It all began with this blog-post. With it, developer Derek Smart launched a campaign against the mega-project Star Citizen Initially his criticism seemed quite acceptable and he was far from the first person to express sceptiscism towards Chris Robert’s space-sim However things soon took a nosedive As the discussion wore on Smart’s tone and choice of words became more and more inappropriate He insulted Star Citizen’s backer… …called for Chris Robert’s resignation …and tried to entice others into requesting …a FTC investigation of CIG/Star Citizen All the while, Smart referred to his own expertise as a developer… …and his new game “Line of Defense” which – he claims- in contrast to Star Citizen is already on the market, works properly and thus isn‘t so called „Vaporware“. For us, that’s reason enough to return the dirty discussion back to facts and check, if Derek Smart’s new game can support his words. Trailer, Website and the game description on steam promise massive battles with thousands of players. on space stations, big open world maps, on land and water and even in space, a permanent conflict raging in a persistent world with spectacular events in a pure player versus player setting. Huge space stations shall allow thrilling space combat and seamless docking All of this taking place in epic locales But reality looks like this. We start in a big spacestation as one out of four classes per side with our starter kit, a pistol and an assault rifle. Everything looks the same, almost nothing is usable und and these guys right here can‘t be talked to nor attacked. While moving, we always have the feeling as if we were being held on a leash constantly being let go and then pulled back again In general, the movement is more like floating than well animated walking When we sprint this becomes particularly obvious when jumping over bumps like a race car and in corners we drift against the wall and bounce off like a bouncy ball Speaking of walls: in this space station, built with muddy repetitive textures, there are no windows since it needs none: we simply stick our gun through the wall and start enjoying the view. Or we search for a nice little ventilation slit in the ground. Oh, wait… there is no air in space, right? But hey, no need to be this picky because there are way bigger issues. For example: the weapon handling. Aiming with ironsights is just impossible, because aiming only works with crosshairs. With some weapons this gets really weird. How are we supposed to fight with this one? It seems highly bizarre, that after professedly five years in development and almost one year in early access the weapons don’t even fit in these mounts, which most likely are supposed to be hands. There are also the strange weapon sounds, and really weird alternate fire modes. And of course there’s the reloading. it works like this Nope, there’s no reloading animation the weapon doesn’t even show up on screen again by itself. If we bring it back too early by pressing the assigned key, it’s still not reloaded. A “technique” that could be very interesting while under fire… Those who want more than the starter weapons can buy persistent and partly better guns, support items and vehicles for real money. Those who don’t want to pay for weapons need to collect weapon packs like this one instead However, these weapons disappear when players log out. That by itself would be annoying enough but to add to existing woes, we can’t really enjoy our new guns because from now on we lose stamina with every single step. Which makes sense since we’re now carrying lots of heavy weaponry unfortunately however we’re getting slower with each stamina-point we lose until we can hardly move anymore at all. So we either have to stop and wait every few meters for our stamina to refill… Or we can throw away all of our fancy new guns… by the way: If we press “sprint” while standing we burn up all our stamina at once and again we’re stuck for a while But enough standing around. Let’s leave this monotone station! Off we go to the airlock, we suit up and pick a place to go… …there’s the load screen…and the game crashed. Alright. It happens! New map, here we go! Load screen… crashed again. *sigh* Okay. Another map. Load screen! And…oh…it seems we clipped through the world. We’re not giving up here. Last map. Load screen… aw man, seriously? And yes we were able to reproduce all these issues time and time again. When we filed a bug report the developers redeployed an older version of the game. And this time the first map – Heatwave – does load…and we can watch ourselves slowly sinking to the ground. at least there’s some consistency in the games sloppyness. Even if we can finally play there are performance-issues throughout On an i7 4770k, 32GB RAM and a GTX 970 the FPS are constantly dropping below 20 every couple of meters. causing the stuttering image you see here Meanwhile there’s almost nothing going on ingame except for some shuttles flying aorund every 30 seconds We decide to take one and finally manage to get in, somehow. The shuttle ist glued to the screen and stutters across the map. But how the hell do we get out of it? Ahm… Stewardess… please, we’d like to get out of here… Oh…well…thanks, I guess? By the way: In more than six hours of playtime we never saw another player. Although to be fair: On this map we can’t see anything anyway. Nothing. Actually…all the remaining maps are pitch black. We went ahead and reported this as a bug as well – submitting a ticket and a message on steam. The unexpected result: the developer simply declared us as “trolls”… …threatened to permaban us… …and patched the game back to the previous version. That’s right: The version that makes the map crash while loading. Therefore we were unable to check if flying mechanics or any vehicles at all have been implemented yet. But to be honest…we feel like we’ve seen more than enough. Line of Defense is quite simply an insult to its players And yet another reason why Steam’s Early Access programm is being justly criticized. As it stands the game is unplayable – plain and simple. The progress made since the game launched on Early Access in September 2014 is marginal at best. And yet the game was sold for prices up to 100 dollars even now you can easily join the closed beta where you are being offered item-packs worth up to 150 dollars who for the most part are not even implemented into the game yet. None of these issues are remotely visible in the trailers and screenshots for the game of course. Neither do the descriptions detail any of them. Critical voices on steam are being silenced by the developer who deletes or moves postings deliberately while insulting players who leave bad revies as “noobs” on top of all that. Problems are blamed on their inadequate hardware or inability to understand the game. The truth is however: Line of Defense suffers from so many issues it is basically unplayable. As it stands it does not even run under DX11. And in the face of all this, project lead Derek Smart still talks about a release late this summer. It is time for valve to start curating its early access program. It needs a set of rules that are being enforced by the platform owner. Until then, developers like Derek Smart can publish broken software on steam and sell it for hundreds of dollars. That doesn’t just hurt steam and its customers it also hurts – as this case shows – the entire industry.