The missions in the game’s campaign do offer a nice variety of objectives. There’s plenty of "go here and kill that," but the game does a nice job of breaking up the paths to these. In one mission you raid a pirate warehouse while another has you teaming up with some pirates to defend their base - placing turrets in strategic locations and holding position until reinforcements arrive. It’s these little diversions that help keep things fresh and the missions themselves are fully voice acted and each help move the story forward nicely. There’s a solid waypoint system as well to help you if you get lost. Without it, the game would be even more difficult.
The entire campaign can be played in co-op too, with up to 16 players. While that seems to work ok for 3 or 4 players, I was unable to find any games available with more than that. It was difficult to tell just how the game scaled the difficulty for multiple players, but we were told the game does scale up or down based on the number of players present. Sadly the same combat issues I had with the game’s single player combat persist in co-op. Sure it’s nice to have a few wingmen by your side, but the AI aren’t really challenging targets, they just aren’t the easiest to kill. They’ll fly straight towards your group with no regard for four players shooting machine guns at them, but absorb the bullets and fire back just as if you aren’t even there.
I have to commend Keen Software on trying to integrate a seamless co-op experience. Every game by default is a co-op game and open for anyone to join at any time. Sadly, despite that, most of the time I played I rarely had a random person jump into my game. There’s just very little incentive. On top of that joining a game features some really obscenely long loading times and at times it just flat out doesn’t work.
Which brings me to the bugs in the game in general. I hit a handful of mission breaking bugs causing me to replay an entire mission. I ran into connection issues and later on I actually hit a point where the entire game would crash regardless of which component I loaded. I’ve been playing Miner Wars 2081 since the alpha and through the beta as well, while I’ve seen solid progress and polish, it definitely wasn’t ready for release.
There’s a lot of potential here in Miner Wars 2081, it seems like a game that could be a blast at LAN parties despite the internet connection DRM requirement. If you can get past the shallow combat there’s an expansive universe to explore and have some fun with. With a full editor and some modability there’s a chance Miner Wars 2081 can become something better and realize its full potential. As it stands now it simply makes me yearn for a true sequel to Descent.
A Steam code was provided by the developer for review purposes.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with up to 16 players through the game's story. Other players are part of the host's players squad. Progress for guests does not carry back to their own save.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.