you have to manually enter each star system to build, and eventually you will probably forget which ones you have developed. The UI can be a bit overwhelming so keeping track of what is where can be tough, especially when star systems swap hands very regularly.
I found in the early game of The Pegasus Expedition, that this is where the main struggle is for this review. You just don’t have much material to develop your capabilities, whilst the story brings you into a number of conflicts.
The diplomacy element works much like other strategy games. Aggression and expansion make factions trust you less, whilst trade and treaties make you trusted more. There is the added element of tactics and their effects as well. As mentioned, using ‘All Means Allowed’ tactics will make groups fear you, for example using nuclear weapons or deliberately running down opponents. This connects the story and gameplay of The Pegasus Expedition in an effective way, which always great to see and review. There is some ironing out to do, as you can get a huge number of resources through cheesing the diplomatic meetings. Promising a non-aggression pact and free trade means you can pretty much get them to give you all their resources for no immediate downside. You can also train operatives to sabotage enemy relations and reputation which adds another layer to the strategy.
How It All Fits Together
All in all, the game works well as a grand strategy game. The different aspects synergise well, making you feel involved in the situations, with meticulous planning being rewarded. I think the game would benefit from a simpler to use UI. At times, especially at the start, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed, leading to a disastrous campaign. This is partly because the tutorial in The Pegasus Expedition is just too bare bones for this review. You get a few text boxes and the early story gives some guidance, but for a game with so much going on onscreen, it could really use at least the option for a more involved tutorial.
It may be a matter of overall taste, but I also think the battle gameplay needs a little extra to get the player involved. The infrastructure and diplomacy aspects work well, but would be better if it felt like you had more control over the battles. Currently it feels a bit too much like a Total War game where you can only ever auto resolve battles. The game is strong in the broad parts of strategy, but falters when it comes to the specifics.
Graphics and Audio: Gorgeous Colours and Spacy Sounds
The Pegasus Expedition has great graphics and nice audio to review. The galaxy looks stunning with a great use of colours. Not only does the main galaxy map look great, but the artwork for the story cutscenes are also quite striking. The alien designs are a touch generic, largely just being anthropomorphised animals such as bird people, but they do look good. The battles make a great use of lasers and lights, but it’s hard to zoom in enough to get a really good look. The same can be said for the ships and planetary defence designs. They are pretty good, but you don’t get much of a chance to see them.
Audially the game is good, but doesn’t stand out compared to similar games. The background music does capture the vibe of spacefaring but there is yet to be a moment that really stands out. The sound design for the battles in The Pegasus Expedition was well designed. The cacophony of lasers and explosions feels just right for a space battle and aids in making the battles come across as grand as intended, and the voice acted segments, whilst a bit restrained, brings home the emotions at the core of the story.
The Pegasus Expedition was played on PC for review with a key provided by Dead Good Media.