Action-RPG lootfests are a dime a dozen on the PC, and it takes quite an effort to make one particularly stand out in the modern gaming environment. Drox Operative by Soldak Entertainment goes for one of the most tried-and-true methods to stand out ever – space.

By replacing the standard dungeon crawling of the Action-RPG genre with flying through space and blasting spaceships for loot, Drox Operative manages to be fun and engaging all the while providing nearly endless possibilities.

You play as a Drox Operative – a member of a guild of elite starship captains that operate independently of the existing empires throughout the universe. You choose a race, which dictates the ship types you have access too, as well as providing perks from bonus energy regeneration for the plant-like Dryad race to a damage multiplier for the brutal Brunt.

The controls take a little getting used to at first, as you have to get used to how your ship accelerates and turns. It feels as if the mouse controls are more responsive than the keyboard controls, which is generally not a problem, though manually-aimed weapons such as railguns will require you to use the mouse to aim. Laser weapons are auto-targeting and work fine with mouse movement and hotkeys to fire. The collision detection for manually-aimed weapons can seem slightly off, as it appears all ships’ hitboxes are slightly smaller than you might expect. However, you quickly learn to compensate for this, and a direct hit will give you bonus damage, so you find yourself aiming for the centre of the ship anyways.

droxBodyScreenAs you play and collect loot, you will find components to upgrade your ship. These cover a variety of different modules you would expect on a spaceship, from weapons systems and shields to crew members and escape pods. When you level up, you can assign stat points which will allow you to use better components, or unlock newer ships with more slots to upgrade. The one slight downside is that good loot is a little too uncommon to be as satisfying as in other games in the Action-RPG genre.

There are five winning conditions: Military – ally with the last remaining race, Economic – earn enough money in the sector, Diplomatic – ensure that all remaining races including yourself are allied, Fear – destroy enough planets, ships, and powerful monsters to have the other races afraid of you, and Legend – destroying powerful monsters and complete important quests to have the other races in awe of you. Some are more challenging than others, but there is enough of a variety to allow for a great deal of play styles. Losing conditions come up for Military, Economic, and Diplomatic scenarios, though the game will give you ten minutes to correct a losing situation. This is quite intense as you watch the clock wind down and you try everything you can to fix whatever went wrong.

Visually, Drox Operative is aesthetically pleasant, with a variety of planets, stars, and anomalies scattered throughout the star systems you visit. Every race’s ships are easy to identify at a glance, which is useful when dozens of ships are all fighting one another and you’re trying to help out a particular side of the battle. The visual style can get a little repetitive after a while, as there’s only so much space to see, but usually there is enough to see and explore that it never gets overly stale.

The sound design is excellent, with lasers and missiles sounding like you’d want in an epic space adventure. You will learn to identify warning sounds of all the hazards space has to offer, and the game’s sounds are unique enough that you will know what hazard you’re approaching without having to check for debuffs before too long.

Musically, Drox Operative makes a very interesting choice in that there is usually no music whatsoever, until you engage in combat. When combat starts, an adrenaline-pumping soundtrack kicks in and really reinforces the stress of the dogfighting in space. It’s extremely effective, and many times I found myself engaged to take more chances in combat simply by getting caught up in the moment.

At its heart, Drox Operative is an Action-RPG lootfest in every sense. Fans of the genre will be familiar with what it offers, but may be turned away by the lack of quality loot. However, with a solid visual aesthetic and effective sound design, it manages to be a very enjoyable experience for those looking for some space-based fun.

Review: Drox Operative
Drox Operative is full of the excitement and action you want in an Action-RPG, with the added joy of being in space.
Pros
  • Nearly endless possibilities
  • Excellent combat soundtrack
  • Variety of ways to play
Cons
  • Controls can take some getting used to
  • Good loot can be rare
  • Visuals get repetitive
8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
9.9

About The Author

Deputy Editor

John is a freelance web developer, graphic designer, and budding game developer from the mythical land of Canada, and in his spare time, plays a video game or two and talks about them.

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