Developer: Funatics (Germany)
Platform / Engine: Browser / Flash, Unity
Launch: Q3 2011
Regions: Global Languages: English, German
Is UFO Online The New X-COM?
When I first took a look at the website for gamigo’s UFO Online, the first thing I thought was “mein gott, this game reminds me of X-COM!”. The second thing I thought was “how can I worm my way into the alpha?”. I contacted gamigo exec Patrick Streppel to kiss some German Arsch, and he was all like “please stop stalking me”. Actually, he was kind enough to hook me up with gamigo PR guru Dennis Hartmann, and Florian Supa the Project Manager for UFO Online.
It’s the year 2025. Humanity has just about depleted Earth’s resources and the human race is about to become a distant memory. That is, until visitors of the extraterrestrial variety show up with the promise to solve Earth’s problems. While many are happy to believe that the aliens have good intentions, the non-believers form an underground resistance to keep an eye on things. UFO Online is a turn-based strategy game in which players take control of a group of mercenaries to battle alien invaders.
Right now UFO Online is in closed alpha, and only the German version is available for testing. From what I understand, an English version will be ready soon. Florian Supa wrote up a little UFO Online alpha manual so that I could login and take a little look around despite the German text.
You start the game in an expandable base, which is your main hub for all things UFO Online. Here you can hire and train mercenaries, research technologies and weapons, and access a handful of areas such as the Warehouse, Med-Bay, Barracks and Lab.
Mercenaries are stat-based, so before recruiting you can check out their level, in-game cost, damage, range, critical hit chance, how much aggro they create, their noise level and durability. Class-specific skill trees are also available.
After you’ve done your base business you can head to the Command Center which is the game lobby. Here you can create or join matches, with support for both PvP and PvE. In PvE mode players will be battling the alien invaders, in PvP players battle each other. Before joining a game you create your team of up to six characters out of your available mercenaries. Once you ready up to join a match, the Unity engine kicks in.
As a turn-based game, each player has a certain number of moves based on the stats of their army. When the match begins Player 1 will use up all of their movement points, then it’s Player 2′s turn. Each round also has a time limit so that rounds don’t stagnate. During your turn, a grid comes up so that you can see your available moves.
Movements can be made using WASD or mouse, and a double left click will move your hero to its selected position or shoot at a selected enemy. Different weapons have different range, so for example, if you’re using a knife you would have to be directly adjacent to your enemy. You also have to have the available action points to fire.
Although I only got to see an indoor map, I was told that there are also outdoor maps.
Not all gamers are keen on browser-based games, but UFO Online isn’t your typical browser game. There’s no miniature town halls and farms, and no pretend combat where you send out an invisible army and they return 12 hours later with the spoils of war. Plus, the Unity browser engine allows for state-of-the art graphics.
UFO Online will follow a free-to-play / microtransaction model, a pretty standard set up these days for MMOs. While speaking with Florian Supa, I expressed my distaste in games in which players can buy game-breaking advantages with real-world money. From what I’ve seen of gamigo, their microtransactions appear to be fair. For example, in Black Prophecy the superior items are in-game drops which are not available for purchase. Some buffs can be purchased, but once again, better ones can be earned in-game. It’s my understanding that UFO Online’s microtransactions will work in a similar manner with no game breakers.
Fans of the original X-COM turn-based strategy game have been teased a couple of times now with the promise of new X-COM games, which turned out to be shooters in the end. Although there hasn’t been any indication that we might see an X-COM reboot at some point, perhaps UFO Online will be a reasonable facsimile, and a good game in its own right.
Thanks to Florian Supa for taking the time to chat and giving me a game demonstration!
Features at a glance:
- Global strategy MMOG with tactical battles
- Impressive 3D graphics right in your browser thanks to the Unity engine
- Expandable base for conducting research and training troops
- 3 factions (RvR)
- A variety of mercenary classes with unique skills
- Upgradeable weapons and items
- Tactical battles against the AI and other players (PvE and PvP)
- Thrilling storyline with countless quests