Video game publisher Hooded Horse revealed more information at their E3 2021 press showcase about three upcoming sci-fi games: Terra Invicta, Alliance of the Sacred Suns, and Falling Frontier. We spoke with a developer from each game and got a look at what to expect when these games becomes available. Presently, all three games have an expected 2021 launch window.
In Terra Invicta, an extraterrestrial probe is detected approaching Earth, and the Earth’s nations must unite to address the alien arrival. Transnational groups of political, military, and scientific leaders must join forces to coordinate a response. Ultimately seven factions from, each driven by fear, hope, or greed to challenge the alien threat.
Terra Invicta gives you power to form alliances, gather resources and battle to save the future of humanity, but more than that the development team went to great lengths to ensure they got much of the science right when working out how to travel and do battle in space. Set over years and decades, Terra Invicta offers a solar system model that is accurately designed to properly reflect the planets’ orbits, meaning that a planet should be in its proper location on a given date.
”In a World War II game you expect New Zealand to be in its proper place off of Australia,” Creative Director at Pavonis Interactive John Lumpkin said. “So in [Terra Invicta] you’d expect Mars and Jupiter and the asteroids to be where they’d really be on a particular date.”
Of the seven factions, you’ll find that there’s a mix of pro- and anti-alien sentiments. Your goal is to not only defend the Earth, but eventually coordinate a response to bring the battle into space.
”You want to build an alliance to defend the Earth,” Lumpkin said. “You want to gain political access, use your council and abilities like espionage and persuasion to help with the geo-political situation around the world.”
Terra Invicta is a game heavily built on consequences, so whether you take over a nation violently with assassinations and subterfuge or you form political alliances, you’ll see those consequences take effect throughout the course of the game. Each nation has different space-faring abilities, so you want to gather the technology needed to get into orbit and ultimately into the outer reaches of the solar system. To do this, Lumpkin and his team researched real-world space program capabilities of each nation to see how they’d play into the game.
”We researched how much mass each country can put into orbit in a given time period, but the best stuff to industrialize space is in space,” Lumpkin said. Once you get off Earth, players will want to mine asteroids to be able to gather materials much more efficiently than launching them from Earth. Currently, Terra Invicta?includes hundreds of celestial bodies modeled with a focus on objects over 200 km in size, as well as near-earth objects that are about 10 km in size.
Terra Invicta looks to be an immersive experience that combines geopolitical strategy with sci-fi battling and habit building. With real-world math and physics being considered in the design, there could be a lot to be learned from this game.
Alliance of the Sacred Suns takes place a thousand years in the future, where you can lead your own empire and help humanity come back from the brink of collapse. This is an immersive game that puts you fully into the role of ruler. It’s up to you to form alliances and build relationships, with every decision leading to consequences. There are many ways you can die in this game, including by your own hand if you don’t take well enough care of your mental health. Steven Hawkins, CEO of KatHawk Studios and lead developer of Alliance of the Sacred Suns, describes this game as combining grand strategy and RPG elements.
”It’s a thousand years in the future and humanity is kind of hanging on by a thread,” Hawkins said. “They got kicked out of Earth by an alien race and now humanity has formed this loose confederation. You’re an emperor or empress, but you’re not all powerful.”
Where other strategy games have nations, Alliance of the Sacred Suns pairs you with several other Great Houses that are spread out around the galaxy. As an emperor you have all the concerns that a real life political leader would have — you can be assassinated, you can die of old age, you can be overthrown if your subjects are unhappy. The relationships you form can evolve and the people you talk to will form traits and change over time. Only by exploring the galaxy, building outposts, and maintaining a strong rule will you be able to win. But don’t take too long, as old age can overtake you before your best-laid plans come to fruition.
So far in development, with your emperor living from the age of 18 to about 75 or 80, you can expect a lifespan to last about 250-300 turns in which you can spend action points to progress your rule across the galaxy. “You can only do so much in a turn,” Hawkins said. “Every time you talk to a character or do something on a planet or build a ship it will cost action points. These can be raised through experience and skills, and they can be lowered through low health and low mental health.”
The game is designed to force you to keep an eye on the big picture, with delegating the more micromanagerial parts of ruling a system to others. Viceroys drive planetary development, and if not managed properly planets and colonies can starve. Alliance of the Sacred Suns takes resource management and outpost building to a new level by adding the emperor’s or empress’ interpersonal relationships into the equation. The only question is, what kind of emperor would you like to be?
If you like the idea of customizing starships and waging war across a vast, procedurally generated galaxy, Falling Frontier is a game to keep an eye out for. In this RTS you’ll build and upgrade refineries, shipyards, and more as you colonize different parts of the star system.
Solo developer Todd D’Arcy describes how the game puts a large focus on intelligence and resource gathering as you plan your moves around the cosmos. “This is a sci-fi RTS that sets itself apart by how it handles resources and reconnaissance,” D’Arcy said. “Probes you send out into space might breakdown and never come back. Do you send another probe? Do you send ships to scout the area?” Every decision needs to be weighed as you try to expand while avoiding detection before you’re able to properly defend your fleet.
”You want to create logistical supply chains,” D’Arcy said. “You and your enemy’s supply lines are vulnerable and need to be defended. As for the ships, they’re basically a chassis that you can customize and design the way you want.”
Those who have always wanted in-depth customization options when it comes to starships will likely be pleased with the array of personalized features you can choose from in Falling Frontier. You can use research to unlock different weapons and mount those weapons on the ship. You can even customize the internals, everything from the jump drive to the crew quarters can be adjusted and upgraded to your preferred specifications.
Falling Frontier also sets itself apart with its intricate combat systems, where combat is more physicalized than other RTS games. Projectiles can miss their targets, or they can ricochet. Some projectiles can even penetrate enemy ships and create havoc with their internal systems. “The ships have about 20 hit boxes,” D’Arcy said. “Nothing is a guarantee because ships can be taken out with one hit if there’s a perfect shot that ricochets through the ship. It’s rare but it does occur.”
Similar to mechanics in Alliance of the Sacred Suns, the crews of your ships will need food to survive. That’s why supply lines are so crucial — a ship without food will starve. The game is expected to launch later this year, and players can expect a narrative campaign that will bring them to the far reaches of the galaxy. These campaigns will have both elements of a linear map as well as procedurally generated areas that help push the story.
Hooded Horse expects to publish these three sci-fi games later in 2021, but no official release dates have been announced yet. Are you looking forward to checking out Terra Invicta, Alliance of the Sacred Suns, or Falling Frontier? Let us know in the comments!
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