Lost sector online is a tactical, strategy, turn-based, MMORPG, similar to games like X-Com and the Jagged Alliance series.
Developers Lost Sector Technologies has teamed up with publishers IDC Games to reach a larger audience for their turn-based shooter. They have recently put up a new Steam Greenlight page as they move into a new chapter for their game. For some of you this game may look familiar because it was on Steam Greenlight a few years ago, but the game has since gone into Open Beta and has added in some new content.
Before I get on with the review, I want to first say that if you are having trouble downloading and playing the game, you first have to make an account with IDC Games, then go to the Lost Sector website and download the game using the IDC launcher. After the game finishes, DO NOT launch the game from the installer, it will just crash. Instead, close the installer, open the game from the new desktop icon and launch the game. It will download new patches and updates and check the integrity of the game. When it is done, you will then be able to launch and play the game like normal from then on.
Sadly, I wasn’t able to play the original Lost Sector when it first launched, but I was able to play the newly released Open Beta version. Take a look at the below trailer to get an idea about what the game is like.
Gameplay And Story
The story follows a group of soldiers that are fighting a war to take back their home. Most of the civilians have been evacuated due to the fact that the war has come so close to home. Bandits, raiders, and other militia military types are now all over the city, making it extremely dangerous to travel around. You play as one of these soldiers fighting for your home, and your job is to clear out the bandits and hostile militia forces while also working to make the city and local factories operational again, by taking back one Lost Sector at a time.
There are quite a few options to adjust the graphics, sound and controls to get a pretty smooth framerate. Graphically, the game doesn’t take your breath away, but the quality is decent enough to make the game enjoyable. Don’t go by the images in this article, I turned the graphics lower to try to get a better framerate for recording gameplay (my laptop isn’t made for gaming and recording at the same time). Even low end laptop users should be able to play the game comfortably. The controls mostly consists of pointing and clicking, but you can also customize your buttons to include hotkeys as well, to quickly reload weapons, rotate the camera, or perform other functions quickly, such as open up your character’s inventory.
The gameplay for Lost Sector is set up in three parts, the first part is where you point and click to walk around your main base of operations in real time to buy equipment and supplies, and you simply play as your main character — who serves as the squad leader. If you have any other team members, they won’t show up here.
Here you can arm your soldiers with new equipment, recruit additional Mercs to join your squad, socialize with other players, or manage your inventory and clan members. There are quite a bit of different weapons and armor choices for you to choose from, and they actually have different stats and functions that changes gameplay. For example, light armor allows you to move faster and farther, while heavy armor gives you more protection but hampers your movement. There is even a place for you to test your weapons and learn more about different weapon types and how they work in combat, but I’ll talk about that more soon.
The second part of the game is the tactical world map that shows all of the quests, hostile enemies and other players moving around the map. It is a zoomed out, almost holographic view of the city, that shows all the different locations you can travel to. Certain areas are restricted and locked by level, and other areas are locked by story events and requires you to complete specific missions before you can access that area. Take a look at the gameplay video the developers released that showcases how the quest system works in the below video.
If you travel to a specific location, you can see what level enemies are there and if there are any other players in the area, and from there you can engage in combat or attempt to recruit that player to join your squad so you can complete quests together. Certain missions are restricted and requires at least 2 or more human players to complete the mission, so Lost Sector does encourage and force player cooperation and team work pretty early on in the game. The last and most important part of the game, is of course combat itself.
Lost Sector’s Combat system
When you get into the game, you will see that it starts off in a paused turn-based game mode. There is a timer at the top left corner of the screen that is used to force your turn to end if you take too long. Since this is a multiplayer game, it forces the turn to move along in case one player is AFK or is being a troll and taking too long to make a decision.
Players have AP, or Action Points. You use AP to move around, pick up items or attack enemies. You start off with about 100 AP, and from there you have to manage your points strategically to keep your soldiers alive. Here is where the game starts to really shine though, because it has a pretty unique system for weapon damage and how you aim weapons.
Around your character’s feet there are three circles, these circles show your weapon’s effective damage range. The first circle is for melee attacks, it is small and directly around your character’s feet, the enemy must be within this circle to perform a physical melee attack. The second circle is the character’s most effective range, the third and largest circle is your weapons max shooting range, but the weapon may not be very effective.
However, the gun functions change based on weapon type. For example, Sniper Rifles are all about long range, so the enemy actually has to be outside the largest circle for the weapon to be most effective. This is where the shooting range comes in handy so that you can learn how weapons work before you get into combat, but you of course have to purchase the weapons first to test them. You can however talk to an NPC that will teach you about all of this before you get into combat.
You then have three different modes for aiming, here you can see the AP cost for each mode, and the game also creates a Line Of Sight cone that shows the shooting angle for where your bullet will potentially land, as well as a visibility meter that allows you to see if your character has a clean shot or not. Aimed shots take the most AP and deals out the most damage, these shots can also shoot the farthest.
Snap shots are mid-range shots that you pretty much fire off without aiming, the closer the target is, the better the chance you’ll get a hit. These shots also don’t require as much AP, but they don’t deal as much damage either.
The last option is HIT which is your physical melee attack in case the enemy gets too close. If you attempt to attack an enemy outside your weapons effective range, rather they are too close or too far, you will have an accuracy and damage reduction penalty. So positioning your characters plays a very large role in terms of strategy.
Furthermore, characters can crouch down behind objects so that they have a lower visibility angle. There is also a handy camera mode that you can enter by holding down the Shift key that allows you to see out of your character’s eyes in first person. If you aren’t sure if you character can make a shot or if you think something might be blocking their FOV, going first person to see what they see is a great way to make sure they have a clear line of sight.
Another cool part about Lost Sector is how much freedom they give you to navigate stages. If there is a wall or fence low enough, they will climb or vault over it, if there is a ladder they can climb it to reach the roof, if there are stairs you can run up them. As you can see from the above image, there is a radar at the right side of the screen. A refers to All, while the 3, 2 ,1 refers to the different floor levels you can see.
After all of your units run out of AP, the turn will end and will either let the other players move or will switch over to the NPCs turn. Players can equipped a primary and secondary weapon and you can swap weapons to change while in combat to keep a tactical advantage; for example, you have a sniper rifle and the enemy gets too close, so you swap to your pistol.
However, you cannot equip new weapons or items while in combat, you can only use what you already have on you. So if you already equipped a sniper rifle, you can’t switch to a shotgun on the fly once you enter combat. This means that you need to plan out your gear before you get into battle.
Stage designs And Enemy AI
Combat takes place in random arena stages that are chosen once you start the game. These are instance areas, but they are preset stages and not procedurally generated. This means that you can plan your movements around familiar stages to take advantage of certain layouts so that it will work to your advantage. The locations on the main map are not connected to specific locations, so you could stay in the same area but play on different stages for that area.
However, there are a certain amount of stages each area will choose from. So one area might choose a more downtown area or it might choose a subway style map, while another area might have more factory environments and construction sites for its pool of random stages. This can be a bit annoying because it means that you will also have to keep playing the same stages over and over again until you are able to unlock new areas that you can travel to. But I suppose most other tactical games randomize stages in a similar fashion.
I also noticed that all of the stages are designed more like battle arenas, so they are rather small and made for quick death match style battles. It isn’t a bad thing because you can always find your enemy, but it also means that it is pretty obvious to spot out the enemy because there is a limited amount of room to play in, so it removes a lot of tactics and strategy because the play area is pretty tight.
The enemy AI is decent in terms of how it plans out its actions and will give you a decent challenge, however they also seem to be all-knowing. This can be a bit frustrating because they will always maneuver as if they know where you are, and thus it is impossible to use stealth tactics or attempt to flank the enemy for surprise attacks. Combine this with the small stage layouts and you can see how the game can be frustrating at times.
After the battle ends, the game will calculate your money and EXP, and will also give you the option to continue to explore the area to collect enemy drops or save the replay of the battle. The cool part about the replays is that it allows you to also adjust the camera based on the time, so that when you play it back you can have some pretty fancy camera work for your movies. I didn’t really bother messing with those options, but below I put together a few of those saved replays so that you can see how Lost Sector plays out. Please pardon the choppy framerate.
Lost Sector Flaws And Cons
The game might be in Open Beta, but it also has a few problems that they need to work on. The first and most obvious is that the quests are quite dull and they aren’t very innovative. They consist of collect and retrieve missions, which normally play out as “Go to this area, pick up this item, come back to me”. Or “Kill X amount of enemies, collect this item, come back to me”. After playing for about two or three days, you will see that the quest system is rather lackluster. However, they at least try to add a bit of story to the quests, but it isn’t anything impressive. As you might have noticed from my above gameplay video, the music doesn’t seem to loop or cycle through new songs, so halfway through the battle you will be playing in silence with nothing but gunshots to entertain you.
The next big flaw is that the quest objectives for certain missions aren’t always clear. In the above image you can see that there is a tiny red square box that indicates the quest objective, but on the radar mini map to the right, there is no such indicator. Although the stages are quite small, they are still large enough for you to miss that small pulsing red box around the quest objective. As a result, you have to run around the stages to find the objective. As you can see at the top right corner of the above image, the current objective is “Tune the allocator”, but that is quite vague and I had no idea where that location was or what I was supposed to do.
The character progression window is also a bit lacking, because it doesn’t have that many abilities for you to choose from in the skill tree per level, so by level 20 or so, the skills don’t really matter too much because you don’t have that many options in terms of different character builds. The trailer makes it seem like a lot, but it isn’t like Path Of Exile.
The last and biggest flaw I found was that the character movement path finding can be really wonky at times. “Oh, so you want to take one step forward? Sure, I’ll move you to that location, but instead I’ll move you to that exact location… on the roof of the building!” As a result, your character will turn around, run out the door, climb the nearest ladder and attempt to move to where the marker is positioned, wasting all of your character’s AP. This drove me insane as I almost lost several battles because the marker would randomly move me in the most ridiculous places. I eventually learned to work around this flaw, but it was pretty annoying.
I love tactical strategy games like X-Com and Jagged Alliance so there is a bit of biased because I am a fan of the genre, so I do find Lost Sector to be very fun to play, especially for the fact that you can play online with other players. But at the same time, Lost Sector still feels more like an Alpha game than Open Beta. The developers are Russian, so we only have two servers to choose from, a Russian server, and a laggy European server. For some odd reason, I had a smoother connection on the Russian servers. The European servers had a lot of problems for me and they weren’t very stable (I am from North America).
This also means that the translation and grammar is a bit off at times, but it was good enough for me to follow the story and complete quests. At the moment, there seems to be no pay to win items in the Cash shop. The only thing you can buy from the Cash shop is more gold, and first time purchases seems to give you a few special items and some cosmetic gear. I should point out that Gold is the basic currency in game for purchasing items, and even if you have extra gold, you still need to meet the level requirements to use certain items. So even if you have millions of dollars worth of gold, it isn’t really going to make much of a difference, so for that I don’t think the game is pay to win — at least from what I have played so far, I didn’t want to spend $40 on the game to find out. If you play the game and made the purchase and the items do in fact break the game, please comment below to let us know what the items are like.
Lost Sector is currently free to play and free to download, so if you would like to check it out, head on over to their main official website to download the game to play it for yourself to see if you like it. The download is rather small so you can test it out in a matter of minutes if you have a decent internet connection (Make sure to follow the above installation instructions).
Furthermore, you can check out their new Steam Greenlight page that they launched to help get them back onto Steam. The developers say that they had to launch a new campaign because they are now under a new publisher, so as a result they have to go through the Greenlight process a second time.
Overall, I say you should give the game a try. It still needs some time to fix its flaws and it won’t blow you away in terms of graphics and gameplay, but it is a decent online tactical shooter that you can play with your friends, and it has enough content to make the game enjoyable.