The latest update to Empyrean Frontier brings 2 big features: multi-grid maps and limited unit “strike force” missions. A new skirmish map mode with 2 new maps has been added. 5 new missions designed around these features have also been added to the campaign pool.
This Update adds a 3rd new skirmish mode, the Multi Grid Skirmish. In these maps, the playfield is divided into multiple separate grids, with wormholes connecting them. This is a game mode that players of games such as Sins of a Solar Empire will find somewhat familiar, and it allows for more diverse map design, when compared with single grid maps. From a game design perspective, the multiple grids create more discrete points of interest, which gives the player more obviously identifiable strategic goals.
Wormholes in Empyrean Frontier, it should be noted, provide one-way travel (units enter the dark portal and exit from the light one) which means that jumping to a grid without a nearby exit portal is a greater risk, and that allows for additional opportunities to design interesting maps. This update adds 2 skirmish maps, one of which is also used in a campaign node, and you can look forward to additional skirmish maps and new campaign specific maps in the future.
Strike Force Missions:
Another big change in this update involves the campaign and what I’m unofficially calling “strike force” missions. These are campaign missions where players are only allowed to choose a select few units from their fleet for the mission. A new interface has been added to the campaign battle menu to allow the player to choose units and show the relative strength of the player’s forces and the enemy forces.
These missions allow for more carefully crafted missions, and address some of the balance problems that arise when player fleets get too large. They also help soften the effects of mission failures, since players will not need to risk losing their entire fleet in each of these nodes. By limiting the number of starting units (and allowing the player to choose these units) these mission types allow for more strategic decisions, and allow for the addition of some of the mission types commonly seen in traditional RTS games, including the “commando” type missions, and base building missions. Two of the new missions added in this update involve the player being given or taking control of a base with their chosen strike force of units.
(Note: while “supply” values have been added to the campaign list, this will only affect how many units the player can bring in during these specific missions, there’s no change preventing the player from building as many units as they want in either campaign missions or skirmishes.)