Lost Sector Review
Pros: Plenty of maps, high level of gear customization, various PVP and PVE modes
Cons: Poor translations into English, early progression is very slow, awkward controls
We got the chance recently to play IDC Games’ turn based free to play tactical MMO Lost Sector Online, a squad focused strategy set in a near future after our character has returned from “the war” to find their home mega-city of Broxton a run down, abandoned hive of thugs, criminals and unsavoury factions. The games’ story isn’t half bad and is further explored and expanded upon in the campaign mode which we were able to battle our way through solo or could co-op with friends or random players if desired. With a few cut scenes and cut-scene to combat transitions the story was well set for the game and looked promising, unfortunately (as is often the case with games developed in a different language) the English translations missed the mark quite badly at times; whilst not so terrible that we couldn’t get a rough idea of what was meant, it is unfortunate that more time and precision didn’t go into ensuring the translations were accurate.
The tutorial/early gameplay lead us through a few different map areas and we have to commend the developers here, the graphics are pretty great and well suited to the dystopian urban setting, the fully 3D environments allowed us to enter buildings, scale ladders to get on top of them, take cover behind burned out cars and partially demolished walls; it felt rundown and war-torn. Whilst exploring the different areas was nice, as they ranged from industrial complexes, gas stations, commercial districts, construction sites and docks, what wasn’t quite as good was the actual means of moving around with the point and click controls. Whilst point and click controls are not the problem, in the game when switching directions or clicking ahead of you to try to keep autopathing, each new click would temporarily stop-start our character making movement quite awkward. Another element that got a bit annoying was when moving close to an item to pick it up if you accidentally stood on it then your own hitbox got in the way to try and click the item and it was nearly impossible to get.
Progression in the early game is quite slow, after a few hours of playing, including the tutorial element (which didn’t really feel like a tutorial as it was quite story focused) we’d still only reached level two. Considering that PVP only kicks in at level 5 it felt like a long slog to try and work our way to it, made worse by some of the run-around delivery/talky missions sending us back and forth between NPCs in our Factory base of operations. Once you get into the battles then it’s great fun, very action packed, but the early portion really did drag.
From what we could tell the customization element seemed fairly strong, our Factory NPC had a variety of weapons we could choose from which essentially would determine a sort of class type, or at least how our character should best be used. So by picking a long ranged sniper rifle and light armor you would pretty much be running around the outskirts of the battlefield picking enemies off before they could even get to you, alternatively you could throw on some heavy armor and charge into combat with a baseball bat if that was your preference. Gear has different damage and ranges, highlighted in the game, and can be modified in ways to improve accuracy as when making attacks in combat everything from your distance to the target, their armor, your weapon and the type of cover they have all factors into your action.
As far as combat goes it’s a fairly straightforward system that we’ve seen in other games, utilizing an Action Point mechanic every action you can take, from using first aid items, throwing grenades, climbing ladders, picking up items, moving around or making attacks, all of them use up a portion of your AP and once you’ve run out then your turn is over. The game does a good job of teaching you the nuances of all these mechanics, particularly emphasizing caution when taking on multiple opponents; often better to take a shot then duck back into some cover than stand in the open.
Picking up missions from the Factory was simple enough, with a mission you head to the city map where you can check out what level enemies are located in which areas of the city, which areas have special mission locations, whereas everywhere else is a random street location and you can manually trigger some of your missions; such as simply going to the streets to kill a few Anarchists as opposed to a location specific mission. Whilst there were a few pre-requisites on each mission, such as character level or requiring a higher number of people in a group, the difficulty still went to extremes. Most of our missions resulted in us having to just kill one enemy in a huge map, which is pretty easy; at the other end of the spectrum the game put us against five enemies that killed us in about three turns. Whilst these quests were in our level range and allowed us to pick them up, they definitely fall within the remit of being a group based quest mission.
Overall, even with bad translations, slow game progression and some awkward controls, the game really excels. The level of detail to the maps and the many different locales, combined with the fact that you can go into buildings, sometimes on top of them, and some even have multiple floors; the level of strategy it offers is staggering and makes for great PVE and, probably, even better PVP. Whilst the game is fun solo it’s definitely worth trying to get together with some friends, or even join a Clan and get involved in the Conquest mode where you can battle against other clans and try to take over territories in the city.