We’ve been writing about Fractured Space for a long time now, with three different writers over the last 15 months, and we’ve seen it come a long way since then. It is still a space MOBA set across two lanes, with five capture points in each lane and a large capture point that gives out a team-wide buff between the lanes, but now the lanes are graphically very different, with a lot more terrain to use for cover - or crash into.
Since going Free-to-Play back in May, we’ve seen a lot of big changes to the passive buff system, which takes the form of Crew. There are a huge variety of different crew members, and while they only give small percentage bonuses to different ship systems, like weapon damage or turning speed, the real benefit of this system is the voice lines. Each crew member will have something to say to you, and since the benefits between each member are minimal I found myself selecting the crew I enjoyed hearing while in-game.
There isn’t any way of hearing what they will say beforehand, however, so it can certainly be a bit of trial and error. If you’re looking to min-max your vessel, I recommend using the solo training mode to make sure you have your set-up exactly how you want it since it can be hard to experiment while playing against other people. Another issue with this system comes with the ability to create different crews, but as far as I can see you can’t change your crews once you’re in the ship select screen.
Finding games doesn’t take very long as long as you want to play Conquest, the main mode. I tried playing Frontier but I’m yet to find nine other players willing to do the same, so I just sat in a queue for a while before giving up. The servers are excellent from what I’ve played, I’ve never had any issues with disconnecting or lag, which is good because even though the game is quite slow cooldown management is still an essential skill.
There are 30 different vessels to choose from, split into three different corporations and across different classes. The differences between the vessels are summed up by their Attack, Defence and Utility ratings, but each feels exceptionally different even to a ship with a similar rating. You begin the game with one ship from each manufacturer, but as you play you can unlock more.
There are three currencies in Fractured Space: First, there is the real money currency Platinum that you can use to buy things like ships, skins, crew drops and Credits boosts. Credits are the main incremental currency that you earn for playing, and you earn quite a lot in comparison to other games in this genre like League of Legends or Heroes of the Storm. Credits are used to also purchase crew drops and ships. Finally, there is DNA, which is most similar to Arcane Dust from Hearthstone and allows you to unlock crew.
Buying crew drops will give you a random crew member, but you can’t use them until you have enough DNA to buy them. That said, these are very cheap and there are only 41 crew cards, so I don’t quite understand why this is in the game. I’ve had a lot of duplicate crew drops, which means I have a lot of excess DNA that I haven’t found a use for yet.
Fractured Space’s gameplay still feels epically big, even when playing in the smaller, nippier ships. The addition of asteroids in the main combat zones has certainly added a new level of strategy to the game, and being a good pilot even in slow ships will often save you from the exceptionally long death timers. The matches last around 20 minutes, and like most MOBAs team composition and coordination are essential to victory.
There is no individual levelling here: the entire team levels up by controlling the six mining stations in the two lanes. Each one will generate a small amount of XP, so controlling more will mean your team levels faster. Every few levels, you will get the ability to upgrade your attack, defence or utility, providing a major boost to those stats, though you need to return to a base your team controls to perform these upgrades.
The ships all have a variety of different weaponry, and many of the weapons can be swapped out for a similar weapon that has a different effect for some additional credits, meaning you can have a lot of different versions of missiles and lasers coming towards you. Where mechanical skill excels in standard MOBAs, in Fractured Space reaction speed and ability to adapt quickly will what you need to carry a team.
This is because the ships have shields and armour that degrade after taking damage, so you can’t efficiently tank damage by only showing one side of your armour to the enemies. Once they break through, you’ll be taking a lot more damage so maneuvering around to protect your exposed parts will save you from surefire destruction. The game doesn’t tell you this though, and I only discovered it by listening to crew lines and observing the difference in damage taken over time, added to some of the flavour text on a few of the weapons.
Overall, Fractured Space is a very welcome change to the MOBA formula we’ve cemented in the last five years. It’s slow and meaningful and feels great for it, and as a long time League of Legends player I’m happy switching out to play a few games of Fractured Space as a break from the speed. Piloting a huge capital ship feels really satisfying, and because the games are quite short in comparison to other games in the genre defeat never feels awful.
Fractured Space (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A great spaceship combat game which feels like a slower, more meaningful MOBA.