Rise and Shiny: Vendetta Online

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Rise and Shiny: Vendetta Online
Vendetta Online screenshot
For the record, Vendetta Online has been in development since 1998 and launched an alpha in 2002. EVE Online was released in North America in 2003. So although it might be too close to call or lost in the foggy details of gamer's memories, it's safe to say that EVE Online did not invent space, spaceships, speedy space travel, trading, or ship-to-ship combat. Still, feel free to post fill the comment section with "EVE-clone," a common phrase that pops up whenever Vendetta Online is mentioned or shown.

Now that we have that out of the way, what is Vendetta Online? It's a multi-platform, twitch-based, science-fiction universe that offers free-form travel and character development. At least that's what I have read. So far in my time with the game, I have experienced only a smattering of what it seems to offer. I've traveled a lot, gunned down a few enemies, and read a lot of text. While I know I have touched but the tip of the iceberg, I still had fun this week. And yes, I pretended to "fly" my spacecraft by running through the house while playing on my Nexus 7 tablet.

And yes, I provided the WOOSH and BRAKKA BRAKKA sounds myself. (That's how you know it's space.)

Vendetta Online screenshot
I'll admit that at first I did not think I would have a good time in Vendetta Online. In my past experience with the game's trial, I was not really impressed by the tutorials. I love the fact that the game can be played across a series of different devices including via a downloadable client, and Android app, and the Linux client, but I have a hard time understanding why the tutorials are done in walls of text. Sometimes the text would be in bright-red lettering, making it hard enough on my eyes. I could only imagine a person with color-blindness staring at the screen going, "What's he saying?!"

Admittedly, I was a bit angry. I don't nerd-rage much until I am faced with a confusing game. I try to maintain some sort of common sense even while I can feel the familiar wash of gamer anger and usually remember that the feeling will pass and the game will likely make sense soon. After all, there were other players around me in bigger and better ships. If they could get through the tutorial, so could I. Eventually, things panned out and the game just made sense. This sudden clearing of the clouds happens a lot when you game as much as I do. I'll be in the middle of a tutorial and suddenly the walls of text click in my brain and I get what's going on. (Either that or someone explains it to me in chat.) I think much of the mix-up in game comes from the fact that, for some players, the escape key is the primary means to gain access to a main menu, while on my Nexus I had to use the menu button for the actual device. The client I enjoyed was built for an Android, but some of the information inside of it was coming from the world of the PC. Once that clicked for me, it didn't take long for me to figure out which button did what.

So as the fog of confusion rolled away, I began to have some fun. I didn't want to get ahead of myself, so I stuck with the tutorial missions. I ran goods across the sectors and quickly earned enough money to buy a newer, larger ship. It was exciting to have the same ship-customization features I normally find only in client-based games. I colored my ship, outfitted it with different weapons and addons, and took off into space to try new things.

Although I doubt seriously that Vendetta Online owes anything to EVE Online (or vice-versa), I prefer the twitch-based combat of Vendetta Online in most situations. When it comes to implementing massive craft like a battleship, EVE Online has the right idea, but smaller craft or fighters need to be controlled through player responses. The combat in Vendetta Online feels fluid, fast, and tactial. Sure, I took on only the occasional drone or tutorial craft, but I definitely got a good taste of some of the excitement to be found in real combat. I was sort of shocked when I remembered that the last time I enjoyed twitch-based space combat was during a brief stint with a few other space MMOs maybe a year ago. Having access to such combat on a handheld device felt awesome.

I also like how the developers of Vendetta Online have utilized a new-player trial time limit. It's based on real-time hours, so if you have to skip the game for a bit, you can come back to the same eight hours of free play. After that, you can jump into a free play zone and enjoy it forever, but to access the standard, greater experience you will need to pay a subscription of around $9.99, a cost that can be as low as $6.67 if you pay in larger chunks. Would I pay such a subscription? Keeping in mind that Vendetta Online is not only one of the only space-MMOs you will find on most devices but one of only a score or so of true, open MMO worlds that you can find on the handheld market, I'd say that I'd love to sub to such a game. The flexibility and accessibility of the title easily makes it worth it. Would I rather have a free-to-play option with a cash shop on top? Of course.

"So far it's been a wonderful game that needs a few tweaks in the UI, tutorial missions, and overall newbie experience, but once a pilot gets out into the real world, she will find a cool game that doesn't feel anywhere near 10 years old."

Graphically, the game is relatively impressive. On the PC, it doesn't make as much of an impact simply because there are newer titles that really crank up the pretty, but space is generally space. I've found that the twitch controls of Vendetta Online make it really stick out. I love trading as well, and shipping goods in Vendetta Online is much like it is in EVE Online. You have to be careful about where you travel, but moving around requires actual control of your craft. From what I understand there is no auto-pilot in Vendetta Online, no AFK jumps. I only ran a few trade missions that put me in any real danger, but the presence of the occasional ion storm got me killed once or twice. The storms pop up sometimes while a pilot is making his way through space, and the only way out is to manually steer the craft to the exit while avoiding the occasional enemy or asteroid.

Does this mean that the familiar gate-camping and podding that happens in EVE Online does not happen in Vendetta Online? I'm not sure. I ran across dozens of players; most were nice and helpful. Still, I want to see some of the more dangerous areas of the game, and so I fully expect to jump into random areas to see what I can find. So far it's been a wonderful game that needs a few tweaks in the UI, tutorial missions, and overall newbie experience, but once a pilot gets out into the real world, she will find a cool game that doesn't feel anywhere near 10 years old. I would also recommend playing it on a handheld device. If you set the controls to respond to the tilt and roll of your tablet or phone, you can run around the house going "PEW PEW PEW" and "WHOOSSSHH!" like I did.

It will add to the experience, trust me. And remember: The sound effects mean it's space.

Next week I am going to jump back in time once again and take a second look at Order and Chaos Online. The game recently dropped its sub fee and added mounts, so I am eager to see what has changed since the last time I looked at it. I will livestream my first day back on Monday, the 27th of August, at 5:00 p.m. EDT, right here on our Twitch.tv channel!

Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!
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