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Pixel Privateers

Pixel Privateers

Loot and upgrades are cool, but they lose their sparkle after a while.

  • Text: A. R. Teschner
Pixel Privateers

Pixel Privateers is an RPG that sees you control a mercenary company that moves from planet to planet, taking missions to earn money and find randomised loot. Your landing party consists of up to eight troopers in different classes, with their five attributes dictating how good they are at various abilities. In the game you beam down to a world and kill anything hostile, running through somewhat randomised buildings of different types, looting rooms as you go. It sounds cool on paper, but whether or not this is enough for you depends on what sort of space mercenary experience you're really looking for.

In Pixel Privateers you have loot that comes in different rarities, with different aspects based on the type of weapon or armour it is, relative character level, and possible special abilities. The variance in loot is great, in part because you can get something that's just plain better than what you'll get for a long time. It's not the usual incremental power increase that some games give you, but it can lead to you getting a lot of junk in the interim once you've settled on a quality loadout for your party.

Classes dictate what sorts of weapons characters can use, and what sorts of abilities they'll have available, with the class item they have equipped adding another class-specific ability. Engineers can choose from drones or weapon disrupters, for example. The different armour slots, weapons, and class items mean you're going to spend a lot of time making sure things are just right. When you have a team that has good synergy it's pretty fun to mow down the locals in an orderly fashion, popping them like loot-filled zits as your little pixel characters waddle from room to room, but the time spent actually battling is maybe half of what most players will be doing. Most of the rest involves fiddling around in the inventory screen.

Pixel Privateers

So much time is spent in the inventory screen you'll be grateful that the music is pleasant, and that there are plenty, if not nearly enough, sorting options to let you cycle through armour, class items, and weapons to find the highest damage or the highest level. Too often if you want anything more specific, however, such as range or weapon type, you're going to have to spend a lot more time cycling between item stats. The optimal character class configuration can sometimes be elusive too, although a given character's stats become harder to optimise the more levels you gain: some classes depend upon certain stats more than others, and because you start adding incremental points over time, if you decide at any time to change your tank into a healer, they're not going to be good as someone you'd hire new from a supply station.

You don't grow too connected to individual characters in the game though, so it's easier to be pragmatic about getting the right team together. If you happen to be playing on the harder difficulty (with permadeath if you lose everybody) this is especially good because with the latest patch it can be pretty easy to lose characters. The normal difficulty, which is recommended for first playthroughs, does allow you to resurrect a dead character back at the ship for the cost of a certain amount of matter reserves that increases as they gain in levels, with items intact. You can also raise or lower the planet's difficulty before your team beams down, even if you've already been there. You get two types of mission generators, one plot-based and the other ongoing, and their rewards are a box of items, a box of matter (used for resurrecting, fabricating items, or beaming down), or a box of fuel.

Assuming you have room in your inventory back at the ship, you can grab it plus some credits and experience and go, and you can also beam down to unvisited worlds and shoot them up without needing a reason if you need some extra stuff. If you've already generated missions, though, you need to complete some before you can generate more, which can sometimes leave you without missions to earn the fuel you need to get back if you travelled too far away, leaving you scrounging or even stranded, at the mercy of random encounters until one of them drops enough fuel for you.

Pixel Privateers
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