Worbital is the latest game to come from Team Jolly Roger, and features not only interplanetary battles between you and the AI, but also allows you to challenge your friends and blow them to smithereens. So, with an appealing cartoony look and different campaigns to tackle, is Worbital as much fun as it looks, or should you avoid it like the proverbial space plague?
Worbital starts with a choice as to which of the three factions you are going to choose. The basic idea of the gameplay is that you have a planet which has developed not only the ability to travel between worlds and colonise them, but also to engage in battles between the planets. The concept is that you take your home planet, equip it with offensive or defensive weaponry (or support units like factories) and wage war.
However the shots of some weapons, like the rail gun, are affected by gravity, and so trick shots are possible, allowing you to curve the bullets using other planets, or even via the Sun’s gravitational fields. Having to plan where the planet will be by the time the rounds have made the journey through interplanetary space adds a layer of complexity to the fighting. Other weapons – like lasers – aren’t affected by gravity, but only fire in straight lines and for a period of time. Having to line up a shot from your planet to the enemy one, when you have probably one shot in each revolution of the planets around the sun, focuses the mind beautifully.
All this means that this is the closest that you can get to building your own Death Star, as a beam of energy shooting out across the void and burning across the surface of an enemy world had me jumping up and down before you could say “I find your lack of faith disturbing!”.
The other category of weapons are that on the defensive end of the scale, like an almost shotgun-like blast into space that will take out incoming projectiles, keeping you safe. Again, aiming these is crucial, as there’s nothing worse than shooting your rounds too early and seeing the enemy bullets sail on by, smashing some of your weaponry to pieces.
The purpose of Worbital is to keep blasting away at your enemy, eventually cracking the crust of the planet, and then managing to fire a few shots into the core in order to finish the enemy off. Of course, while you’re blasting away, your enemies aren’t idle either, and will send shot after shot hurtling through the heavens in an attempt to destroy your core. If this happens, it’s game over. Assuming you survive long enough, your planet has eight zones for you to build your choice of facility on, so choosing the correct weapon is very important. I have generally tried to make sure that I always had a defensive weapon at least in each hemisphere, as with the scope of their aiming you can largely cover most of the planet’s surface.
Making the choice between the different weapon systems is a little tougher, depending on how far you have got through the game. To start with the choice is restricted to the rail gun and the laser. Building these weapons takes a bit of time, and once they are built and sufficient resources have been accrued (helped out by building factories, which increase the rate at which resources turn up), you can choose to upgrade them, thus increasing their efficacy and making them fire faster, among other bonuses.
Once your weapons systems are up and running, it’s time to fight the fight in Worbital. In order to choose a weapon you have to tilt the left stick into whichever segment of the planet that you want to shoot with, and then load it up. Once the weapon is ready to fire, you then have an aiming line appear on the screen, showing where the shot will go and whether or not it is deflected by the various gravitational fields. If it’s a laser, a straight line will show where the beam will go, and since the planets revolve around their own axis, as well as orbiting the sun, the timing of shots is vital. A lot of the weapons will allow you to aim in an arc, so you can compensate for the rotation to a certain degree. The rail gun/projectile type weapons are a lot more fun, honestly, swooping through the galaxy as they swing around planets and fire out the other side. Eventually, as you continue to play and unlock new things, it’s possible to not only gain access to some truly spectacular weaponry but you can also colonise other planets. This gives you even more options to bring your opponents to their knees, as being blasted from both sides will soon crack the planet!
The gameplay here is fairly simple to pick up, and with a bit of practice you’ll be attacking and defending with the best of them. The strategy comes in creating a planet that can not only deal the damage, but also neutralise the attacks from the other side. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the multiplayer modes, either local or across the interwebs. Fighting a real person is the ultimate test of your skills, as human beings are quite often deeply illogical and will usually do the one thing that you hoped they wouldn’t. The multiplayer works well, with no slowdown found, although since the game is fairly simple you’d certainly hope that would be the case.
The only real niggle for me is that the play area is quite large, and when you and your enemy are at opposite ends of the galaxy you have to zoom out a long way to see what’s happening. This then makes it harder to select the correct weapon, and the aiming lines get very thin indeed, meaning that shots go wide. This is only a small issue, and the rest of the experience is pretty smooth.
This means that Worbital on Xbox One does enough to differentiate itself from the rest of the gaming field. I’ve certainly not played a game like this on Xbox One, and as such it’s an easy recommendation. And with many, many visual customisations to unlock, you can make your character your own before heading out into the cosmos.
Destroying worlds and entire civilisations has never been so much fun.