I haven't been on the forums in a while, and what brought me back is the new Din's Curse patch. While I was at it, I checked out the new patch for Drox. Not having played for a long while, I found the game much more polished than it was earlier, but it's still lacking a strong end goal. This is something that has been a problem since the beta: Drox is more a sandbox than a game, and some of the reviews even latched onto that (while still giving Drox a generally positive score). In my opinion, a sandbox will always be weaker than a game -- sandboxes lack challenge and focus, and in general interest me a lot less than games. Some sandboxes make it big (Terraria and Minecraft are good examples), but those generally allow for a huge degree of creativity, which Drox, by its nature, cannot allow for.
The thing is, the ingredients to make Drox focused are already in the game as far as I can tell. Currently, the main objectives to each sector are open ended: economic win, fear, alliance etc. These were added due to requests by the fans, but really they just make Drox even more open-ended and less focused. However, since the game has missions from Drox high command, I suggest those become the main objectives for the game. Furthermore, these missions could be played with to make them even more interesting and tense. The Drox high command could set one goal or start with no goal, then change their mind and replace a goal or add another goal. These things would happen gradually during a play session and would be randomly generated. Some possible missions:
- Destroy faction X
- Protect all of X's planets (really hard one)
- Ensure peace between X and Y (both have to exist, and you'll have to guard the diplomats of both sides)
- Ensure constant war between X and Y.
- Protect X
- Protect X, followed by protect Y (when Y is X's mortal enemy. It would be randomly chosen of course).
- Explore the entire sector (replaces a current victory condition)
- Reinforce the mighty image of the Drox (replaces the current fear victory condition)
- Ensure the survival of 3 races.
- Help X colonize 20 planets.
- Destroy 5 bosses.
- Reach system X within 10 minutes.
There is so much room for creativity with these random goals, and these are the kinds of things that will create stories and elevate this game to the level of DC and DoP IMO. Can you imagine the tension of getting one of these goals when your situation makes them so very difficult? Sometimes you'll have to protect the 'empire', which will be a cakewalk, and sometimes you'll have to fight with the 'rebels' against the empire. But the key thing is that if you fail the mission(s), you lose the sector. This brings up the tension several notches.
Now, I know the original game is fully formed, but an expansion is the perfect place to make this kind of change. And before I get a whole bunch of replies saying "I love the game as is, don't you change anything about it", let me just suggest that the current game mode can be preserved as a checkbox marked 'sandbox mode' before starting a game.
Yes, there will be fans of this game, as there are for any game, and for good reason: Drox does a lot of things really well -- several of which have never been done before, and it's certainly Soldak's most polished game. But in my opinion, it's currently missing the special something to make it take off. DC had the ingredients to make it huge but was unfortunately too unpolished in its graphics, animations and some of its basic ARPG mechanics (not to mention that it reached Steam late, something that will apparently happen with Drox as well). Drox has polish, its basic ARPG mechanics are pretty good, and it innovates by taking ARPGs to where they've never been before (space). But it loses the excellent advantages DC and DoP had with the dynamic quest system and competitive races (DoP specifically) by squandering it on an essentially aimless game. The thing is, the ingredients to make it work and bring back the tension are almost in the game already, they just need to be tweaked a little.
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