Just a forewarning – this is a tribe expansion that players can only use in the skirmish and multiplayer modes, and not a new, separate campaign. You have to own the base game – Deserts of Kharak. It is not a stand-alone product.
The Soban tribe brings a few different weapons to the mix, requiring a new strategy for players to adapt to if they want to survive. First and foremost, the Soban have a lot of rail-guns. Including a unit that specializes in blasting other units solely with the rail-gun. The Battle-cruiser brings twin rail-guns instead of cannons to the front, although it’s not any slower or faster than the other fleets’. The Soban also have a Mark Target ability that allows the Soban to use rail-guns more efficiently and effectively. I was amused several times in skirmish to find that although this is a very nice weapon to use on the enemy’s more armored units, the Soban are more of an aggressive teammate fleet than an actual solo one. If you have a friend that plays one of the other fleet types, the Soban are a great assist.
For example, the Base-runner unit has a nifty ability to jam enemy targeting, which renders enemy vehicles largely unable to fire while they are in range of the emitter. Plop it down in an area to funnel enemy vessels into a killing zone (or to suddenly disable them while your ally picks them off). It definitely helped in one or two battles I fought, although it’s not a gigantic game changer of an ability.
This brings up the subject of the Soban carrier. It’s strong, with a microwave weapon that devastates smaller vessels. It also has several point defense heavy rail-guns and can upgrade to support a very large fleet. Defense units seem to slow down enemy or power up friendly units. I found it very hard to destroy without bringing all my fleet to bear on it. And vice-versa: the enemy had a really hard time, even with their ally, damaging my Soban carrier. Whereas the other two carriers are a bit faster and more flexible than their Soban cousin, it’s no slouch in the field. Defend it with half your fleet and it becomes a pitched battle to see who survives when your enemies come knocking.
Aside from a few different abilities, most of the difference in the fleet is the appearance. It has a very defined look and paint scheme, much like the Gaalsien and Coalition fleets. You get a few new voices that chime in during combat or when you give orders. I didn’t find it hard to tell my units apart from the enemies (although I basically always use a pink color to customize my fleet, so that helps). I like the new units, and the whole package in general.
So is it worth $7? That’s the question a lot of people are asking.
I will say that it largely depends on how much you play skirmish and multiplayer Deserts of Kharak. If you are squarely in the campaign only camp, then you will probably not find the DLC worth it. If you fall into playing a lot of multiplayer skirmishes, then go for it. I think the Soban adds some value to the game in that direction. But it is always up to the buyer to decide if a new fleet is worth more than $5.