A Sci-Fi action RPG, Drox Operative 2 stays true to Soldak Entertainment’s established formula of random world generation, race relations and battle for survival. However, as with all the separate franchises within the Soldak’s catalogue, Drox Operative 2 has its own twist. This is that instead of leading a race, yourself, you only lead a single ship, leaving you a free entity. This leads to a different dynamic of play. None of the races are out to get you from the start, as you are not a culture with a home world. Instead, you have a multitude of ways of winning the game. You can choose to support individual races by completing their quests, giving them resources, forming an alliance and taking out their enemies. You can choose to wipe out all races. You can play politics and try to build good relations between all races using your influence to get all races to form peaceful alliances. You can also win by earning a certain amount of gold by completing quests for one or many of the races. Or you can win by simply exploring all the area maps and killing unique mobs.
You might think, does that simple change really make such a difference to the gameplay? Well, I would say yes. In other titles, there is more urgency and pressure to survive as rival cultures try to wipe you out, like timed quests that if you don’t complete in time leads to you effectively losing. In Drox Operative 2, there doesn’t seem to be any automatic lose clauses. Even if a culture that you choose to ally with gets wiped out, it’s not game over. You can just choose another ally. That’s not to say that you can’t lose. There are plenty of ways to lose but none of them feel random or down to bad luck as some losses in the other games felt. To me, the win and lose clauses just feel a little more fair, in this game. While I found previous games both enjoyable and frustrating, this game seems to have a better balance of just enjoyable.
There are a couple of things which annoy me, like when playing with a controller, the tenancy for the target to lock to non-threatening targets like space anomalies, abandoned ships and loot rather than the enemies that you want to attack but it is, on the whole, a small issue. The AI when offering to trade seems a little glitchy. When I offered information for money the AI races seem to request more money from me than I requested from them in payment, which seems a bit weird and made progress towards the financial win tricky. However, I think the graphics are a great improvement on previous titles and I think a lot of that is down to the top down view really suiting the space style of the game perfectly. With all the different achievements, races and equipment to collect and unlock and all the win conditions to try, this game has great longevity and with the maps being randomly generated, you can have a fresh experience very time.
While being an indie developer with limited resources ultimately does limit Soldak Entertainment’s design options. I, personally, feel that the developer always does a good job at creating good quality, unique indie games with excellent potential for time played versus money spent. You just need to look at the steam reviews for an example of the amount of time played by those who have enjoyed it, the average of which seems to be around 40- 50 hours. The highest playtime I could find was over 400 hours by one reviewer. For a game retailing at under £16, I call that very good value for money.
In conclusion, I found Drox Operative 2 to be both a fun and engaging game. The ability to shape both your own ship and crew by collecting equipment and allocating stat points and the ability to shape the world and race battles around you, by growing and using your influence on each race or to simply choose to remove some from the game, leads to an intricate and well balanced game and hours of fun. I would urge everyone to at least try the free demo on steam here and if you enjoy it to buy the game.