Lost Empire: Immortals Preview (PC)

After being greeted by Paradox’s lovely Marketing and PR ladies, Sofia and Susana, I was ushered into a small area lined with video cameras, a display screen with accompanying laptop hooked up to a projector and a bunch of info-hungry journos from all over Europe. Not only were there more than enough gaming related morsels to go round, there was so much goodness that I had to take a doggy-bag home.

In this the first of two write-ups I’ll be looking at Pollux Game Labs’ latest title, Lost Empire: Immortals. Lead Programmer Jonas Møller was on hand to walk us through the game, unveil the new features and basically show off the games’ many new and exciting features.

Pollux have gone to great lengths to make the many options available to you – and believe me there are many! – as easily accessible as possible. Seeing Jonas’ right hand man navigate through detailed and colourful menu systems made the game look instantly appealing and more importantly inviting to both newcomers and fans of the series.

The first thing we saw was a huge universe with various star systems highlighted within. We were told that the galaxy will contain up to 5000 star systems, all fully customisable. You can colonise each star system and choose what role it plays in the grand scheme of your vast Empire. For example, a simple click on the mouse and your guide your fleet to the nearest system and choose ‘Colonise’ from the easy to navigate menu system. How you choose to deploy this system however, is where the game really opens up. Obviously your troops need food so starting with a farming colony is a most likely a good starting point although many other weird and wonderful options are available.

In fact, there are so many choices that the game throws at you that you need to be prepared for a long gaming session in order just to get yourself up and running. For example, building your ships out of harvested minerals from the aforementioned solar systems you’ve previously assigned to the task of mining is an interesting and challenging process. There seemed to be around seven types of craft ranging from Scout to Battleship and even bigger crafts whose names unfortunately escaped me. The Scout crafts are light and fast but are easily damaged, whereas the Battleships are huge and powerful but slow and cumbersome and aren’t particularly well equipped to deal with enemies’ faster, more manoeuvrable fighters.

So, like everything else in the game, tactics and thought come into play here: you must find the right balance of ships to add to your fleet as too much of one type will eventually become exploited. Staying on the combat angle, Jonas showed us how the battles pan out. In some quite astonishing detail we saw this enormous space battle unfold in front of us. You see, the user doesn’t actually actively participate in the battles. You select your fleet, give them commands right down to each individual ship, then the game calculates the result and you can nip off for a well earned cup of tea as due to everything being saved in real time, you can simply rewind the action and watch as your destroyers plough into the enemy from any angle and at any speed.

The post-action results are then displayed and you can see how well you’ve performed. All the mini-battles that were won and lost during the fight are available for scrutiny so you can learn how to hone your tactics for the next fight - a novel idea that I’m sure will prove very popular.

Pollux has also included what we’ve been assured is a very simple and intuitive set of modding tools. All the game data is stored in spreadsheets and almost everything is modifiable. If you want to change the graphics you can, particle effects of lasers or weapons in general, no problem. You can simply tweak and tweak to your heart’s content. Jonas really gave the impression that the development team have invested a lot of time and energy into creating a game that works on a pick up and play level but with a myriad of features for those who like the idea of really getting down and dirty with the game’s mechanics.

To list every new feature on display at Hotel 27 in the heart of Copenhagen, I would literally need pages and pages of space. They are simply too numerous to mention. However, let it be said that the game itself has also has an intricate back story and every race you encounter (30 minor races and countless others) has their own secrets to be uncovered and characteristics. Every move you make within the game has an effect on how your Galactic Empire pans out: for every action, a reaction.

Multiplayer has been confirmed for up to ten players and Jonas assured us all, that hours and hours of testing has gone into the game so that no one race, ship or tactic will be a sure fire way success: balance as always, is key.

As we all applauded Jonas and his team I was left with a feeling of anticipation as to how all this will play out when the game is finally released. There was certainly enough on show to get excited about and hopefully our coverage has enhanced that.

As usual the more information you’re given, the more questions you feel need to be asked. So in order to quench your thirst for more, I’ve secured an interview with Pollux courtesy of our friends over at Paradox Interactive. In the meantime, enjoy our new exclusive trailer and our new screenshots and artwork from the game, and don’t forget to continually press F5 until Part 2 of our Copenhagen excursion with Paradox Interactive appears with fresh information about Frictional Games’ Penumbra: Black Plague.