Before we begin let me just say that there's a chicken and the egg paradox here: Nobody wants to buy this game because it's dead, but it's only dead because nobody wants to buy this game. So for those of you who just want to know how active the game is right now, the answer is "dead as dead can be". At the time of this review I have successfully completed 14 matches after having "played" for 36 hours.
If this was a free game then maybe the user population wouldn't such a problem that it is now, but it's not. This game will usually get a 75% discount during major Steam sales, if you see it, buy it. And here's why.
Picture League of Legends in space, that's the gist of this game. But there's much more to it that than. There's an overall ship progression that carries over from games that allows your ship to grow more powerful over a period of time. At the end of each match you'll usually get rewarded with augments, weapons, and medals to customize your ship. And you can choose between 4 different skills to take into battle to better fit your playstyle, and as these type of games go you also have an "ultimate ability" late game to make that final push towards the enemy HQ easier.
There are two main game modes: Conquest and Battlefield. Conquest is the main League mode where each team tries to sweep across the map and smash the opposing HQ. What's really great however is that there's an emphasis on teamwork because there's a shared technology/upgrade pool. You can spend your credits to upgrade yourself OR you can give it to the team and upgrade your faction's capabilities, particularly the strength of your minion ships. Plenty of potential for strong team coordination.
There are a total of 6 ships available by defualt and 4 DLC ships with unique mechanics you can purchase that greatly change the playing field. If you're going to get this game might as well opt in for the full bundle and get those 4 ships, at it's 75% discount they'll literally only cost pennies.
A quick breatdown of the DLC ships:
Science Vessal - First of all this is the only ship to begin at level 2. It has some powerful board manipulating skills including scrambling the enemy's movement and a tractor beam to drag your victims into your team's firing range. It's ultimate is an all consuming blackhole.
Support Ship - The ability to drop turrets and repair station on the field is a powerful advantage, the support ship lives up to it's name by being a power tactical asset to your team.
The Carrier - Introduces a new squadron mechanic to the game. You are able to launch fighters that allow you to "hit & run" from a distance and harass the enemy frontlines.
Artillary Ship - Is able to bombard from a distance. Instead of line-or-sight like most ships the special cannon does almost instant damage with it's barrages. Fully upgrading your range will allow you to sit comfortably behind your allies while chipping away at the enemies defences with little worry for your personal safety.
Is the game dead? Unfortunately yes. Should you buy it at full price? Probably not. Should you buy it when it's on sale? Hell yes! Should you tell your friends to buy it? Definitely yes!!
For those of you who do end up giving this game a try a few quick tips: The majority of the remaining player base is European, so if you want to find a good game chances are you'll need to adjust to their timezone. If you can't find a game you can at least do a PRACTICE MATCH against the computer. (A lot of people complain that they haven't been able to try out all the ships without realizing there's a practice option.) You won't get any experience towards leveling your ship, and you won't get to have any real ship on ship battles, the maps only have minions and turrets. But it's a way to get familiar with your ship without the pressure trying to win.
This is a really great game whose only real problem is a lack of players.