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Video Game / Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet

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Tales of Honor: The Secret Fleet is a 2014 game developed for iOS and Android and set in the Honor Harrington universe. The game takes great liberties with the franchise but ties into the main series.

A rogue gravity wave takes the HMS Galahad, a destroyer in the service of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, to a region of space far from The Alliance. Damaged and with its captain dead, the Player Character is put in command. Forced to fend off Space Pirates and local warlords, the Galahad is eventually repaired with scrap material from the destroyed enemies. After leaving the sector via a wormhole, the crew is transferred to the light cruiser HMS Courageous, tasked with tracking down the titular Secret Fleet, which turns out to be working for the People's Republic of Haven, as their second prong in a plot to take the Basilisk Station in the first Honor Harrington novel. After stopping the fleet and following its remnant with Captain Honor Harrington herself (aboard the HMS Fearless), the player is given the heavy cruiser/Q-ship HMS/HMAMC Dauntless and sent to stop the trade of genetically-engineered slaves on the outskirts of the Solarian League. After that, you are temporarily transferred to a ship made to look like the legendary Space Pirate ship The Blackavar to participate in a war game with another Manticoran ship near Havenite space. However, the war game is interrupted by your opponent's ship suddenly heading deep into Havenite space, its captain apparently having chosen to defect. You are forced to fight through waves of enemies, both Havenite and Rantech. Eventually, you get the option of trading in your pirate ship for a less conspicuous Havenite battlecruiser, the PNS Coronado. As it turns out, the defecting captain is in league with Haven's Internal Security and plans to detonate a gravity bomb at the Trevor's Star wormhole terminus, kicking off the Havenite-Manticoran War early. With Lester Tourville's help, the plot is foiled, leaving for the player to face off against a top-of-the-line Manticoran ship in an old Havenite tub.

The main game has 2 views: ship view and sector map. In the ship view, the player is able to upgrade the ship's four officers (XO Hasting Locke, Chief Engineer Deidre Grace, Tactical Weapons Miranda Stark, and Tactical Defenses George Weatherly) and view the general status of the ship's main systems. Additionally, the player can view the ship's stock of missiles and unused equipment. The main "currency" in the game is metal, plasma, and prestige, although only the first two are necessary to play the game (prestige is the "speed up" currency that can be purchased for real money but can also be earned in some battles). When viewing individual main systems (Bridge, Counter Missiles, ECM, Engineering, Lasers, Sidewalls, Weapons), a top-down room view allows the player to manage the equipment installed there. This equipment is most frequently received as salvage (i.e. loot) from destroyed enemies but can also be purchased on Space Stations. Equipment can be upgraded several levels, and higher-level equipment has a higher upgrade cap. Equipment must be connected to the main system by power conduits which can be purchased at space stations. Additionally, after battles where critical damage was sustained, one ore more main systems can have fires that must be put out by the player.

The sector map shows the view of the current sector in the storyline. New missions are unlocked by completing the previous battles. Random side battles are also available. Traveling to new planets (i.e. missions) uses up warp points that periodically refill or may be purchased for prestige. Some side quests are unlocked after completing a number of certain random missions.

Battles are always one-on-one, no matter what the pre-battle text states. Even in battles with multiple opponents, you always fight each one in turn. Prior to the battle, the player can select one of three randomized bonuses. There is a fourth bonus option, but it must be purchased with prestige. The battle itself consists of the two ships hanging in space over a cool orbital backdrop and firing broadside missile volleys at one another. The number of missiles the player's ship can fire depends on the number of missile batteries and the Weapons upgrade level. The damaged HMS Galahad only has one operating missile battery, meaning only a few missiles can be fired at a time. After repairing it, a second missile battery becomes available, allowing the player to either fire more missiles together or stagger the launches. The HMS Courageous also has 2 missile batteries but has a higher Weapons upgrade cap, allowing for more missiles per salvo (The Blackavar has a lower cap but a significantly higher reload rate). The HMS Dauntless, The Blackavar, and the PNS Coronado have 3 missile batteries, and also have a very high Weapons upgrade cap, allowing for truly huge volleys. All ships have sidewalls as a last line of defense, although they shouldn't be relied upon to stop anything more than a few missiles. They are also useless against bomb-pumped lasers and antimatter missiles. Ships can also roll to present their dorsal impeller wedges to stop all enemy missiles for a few seconds. The three active defenses are lasers (innermost), counter-missiles (middle), and ECM (outermost). These can get rid of most enemy missiles depending on the number of missiles and their types but must be manually activated when enemy missiles pass through their area of effect. Certain missiles are immune/resistant to specific defenses and are designed to damage those particular systems.

There are eight types of missiles in the game used by everyone. Hull Penetrators (white) are the run-of-the-mill "slammer" missiles that damage the hull and nothing else (unless upgraded by a temporary bonus or certain equipment); they are the only unlimited missile type. Laser Disruptors (red) are immune to laser defenses and damage those defenses. NX-2 Nukes (pink) are Hull Penetrators taken up to eleven, although they do significantly less damage if enemy sidewalls are up. Mavericks (yellow) are immune/resistant to and damage counter-missile defenses. Mk 13 BPLs (purple) ignore sidewalls and heavily damage all systems. M-14 Hellfires (orange) damage enemy weapons. EMP Pulsors (green) are immune to and damage ECM defenses. M-1 Antimatter (blue) missiles ignore and damage enemy sidewalls. The missiles are Colour-Coded for Your Convenience, requiring the player to quickly figure out which defenses to deploy against which missiles, especially since defenses take time to recharge.

When sustaining system damage, the player must prioritize which systems to repair first. Lightly damaged systems are reduced in effectiveness, while highly damaged systems are disabled until repaired. Successful hull hits can also kill crew members, which reduces the repair speed.

A PvP mode was added in an update, allowing players to select a multiplayer ships from the three options (it's possible to change the ship later, but only using Prestige). This ship is separate from the single-player one, but both ships share the equipment and missile stores, so equipment obtained in the campaign can be used in multiplayer battles and vice versa. When a player taps the "Play" button, the game searches for other players of similar level who are also searching. If none are found within 20 seconds, then the player has the option of facing off against a computer foe instead. Fleeing from a battle or getting disconnected counts as a loss (but XP is not taken away for a loss). If a battle lasts long enough, sudden death mode kicks in, periodically shutting down the defensive systems of both ships to bring about a quicker end to the match.

The game has been abandoned by the developer and is no longer available on the App Store.

The game contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Beehive Barrier: Sidewalls look like they're made up of hexagons when struck by missiles.
  • Critical Existence Failure: How well this trope is played straight is up to you. If all you use are hull penetrators without any system damage modifiers, then it's played completely straight for your enemies. However, if you use various missiles and/or upgrade your weapons to damage certain systems, then it's played less straight. Mostly averted for you, since enemies rarely use only one type of missiles. Even their volleys typically consist of 2-3 different types. Additionally, hull damage can also result in crew casualties, which reduces the effectiveness of hull repair. Crew can only be replenished at space stations.
  • Deflector Shields:
    • Sidewalls are the last line of defense before missiles hit the hull. They are, typically, not enough to stop medium-sized volleys. Two types of missiles go right through them. Also, all missiles have a chance of penetrating sidewalls even at full strength.
    • Impeller wedges are, strictly speaking, not designed for defense, but they serve this function. Ships can roll to present their dorsal wedges to block all enemy missiles for a few seconds. The "Roll" ability must recharge before being used again.
  • Energy Weapon: Laser defenses are one of the three active defense types. Red pulsing lasers attempt to destroy incoming missiles. Mk 13 BPLs (bomb-pumped lasers) are missiles that detonate prior to hitting the hull/sidewalls and perforate the ship with lasers, damaging multiple systems.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The main method of destroying the enemy, by launching so many missiles that a few manage to get through enemy defenses. Unlike the novels, which use only BPL missiles (except for rare cases of someone using obsolete weapons, though they do aim for specific subsystems on occasion), the game gives you a variety of missile types to choose from. The Dauntless with a fully-upgraded Weapons system can potentially fire up to 30 missiles at once (assuming all batteries fire simultaneously). Some late-game enemies, especially space stations, can fire a lot more than that. The Rantech enemies, in particular, have ridiculously low weapon cooldown times, meaning they can put out whole walls of missiles before you can say "WTF!"
  • Misguided Missile: Missiles hit by ECM will fly off in random directions. Note that "random" means anywhere but towards you or the enemy. EMP Pulsors are designed to be immune to ECM.
  • The Mole: The Political Officer aboard your ship turns out to be secretly in league with the defecting Manticoran captain and In Sec.
  • Mook Chivalry: In the later missions when you are facing off against multiple opponents, they will politely let you defeat each of them in turn.
  • No-Sell: Any weapon hitting a wedge has absolutely no effect on the ship. The trick is to time the missile launch in such a way as to hit the enemy just after it finishes rolling back to normal but before its active defenses can be brought back up.
  • Nuke 'em: The NX-2 Nukes and the Mk 13 BPLs are nuclear missiles. The former strike the hull and primarily damage just the hull. The latter detonate just outside the sidewall range and perforate the ship with lasers, doing little hull damage but heavily damaging multiple systems. The NX-2 Nukes are easily stopped by sidewalls (justified, since nuclear missiles pretty much require a direct strike to do serious damage in space), while the Mk 13 BPLs are barely affected.
    • Note that in the books BPLs are the only missiles most modern ships carry and conventional nukes are largely considered to be useless due to the need for a direct hit.
  • Number Two: Your XO, Lieutenant Hasting Locke, is responsible for Bridge and Sidewall systems. Pre- and post-battle conversations typically have him mouth off to you and anyone you're talking to. Even Captain Harrington is amazed that you allow this sort of thing on your ship.
  • Point Defenseless: The whole point of the game is averting this for your ship while making sure it's played straight for the enemy. Most late-game ships have a three-layer active defense: ECM, counter-missiles, and lasers. Each layer is only active for missiles at certain ranges but must recharge after use, making timing critical. Certain missiles types are immune/resistant to certain active defenses (EMP Pulsors vs ECM, Mavericks vs counter-missiles, and Laser Disruptors vs lasers). They also damage that particular system when hitting the hull.
  • Pretext for War: Haven's Office of Internal Security is determined to start a war with Manticore and plans to do that by having a rogue Manticoran captain detonate a gravity bomb at the Trevor's Star wormhole terminus, shutting down the terminus and destroying the planet San Martin. It's not entirely clear why Haven even needs a pretext, as all its previous conquests have been done without any declarations of war.
  • Roboteching: Missiles sometimes arc from multiple angles to converge on the target. This is justified in the novels by the fact that impeller wedges tend to damage anything they hit, requiring missiles to spread out after launch, so their wedges don't intersect.
  • Rule of Cool: The likely reason why ships in the game don't look like their descriptions in the books. It'd be monotonous and confusing to fight ships that look pretty much the same with a few changes. On the other hand, all ships still feature elongated shapes with visible broadside batteries, so the overall theme is preserved. The same reasoning is used for why missiles have contrails despite using Reactionless Drives. Players expect missiles to look a certain way.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Counter-missiles always hit missiles they've targeted. However, Mavericks are highly-resistant to counter-missiles and can survive a CM hit. Additionally, some equipment can be used to increase the general strength of your missiles, which helps them survive CM hits.
  • Shout-Out: Some of the equipment descriptions mention BuNine, which, in fact, does not exist in the Honorverse. It's a Real Life legal entity made up of dedicated fans who work closely with David Weber on a lot of the background material, including the tabletop game, and whose day jobs are directly or indirectly related to their contributions.
  • Space Pirates: Many of your enemies, especially in side missiles, are pirates and slavers.
  • Space Station: Present in every sector to allow the player to purchase missiles, some equipment, crew, and power conduits. System damage can also be repaired there. Going to a space station does not use up warp points. Several late-game levels also have you assaulting heavily-defended space stations. The only difference between them and ships is that stations are unable to roll.
  • Standard Starship Scuffle: The intricate maneuvers in the books are replaced with a typical slugfest that relies more on preparation and timing than tactical skill. The bow and stern vulnerability isn't even brought up, since ships always engage in broadsides. Additionally, close-range Energy Weapons are also not mentioned, despite playing an important role in some battles in the books.
  • State Sec: While in Havenite space, you frequently have to fight off ships belonging to the Office of Internal Security (AKA In Sec).
  • Subsystem Damage: All missile types except for Hull penetrators and NX-2 Nukes are designed to inflict damage on one or more systems. Mk 13 BPLs damage multiple systems, including the Bridge (which impacts the "Roll" ability). Light damage to a system reduces its effectiveness and charge rate, while heavy damage disables it until repaired. For example, a damaged Weapons system reduces the number of missiles in a salvo, while a damaged Laser system reduces the number of enemy missiles that can be shot down by lasers.
  • You Are in Command Now: The Player Character becomes the acting captain of the HMS Galahad after the original CO is killed. After returning to Manticore space, the player is promoted to full captain and given command of a light cruiser and then a heavy cruiser.

Alternative Title(s): Tales Of Honor