Steambirds Alliance throws the player into a war against the Feline Empire as an avian pilot of the Alliance. Your role, under the guidance of The Sergeant, is to enter enemy territory and take down the war machines of the Empire's nobles. Destroy enough of them, and you'll be faced with the Great Leader Meowza's personal war machine, the final obstacle in the Alliance's quest to liberate the land from the tyranny of the cats. However, it's not that simple. Destroying the machine once means nothing to the Great Leader.
Progression and Permadeath
Steambirds Alliance incorporates permadeath into its gameplay loop. If your aircraft is destroyed, the pilot ejects safely and is rescued. Any upgrades or equipment on the plane, however, is lost in the explosion.
There are both temporary and permanent means of progression to be utilized by players:
- Levels: Each aircraft manufactured for the player's use starts at level 1. By gaining XP from destroyed enemies, the player can elevate their aircraft all the way up to level 20 for a significant increase in attack power and health.
- Equipment: All aircraft utilize a Primary Weapon and a Secondary Weapon. In addition, Engines and Armor plating provide benefits to stats and armor. Superior versions of the initial T0 loadout should be salvaged from destroyed enemies for significant boosts to combat effectiveness. Surplus salvage may be securely stored in Rebel City's Storage facility to help the player rebound quickly after losing an aircraft.
Note: Unlike traditional MMOs, there is no selling equipment to NPCs. Gear progression is fast in the early game, with crafting being the endgame.
- Stat Upgrades: High-level nobles and remote facilities hold incremental upgrades which can be consumed to further improve an aircraft's performance. Each plane can only support a certain number of upgrades --- consult the Stats section in the main menu to track your upgrade progress on the current aircraft.
- Crafting: Crafting is unlocked once you reach level 20 on an aircraft for the first time. The crafting system, accessed at the Workshop, allows you to create new pieces of equipment or upgrade the attack power of elemental and special equipment. Crafting materials are acquired from Pilot's Pub quests and bounties. They can be invested in crafting recipes as they are acquired, freeing up storage space for other items.
- Class Unlocks: Steambirds Alliance currently has 14 Classes of aircraft, but only one is unlocked at the start. New classes will be unlocked permanently once a certain level thresholds are met on specific aircraft.
- Pilot Rank: Once the player has lost an aircraft for the first time, they gain access to the Pilot School, a facility which allows them to invest skill points into Pilot Skills for passive and active bonuses. These skill points are acquired by increasing one's Pilot Rank with Pilot XP, gained upon aircraft destruction based on the amount of XP acquired on that aircraft.
Types of Aircraft
The game has two types of aircraft:
- Planes: "single stick" aircraft which shoot in the direction of flight.
- Hovercraft: "twin stick" aircraft which shoot in the direction specified by the player.
Types of Controls
Controls can be customized as desired in the main menu. Any combination of joystick/keyboard/mouse is valid, including simultaneous use of multiple input devices.
Regardless of which input devices are used, there are two sets of control mappings, one for each of the two types of aircraft.
- Absolute: used by all hovercraft, including your first aircraft, the Quad.
- Pressing a movement direction causes your hovercraft to move in that direction, steering itself as needed.
- Aiming is done using a mouse or joystick. Maneuvers and superspeeding are mapped to specialized buttons/keys.
- Relative: used by all planes. Relative control mappings only appear once you have unlocked a plane-type class.
- Left and right movement directions steer the plane directly. Up direction activates superspeeding and down direction activates the plane's maneuver.
- Aiming is done by steering the plane. Maneuvers and superspeeding are integrated into movement inputs (superspeeding may also be activated using a specialized button/key).
T0-T10 equipment is the most common salvage from enemies. Effectiveness increases greatly based on tier number, and weapon firing patterns are generally easy to utilize in a wide variety of combat situations.
Elemental (ELEM) equipment specializes in one of five Elements.
- Elemental Weapons deal elemental damage and have unusual patterns. A few are better than T10s, but many are quite bad. Generally, they are good in the dungeons where the enemies are weak to their element.
- Elemental Armor provides resistance against incoming elemental attacks, reducing damage taken and diminishing the potency and duration of harmful status effects.
Special (SPEC, used to be called UR) equipment is either crafted or salvaged from specific nobles/remote facilities.
- Special Weapons vary wildly in power --- some are better than T10s, while others make you wonder why they even exist.
- Special Armor provides benefits to other stats while also increasing armor.
Some parts taken from the Newbie Guide by Tantarian (white google docs background warning)