Thursday, May 5, 2016

Offworld Trading Company (Release Version)

Exactly a year ago today, I posted about picking up Offworld Trading Company on Steam Early Access. Late last week, the game had its official release. So it seemed only reasonable for me to jump back into the game, see what had changed, and offer my thoughts on whether it's worth purchasing.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, Offworld Trading Company is a game designed by Soren Johnson, lead developer of the massively popular Civilization IV. It puts you in command of a near-future corporation operating on Mars to mine the valuable commodities found there, buy and trade them on the open market, and export them offworld, all for the purpose of buying out your competitors and earning the exclusive rights to the planet. While clearly a real time strategy game, what makes Offworld stand out is that you use money, and not armies, to conquer new territory, expand your holdings, and defeat your competitors. It isn't a game where your success is tied to how fast you can press hotkeys or micromanage your units; instead, the game is all about recognizing the best opportunities while reacting to a market that responds to what's going on in the game, but often not in a totally predictable manner.

While I played quite a bit of the game after I initially purchased it, I admit I hadn't played it in probably six months prior to its release. Here's what impressed me about the final version:

1. It received a ton of graphical polish. Gone are the placeholder art assets and bad digitized voice-overs. The graphical interface was clearer, each colony type had new artwork and story concepts, and overall simply looked much better.

2. It has an amazing soundtrack. Grammy award winning composer Christopher Tin created a fantastic atmospheric soundtrack for the game, and it was released as DLC (and given out free to anyone who participated in Early Access). You can listen to it here.

3. It comes with a bunch of great extras. These include a lengthy design document and strategy guide, the latter of which was actually compiled from the best players who spent all of Early Access streaming the game and participating in ten different tournaments, all hosted by the game's developer.

4. It has a variety of play options that support both single player and multiplayer experiences. There's a short but detailed tutorial-style series of missions, a much longer single-player campaign that changes each time you play it, daily skirmish challenges that lets you view how everyone else did compared to you, and of course a variety of gameplay mods and maps for online play.

Offworld Trading Company has received very positive reviews, and for good reason. It's well worth picking up. I certainly intend to play it quite a bit in the coming weeks.

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