Deadrock Divide Hands-on Impressions From PAX East

Fans of tactical turn-based games have a new indie title to look forward to in Deadrock Divide, which is an upcoming title from Bootsnake Games that takes cues from the XCOM, Sid Meier’s Pirates!, and FTL franchises. We had a chance to get a preview of the alpha build from one of the developers, Dru Staltman, who along with his brother Mat, and fellow developer Steve Snoey, have spent the better part of a year creating Deadrock Divide.

Deadrock Divide is set in a science fiction universe where the hottest commodity is a mineral called deadrock. A lone vessel finds the mother load of deadrock while mining and asteroid belt, which in turns causes a futuristic gold rush where corporations, pirates, and miners do everything possible to score the most deadrock possible. You control a small crew of explorers looking to cash in on the discovery, but you’ll have to build the best team while also tweaking your ship to ensure that you can compete in the cutthroat world of Deadrock Divide.

Deadrock Divide plays out on a massive map that looks like the Grid from TRON. You control a spaceship, which can be customized to tailor to your play style. If you’d rather capitalize on the game’s deep trading and economy systems, you can opt for a slower moving cargo ship. If you’d rather get a bit more aggressive, you can opt for a speedier ship that’s better suited for running down other ships collecting deadrock. You can also manage your ship to take advantage of both trading and pirating, so the world truly is your oyster in Deadrock Divide.

The world of Deadrock Divide is massive
The world of Deadrock Divide is massive

When Dru Staltman first pulled up the game and launched into its map, it became immediately clear just how big the world of this tactical turn-based sandbox RPG truly is. All throughout the divide AI ships and celestial bodies packed with resources and deadrock hunters moved about like ants surrounding a colony. Due to all of this AI activity the map felt alive, and therefore encourages you to explore its hidden wonders en route to becoming the baddest ass deadrock outfit in the galaxy.

After allowing us to soak in the massive map Dru navigated towards a band of space pirates to see if they could be attacked, or to see if they’d attack us. The AI opted for the latter, so we were treated to Deadrock Divide’s core gameplay, which is very similar to the recent XCOM game for consoles. You must take turns to line up your soldiers to give them the best possible chance at success by making sure they have a clear line of sight towards the invading pirates. Once a pirate is located you can then engage them on your next turn, but you must make sure that whichever soldier is attacking has the best odds at scoring a hit. Your soldiers can be outfitted with the usual lineup of weapons, so snipers will have better accuracy, where assault style troops may have better stopping power. Unlike XCOM these AI companions aren’t locked into classes, so you can tweak them to your liking to build a squad that suits your needs. You can also gain powers that allow you to levitate enemies to expose them to more deadly attacks, as well as crafting other upgrades to bolster both your offensive and defensive capabilities. Deadrock Divide also has destructible environments, so you can slowly chip away at an enemy’s defenses with explosives to open up better lines of attack.

Battles play out similar to those featured in the most recent XCOM game
Battles play out similar to those featured in the most recent XCOM game

While this style of gameplay looks similar to XCOM, it still offers some major differences to help Deadrock stand out. One in particular is the use of buff inducing stations on the map. Dru showed us a healing station that can be used to heal soldiers as long as they took cover against it, which is a great way to change up your strategies when planning your soldier’s attacks. Dru also mentioned the fact that Deadrock Divide doesn’t enforce permadeath with your AI soldiers, or even your ship. Instead of being removed from the game for good, a wounded warrior will be able to return to the mix after a waiting period, but at least one of their stats will be forever hampered.

For example, let’s say one of your soldiers took damage to their legs to the point where they became incapacitated. This soldier would eventually be able to return to action, but his/her agility would be lessened thanks to the damage they took previously. The same applies to your ship, so if raiding pirates blow you out of the sky you won’t lose all of your work, rather your ship will be downgraded from its current level and powers. Dru mentioned they went this route to avoid players losing fifty-plus hours of progress, but to also ensure that players would pay the consequences for bad strategy.

There will be three main ways to play Deadrock Divide, or you can mix and match your play styles; you’re not really forced to play a certain way. Players will be allowed to, but not forced to tailor their ships and crew to either defend incoming bad guys, mine asteroids, or to become pirate hunters. Depending on how you want to go about things will dictate how your Deadrock Divide experience plays out. There will be a litany of side missions in addition to an overarching campaign, so this game will offer plenty of content to keep you busier than you probably should be when it comes to gaming.

There are many ways to go about playing Deadrock Divide
There are many ways to go about playing Deadrock Divide

If you appreciate a well thought out tactical turn-based game that also employs sandbox RPG style gameplay, you’ll surely appreciate the work Bootsnake Games has put into Deadrock Divide. XCOM fans will feel right at home with its strategy laden gunfights, where economic oriented gamers will take joy in watching their trade routes and deadrock deposits grow. The visuals will also speak to fans of science fiction films from the 70’s and 80’s thanks to the Star Wars inspired ship interiors and hull designs.

At this time Bootsnake doesn’t have a firm release date for Deadrock Divide, but they hope to get it to the public no later than spring of 2015. Make sure to stay tuned for further details as they become available.


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Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.