I descend through the clouds of this strange new world that my astronaut has discovered. We touch down gently and I step out of my pod and take a look around. There’s many strange looking plants scattered around and some crystals protruding from the ground. I start walking around unsure what my purpose is and where I should be going. A wind storm hits and I’m dead. I respawn and begin my journey into the unknown again. My oxygen runs low and I die. Survival then is one of the aims in Astroneer because there are many ways in which this game will try to kill you.
Astroneer is a space exploration/survival sandbox adventure game which is being developed by System Era Softworks, based in Seattle Washington. There is no story line and instead the player must mine resources in order to expand his/her colony by creating structures with the mined resources. The team working on Astroneers come from a background which involves work on games like Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Team Fortress, the Sims, amongst many others so they know what they are doing, something that becomes plain to see when you look at your watch 5 minutes after starting the game and realise an hour has passed.
So you start out by selecting your Astronaut who then detaches their pod from the orbiting station type structure. You head down into the atmosphere of the nearby planet admiring the beautiful looking clouds as you descend. You touch down and examine your immediate surroundings. You have nothing but your trusty suit and a mining tool that can deform the very ground you walk on and mine resources.
As you venture further out you’ll soon discover what resources are used for and how you can take advantage of their applications. You can extend your pod to include all sorts of useful applications from Printers to vehicle bays and machines that will research strange things you have discovered. I had no idea what I was doing to start with but I started to figure things out and I loved how things naturally start to make sense. Once you figure one piece of the puzzle the other pieces start to drop into place it’s a very satisfying experience and leaves you wanting more and more.
The control schemes are simple yet effective and do pretty much all you could want them to. it’s the polygon game world though that impresses. It’s simple yet looks gorgeous and all you want to do is explore. You can sculpt the world around you and even deform the ground right down to the planets core.
So what features do you get in this early access version of Astroneer? Well the developers have a hand list on their website so lets take a look.
- Explore multitudes of procedural worlds.
- Shape completely malleable terrain. Dig to the centre of the earth, or forge mountains.
- Craft vehicles and discover resources to reach ever further in the galaxy.
- Survive in ever more harsh and rewarding environments.
- Play with friends in online or local multiplayer.
Astroneer is expected to be in early access for a year or two but it’s certainly something that you should be keeping tabs on because this game has all the hall marks of a classic in the making. I can’t wait to see what the developers have in store for the games future. So far they have done an astounding job, this is how early access games should be and what space exploration done right, looks like. This game is satisfying and beautiful to play.
Astroneer released for Steam early access and Windows/Xbox One game preview on December 16th and is priced at £15.73/$19.99