Drox Operative is a starship action RPG with warring alien races, fierce space battles, a dynamic, evolving galaxy, and co-op multiplayer for Windows and Mac. Eons ago the Drox ruled the galaxy through their mighty Operatives. These elite starship captains were trained to accomplish the impossible at whatever cost necessary.
User reviews: Very Positive (140 reviews)
Release Date: Nov 29, 2012

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Recommended By Curators

"Space Diablo, but with consequences."
Read the full review here.


“While it doesn’t have the flashy, immediate appeal of a conventional Pinata-popper like Diablo, Drox Operative provides the greater gift of a world in which the action part of ARPG has consequences, as does inaction. It’s the advancement of the genre that so many people have given up on searching for and Soldak have been providing it for years.”
Rock, Paper, Shotgun

About This Game

Drox Operative is a starship action RPG with warring alien races, fierce space battles, a dynamic, evolving galaxy, and co-op multiplayer for Windows and Mac.

Eons ago the Drox ruled the galaxy through their mighty Operatives. These elite starship captains were trained to accomplish the impossible at whatever cost necessary. Whether employing stealth or brute force, they were always deadly. Using these Operatives, the Drox built a starlane system for quick travel amongst the stars, colonized and conquered millions of planets, and ruled the galaxy with an iron grip for over 100,000 years. Eventually realizing their Operatives were a threat, they attempted to assassinate all of them. They failed. The following Galactic Civil War was devastating.

Thousands of years later, the Drox are extinct, but the secretive Drox Operative guild lives on. They have learned their lesson though: loyalty to any one race is foolish. They now work for whoever can pay. And pay they do! Empires might span hundreds of planets and thousands of ships, but when a critical task arises, they still turn to an Operative.

In the new space race, the major races are scouting, colonizing, and expanding, trying to take over the galaxy by diplomacy, technology, war, or any other means their scheming minds can contemplate.

As a Drox Operative it's NOT your job to manage all of those annoying people, build thousands of buildings, play nice with your enemies, or balance the budget. It IS your job to pick the winning side and maybe even help them conquer the galaxy if you're being nice, more importantly though is to rake in as many credits as possible, well that and build the coolest, deadliest ship in the known universe. Not many screw with an Operative captaining a Dreadnaught!

  • Explore a dynamic and evolving galaxy
  • Explore a unique sector of the galaxy in every game, with different "monsters", ship components, quests, and even races
  • Fight in the galactic war between the various alien races
  • Battle hundreds of different enemy starships
  • Build the coolest and deadliest starship in the galaxy
  • Outfit your ship with thousands of components and crew
  • Adventure with your friends with co-op multiplayer

System Requirements

Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: XP or newer
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz Pentium 4
    • Memory: 256 MB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 2 or better
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 200 MB available space
    • OS: OS X 10.4 or newer
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz processor
    • Memory: 256 MB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 2 or better
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 200 MB available space
    • Processor: 1.5 GHz processor
    • Memory: 256 MB RAM
    • Graphics: GeForce 2 or better
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 200 MB available space
Helpful customer reviews
28 of 34 people (82%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
28.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 20, 2014
Only 121 reviews at the time I write this; this is rather sad because this game is a gem!

It's got loot, upgradable spaceships, random quests, loot, you can win by being a ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥, loot, and well, I suck at reviews but this is FUN !
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7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
103.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 17, 2014
TLDR at end.

I'm 8 hours in and truly enjoying this game. It's actually been some time since a game sucked me in like this and to be frank I wasn't expecting it at all. I won the game bidding during the holiday auction so it was free and it was the game I bid on after winning my first choice with the points I had left over. I was so wrong. This game should have been the first choice. Heck I would have gladly paid for a game of this quality.

Now on to the actual game itself. The weakest points are the graphics and music. Having said that , if you are playing an ARPG and expecting top notch graphics I thinjk perhaps you're unfamiliar with the genre. The music itself is less forgiveable, though with a small publisher/development team I'm glad they focused on gameplay instead. I can always play my own music in the background and turn off the music in the options, and I do. (A mix of several sci-fi soundtracks currently. )

The gameplay is where this tirle shones. Its an arpg true but you can navigate with WASD and fire in any arc around your ship. It plays like the winderkind love child of Diablo II and Space, Pirates, and Zombies, and Bounty Hunters. Another title that's worth a look if you like this sort of thing. There is a lot of customization available for engines weapons, etc. At first I didn't notice much difference in loadout honestly but as time went on the advantages and disadvantages of each become much more clear as you and your enemies get more powerful. The expandable inventory if the cargo bay system is also a nice treat and a great way to deal with the looting issue of a full inventory.

The overall metagame is what truly sets this apart though with consequences following your choices of who to help and whom to attack. I allied early with the Shadow because they were at the time overwhelmingly powerful. Thought I'd go for a quick win that way. Well, I alkienated another race by attacking them on behalf of the Shadow and was never able to revcover their trust. In the end I had to fight a long hard battle and do a LOT of diplomacy as they kept buying off my Shadow allies as I worked toward a Fear victory. That's right multiple victory conditions exist here from diplomacy (which actually seems relevant for once in a game) to military conquest to a mercenary route of making so much money that your Drox masters are uber pleased. You can lose all those ways as well so take a look at victory conditios when you first start.

TLDR: Great game for ARPG, space opera, and sandbox game fans with unique and engaging systems that are surprisingly deep. Graphics and audio dated and weak. I'd give it a 7/10 and if they remade this with a AAA budget I'd preorder. Something I never do.
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5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
7.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2014
I will agree with the word that keeps being used in reference to this game... a "gem". What a breath of fresh air through the pollution of crap games that somehow continuously show up on Steam. You have to play the game to realize why this has a 19.99 pricetag. Then you will realize why its worth every penny. On top of that, the one DLC they have is stuffed with content and again, worth every penny. Get it.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
148.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 23, 2014
It's truly a gem. Just decent graphics and sound but the game is truly entertaining. It's a 4x (3x?) game.. (it's a cross between an Elite type game and a 4x) you are the captain of a ship and move yourself in an evolving universe full of sentient races that will ask you to help them in various way, you can truly change the course of events choosing what to do and eventually who plump for, but it's truly easy to keep everything under control (it does not stress, and the difficulty level is spot on); your ship will change even in shape, will get bigger and you will tune it with special things... shields, computers, missiles, escape pods, etc. it's easy don't worry) and will At a game design level it's almost perfect; developers give you what matters most and take out the less important aspects that could alienate a lot of people. It's almost perfect. If you like the genre that's probably the best game. Looking forward to Drox Operative 2, in the meantime I have finally found something to play happily.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
20.2 hrs on record
Posted: January 1
This game doesn't seem like much at first glance, and the screenshots and video did not entice me, but I'm glad I picked this up. Other people described it as diablo in space, and not because of the isometric view. However, unlike any other action RPG or just rpg's in general, this is the first that truly made me attempt to balance my build, and I found keeping my ship balanced and functional a rewarding challenge. There are also a lot of different ways to set everything up, for myself I used a combination of rapid fire lasers, missiles, and fighters while slow boating, and unlike most ARPG's, it's very easy to get overwhelmed. The game is very well balanced and put together from what I've seen so far, and that goes a long ways.

Visually the game can be run in 1080p, which makes a difference, and it can look better than the screenshots, but it won't impress anyone. It doesn't seem to have an ongoing story, but rather takes a sandbox approach with very loose winning conditions, ranging from economic and diplomatic methods to conquering and combat oriented methods. Controls for steering the ship aren't what I would consider intuitive, but they are easy enough to pick up using a mouse and keyboard.

While the game does have a lot of depth with the political system and other functions, they don't overcomplicate the game, and as long as you make conscientious choices on your allies and enemies, the politics can be largely ignored, and the game plays very arcadish. If you pay attention to the politics and the goings on, it almost feels like the major factions are engaged in a basebuilding RTS and you are there to push whichever sides you choose (not like a MOBA though, they will conquer each other, had one faction out of the running very early in my game), and interfere or ignore as you please. As long as you don't need AAA graphics, or story driven plots, this game will give you a lot of enjoyment.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
13.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 4
Giant Bomb PC Gaming Hub explained it best; "Space Diablo, but with consequences."

===Space Diablo===

The game is an action RPG, that takes place within a 4x RTS Strategy game played by the AI. You are a mercenary in this galaxy, and your mission is to achieve victory in one of the following ways...

By achieveing a Military Victory, by being allied with the last surviving race and destroying all your enemies.
By achieveing a Diplomatic Victory, by uniting all surviving races in a single alliance.
By achieveing an Economic Victory, by accumulating wealth for the Drox Operatives.
By achieveing a Fear victory, by destroying all who stand in your way without mercy.
By achieveing a Legend Victory, by completing assignments and missions given to you by the various races and exploring the galaxy.
And finally by completing any and all assignments offered to you by your commanding officers in the Drox Operative's Guild.

To succeed in these goals, you must travel the cosmos and upgrade your ship as you gain experience and randomly generated loot.


Here's where the game get's interesting... As stated, there is a 4x RTS Strategy game being played by the AI all around you. You, as a Drox Operative, are able to influence the empires in the Galaxy. You can instigate wars and end wars, you can aid ships and colonies in distress, you can even fight in wars alongside an empire. Everything you do in the game influences the galaxy around you in some way.


The game is excellent, and highly enjoyable in my opinion. I highly reccomend it if you're looking for a good Sci-Fi RPG. The game is also multi-player, allowing players to work together or against one another, so that's another plus in my book. The game is $19.99 normally, and I've seen the winter sale drop it 50% for it and the expansion.
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141 of 150 people (94%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
63.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 18, 2014
I've been playing this game for a few years now, but it has only just become available on Steam.

Don't let the rather unattractive visuals fool you (admittedly the screenshots look just terrible): this is the best action RPG out there. Period.

Drox Operative is actually and ARPG set inside a 4X game being played out by AI's. You can influence events in a myriad of ways. You create a ship, generate a galaxy which will have some number of races playing in it, and you can win by allying yourself with the victors, or if you are particularly bloodthirsty you can just ♥♥♥♥ everything in sight until you accumulate the points for a "Fear" victory. Afterwards you can retain your ship in a newly generated galaxy. It is so satisfying to play an RPG in a "living" universe rather than mindlessly grinding through the same old dungeon with randomly spawning enemies until you reach some boss.

One of the great innovations is that the modules with which you fit your ship do not go into specific slots, but instead there are "hi, mid, low" slots (much like in EVE). So, if you want 4 lasers, you can do it. If you want 5 reactors to give you very rapid cap recharge, you can do it. You want 5 engines so your ship zips around the map? You can do it. Are you a Romulan who fantasizes about redundant cloaking devices? Well, you get the idea.

There certainly seem to be no other RPG's out there like Drox, so if you like space and you like RPG's it's a must-buy, but there is some room for improvement: In my opinion the visual appeal of the game is non-existant, and staring at it for hours gets rather drab, but rest assured the great gameplay will keep you doing just that. Though there is large array of loot you will find, I certainly feel that they could add many more modules which do a much wider variety of different things.

Anyway, for $10 or $20, you certainly shouldn't regret this buy.
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85 of 85 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
58.2 hrs on record
Posted: March 17, 2014
Ever wondered what would it be like to play a typical 4X Space Strategy, but not as one of racial leaders, but as an independent mercenary? Drox Operative lets you do just that!

Drox Operative is an action RPG with a good dose of space exploration. But where other space exploration games take place in static or semi-static universe, a notable feature of Drox Operative is that NPC factions expand and develop like races in 4X Space Strategy would: they establish new colonies, build ships and space stations, research new technologies and of course fight both neutral enemies and each other. This creates unparalleled feeling that you are adventuring in a living world, which constantly moves on regardless of your actions!

In regard of RPG stats, Drox Operative does a good job of simulating that your “character” is a spaceship: character’s attributes are replaced by your crew’s expertise in various fields. Though the result is fairly similar in regard of distributing “crew points”, immersion-wise the system accomplishes its job.

The equipment system differs from that of most RPG in that most of equipment slots (all except for 3 specialized slots based on your ship’s design, that is) freely allow to install any equipment of appropriate tonnage. Want to add an extra engine instead of your heavy laser turret? No problem! Have a medium ballistic weapon instead of aforementioned laser turret, which unlike the later you can install in place of your radar? Ditto! This makes your ship very customizable and allows you to adjust it according to your playing style (and re-outfit it whenever you feel like it).

And the final unique feature of Drox Operative is crewmates. They technically function as equipment (occupying either the special crew slot, or the light slots), but unique in that they level up as well, improving the bonuses they provide over time.

To sum it up, Drox Operative is a great game, and I fully recommend it to anyone who likes action RPGs, space exploration, or both!
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48 of 57 people (84%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
11.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 18, 2014
This game is the perfect example of the fact that you don't need over-the-top graphics and flashy swords to make a good action rpg. Easy to pick up, loads of fun, and quite the steal.
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40 of 45 people (89%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
62.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 19, 2014
If Star Control, Civilization, and Diablo had a baby, it would be named Drox Operative. It's a surprisingly fun yet incredibly deep game. You can lose and win the game a number of different ways and play it accordingly. Want to play by making everyone fear you? You can do that. Want to win the hearts and minds of the alien species? You can do that. Want to explore and blast bad guys? You can do that. There's a ton of gameply customizability options to make the game easier or harder or slower or faster. The graphics are a bit dated, but there's nothing that pulls me out of being immersed in the soap opera like politics that I was neck deep in. Tons of races and ships to get started and star systems to explore with random encounters and loot all over the place. While I was waiting for a Skyrim mod to download, I saw this on sale and I'm glad I picked it up because I had forgotten about my mod about 7 hours later when it was time to go to bed.
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35 of 39 people (90%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 19, 2014
Ok, Soldak we get it, you've got my attention. You've shown me how unique an ASRPG can be. And it's better with friends I might add!

Being apart of a space illuminati wasn't in my expectations of exploring space, but man, this -- this is better. Control the fate and destiny of entire races? Or destroy them even?

Choices. That's the keyword for Drox Operative. And damn guys.. Soldak executes this really well.

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34 of 38 people (89%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
29.1 hrs on record
Posted: February 20, 2014
Basically, the game is Din's Curse..IN SPACE! with some heavy focus on diplomacy and politics. The idea is that you are part of a group called the Drox Guild, with the goal of maintaining the presence of the Guild in the sector (the game world). There are several ways one can win or lose, giving YOU the player the ability to choose how to win/fail. Like the other Soldak games, this features the living world around you aproach to the hack and slash. Quests have time limits. Success or failure will cause changes to the game world. That radiation leak on the planet won't fix itself, and if you leave it for long enough the planet can suffer more woes that you can solve. But should you buy this game?

Yes. Yes you should. Here is why:

+You are a space mobster. Really the game should be called Drox Moberative.
+Technically infinite gameplay, just because you beat the sector doesn't mean you can't keep playing in particular in HOW you won the sector. I got a "fear" victory while at war with two races and battled them for a good two hours to make little head way.
+Decent gameplay. Its a hack and slash, but it is tuned to make sense and it plays pretty well. The battles are engaging and enjoyable, if not overwhelming at points.
+VERY diverse worlds. It is improbable that you will get the same sector twice. In addition to simply having a random lay out, each system and sector have different moddifiers (more enemies, more agressive behavior, more traps) so you never know what you are going to get with your new sector. On top of that, Mods Mods Mods. Add more mayhame with mods
+Easy to lose track of time with. Not sure why that is a plus but what ever.

That said there are some things to be desired such as stat point distribution, but most if not all can be fixed with mods. Give the demo a try if you are still not sure. It is much more engaging than one would think.
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18 of 19 people (95%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
39.2 hrs on record
Posted: July 3, 2014
I highly recommend this game. It may not be much to look at but it's one of those games where every galaxy you play has a different little story to go along with it. I love being able to observe (and meddle in) the wider politics of the game world while slaughtering bad guys ARPG style. It makes the game into more than just an excercise in loot gathering.The other thing I find important that this game has is an insane amount of character customization and different ship parts which unlock all kinds of cool abilities. There arwe an almost infinite amount of possibilities for different builds you could do.

One thing that's either a strength or a weakness of the game depending on how you look at it is the game is pretty unforgiving especially when you haven't designed your character and ship very well. It is the sort of game where everything can be going along fine and then suddenly you are swarmed by more than you can handle. Since this game saves pretty much everything and never lets you go back and reload a save older than the last thing you did death has some nasty consequences even on softcore difficulty, it makes it very satisfying when you find a build that finally is able to survive most encounters but it get get frustrating as well.

Bottom line: If the concept of this game looks appealing to you at all - get it. It's the best ARPG I've ever played.
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14 of 14 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
143.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 26, 2014
My friend. Let me tell you about space. Space is out to kill you. Space has rewards in it. Space will turn on you in a moment's notice acting on the guise that it is your friend.

Friend have I ever told you about interracial intergalactic relations? Space simulates sci-fiction stereotypes with 86% accuracy. You better get used to them as they represent the entire charm of this game other than our star pupil, diabloesque loot system. It does not care what you think. It will brag to all your friends even though it acts like a real load. I hope you're organized friend because space is not.

Do not take zero gravity lightly. Random events send you hurling into farther reaches of space or even more in space then you currently are. A pseudo-space that is not space.

You can't just win or lose space. Space is not some battle to be won or a prize to be earned. Space is a multi-faceted space chimera that chokes on such concepts such as linear gameplay and sandbox freedom. Space will move on without you unless you pause to take a look at it's glory. The glorious space.

Stay in space my friends.
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18 of 22 people (82%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
105.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 20, 2014
If you are looking for a 4x space conquest game keep looking. This game is a straight ARPG blow everything up and grab thier gear. Kill, quest, and level up. As you level you spend 'stat' points to upgrade your ship. Componant slots open up and put gear into slots (many many dif combos) including crew members that level up. Total mindless destruction. Random rogue like loot. Leveling up. Respawn/random sectors. Help the races or destroy them. Blow lots of stuff up than blow some more stuff up. If you want an in depth story dont buy this game. If you want pretty graphics dont buy this game. If you want mindless destruction after a long day at work check out the demo.
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12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
97.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 25, 2014
I've been insane for this game since I tried it and realized what was going on: At first it just looks like Diablo in space; a solid space-spaced ARPG with enough stat-building and ship-customizing (with the random components from blown up ships, or scenario rewards) to keep you blasting for a bit. Fans of games like EV Nova might enjoy this game just for that.

But there's more. Instead of being story-driven, the game randomly generates new quests and events as you play. An elite space monster shows up, starts gathering a fleet, and if you don't react, he might take over a star system. Then the monster starts sowing chaos on nearby colonies; they might contract a plague, get computer virus, etc. These events can also escalate if unchecked. I've seen empires lose planets to open rebellion. I've HELPED rebels escalate, and contributed to the creation of offshoot races!

Also the various species - and your guild, the Drox - all have dynamic relationships. Help a race, they like you more. Attack them, they like you less. Help their allies, and they like you. Attack their allies, and you might earn more enemies than you intended. You can carefully nursemaid a sector-spanning alliance of friendly races for a diplomatic win... or watch the network of alliances fail like a house of cards if you bungle your relationship with one of the races. That might be a good time to switch tactics and go for another type of win.

The various systems interact in what looks like a well-tuned, balanced way - no surprise because the game has been out for some time. The interactions give this game a nice emergent-gameplay edge that keeps things interesting, and there's nothing more hilarious than being a few planets away from a military victory and having the Drox Guild tell you that you MUST, due to Circumstances Beyond Your Control, ally with the race you've just been eradicating colony by colony from this area of known space.

Highly recommend for fun ARPG-in-space with a sandboxy twist.

Edit: There is an expansion out, which is not on Steam at the time of this writing. You can purchase the expansion from Soldak and apply it to the Steam version of the game to gain access to additional features. He's also said that he's working on getting it into steam. He's been providing Steam codes for anybody who purchases directly, and we can expect this to continue for the expansion.
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10 of 10 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
11.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 4, 2014
Don't let my play time fool you. I spent a couple hundred hours playing Drox Operative prior to it coming to Steam. The game is great for any action rpg fan. As always Soldak took the genre and added it's own twist. I have to say that this is the best SciFi ARPG to date. It is a MUST BUY for any ARPG fan. I belong to a popular Steam group that focuses on Action RPGs and out of 300 or so members Drox continues to be a very popular game, it certainly keeps in the top 3 or 4 of the games in our list.
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10 of 11 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
48.6 hrs on record
Posted: July 1, 2014
At the beginning, it is quite overwhelmingly complex. But after you understood it all, it's quite addictive.
There is tons of equipment and races to choose from, which makes every playthrough really unique. And I gotta tell you, even if the graphics don't look so great on the screenshots, there can be quite awesome battles going on, which will fill your screen pretty nicely.

Only thing that bothers me, is the sound design: The weapons sound... old/weird, the music isn't really fitting and the thruster sound of the ship can get quite annoying aswell. I suggest to get some music going in the background and then play away.

I dumbed almost 5 hours in my first time playing this and I don't regret a single second. One of the most enjoyable games I've played in quite a while.

Ofcourse it's recommended to get some friends to play with, but no one wanted to play with me (*sadface*) so I can't really say how the co-op works and if its any more fun (which, I presume, it is).

Sorry for the butchered english, I'm not a native English-speaker (I don't think that's even a real word...).
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8 of 8 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
115.4 hrs on record
Posted: September 20, 2014
This game is like Diablo in space but more amazing. Stages (sectors?) develop organically and your actions have a real effect on how the world's situation plays out. Quests are generated based on NPC factions' evolving needs and your success or failure shape overall who gets to live, die, become powerful, become friends or enemies. There is even a meta-game in that relations and power levels carry over somewhat between sectors in the same galaxy. Factions that start out as sub-races or rebel groups, if they survive enough, can become permanent factions in future stages. Starting factions can become extinct.

Many ways to win a sector, many ways to lose. The game is challenging at higher levels and requires (political) strategy, not just fast clicking. You can freely customize your ship with any parts you meet the reqs for, and share equipment among characters via stash, which gives you great flexibility but also the potential to completely ruin yourself. Building up the ship is fun, but the more expensive your build is the harder it is to pay repair/replace costs when you die; fail enough and a sector can become unwinnable.

This is a great, fun game but its weak graphics and difficult nature may be a turn off to many. I recommend it though for anyone who likes building up a character and testing it against random worlds full of monsters and rival factions.
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7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
19.0 hrs on record
Posted: March 1, 2014
I saw some footage of this game in January 2013 which was enough to tempt me into trying the free demo. My curiosity was piqued but I wasn't expecting much - just a bit of a time killer to tap away at and fill up a bit of the afternoon. I came away several hours later with the music stuck in my head, feeling as if very little time had passed, then went on to have a dream about Drox Operative that same night. I bought the game from Soldak's site the next day and have been playing Drox on and off since then without ever having cause to regret the puchase.

It's a hugely addictive little loot-focused ARPG with a beguiling amount of depth. As most reviews have mentioned, the most compelling feature is the sense of a living galaxy going about its business in the background while you perform the basic functions of clicking, killing, looting, equipping and selling. Essentially the alien AI races play a 4X style strategy game against eachother (albeit in real-time) while you fly about attempting to affect the outcome, with the goal of satisfying the win conditions set by the Drox guild (such as uniting the AI races, or allying with the winner of an all-out war, or victory via exploration and volume of quests completed, etc.). After triumph in one sector, you move onto the next one - presumably a harder one, although the player can set the parameters for each randomly generated sector, including difficulty. Coop online play is possible, as well as 'Hardcore' (permadeath) mode which unlocks once you get a ship to level 25.

Everything the player does affects the game universe in some way. Destroy a named boss monster and the planets in that system will become more prosperous for the alien races who hold them, giving those races more resources to build ships and advance their technology faster. Leave that monster to its own devices and he may form a fleet with other tough mobs, create malicious devices in space or perform acts of sabotage against the AI and their planets - which in turn leaves them crying for help from you, the Drox Operative, to solve all their newfound problems in the form of new quests.

Performing a fetch quest to prevent a planetary famine may solve that planet's problem - or it might produce another fetch quest from that planet, as they ask you to help destroy their rampant 'super weed' created by the fertiliser you delivered. Failing to solve fetch quests involving riots and civil war may even result in the creation of new races, who splinter off from their parent race and colonise planets of their own, becoming a new force in the sector. Alternatively you might intentionally foment discord and quest for rebel ships in order to fulfil precisely that goal. Much of this sense of life and variety comes only through the flavour text of the quests, but it is all very cleverly conceived and the quests do all have real consequences for the calculations under the hood, for the prosperity and the military fortunes of the AI. If you get tired of questing and manipulating, then you can simply explore and leave the AI to tear eachother to shreds (albeit hopefully without triggering any of the Drox guild's failure conditions).

My current ship, which I've been running a long time, is level 92, it's in a sector with 10 AI races all with their own grudges and friendships and problems, half of whom are at war with me and half of whom love me (and some of those that like me are at war with me anyway). The sector is so busy with catastrophes and weird developments that the events windows scrolls too fast for me to digest. I know I could fire this game up right now and easily lose several hours enjoyably.

To be honest, I don't know enough about the ARPG genre itself to make a judgement on the game loot balance, the min-maxing potential, or the diversity of builds available in Drox compared to other games. It feels very deep in this regard - you have stats, racial specialisations, plus a great variety of shield modules, armour modules, instant hit weapons, aimed weapons, minions (drones), buffs, debuffs, hulls and miscellanous doodads (installed in modular fashion). However I don't play enough of this type of game to know whether Drox is really deep or my understanding of ARPG systems is really shallow. I'll leave that aspect for other commenters to examine. All I know is I'm still having a great time with the unpredictable outcomes and three- or four-way battles that Drox Operative sometimes throws up, over a full year since purchase.

A special mention should be made of Soldak's excellent post-release support. The game has been patched regularly throughout this last year or so, while Soldak (creator of Din's Curse and Depths of Peril) has also responded promptly and effectively to community feedback and bug reports. Drox was a fully formed game long before its recent emergence from Greenlight onto Steam. Now it has the benefit of this wider exposure it deserves to be played by as many people as possible, because it's an unsung gem. Clever, addictive and great fun.
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