In the far distant future, the known galaxy has been occupied by 13 distinct races, each one determined to outdo the others and become the masters of known space. In the midst of this Space Cold War is a shadowy organization known as the Drox, a coalition of mercenaries that is all that remains of a long dead empire that once spanned the entire cosmos.
You play as one of the many Drox Operatives, and your mission is to ensure that the Drox remains a key figure in the galaxy's history. You can do this in several ways: You can ally yourself with one of the races vying for control of the current sector and help them wipe out the competition, unite the warring nations under the Drox, take control of the sector's economy, intimidate the races with various shows of force and acts of sabotage, or perform great deeds that make the Drox the stuff of legends. Once you have ensured the Drox's hold on the sector, you move on to a new sector. Each sector is randomly generated, and thus a new adventure begins with each new sector.
Much like Din's Curse before it, Drox Operative provides a great deal of customization. There are hundreds of different ship components, including lasers, cannons, power generators, armor, various accessories, and even crew members. As the player moves through the game, they will form alliances, wage war on others, colonize worlds for one or more of the various races, and ultimately leave their mark on the galaxy in the name of the Drox.
An expansion pack, Invasion of the Ancient, was released in November 2013. This expansion added a new monster race, the titular Ancients, to the game. The Ancients were the bitter rivals of the long extinct Drox empire, and for eons the two factions waged war until the Drox seemingly destroyed the Ancients for good. However, pockets of Ancients managed to survive, and now that the Drox empire has been reduced to a "mere" mercenary company, the Ancients have begun their advance on the galaxy, determined to wipe out the Drox, conquer the known races, and become the tyrannical rulers of known space.
The game was released on Steam via Steam Greenlight on Feburary 15, 2014, and the Invasion of the Ancients DLC was released on March 4.
This game provides examples of:
- Abusive Precursors: The Ancients.
- Alliance Meter
- Always Chaotic Evil: The monster races. To wit:
- The Legion, A.I. Is a Crapshoot organic-haters who hate both life and all robots who dare to like life.
- The Talon, Living Ships who see your ship as a potential threat or casing for their young's eggs.
- The Overlords, Puppeteer Parasites who want bodies.
- The Ancients, who are still incredibly bitter about losing to the Drox.
- Artificial Brilliance: Much like Soldak's previous games, the game world is fully dynamic, and the races will make advancements, colonize worlds and war with each other with or without your help.
- Being Evil Sucks: War is not an easy path to big profits. Destroying the ships of the starfaring races is dangerous and not especially lucrative, a Fear victory takes a lot of grinding against difficult opponents, and You Lose at Zero Trust if you make enemies with everyone.
- Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Unless you're playing Hardcore Mode, the Drox Guild's insurance will cover the loss of your ship and you'll be free to continue adventuring. That said, it does cut into the Guild's profit from the sector (not your personal account) and if you lose too many ships, the Guild will pull out of the sector unless you can turn the cashflow situation around.
- Endless Game: Much like Din's Curse, the game does not end once a sector has been cleared, and you are free to clear as many sectors as you wish.
- Fake Difficulty: The randomly spawning minefields can be seen as this, a mod exists that prevents them from spawning randomly, acanth type enemies still use them though.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Talon/Overlord/Legion monster races are entirely capable of diplomacy and alliances with other races, despite the fluff painting them as inimical to them.
- Hegemonic Empire: The Drox Guild isn't interested in direct control of territory. What they are interested in is indirect control and profit, by whatever means; alliances with local powers, violent confrontation, protecting the spaceways from monsters and economic success are all options. What ultimately matters (unless the High Command decide to get pickier about what they want) is that whatever form of government finally emerges in the sector, it's in the Guild's pocket.
- Humans Are Warriors: The danger level of humans is "High." Human characters have great abilities in Tactics (increasing their damage multiplier) and Computers (increasing their chance to hit), making them a powerful Glass Cannon race.
- A Lighter Shade of Grey: While the Drox aren't exactly nice people, they're much better then the Ancients.
- Living Ship: The "monsters" of the game seem to be this.
- One Riot, One Ranger: One sector, one Drox Operative to conquer it.
- Proud Merchant Race: The Cortex.
- Proud Warrior Race: The Brunt and the Drakk.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: A standard one is "get to level 100 on hardcore mode with Command 0." This means that you've conquered the galaxy with a light escort without dying once.
- Villain Protagonist: The Drox Operatives are not particularly nice people. Crushing every faction in the game is not only a valid victory, but one of the better-paying ones overall, as High Command is thrilled to have a sector scared shitless of them, and thus a new base.
- Noble Demon: So is getting the factions to universally ally and generally being a nice enough person that they all decide to listen to you.
- War for Fun and Profit: As a Drox Operative, you can manipulate the races of the galaxy into fighting one another, while you rake in the profits from the quests that they offer.
- You Lose at Zero Trust: You can lose a sector by being at war with all remaining races there. While beating a sector into submission is possible, you can't allow them to ally against the Drox in the process.