Starpoint Gemini 2 preview: Relearning the space sim

While Starpoint Gemini 2 isn’t officially out yet, you can pre-purchase it via Steam and play the current build. If you’re a fan of the original Starpoint Gemini, I suggest you have at it. We’re back in space in the Gemini system (hence the title). There has been a massive war which has left the entire galaxy a bit disheveled and looking to rebuild. Enter you, the freelancing ship captain. In a solar system of wavering alliances, you have none. Instead, you’re going to make your own through gameplay and decision making. When you help one faction a bunch, they're going to like you more; their enemies … not so much.

After a few tutorial screens, it’s literally go time. There you are, in the middle of the universe, with limited guidance. Although it’s a galaxy, the gameplay is still open world. You just sort of go where you want to go in pursuit of missions and money.  Sure, you can go bust out quest after quest, but what if you don’t like that specific faction? What if you want to go out and explore? Nothing is stopping you. After all, you are your own captain and your ship is yours. What I’m saying here is that the universe is your oyster.

Astroid Boom

However, the whole process takes a while to get used to. Once you learn to put all your ship’s power into boosters, locomotion gets better. While there are warp gates which take you from one planet to another, they cost money and don’t always go where you're heading. Your alternative is to space hoof it. That doesn’t sound too bad, but it can take quite a long time to go from one place to another – I’m talking sandwich making material here – and thanks to the random foes that want to shoot you out of endless space, you still have to be conscious while flying. A button that flies you straight to a location of choice is golden.

You’re going to want to establish firm space legs before entering combat. Your first battle will leave you wondering why you ran out of weapons energy so fast and why enemy ships are absolutely pelting you. The trick here is to think of your space ship as a sea ship with batteries on certain sides. The best way to lay out your weapons will depend on the angles at which they fire. If you have pulse cannons on your starboard side, they'll only fire when your foe is pointed at the starboard side. Add 3D combat, and you're left with something that takes some adjusting. Once I realized all this, the game became far more enjoyable. Also, select “Fire at will” from your radial menu when in combat – s@#$ gets easier.

Beam power

Doing missions will earn you money that you can spend on whatever you want. You want different weapons, go for it. If you want some salaried crewmates, that’s another option. Would you prefer to purchase a brand new spacecraft? You better believe you can do that. You’re the captain, and you can spend your spoils of victory on whatever you damn please. Much of the customization comes from this aspect. After playing for an extended amount of time, you’re going to learn more about what you like and how you want your ship to be decked out.

There's no hard release date for Starpoint Gemini 2, but if you're a fan of space sims, you'll definitely want to check it out. Keep in mind that the game is in early access, and there's still a whole lot of room for updates and polish. The hardcore Starpoint Gemini crowd will certainly want to pick this up.