Kerbal Space Program: Making History Breathes New Life Into an Old Game [Hands-on Preview]

Kerbal Space Program has been released out of Early Access for two years now. Ever since then, the team at Squad has been hard at work on releasing an expansion for the massively popular space flight simulator. Kerbal Space Program: Making History headlines a large-scale mission builder, adding an extensive feature that is sure to inject hundreds more hours of gameplay into the title. I’ve finally had the chance to go hands-on to preview the latest build of this expansion, and have somehow been able to drag myself away to report my experiences.

There are types of games which enrapture me with their extensive and daunting mechanics. Sometimes I can’t justify the time commitment to get into most of these, but many leave you feeling with such a great sense of accomplishment that it’s hard to tear yourself away. Kerbal Space Program was one of these games for me.

I went to school for writing, and couldn’t wrap my head around the sciences in particular. However, Kerbal Space Program had me scouring astrophysics textbook excerpts to accurately build my craft at painfully early hours in the morning. Of course, even though most of my missions ended with disaster (the primary goal for quite a while was just to get Kerbals to the moon, with no plan to get them back home); the ones which ended with success left me with such visceral cheering that I couldn’t wait to jump right back in.

This brings us to Kerbal Space Program: Making History, an upcoming expansion being released which adds a variety of features to the game including a pack of missions based on famous historical aerospace events. Primarily, the mission builder is what I spent most of my time with, and it’s about as comprehensive as I could’ve hoped. You’ll be able to create your own factors which can include launch, rescue, and repair missions (however there even more possibilities than these). Also, like most of these level or mission editors, there are apt tools to surprise or manipulate the player. you can set specific victory limitations, and put unanticipated obstacles (like having random chances for part-failures) in the player’s way to create some of the most intricate missions ever seen in the space simulator.

As for the interface, it’s relatively simple to understand. To say that Squad has given players the keys to the Space Program is an understatement. You’ll be adding various nodes onto flow-charts to create your missions, having all the tools that I can assume the developers used to create their own. If there are any errors which could be caused in your creation there is also a validation system which you can use to test and see if there are any inconsistencies with added feedback.

Simplicity is the primary goal of Making History, and there is a considerable effort to make this as easy as dragging and dropping aspects of missions in a non-convoluted way. I’m excited to see with these implementations how player’s will be able to create their own levels, since Squad has made sure that creators will run into minimal frustration.

The already established cooperative nature of Kerbal Space Program has been something I’ve always highlighted to individuals when talking about my enjoyment of the game. The modding community has been incredibly devout to it well after its original release, which primarily is what’s going to nourish the lifespan of the title following this expansion’s release. Making History is going to be a changing point for this community, as while it will make a lot of mods inconsequential, it also opens the door to even more.

As for collaborating on missions, Squad has made it incredibly easy to share, edit, and play test other players’ missions, which will only benefit the already ingrained community. It will be exciting to see how Making History influences the game and changes the direction of its players’ creations.

Expansions like Making History are the type which immortalize the game in which they’re being added to. The dedicated community of Kerbal Space Program will be making hundreds of missions which will likely ensure that I’ll keep coming back to it for the foreseeable future. Keep in mind, if you purchased the game before April 2013 you will be receiving Making History for free. However, if you have not you’ll be able to purchase it for $14.99. Whether you’re looking to get into the expansion as a creator or player, there will be a lot to enjoy with Kerbal Space Program: Making History when it releases on March 13th.