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  • Writer's pictureAaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza

Frontiers Reach: Warmap's Place in the Game

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

The story's second act plays out on the galactic stage


Story driven single player flight games often close with a climactic, permanent ending. The day is saved, the enemy vanquished, and peace returns. Frontiers Reach from Blind Alien Productions takes a different approach. The ending of its story mode is actually the beginning of something now on a much larger scale.


The Warmap game mode of Frontiers Reach has intrigued me since I first interacted with this game. Normally, a game mode that greatly expands content is something completely separate from the main story. The Conflicts mode of Comanche and Conquest mode of Project Wingman come to mind. But everything related to the Warmap comes after the events of the single player campaign.


The single player campaign focuses on building the cast of characters, explaining the setting, the intricacies of the major powers at play and story driven missions to gather allies to escape the coming conflict. The Warmap mode focuses purely on fighting the galactic war, with the player now turned key leader of the group. It is possible to make a new pilot profile using a "Veteran" starting point, skipping the first part of the single player and going straight to the conflict in Warmap.



Entering the holotable and seeing how far reaching the war is for the first time brings the size of the galaxy into perspective. With 35+ locations players travel across the galaxy taking on missions as the front lines shift on their own. These places include exotic planets, deep space stations, asteroid fields and other unusual places. With planets having their own unique atmospheres, air combat in one mission may feel noticably different elsewhere. Locations under attack are labelled with a defense readiness condition (DEFCON) status. The DEFCON status changes depending on the intensity of fighting. Locations with a "stand down" status are not experiencing combat and are not a priority. In a way, it somewhat reminds me of the Galactic Conquest game mode from Star Wars Battlefront II on the Sony PlayStation 2.


Even as players watch the map without adding any input, green progress update bars gradually fill above locations where armed conflict is happening. Monitoring the balance of power at each node, represented by red and blue vertical bars, is important for making decisions on when to intervene. Once these bars fill, an update to the status of that location is given.



A planet in the midst of conflict can suddenly have the battles there settled by local forces without players ever firing a shot. There is a degree of indirect support that can be given to each node by using Salvage points to purchase varying degrees of support. These contributions include repairs to local military forces, hiring mercenaries to raid enemy positions, or help civilian evacuation crews relocate the local population.


At locations that are closely contested, waiting for the right moment to send support can tip the location into the control of the player's faction. While effective, this can also be a costly way to wage a war. Especially at the onset of the conflict where players may not have enough points. These contributions cost between 1500 and 3000 credits per use. Depending on how intense contested points are, it may take multiple contributions to tip the scales. There is a cheaper, more hands on way to do this, of course.



The standard way to fight this war is for players to get themselves and their wingmen directly into the action!


What I enjoy about the missions the Warmap offers is their diversity when compared to the single player campaign. When at a node that has combat going on, a mission list pops up on the bottom-right. The missions range from quick hitters like fuel depot raids, large-scale dogfights and bomber interceptions to more drawn out battles like providing close air support for ground troops and battles to take over an entire sector by defeating capital ships and their escorts. I've even seen a few recon missions, deep strikes against communication networks and extractions of intelligence agents from behind enemy lines.



Ultimately, completion of the objective is all that matters. No matter how much time has passed or how many hostiles remain, once the player completes their objective, they can return to their capital ship to end the mission. Some missions do allow for mid-mission resupply as well. No longer needing to wipe every enemy from the map or wait for a story related plot point to occur, the option to dash in and complete the mission or linger to destroy enemies and gather points for later use is up to the player. I can think of more than one time I thought I was ready for an epic battle, only to soak up a missile or two, leaving me in a poor state. Outrunning the enemy to quickly wipe out an unarmored fuel depot was my only chance at survival.



I have yet to complete a full play through of the Warmap, but plan on doing so, utilizing official Track IR headtracking and a set of rudder pedals and flight sticks its Flight Sim Mode now supports. I'll be sure to report on my exploits and what has been happening with Frontiers Reach when that time comes. In the meantime, the lead developer of the game has been playing through Frontiers Reach and uploading their experience on YouTube. Check it out!



 
About the Writer

Aaron "Ribbon-Blue" Mendoza

Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers. Read Staff Profile.

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