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Convoy (PC) artwork

Convoy (PC) review


"Here comes another FTL comparison review. I just have to do it because reading the other ones is painful."


Convoy (PC) image


I keep reading these reviews where people say Convoy's combat is easy or that there is no depth to it and I just have to wonder how far they've managed to get. Because if you just order your vehicles to fire at random cars without giving it a second thought, you get shredded rather quite quickly about midgame, no matter how powerful weapons you might have.

So yes - let me start off with - the meat of the game, the combat. Let's imagine FTL-like is a genre, then this definitely fits in that genre. However, to make an FPS analogy, this is to more of a Battlefield to FTL's Team Fortress. The two games are undeniably similar in their mechanics, but the way you play them is completely different.

Let's take a step back now - what makes an FTL-like game here? Take a strategy/tactics game where you have control of a large variety of game mechanics at once, with the ability to pause at any time without penalties to reasonably micromanage everything. You do that in FTL, you do that in Convoy. What you do is different in both games.

Convoy (PC) image


FTL "overwhelms" you with it's combat mechanics. You are in charge of aiming and firing each weapon, distributing power between all the ship's systems, commanding the ship's whole crew et cetera et cetera. Point is - there is a lot of mechanics to keep a track of. If you had no pause you'd be drowning. Convoy is different. The mechanics are actually deceptively simple and, compared to FTL, much less varied, and this becomes apparent very early on. This is where the "but you only click at cars and watch" sentiment comes from. Convoy is complex in different ways, and this only becomes important later on.

In Convoy, each battle has you manage your MCV's abilities (weapons and shields) with a long cooldown time. This aspect of the game seems very insignificant at first as your starting MCV only has a stun weapon which, while useful as all hell, doesn't seem that important for newcomers since you can just blast your opponents to bits. Important note: In Convoy, Easy difficulty is actually medium rather than hard as in FTL, which I think is a pretty good idea. Anyway, MCV can't move at all, further emulating FTL's behavior. The other vehicles under your control are where the differences really start to kick in. You can order them to move around an imaginary game grid and target their weapons at specific enemies, which is a pretty damn major thing. The whole game is built around the movement aspect and it has a lot of depth to it.

Whereas in FTL you want to disable enemy weapons ASAP and then keep pounding them into the ground, in Convoy you can only do so with a stun weapon which you can only target one vehicle at a time with, so you have to strategize which one might be the most troublesome. And even then the stun only lasts so long, so you better focus your vehicles' fire on the sucker and try and take him out before he goes back online. But you can't because your MCV is blocking your vehicles' line of fire, so you have to rotate around it, but you can't because the slimy bastards put up guards on each end of the MCV that you have to deal with first. And if you think you can just assign one of your vehicles to each one of them, let me tell you, you can't; you'll get heavily damaged or lose a vehicle. You want to always attack each enemy vehicle with multiple of your own, much like when boarding in FTL.

Convoy (PC) image


Except unlike FTL there is minelayer way in front and out of your technicals' reach (vehicles can't fire over the whole screen) merrily crapping out stun mines, there are some bloody random wrecks lying around on the road some of which you have freshly created, and you're fighting in a town so there are buildings you can crash into. All of above you have to dodge with each of your vehicles, good luck if you roll over a stun mine just before a bridge pillar, though. Oh, and the vehicles also block each other's line of sight, enemy or foe, thus you always want to build a car wall in front of your target in such a way that each of them can fire freely. Failure to do so results in potential friendly fire, however most vehicles do not attempt to fire when there is something in the way, resulting in them pretty much being useless at that point in time. Keep in mind friendly fire can still happen with weapons like rockets or cannons. And once you manage to make a nice formation, you have to break it shortly after due to an upcoming bridge, and mobilizing 4 vehicles at once is a fresh artform - and there was actually a way to sneak one of your heavy haulers up to the side of an enemy vehicle and ram it off the road just before the bridge, but you only realize moments too late. It's a constant rush and there are always ways to improve your tactics.

As for upgrades, each vehicle has up to 4 item slots and can be upgraded in various ways. Make no mistake, only MCV weapons/utilities have FTL-long charging sequences, and there is no generator or anything like it. You don't need to upgrade your vehicle to use a super heavy plasma cannon. In fact, super heavy plasma cannon doesn't charge slower than a medium plasma cannon, either. It's a straight upgrade. Why would you not buy a super heavy plasma cannon right from the start, then? You can't. In FTL, an earlygame top tier weapon is a naive build and gets you killed, but here it would be gamebreaking, if it was possible. It seems in this game, top tier weapons do the same thing in lategame as crap tier peashooters in earlygame, just with bigger numbers being displayed. How does this even work? It seems it serves mostly to slow you down and try to grind events. I might be getting it wrong, though.

Convoy (PC) image


In FTL, you are being chased by the rebel army, which serves to set fire to your butthair. What sets that figurative fire here, if anything? Well, there are three unique factions on the map, each controlling a slice of it. These slices grow bigger with time. And the colored hexagons get more intense coloration. Very intense coloration = more random engagements. If you fail to collect all parts and return them to your ship in time, you stand no chance. And there's no upgrading on the go, either, not even equipping weapons you have found - you can only do so at camps, where you also buy stuff, repair and refuel. Finding top tier guns isn't going to be any help unless you manage to find a camp before you get destroyed. At the same time, there is no worry of spending scrap before jumping to store, since you literally can't.

When it comes to events, FTL is a joke next to Convoy. The first thing that comes to mind is Fallout 3 vs New Vegas writing. Mechanically, in both games, the events provide fictional scenarios resolved by RNG, with some morals thrown in (being a mean person usually pays off in both). The writing though - in FTL, you randomly deliver parts for traders. In Convoy, you provide taxi service for hitchhikers who range from hippies looking to travel the wastes to dragon slayers looking to, well, kill a dragon (and kill a dragon you will), and you can shoot almost everyone you meet in the face.

Convoy (PC) image


So in short, how does Convoy compare to FTL? FTL is about forgetting to turn your oxygen back on, Convoy is about driving your cars into hoodoos. FTL is, I would say, more complex, but Convoy is more elegant, it puts everything into the movement which is much more intuitive and yet every bit as tactical, if not more. In terms of content, there is more to FTL, definitely, but to me it just feels that what Convoy offers is better, even if there's less of it. It's very much subjective which you would prefer, which is already quite monumental considering FTL is like, the ultimate game.

I realize this is more of an analysis/comparison than a review, but it might be very helpful for coming FTL players which I believe you are if you're still reading this. So you're welcome.

4/5

Drury's avatar
Community review by Drury (February 13, 2017)

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Nightfire posted February 13, 2017:

This was a very thorough analysis of Convoy's combat and how it compares/differs to FTL. I have to agree that it sort of comes down to an "apples and oranges" argument as to what you prefer, but I fully agree that the combat is the high point of Convoy and it is definitely better than FTL's combat in a heartbeat. However, the rest of the game (including its high reliance on RNG to resolve everything) is what really bugged me about it.

Case in point: Your confusion about the vehicle upgrades. It is, in fact, possible to get a game-breakingly powerful weapon very early on if you roll the dice right, whether by salvaging from an encounter or buying it from a camp, and doing so will solidify your chances of winning for that particular playthrough. However, if you're unlucky, you might discover that every camp on the map only offers crappy utility upgrades with no weapons available to purchase, and you may as well just restart the game right then and there.

All in all, it's a good game, but definitely has its share of problems.

Also, nice usage of the screenshots that I painstakingly took for my own review of this game. You're welcome.
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EmP posted February 13, 2017:

To be honest, twas I who 'borrowed' you screens and placed them in this review. So good were they, I thought, that they should get double the exposure.

Yes.
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Nightfire posted February 14, 2017:

Not a problem. I imagine that any images I upload to the site are fair game for sneaky blobbies like yourself anyway.
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honestgamer posted February 14, 2017:

Yup, that is the goal. I add screenshots all the time that I'll never use, in hopes that others will find them helpful if they decide to review the games in question. We all benefit when our work looks the best it can. *hugs all around*

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