Starhawk space combat to debut at PAX, Gamescom

By Steve Watts, Aug 08, 2011 1:30pm PDT

Starhawk will finally see the debut of space battles at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany later this month, followed by a trip to PAX Prime in Seattle to show off the space combat there as well. The revelation comes from senior producer Harvard Bonin, who shared plenty of details about the upcoming action title in a PlayStation Blog interview.

The interview also covered the game's variety of multiplayer options, which seem pretty expansive for a console game. Bonin promises matchmaking, game lists, party systems, tournament games, and custom games. "While [matchmaking only] might streamline the game for new users, we think that our players are more sophisticated and deserve to make their own choice." The team is planning a public beta to test these options, with the possibility of first-dibs for Warhawk players.

Bonin also teased a system for gaining skills, but he warned that it's not a skill tree. The team opted not to allow for weapon customizations, so "when you make a choice, it will be a big choice." Those weapons will be balanced with a rock-paper-scissors mechanic regarding infantry versus vehicles. "Honestly, I'm not too worried about it," said Bonin. "If we see balance issues we'll either tweak the knobs or even add new gameplay abilities." He points out that they've already been refining the balance, adding an anti-infantry melee attack for the mech unit.

The idea of borrowing real-time strategy elements apparently came from an unlikely source: LittleBigPlanet. An early prototype had puzzle pieces that could fit together to form a battlefield, but test groups rejected the notion. Instead of allowing players to customize every inch of the play area, the team opted to allow the emplacement turrets and buildings.

We came away impressed by Starhawk's level of polish at E3, but space combat wasn't on display yet. Seeing it shown off for the first time should be a welcome addition. If you want to get your mitts on the space combat for yourself, you can trek to Germany for Gamescom on August 17, or to Seattle for PAX on August 26-28.

Starhawk is due out next year for the PlayStation 3.

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