GoD Factory: Wingmen is a tough game to describe. Star Fox 64 is a close comparison, but it’s misleading to compare the graphics of 1997 to the immense starscape-arena that Quebec-based studio Nine Dots has crafted. A comparison to other team-based competitive games like League of Legends might be in order, but the gameplay is radically different–for starters, there’s a Z-axis. Also, you’re in a spaceship.
In truth, the answer lies somewhere between the two games. What you have here is a squad-based space dogfight simulator. If that sounds as cool to you as it does to me, you might want to keep reading.
GoD Factory: Wingmen pits you and three teammates against another four-person team in a contest to destroy the opposition’s carrier, a massive ship with a couple of vulnerable components. You and your wingbros have to work together to pick off enemy fighters and target weak points of the enemy carrier, each of which has a different effect on the course of the game. For example, disabling the radar reduces the range at which you can detect an enemy ship.
You achieve these goals in a spacecraft customized with up to twelve different parts, giving your ship a good chance of being completely personalized. You can also give it a name, like “Human Ship #1″ or “Eric.” In fact, if you like both of those names, you can choose them both for the same match–each player has two ships between which they can jump while the other regenerates shields. Each carrier’s dock serves as a home base, to which you’ll have to return regularly for ammunition and shield regeneration.
It’s worth noting that you can only jump between ships if you manage to get back to the dock in one piece. In the few games I played, I had the pleasure of having my ships summarily dismantled by lasers, rockets, asteroid collisions, more asteroid collisions, and some space debris that just came out of nowhere, I swear. Unfortunately for me, your ships only have one life each, meaning I was stuck to Human Drones for the last part of each match.
One of the first things you’ll discover in your starting matches is that GoD Factory: Wingmen is hard, especially if you weren’t even particularly very good at Star Fox 64, like me. The learning curve is steep for the special abilities of ships, the synergies of different player abilities, and sometimes even just for knowing what the hell is going on. Much like League of Legends, this game can be very daunting to a big newbie, like me.
It helps that the game just looks simply stunning. Even the act of flying across the map can be breathtaking, with the enormous GoD statues looming over the battlefield as you dart between asteroids (or into them, if you’re me). Nine Dots put a hell of a lot of effort into painting a grandiose backdrop of stars, nebulas, and alien space constructs; the game practically begs you to just fly around doing tricks and taking in the environment. It’s really that great.
One of the more interesting points of GoD Factory: Wingmen is its inclusion of support for the Oculus Rift. For those who don’t know, the Rift is a headset with a monitor in each eye, granting a pretty plausible sense of virtual reality to the experience. GoD Factory: Wingmen also supports joystick control, so let’s be real–if you’ve got either of those items, this game is right the hell down your alley.
Make no mistake, GoD Factory: Wingmen’s greatest strength is also one of its biggest weaknesses. This is a space flight experience that promises a great deal of depth, but is undeniably daunting to jump into. Again, like in League of Legends, you’re going to be a newbie for a while. If you’re like me, there will be times when you’ll simply not know where to go, or what to shoot, or even where the hell everybody is.
But at the same time there’s something attractive about the spaciness of the whole thing. Thinking in three dimensions is something that not many games out there make you do, and none of them do it as well or as beautifully as GoD Factory: Wingmen. You’re boosting towards the enemy carrier, when a laser flash off your tail forces you to activate your decoy and corkscrew ‘upwards’ through a group of asteroids. Suddenly you spot an ally in trouble, and launch a volley of rockets onto his pursuer as he boosts back to the ship.
Nine Dots has said that they hope for the game to develop into an e-sport, and I can’t help but hope for their success. If you feel the same way, you can check out the game’s Kickstarter page, which is still reaching towards its backing goal. With all the support for MOBA games like League of Legends (just pretend I’ve been saying Dota 2 this whole time if it really bothers you), a great-looking hardcore space flight simulator is a real breath of fresh air, and maybe just what the e-sport scene needs.
Of course, there’s no air in space. But let’s not torture the metaphor. Check this game out.