Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game preview (Gamescom)

We had to sit on this one for quite a while, but Fast Travel Games just announced Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game, a few weeks after our first look at the game. Let’s dive into what we know and can share – which includes exclusive gameplay footage.

What we know

Initially known under the placeholder name “X15” (we didn’t get the actual name until today either), Ghost Signal is a VR-only game that takes place in the Stellaris universe. It lets you command spaceships as you travel and battle among the stars, salvaging loot and upgrading just enough to make it through the next confrontation – though this is a roguelite so that’s not always guaranteed.

Built from the ground up for VR, Ghost Signal: Stellaris Game puts a heavy emphasis on hand/motion controls, offering much more direct control over your units without the need for a Stellaris-like user interface that you might be used to. The game is going to be a Meta Quest 2 exclusive at launch, and is scheduled for release in early 2023.

What we saw

During Gamescom, we met with Fast Travel Games for four different titles, one of which was the then-unannounced Ghost Signal: A Stellaris Game, which they’re developing internally. After a quick intro from the developers, we jumped into a hands-on session guided by the developers, and we were able to record our footage from that session as well. Today, we can finally share that footage with you.

What we thought

We’ve always been fascinated with sci-fi, and still remember the unveiling/demo for Stellaris from when we met with Paradox a few years ago. It was the type of game that we used to play on the small (PC) screen, but it works extremely well on a big screen as well, and it’s great to see it make the leap to VR.

In our demo, most of our playing time was spent with a good overview of what was going on in space, so we could maneuver into and out of the right spot easily. This made battles easy to control, but we missed out on zooming in on the ships for a bit to see how well the game can create a sense of scale – something that VR can do so well.

ghost signal2

Speaking of scale, Ghost Signal definitely feels like a trimmed down version of Stellaris in terms of the gameplay mechanics and depth involved, which of course makes sense, but it’s worth pointing out for people who are expecting “Stellaris in VR”. This is a roguelite game with easy to grasp fundamentals and a pleasant learning curve. On top of battles, we also got to sample the game’s risk vs reward mechanics when exploring the unknown – you can send a crew down to a planet to explore a lost temple, but going deeper isn’t without risks.

Our 25 minute playing session wasn’t long enough to be able to judge Ghost Signal’s long term and roguelite mechanics, but we did get to taste the basics of battle and salvaging loot for upgrades – the former of which makes excellent use of the virtual playing space by letting you plot trajectories in all directions. In theory, that could place you in the middle of a deep space battle you can actually walk circles around as you push and pull ships where you want them to go – although our demo was played from a seated perspective. But whether seated or standing, we can’t wait to dive deeper into what Ghost Signal has to offer in terms of the alien species you’ll encounter and the weapons and upgrades that change the gameplay experience over time.

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