Fight or Kite: Checking out veteran sci-fi sandbox MMO Vendetta Online – on mobile

    
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Fight or Kite: Checking out veteran sci-fi sandbox MMO Vendetta Online – on mobile

Over the last few months, I’ve been playing around with VR on my phone. I know, not the ideal VR experience but I had my reasons. In any case, as I browsed the Google Play store for different VR apps, I came across Vendetta Online. A robust, true mobile MMO with VR support that’s been running for a billion years – how could I not give it a shot?

I was fairly surprised to find so little information about the game online. Granted, I hadn’t heard of it, but if you read our MOP Up or obscure MMOs columns, you’ll find there are hundreds of MMOs out there living a quaint, quiet life on the fringes of irrelevance. I guess despite being old enough to drive, Vendetta Online falls into that category.

Regardless, I was intrigued. Only a couple of months ago it went free-to-play. The game is apparently available for play on just about every platform imaginable – with crossplay too! However, since I discovered this on my phone, my phone is where I chose to play it. I split my game time three ways: using the touch interface, pairing it with an Xbox controller and a mount, and playing it in VR. The majority of my time was with the controller, but the touch controls are passable.

I’ll primarily be explaining my experience getting started and playing through the game’s tutorial. So let’s divert all power to the Holtzman FTL engines, engage our hyper drive, prepare for warp speed, and jump into this one.

The on boarding and tutorial is a bit… wordy

As you begin the game, you are almost immediately overwhelmed by the amount of information displayed on the screen. Obviously a large part of that is due to the built in touch interface. You have buttons for your various menus; you have radar for showing you what is in front of you and one for the back. Also you have the left and right virtual joysticks for movement. All in all, it is a lot of information.

Fortunately, the game has a robust tutorial. In fact, developer Guild Software has even included narration of the tutorial quests, which I was impressed with. It certainly appears to be some machine dictation instead of an actual human-read script, but I was pleased nonetheless. If anything I thought it fit with the space-age theme of the game.

The tutorial itself is essentially a series of quests that explain to you what the different game menus do and how to access and manipulate them. The first several quests do a serviceable job of guiding you through your cockpit’s interface as well.

With that said, I’d likely give the first few quests an A+ while the second half get a giant “Please see me after class.” This is entirely because Vendetta Online starts well enough with a learn-by-doing approach but quickly spirals away into a learn-by-telling one. That isn’t to say that there isn’t a lot of good information packed in there, but holy cow, it needs to be reeled in a bit.

For example, the first few quests will tell you how the radar, the targeting, and other UI elements work. Then it expects you to go to your cockpit and try it out. This all moves fairly quickly and intuitively. But then – oomph – here comes the quest text.

As I said, it does read the text out to you, but there is just so much info here that it starts to get boring quite quickly. It continues to guide you in a similar manner to the cockpit interface, where it instructs you to click here, click there, then come back to the quest log, but it is a drag.

I’m happy that the game has a full tutorial, but it does begin to go on for too long. Perhaps there should have been more entry level quests using the basics of flight and fight before explaining the rest of the station and similar menus – I’m not sure.

Controls and combat feel good for a space game

I think I mentioned in my discussion of Star Wars The Old Republic’s Galactic Starfighter that I haven’t played many flight simulator or space combat games. So you’ll have to forgive me for not having more games to compare it to. My experience here comes from how the game felt and how it played compared to my two most recent flight sims: SWTOR’s Galactic Starfighter and EVE Echoes.

Right off the bat, I thought the ship moved well. It felt like what I wanted it to feel like, if that makes sense. It’s actually really cool because the game has two different flight modes you can enable: a physics-based one and an “arcade” mode. The arcade mode plays the way I expected the flight to play. Whichever direction you and your ship are facing is the direction you will be flying. In other words, you are always moving forward, like an airplane.

The physics mode is really amazing, though. It plays how a space sim really should. If you are moving forward but spin your ship around to see what’s behind you, your ship will continue to move in that direction even though you are facing backwards now. This mode likely works best in combat since it gives you more freedom to control your ship while fighting. One of the best parts of the system is that you can freely swap between the two flight modes at any time.

The combat plays well too. After targeting an enemy and lining up your sights, you are given a little box to indicate where you should shoot. Hit the mark and you’ll hit the enemy. In EVE Echoes, the combat was pretty passive, but here, you really need to steer your ship right. So in that way the combat was typical of a flight sim and similar to Galactic Starfighter. As I said, I only just completed the tutorial, so I’m not sure how many different options are out there for weapons. The thing I really liked about Galactic Starfighter was the crew skills, which functioned like a typical MMO loadout. It doesn’t appear that Vendetta Online has skills or skill activations like that, just your primary machine gun type of weapon and different missiles. However, I could be wrong about that; hopefully someone in the comments can enlighten me.

I’ve only barely scratched the surface of Vendetta Online. I haven’t even touched on harvesting and mining, the different factions you can join, or the leveling system. As far as mobile MMOs go, it far exceeded what I was expecting, likely because it isn’t a mobile-first MMO. As VR game, it really impressed me. I’m not entirely sure I have the wherewithal to stick with it long enough to get into the real game, where PvP becomes a regular occurrence, but I’m glad I’ve started playing.

Have any of you played Vendetta Online? Did you play it on your PC, phone, or even VR? If you’ve been looking to try out a space MMO but haven’t found one that sticks, I’d say give Vendetta Online shot.

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!

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