We’re lucky we’re all still alive. With the world’s governments imploding on themselves following bad decision after bad decision, global warming becoming unmanageable (though to some it’s a hoax), and unstable people diddling around with nuclear launch code buttons, we’re very lucky indeed. But what happens when the world is no longer a safe haven for humankind? Well, Worbital hopes to answer that question while also dishing out a healthy dose of multiplayer planetary destruction along the way.
So what is Worbital? Well, think of Interplanetary but on a much more universal scale. No longer are we focused on smaller weapons on a huge planet, nope, the tables have turned and now we’ve got huge orbit-ascending weapons that dwarf the planets that they’re based on. And our targets? Other planets with equally large weapons hell-bent on slowly blowing up our worlds’ crust and exposing the core.
Having taken part in the Worbital beta which Team Jolly Roger held for some time last year, I can safely say that Worbital is a fantastic title, even back then. Now, following player feedback, I can say that the developers have done an impressive job of balancing players suggestions and overall improvements to create a decent multiplayer interplanetary battle game. There’s just one teeny little issue: Worbital currently lacks players.
Fortunately the developers fostered a fairly decent size player base during the beta as it required players hitting up their Discord channel in order to acquire a key, but for the most part the few really dedicated players aren’t enough to keep the game’s multiplayer afloat and this, I feel, is the biggest attraction for the game. That being said, outside of the multiplayer the game does feature a campaign mode with around 13 missions.
So with Worbital putting the power of an entire planet at your fingertips, how exactly does the gameplay? For the most part, it’s a competitive real-time strategy game no a small scale. You build a refinery to harvest money (or aimlessly blast other planets for cash) and begin building basic weapons which, through the course of a game, can become more powerful weapons as different tiers are unlocked.
There’s definitely a massive tactical element to Worbital which, at times, can become a little overwhelming, especially when you’re faced off against not one but three other players. It requires a lot of hindsight and balance between building defenses and meaningful offenses. You could spend your time saving up for a nuke, meanwhile, your opponents are building strong defenses with a couple of weapons which, ultimately, can pop your nuke right out of the air.
To add to this, the game features an incredible physics system which takes into account all of the planet’s own gravitational pull. This means you can sometimes take certain risks such as using this gravity to redirect a missile into an unsuspecting planet. That being said, when you eventually destroy a planet it explodes into a spectacular display of fire and debris, which sends bits of planet everywhere, each being pulled every which way which, if you’re already hit with an exposed core, can be the end of you if you’re not too careful.
While multiplayer is where Worbital really shines, I should also address the game’s campaign. While brief, it is a good way of getting you up to speed with the game’s mechanics and what each of the weapons and defenses actually does. There is a story behind the campaign but I found it pretty easy to brush off and get into the meat of the game. While that doesn’t say much for the writing, I was just eager to get into the game than read what each of the game’s factions had to say.
That brings me nicely onto my next point. In order to shake things up a bit, Worbital features a number of different factions which players can choose to play as, each of which has their own unique weapons, defenses, and abilities. While some may play more offensively, others may be able to counteract it by having stronger defenses. This again adds to the unpredictability of the game and the need to think on your feet when you’re being targeted by a certain faction.
Aside from weapons and defenses, another interesting mechanic is the colonization unit which lets you pop off a little shuttle which embeds itself upon other planets and allows you to capture and thus develop on that planet. This gives you both a tactical advantage on the battlefield, but also makes twice the work and can leave you vulnerable. I often found turning one planet into a defense-heavy resource-gathering planet and another packed with high-level artillery to be a great tactic. Though this micromanagement can often become a little overwhelming.
While Worbital could do with a larger player base, the game’s campaign does offer plenty to do for those new and old to the game. While this campaign will last around 6-10 hours depending on how good you are at the game, once it’s done, it’s done. There is good news, however. The game features a local multiplayer mode where players can hash it out locally using controllers. This is also a place where players can set up AI games if they so wish.
Overall Worbital has the potential to be an absolutely fantastic competitive multiplayer game, but with a fairly low player base, it falls at the first hurdle. However, the game’s campaign offers a decent challenge for players of all skills and the local multiplayer adds to the game’s replayability.
Worbital is currently available on Steam along with a free demo. There’s also a planned release on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch.