It has been nearly three years since I first saw YAGER’s upcoming massive starship multiplayer title Dreadnought. While the game has come a long way since then, going through almost a full year of closed beta, recently moving to an open beta state, I had the privilege to go hands-on with the PlayStation 4 version of the game. Not only did I climb the competitive ladder against current closed beta players in Team Deathmatch, but I was one of the first to experience the upcoming cooperative Havoc game mode.
Marcus and I have been singing the praises of the Dreadnought, which will be free-to-play, for quite some time. Every time we are presented with an updated build, we fell in love with the game all over again. With that said, I found bringing the game to consoles a natural progression for the game. Considering how long I have been playing the game on PC using a mouse & keyboard setup, it did take some time to get a feel for the game using a controller. The DualShock 4’s touchpad made switching between different systems a breeze by swiping in any of the four cardinal directions. In doing so, you use stored energy to boost your attack damage, activate your shield, or kick in the afterburners. Capital ships aren’t quick and nimble, even the smaller and more agile Corvette is much slower to react and move around the battlefield than a single piloted fighter jet. Face buttons control the four modules (special abilities) you have assigned to your ship, these range from defensive boosts, healing drones, missiles launchers, etc.The front shoulder buttons control your altitude, allowing you to ascend or descend at will, best used when trying to evade line of sight of Artillery class ships. The back shoulder buttons act as your aiming mechanics and your primary fire, similar to other shooters. Each ship has both a primary and secondary weapons that can be swapped in the midst of battle using the d-pad.
With the basic controls explained, let’s dig into the two modes currently available in the PlayStation 4 version of the game. Team Deathmatch features five on five capital ship warfare across two distinct maps (currently in this build). Kappa Base has been the go-to map for all public events, featuring a rocky coastline on one of Jupiter’s moons. It has multiple strong positions, allowing the sniper-like Artillery Cruiser to dish out punishment and quickly hide between outcroppings for healing. The PC build already has three different game modes; Team Deathmatch, Team Elimination, and Onslaught, but PS4 players are treated to the horde-based Havoc game mode. Team Elimination and Onslaught are only found on the PC build, currently, but Havoc acts as a temporary PlayStation 4 exclusive. Eventually, both versions of the game will be on equal terms when it comes to content.
In Havoc, three players are pitted against endless waves of progressively difficult enemies, bosses, purchasable upgrades, and a pinch of randomization. As with other games that feature waves, your goal is to simply survive. Even more so than in other modes, coordination and constant communication are vital after the first couple waves that pose little challenge for veteran players. For our party makeup, I went with a Destroyer, essentially an offensive powerhouse, while my partners opted for a massive flying tank, the Dreadnought, and a Tactical Cruiser to provide support/healing. There was only time for a single attempt, but we were determined to make it as far as possible. After each successful wave, players are rewarded with a set amount of experience points to spend on upgrades. Each player is randomly shown three options but can opt to save their points for a chance at a more expensive upgrade. These boosts stack, so purchasing cheaper upgrades with minor boosts can be just as beneficial as saving your points. Some of the boosts can increase health regeneration, provide a slight improvement to your maximum energy, buff your weapons offensive powers, and more. On the same screen, you’ll notice the modifier for the modifier on the upcoming wave, which should help sway your decision. There are those modifiers that can work in your favor or against you, and the random nature means every attempt feels unique.
While some may increase damage of your primary weapon or one of your modules, it could have adverse effects such as prolonging the cooldown or even removing health or energy regeneration completely. Enemy damage and health increases after each successive wave. Every third wave players must choose from a new randomly generated ship. Even if you pick the same class, the loadout may be completely different. Luckily, we always had a Tactical Cruiser available, so we didn’t worry about lacking healing. Unfortunately, we met our doom during wave 9 (the furthest anyone has gotten in the game so far). Upon death, you are given a chance to help the remaining players by taking control of a little one-manned fighter or bomber. While seemingly harmless, they can pack quite a punch in the hands of a skilled player.
Havoc mode is being added to the current build of Dreadnought closed beta on PS4. Publisher Grey Box is also putting Founder Packs on sale on the PlayStation Store, allowing players to purchase their way into the closed beta, as well as giving unique hero ships, special cosmetic items, in-game currency, and more.