E3 2014: In Dreadnought, Bigger is Definitely Better

Solar power.

You're the developer of Spec Ops: The Line, a third-person shooter with a subversive story that depicts one soldier's descent into madness. What do you create next? Well, a multiplayer space combat game, of course!

Developer Yager is known for making statements, but while Spec Ops: The Lines' statement was thematically powerful, Dreadnought appears to have a simpler goal. In the words of game director Peter Holzapfel, regarding the game's first trailer, "We wanted to make a statement that we are a game about big spaceships, not small spaceships, and we did that I think." Indeed, Yager did exactly that with the amusing trailer, though its inspirations for Dreadnought came from the serious side of science fiction. Says Holzapfel, "The idea came from… there's a lot of very well-loved and known movie references and TV show references, like Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Han Solo and so forth. But there's not that many games about big spaceships. And we wanted to turn into all those into a game that makes them quickly accessible."

At E3 2014, I sat down with Holzapfel and his colleagues and played through several matches of the upcoming free-to-play action game with other members of the press. What followed was one of the most enjoyable gameplay sessions I had at E3. A few exceptions notwithstanding, most space combat games feature a fairly zippy sense of speed, even when you pilot a larger spacecraft. By contrast, Dreadnought is slow and tactical, feeling more like a naval battle game set on the high seas than a space game like Elite or Starlancer. In the two team deathmatches I played, I first chose a corvette, hoping to rush into battle, take a few powerful shots, and then depart before the giant battleships could mark me as a dangerous target. Even this vessel, the smallest in the fleet available to me, moved with notable heft. The best way to use the corvette was to initiate a quick-jump ability that took me in close, and then to use the same ability to make an escape. When the battle got hot, I was also able to activate a barrel roll of sorts, but my heart did not belong to the corvette. I was not an asset to my team, which was soundly defeated in the first go.

Circumstances took a turn for the better once I decided upon a destroyer, a hulking mass of metal and mounted guns. Most of my special attacks were of the offensive sort--missile volleys and the like. My teammates and I shouted out tactics to each other, focusing on the support vessels capable of repairing friendly dreadnoughts, and keeping our eyes on the corvettes trying to make quick getaways. (After my own failed attempt to stay out of harm's way, I knew the tricks corvette pilots were hoping to play.) I lit up the screen with the colorful lasers that blasted from my mounted guns. The map we played on wasn't in outer space, but high up in a planet's atmosphere; the craggy mountains and plateaus beneath were beautiful to gaze upon, while the man-made facilities provided visual contrast with their sleek lines and industrial details. All the while, vessels from each team slowly danced around each other, aiming their shots carefully and looking out for incoming nuclear strikes.

In between matches, you will upgrade your vessels with various attachments and improvements, making Dreadnought's closest comparison World of Tanks and its peers. I asked Holzapfel just how deep he expects the customization options to go, but the team has yet to nail down all the specifics, such as exactly how many ship classes the game will launch with, and how many secondary abilities players will get to choose from. Details may be scarce, but the fun was undeniable: Dreadnought is teeming with potential, and I can't wait to see what Yager shows us next.

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Discussion

44 comments
jemoedr
jemoedr

I hope visual modding would also be a part of it. 

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

Space is making a comeback. Star Citizen, Elite, No Man's Sky, everything CCP is up to, and now this.


I'm excited.

fartmoo
fartmoo

Sounds almost exactly like guns of icarus

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I think it was in Star Trek II where Spock observed to Kirk that Khan's perception of spaceship combat was still restricted to two dimensions. I read in a Wing Commanders novel that the proper way to attack a capital ship was to hit it along all three axis. I look forward to some good three dimensional tactics in future gameplay videos.

ajac09
ajac09

What  I want is a battlecruiser 3000ad that actually works. I want to be able to walk around a ship engage the enemy in firefighting with enemy troops and damage control,jump in a shuttle or fighter and launch, all that stuff!

ajac09
ajac09

Look interesting but must see more

PETERAKO
PETERAKO

so is just matches then, no expansive world or anything of the sort? Just random battles?


PS. Why Yager is not showing any gameplay since, apparently, the game is in a showable state?

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

that trailer.....3 minor impacts, probably just debris sir LMFAO!!!!!

DarkJedi8_basic
DarkJedi8_basic

Free-to-Play..."I have a bad feeling about this" - Han Solo

Gears_0f_L0ve
Gears_0f_L0ve

My inner child... ignited.    Thanks Yager..  Definate buy from me.

Pewbert
Pewbert

As long as it has a solid single player campaign I am interested. I loved Yager and this looks like a HD remake.

NetGod
NetGod

I have been waiting a very, very long time for a game like this.

normanislost
normanislost

sounds cool definitely worth taking a look

ABIBASS
ABIBASS

fix your player. sometimes the ad works but the video does not. forcing me watch two 40 second ad for a 1 minute teaser trailer. you corporate piece of shits

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

Nice to see Yager stretching their wings and trying different directions. I enjoyed The Line, this looks interesting and Dead Island 2 is a whole different direction for them again.

hitomo
hitomo

I love playin hawken, it works without paying ... this could be the same ... there is that Kind of f2p games some developers come up with to grant themself a constant income with very little effort ... this is acceptable if they stay true to their game and dont get greedy ...

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

And for some unknown reason I'm suddenly not interested anymore.

greaterdivinity
greaterdivinity

I don't even care. Spec-Ops was fantastic, so i'm just assuming that this will be fantastic as well. Will wait to hear more.

Ra-Maxima
Ra-Maxima

I don't know, but I kind like this game

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@fartmoo 

I suppose so, but in Guns of Icarus, players take the role of the crew - not massive individual ships.

quarrel47
quarrel47

Sounds like you want to play star citizen

brxricano
brxricano

@MJ12-Conspiracy LOL I know right?

"Captain, did you hear something?"

"No."

"Did I hear somethi-"

"I DONT KNOW! Jesus..." *goes full throttle*


Gears_0f_L0ve
Gears_0f_L0ve

Unless of course it is pay to win.. then good luck to you.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@quarrel47 

You too, quarrel47. If you are getting swamped with ads which irritate you, you have only yourself to blame when you don't know about the existence of browser tools which block out ads.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@ABIBASS

Get Ad-Block, and you can stop complaining about something which will always happen.

greaterdivinity
greaterdivinity

@freedomzealot Have you ever played a F2P game outside of mobile? Or are you just a close minded individual who isn't willing to experience anything outside the norm?

Rayzakk
Rayzakk

@greaterdivinity @freedomzealot I don't blame him.  Stick with the tried and true and if he's not interested because it's f2p then that's his right.  You act like he's some kind of bigot just because he doesn't want to try a game.  Get off your high horse.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@normanislost @Rayzakk @greaterdivinity @freedomzealot 

I agree with normanislost.

But then, presumptuous people like freedomzealot tend to make up their minds and stay like that.

That's an even higher horse. (See? I can use that saying too, Rayzakk.)