Real-time Space Combat between Ships—much tactical variety?

Haven't seen much, but what I have seems to always be the same. Point your guns and/or ship at the other guy and blast away. Much like a shooter battle arena or run n gun.

Is there ever scope for real tactics, or even strategy?

Talking about you having only a single ship, or maybe a small squad—not a RTS or 4X or turn-based.
 
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From what I've read of EVE Online there's much more going on than just point and shoot, but my knowledge of it is very limited.

I can't remember playing any games that don't just do the point and shoot gameplay. Which can be fun for a bit, but it doesn't hold my attention for very long. Which is why I'm also not very optimistic about Starfield including space battles.
 
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Elite Dangerous does allow you to divert energy to shields, weapons or engines in the middle of combat, as well as allowing you to turn off flight assist, which makes your spaceship behave more like a plane, meaning you can, for example, put your ship in a continuous spin and you can accelerate one way then flip your ship around while maintaining your speed, so you can shoot behind you.
 
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I think if you're excluding RTS games and only including action games, it might be kind of tough to strategize with an armada in the midst of that kind of gameplay. And I don't think it would be realistic if you did. If you think about how it would work in reality, the people strategizing would be on some kind of larger Battle/Mother ship watching from a distance, making grand scheme assessments, and calling the shots. And the fighters would be the ones in smaller, more agile ships that are out there doing the "blasting away." I don't think it would be realistic to be someone in a fighter ship blasting the bad guys away, and be capable of seeing the large scope of things to tell others what to do. It seems like you'd have to play as one or the other.

The closest I've played, which you're flying solo, is No Man's Sky. It's still aim-and-shoot combat, but at least there is the added scenarios of having to go repair and refuel shields and weapons, and stuff in the middle of your dogfight. That adds a little stress to it.
 
Jun 13, 2022
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With a team there is a lot of tactic. Even alone, there is a lot of technique or tactic to use to be better and even win.

Concentrate fire!
 
examples of what that would look like
Strategic choices:

Do first—attack main strongholds, or pick off patrols, or cripple supply lines.
Approach—ranged attrition, melee, stealth.
Prep—none, or some, or full tech & skillset.
Diplomacy—invest in all local faction relationships, or some, or ignore.

Tactical options:

Let's say one strategy is to attack main stronghold in melee fashion with no prep. Tactical options would be:
A) Die quickly.
B) Die immediately.
C) A shortcut key to commit suicide might be handy.

An alternative strategy would be to cripple supply lines via ranged attrition after full prep. Tactical options would:
A) Support long distance travel if necessary—full prep means can stay longer in field, and deal better with accidents and emergencies, say via healing skills and supplies or better protective gear.
B) Emphasize intel gathering—eg acquire drone & drone skills, or explore to meet talkative NPCs.
C) Focus on sabotage equipment, supplies and skills.
D) Prioritize engagement pre-emption eg via long-distance firepower such as tricked-out sniper and guided rocket loadout.
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
Is there ever scope for real tactics, or even strategy?
OMG yes! So many!

Egosoft's X games (you knew I would mention them!):
A small fighter can out-turn bigger fighters. If you're in a bigger fighter and try to just keep turning to shoot a small fighter, you're going to lose without ever firing a shot. "Boom and zoom" doesn't always work so well, either, because the smaller fighters are faster. Bigger fighters, though, can have turrets.

Also, weapon speeds are different. Beams are instant but don't do much damage. Plasma shots are slooow but they hurt bad. Some weapons bypass shielding a little. Some explode (which helps with those pesky little fighters). Missiles (guided and dumb) can be used, too.

Freespace and X-Wing games have quite a bit of depth. Plenty of details in those.

Or this one:

This one is based on Star Fleet Battles, a game with rules that span hundreds of pages:
 
Strategic choices:

Do first—attack main strongholds, or pick off patrols, or cripple supply lines.
Approach—ranged attrition, melee, stealth.
Prep—none, or some, or full tech & skillset.
Diplomacy—invest in all local faction relationships, or some, or ignore.

Tactical options:

Let's say one strategy is to attack main stronghold in melee fashion with no prep. Tactical options would be:
A) Die quickly.
B) Die immediately.
C) A shortcut key to commit suicide might be handy.

An alternative strategy would be to cripple supply lines via ranged attrition after full prep. Tactical options would:
A) Support long distance travel if necessary—full prep means can stay longer in field, and deal better with accidents and emergencies, say via healing skills and supplies or better protective gear.
B) Emphasize intel gathering—eg acquire drone & drone skills, or explore to meet talkative NPCs.
C) Focus on sabotage equipment, supplies and skills.
D) Prioritize engagement pre-emption eg via long-distance firepower such as tricked-out sniper and guided rocket loadout.
Nice! The only games I've seen similar at all are ones that have you do things like that for preset missions. It's not like you're figuring out strategies on the fly. Would be cool if they could pull it off well.
 

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