Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock – Time to Revisit an Underrated Gem

You should play this already, so say we all.

Deadlock

Battlestar Galactica: Deadlock (BSG:D) is a turn-based strategy game set in the reimagined universe of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica. The game’s story takes place during the First Cylon War where the human Colonials face an ever growing rebellion from their mechanical servants, the Cylons. Players will discover new lore and participate in pivotal events of this unexplored conflict. The main mode of the game is the story-driven campaign, which combines a strategic layer illustrating the Cyrannus system and a tactical layer where individual fleets engage in missions to complete objectives.

The story centers around the exploits of the embattled Colonial Fleet as the player must appease the Twelve Colonies for resources, fend off Colonial separatists and fight off waves of roaming Cylon fleets. There is also a skirmish mode for single player and multiplayer where players craft fleets with a point limit and battle it out in 1v1 matches or in co-op against the AI.

The main mechanics of the game for the strategic layer sees the player build fleets using the resource Tylium, which doubles as fuel, send them on missions and research new fighter squadrons, ordnance, and capital ships to counter the growing Cylon threat. Tactically, the player commands fleets in fully realized 3D maps to complete various objectives, usually involving the destruction of the enemy fleet to an extent.

Turns are split into a planning phase, where players commit their orders such as moving ships and squadrons, focusing fire, and launching ordnance; and a simulation phase where committed orders are executed in short real-time segments. Once a battle finishes, all phases can be watched in a seamless cinematic replay mode to enjoy the spectacle.

 

Simple in Mechanics, Complex in Decision-making

BSG deadlock

On a basic level, all the player needs to with their ships and squadrons is to point and click where they would like to go and program their targets. Individual ships also are not overly complicated to command, as ships generally need to move, fire at the closest enemy, and launch fighters and ordnance if the ship in question has them in the first place. Ships can also individually have their postures set for defense or offense, which increases damage reduction or increases accuracy and range respectively. This can be done using a simple slider. Squadrons have a functional AI, which sets them on auto-behavior if the player does not give explicit orders.

All these simple mechanics streamline the game and make it very easy to get into the flow of tactical battles. The campaign also reflects this mechanical simplicity as the only things to pay attention to are fleet positions on the strategic map, resource availability, mission locations, Cylon fleets disrupting your resources, and ship construction. Objectives themselves are simple and usually affect the tactical level of the game in minor ways.

The reason why BSG:D is likely the best space combat strategy game on the market is the complexity in decision-making. The simplicity of the mechanics shifts the focus for beginner players from learning which buttons to press and instead to good positioning, fleet composition, and timing; all elements of leadership.

Generally, battles are relatively short due to volatile combat and small fleet size, as fleets are limited to seven capital ships, a support ship with the fleet point maximum summing up to 8000 points. This means that players need to focus on how to best preserve their fleet, defeat the enemy as quickly as possible, and use simple ship abilities and weapons to achieve victory.

 

Theme and Presentation

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An element that is essential to BSG:D’s quality and allure is its theme. First, the game’s setting of the BSG universe provides a lot role-playing potential and for anyone who knows or understands the lore, a way to test their knowledge of the universe in being an integral part of the pivotal First Cylon War. This strengthens the experience with a strong and relatively well-known science-fiction theme that the game is inspired by and, in turn, evolves it. The fully voiced characters in the game also grounds the story and helps connect to the people involved.

The presentation is another strong suit of the game, which serves to solidify the theme as an integral part of the strategic and tactical experience. Two presentation highlights are the music and the UI design. The soundtrack is one of the best strategy sci-fi soundtracks I’ve heard, due to the fact that the tracks are contextual, shifting to the background during the planning phase of battle, yet during the simulation phases and replays the music goes full blast. The UI design is inspired by the setting as all the commands and the turn-based nature of the tactical battles invokes the feeling of sitting in the admiral’s chair watching the fight unfold through a hologram or computer simulation within the universe.

 

Updates and Expansions Overview

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There have been several previous paid DLC expansions to BSG:D, each adding something unique to the game. The first DLC is the Reinforcement Pack, which adds two new ships per side and new munitions types. This expansion is essential as the added ships themselves fill critical roster gaps that both the Cylons and the Colonials had in their fleets.

The next expansion is The Broken Alliance, which added new story missions to the original campaign as well as new ships and squadrons for the Colonials and Cylons. This is another serious recommendation as the new ships fill yet more gaps in the fleets rosters of either side, and the missions themselves add extra longevity to the vanilla story, deepening the lore. In essence, as a piece of story content The Broken Alliance pays even more respect to the lore of the universe, adding on top of a game that is already faithful but unique in its own right.

The third expansion is Operation Anabasis, which is probably the most unique of the expansions. It adds a spin-off story campaign in the form of a roguelite score-based mode where players must jump from location to location gathering survivors, fighting off endless hordes of Cylons, and thus improving their final score in a similar vein as FTL. Though having a story reason for existing, this mode does not have as much gravitas or thematic power as the original campaign or the Broken Alliance mission pack. Furthermore, this expansion only adds several new munitions types. Of all the expansions, this one is the least critical to own.

Sin and Sacrifice is the first major story expansion after The Broken Alliance mission pack, which includes a brand new campaign that follows immediately after the events of the vanilla campaign and the final expansion in Season One of paid content for the game. The DLC also adds one new ship for either side and an option for radio chatter during replays and simulation phases during tactical battles, livening up battles further and playing into the already strong theme and presentation of the game. This expansion is a must buy as it adds another 20-30 hours of story content and new tactical options for players to use.

 

Resurrection: An Essential Step Forward

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Resurrection is the first expansion in the second season of DLC content for BSG:D. It adds a new sequel campaign to both the base game’s story and the Sin and Sacrifice expansion centering around the eponymous ship in a new and dangerous episode of the First Cylon War. Along with the campaign the DLC adds one new ship and a new squadron for both sides: the Jupiter Mk 2 Battlestar and Taipan strike fighter for the Colonials, and the Cratus Basestar and Vespid bomber squadron for the Cylons. With the new campaign the developers chose to streamline the campaign making it easier to complete missions, while at the same time throwing more missions at the player, making sure that there is almost always something to do.

It is also critical to indicate here the multitude of quality of life and gameplay improvements that the developers have added over the past two years and in this DLC specifically. One critique of the tactical battles in previous versions of BSG:D was that they were a bit too slow as players had to individually give orders to each squadron and ship. Now with the Resurrection DLC, the devs have added a multiselect feature, which allows players to command multiple ships with a single order, speeding up the time players have to spend in the planning phase. Players can still choose to command ships and squadrons individually.

Other essential feature updates and quality of life improvements also include the ability to assign large numbers of fighter squadrons into control groups for ease of use. There’s also an in-battle retreat option where players can now escape unwinnable situations, whereas previously they would have to fight once in the tactical mode, and the addition of persistent damage and experience to ships in campaigns along with the ability to port saves from campaign to campaign for continuity and ship personalization.

This expansion is a must buy on the story content alone, as it further develops the lore and evolves campaign mechanics to create a more streamlined and accessible experience. The updates that the expansion brings also make this DLC essential to quicken the pace of battles and give a greater degree of control of units in tactical engagements. For fans of the universe, this expansion is the closest thing to the 2003 TV series, as the Jupiter Mk 2 is faithful to the show, and the Cratus Basestar is one step from becoming the classic Cylon Basestar design seen in the show.

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