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Shock Tactics by Point Blank Games

Posted: May 10th, 2016, 1:27 pm
by SagaDC
Just heard about this one, but it already looks pretty promising. Shock Tactics is a story-driven turn-based tactical combat game set on a procedurally generated alien world. The player takes on the role of a pre-made stellar explorer who has hitched a ride with a group of space pioneers intent on settling a new alien planet, and from what I've gathered it's your job to act as an "advance team" intended to build an outpost and secure an area for the settlers before they arrive.

The game takes place on a hex-based world map, with randomized terrain and event locations (for the purposes of replayability). The player alternates between exploring this hex-based world map, developing their outposts, and handling turn-based tactical battles against pirates, mercenaries, and hostile indigenous life-forms. The game makes use of an "Action Freeze" feature, intended to make battles look like they're constantly raging even though the game is otherwise a conventional turn-based tactical game.

As the gameplay progresses, the player will recruit up to six unique characters for their strike force, each with their own personalities and special skills. Over time, these characters will develop new skills, gain new equipment, and even gain new powers (such as teleportation) from captured alien artifacts or from special pieces of equipment. The most common source of new equipment will be from structures that you build in your outposts, but you will also be able to augment or enhance pieces of equipment using captured alien artifacts.

Shock Tactics is apparently intended for release some time in 2016. I've found some old comments from 2015 implying that they intended to run a Kickstarter campaign, but there's no mention of that on their current webpage.

You can find out more here:

Re: Shock Tactics by Point Blank Games

Posted: September 24th, 2016, 6:38 pm
by SagaDC
Shock Tactics is now on Steam, though the game isn't officially released yet. An error caused it to be (very briefly) listed for sale earlier this week, and apparently the launch price will be $19.99 USD (though I'm sure that's subject to change).

Not much has changed since my original post, since the developer has been very tight-lipped about the current state of the game, and very little new information has been released over the past few months. There's no solid release date, but it's currently listed as coming out in "Winter 2016" on Steam (though this conflicts with their website, which states "Early 2017").

EDIT - The release date has now officially been pushed back to "Early 2017".

Re: Shock Tactics by Point Blank Games

Posted: March 13th, 2017, 2:03 pm
by SagaDC
Six months later, and still precious little in the way of information on this game. The release date is still listed as "Early 2017", so I suppose we'll be seeing it soon enough.

It was shown off last August at GamesCom, and a shaky-cam hand recording shows off a bit of the pre-release footage from that event:

The developers have also released a couple of new official trailers showing off some of the gameplay:

Visually, it's definitely starting to show a very distinct resemblance to XCOM:EU and XCOM 2. I notice that the more recent footage really seems to be downplaying the whole "Action Freeze" feature that was talked up last year, instead favoring a more conventional turn-based format.

Re: Shock Tactics by Point Blank Games

Posted: April 11th, 2017, 5:54 am
by daveyd
Apparently Shock Tactics is releasing today on Steam. I'm mildly interested but I don't buy games on Steam so I won't consider it unless there's a DRM-free version.

Re: Shock Tactics by Point Blank Games

Posted: April 12th, 2017, 12:35 am
by SagaDC
Yeah, I just noticed that it quietly released without any real forewarning or fanfare. Definitely a bit of an odd move on the developer's part. The game retails for $19.99 USD, but there's currently a 10% discount for the first week of release.

Current reviews are pretty middle-of-the-road. Most of them, even the positive ones, note that it's basically a poor man's copy of XCOM with some light exploration elements added in. Average ratings seem to be about 6/10, with positive reviews more or less agreeing that it's decent but not particularly innovative or engaging.

I may or may not end up grabbing it over the next couple of days. It'd be nice to have a new turn-based tactical game to play with, but the general buzz surrounding the game isn't very encouraging.

Re: Shock Tactics by Point Blank Games

Posted: April 13th, 2017, 6:36 pm
by SagaDC
Had a few bucks left on a Steam gift card, so I went ahead and grabbed Shock Tactics while it's still on sale. Played it for about two hours earlier this afternoon.

It's... not bad, but it's not really anything special. Graphically, it's better than a lot of the other low-budget indie strategy titles on the market, but beyond that everything really does feel like an off-brand imitation of XCOM. Given that it's being sold for a third of XCOM's price, though, I can't really fault it for having less features and polish.

The combat system is very similar to the modern XCOM titles (such as the directional cover system), but simplified in many ways. There are significantly less abilities to use, less equipment to customize your troops with, and less micromanagement elements (for example, guns have infinite ammo and never need to be reloaded). In most cases, the "winning" strategy seems to be to just hug cover, move up slowly, and spam the Overwatch button every turn.

The enemy AI is pretty bad. Enemies do tend to play defensively, hugging cover whenever possible, but they often make inexplicably random movements during their turns. A well-entrenched enemy that should be almost impossible to hit may suddenly decide to use his action walking back and forth (triggering Overwatch fire), or may decide to run out into the open to get a better shot at one of your mercs, or may decide to take cover from a merc who's halfway across the map while simultaneously exposing his flank to a merc that's ten feet away.

Since the AI is weak, challenge is presented in other ways. Many maps include narrow choke points or "kill corridors" where the player is forced to advance along a narrow, linear path with minimal cover. Some enemy units also have unique abilities that let them to ignore the normal rules of the game, such as enemy snipers who can target you from any range (ignoring the normal rules for weapon ranges) and kill your mercs in one shot (ignoring the normal rules for weapon damage).

Both the base-building and map-exploration segments of the game are pretty bare-bones. Base building is very simplistic, with the only real choice being what order you want to build your upgrades in. The world map is mostly empty, other than randomly placed quest nodes, the majority of which lead to generic "kill all the enemy" quests with occasional secondary objectives ("Save the NPCs", "Stop the enemy ship from escaping with the loot").

Customization elements are very light. Your soldiers are generic and personality-free, with identical (but palette-swapped) appearances. There are four or five classes to discover, but you have no real control over their growth. Classes determine what attributes are automatically increased with each level-up, and class skills are automatically unlocked every five levels (with a total of three class skills per merc). The "Training Grounds" base upgrade can give you a small amount of additional customization, though it's mostly restricted to giving your character passive bonuses.

The story is pretty light, with minimal time or effort spent on fleshing it out - you're on an alien planet, there are valuable artifacts lying around, and you have to fight pirates and rival corporations who also want those artifacts. There's some voice acting, but it's pretty low-budget. Some of it is halfway decent, but most of it is just bad enough that they probably shouldn't have included it.

The translation work is reasonably well done, but some words are inexplicably left untranslated or inconsistently translated on your character sheets. For example, your weapons have a "Reichweite" stat (German for "Reach"), and your "Heavy" Class is also randomly referred to as the "Gun Expert" class depending on where you look.

Overall I'd say it's a game that will be pretty underwhelming if you're coming over from titles like JA, X-Com, or XCOM, but it might be a good title for someone who's looking for a casual gaming experience or a good turn-based strategy game for novice players. I'm going to keep poking at it for at least a few more hours to see if it gets any better, but for now I kind of wish I'd saved my Steam Gift Card and just waited until the game was more deeply discounted. :P

EDIT - Looking at the old Development Blog entries, it looks like the original vision document was heavily revised during development. A lot of the originally planned content was either heavily changed or cut out entirely between the early Beta and the final release.

Re: Shock Tactics by Point Blank Games

Posted: April 14th, 2017, 1:52 am
by Lord of Riva
The translation work is reasonably well done, but some words are inexplicably left untranslated or inconsistently translated on your character sheets. For example, your weapons have a "Reichweite" stat (German for "Reach"), and your "Heavy" Class is also randomly referred to as the "Gun Expert" class depending on where you look.
so this is a german game? that explains a lot haha.

Apart from the Gothic (up to 2) and settler (also mostly up to two :P ) series i cant remember a truly excellent game made here, i wonder why that is.