okay time for post #1
let me introduce you to NeonXSZ
NeonXSZ is a Descent-like that takes place within cyberspace. You fly around the internals of a computer, shoot viruses, help the operating system, and generally kill stuff.
But it’s also an open-world action-RPG? The computers you fly around in have zones of “tech level” which determines the quality of upgrades which drop there. To slot upgrades, you have to kill enemies with said upgrade, upon which they will drop some % of the upgrade (modified by a ridiculously inscrutable series of variables, like the kill streak you’re on, your difficulty level, the level difference, etc). Once you reach 100%, you can run to a station with a garage and slot it.
You can click on everything in your cockpit by holding down the right mouse button to pause the game and enable the cursor, which I have never seen in another cockpit game like this. It’s actually useful, too; you can control various HUD elements, look at target info, swap weapons, call for help, all from the safety of a pause screen that is a single mouse click away.
I heard someone compare this game to Diablo and it’s not wrong. You’ll spend a lot of time just flying around and picking fights with enemies you think you can kill, hopefully going on kill streaks to keep your drop rate high. Patrols of enemies and friendlies alike fly through convenient highways. Convenient because you can go to an intersection and let all enemies come to you, but also convenient because there are little “shoulder lanes” you can lure enemies into or use as cover to break away from units in the highway. Fighting in the highway also means friendlies drive by and will respond to calls for help.
You don’t have to help the initial friendlies; you can always flip sides and join the viruses by killing enough friendly ships. Stations don’t really care what side you’re on so you can fly into an enemy base, kill everyone, dock, change gear, and fly away. The only reason to return to friendly space is if you’re fleeing from a high-level enemy.
There’s not really a plot or anything; all of the ambition is in the systems around killing ships, modifying your own ship, and picking engagements. Once you reach certain “tech levels” (average ilvl, basically), it buffs your weapon damage and enables you to take on challenges in the center of your CPU. Completing all of them progresses you to a new, higher level CPU.
This game rules. The Descent-like combat and Elite-like facade are enough for me, but that there’s so many weird and cool touches - the right-click interaction pause, the way upgrades are visualized on your ship, that you can customize the level and ship colors, the absolute glut of tutorials and customization features - really cements it as a personal favorite.