Astroneer, To Infinity and Beyond! - PC Steam Review
Quick Glance: Astroneer
• Platform - Xbox One, PC (Reviewed)
• Players – 1 - 4
• Achievements – No
• Steam Trading Cards - No
• Controller Support - Yes, Full
• Retail Price - $19.99 for the Alpha Version
High Level Premise: Sandboxy, deep space exploration with a terrain modifying tool, loads of researchable technologies and building stations, with a multiplayer co-op format similar to Minecraft.
Graphics/Style: Colorful, bubbly and vast martian landscapes, but lacking in fine detail.
Music/Soundtrack: Ambient and serene. Really the only choice for this type of title.
Story: True to most sandbox games, there is no story. You and up to 3 other friends just end up on a starting planet, left to fend for yourselves.
Replay-ability: Medium-high. Restart on a different seed, with different folks, with different goals and have an entirely unique experience.
Time Commitment: In a few minutes and you could be stockpiling some resources in your solo game. But with a crew, you’re looking at about 30 minutes to an hour to make the experience worthwhile.
Value: Right on the money. 20 bucks for the alpha, I expect the price to go up slightly in beta and beyond.
Favorite Element(s): Limitless terrain destruction and true spherical planets = burrow straight through the planet’s core if you’d like. Hunting out research modules.
I had never heard so much as a mention of this game, as it was pointed out to me by my brothers before I had a chance to sniff it out on my own. “A game of aerospace industry and interplanetary exploration” the Steam description read, with an overall user review of “Very Positive”. It doesn’t take much more than that to hook me. I dove in headfirst.
I suited up blindly, not knowing what to expect on my forthcoming adventure into the void. While selecting one of the four predesigned astrospace pioneers, I couldn’t help being reminded of the data mined models of what the avatars would have looked like in Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky. Of course, this review couldn’t be written without mentioning NMS, given the blatant points of comparison between the two games. Thankfully, the blueprint this time around made sure to incorporate multiplayer elements, and even in its alpha state, a stable platform on which to explore unknown galaxies. Sadly, I had no one to multiplay with, so I decided I’d do a solo excursion while waiting for some friends to log on. Because I was the host, friends could join my game without me having to restart everything.
I landed rather perfectly on an exotic, vivid and unforgiving planet. I stepped out unceremoniously onto the blue and purple “dirt” and took in my surroundings with awe. The view was nice, especially the starry skyscape. While somewhat basic and cartoonish, the rest of the environment was aesthetically pleasing.
I died three minutes later.
Not the type to be dissuaded by death, I quickly respawned and tried to figure out where I had went wrong. Apparently oxygen and power are important things in this game. It was the lack of oxygen that did me in. Wandering too far from your base disconnects the nice little oxygen tether you have to your life pod, or, I should say, habitats, and it doesn’t take long for nature to take its course.
I explored more, recruited friends, harvested resources and expanded my habitat from a measly little pod, to a sprawling network of crafting nodes and life support tethers that stretched down deep into the planet’s core. So far down, that unless it was my imagination, gravity seemed to reverse and I felt like I was climbing out of the hole when I was clearly tunneling straight through. Could I get all the way through the planet and pop out the other side? It certainly appeared to be possible, although I didn’t finish my journey.
I was loving certain elements of the game, to name a couple, the ambient soundtrack and mesmerizing skies. I thoroughly enjoyed the minimalist UI and tutorial. It left me to not only explore my alien surroundings, but explore the possibilities and limits of the game itself without being influenced by what the developer thought was best. As for actual gameplay, finding research “nuggets” to unlock new crafting recipes was quickly becoming my main focus. I was also determined to create a rover or a vehicle of some sort once I learned I could create a vehicle bay. Our team of four astroneers eventually worked together to create a starship with enough seats to take off and explore another planet in our system. I can’t quite put into words the feeling of satisfaction that came over me as the culmination of all of our gathering and research and exploration was putting us into orbit, and letting us choose, fuel willing, where we’d take our operations next.
Taking its vastness, procedural world generation, Minecraft-y multiplayer playstyle, ethereal atmosphere and sandbox elements into consideration, I would rate this title a 4 out of 5. Taking a point away for the repetitive nature of the mechanics of the game, as well as the almost too basic interface and technical aspects. It’s a great game to pop in with some friends for some quick and dirty multiplayer enjoyment in a relaxed environment, but there isn’t a whole lot of depth as far as I’ve been able to tell. Who know what secrets remain hidden though?