Ylands: Nintendo Switch Edition Review

If you’re a fan of survival crafting games, you might have heard of Bohemia Interactive’s Ylands. It’s been on Steam and mobile for years now but is making the jump to Nintendo Switch with a big difference. After originally marketing Ylands as a premium, pay-to-own game, it switched to a free-to-play model that locked a lot of its content behind micro-transactions, something that, judging by its mixed reviews on Steam, players didn’t take too kindly to.

The Nintendo Switch version takes a completely different approach. You buy the game and have access to all it has to offer – both the creative and adventure modes There are several DLCs available for purchase from the Nintendo eShop, but these are for pets and blueprints, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything by not purchasing them.

By returning to the traditional tried and tested buy-once, play-forever model, the Nintendo Switch version of Ylands has the potential to be the ultimate version of the game.

Like several other games in the survival-crafting genre, the graphics in Ylands can be described as simple but effective. It’s not quite the blocky design of Minecraft or the pixel design of Terraria, but its low-poly graphics have their own distinctive charm that makes the world of Ylands a joy to explore.


Join the C.A.G. and Set Sail

The adventure mode of Ylands is geared primarily towards exploration. After graduating as a new member of the Classy Adventurer’s Guild (C.A.G.), you’re tasked with seeking out a man named Mr. Elmwood. This is a survival game though, so nothing goes to plan, and you end up stranded on a desert island (or Yland, as they’re called in-game) with limited resources. The game will walk you through the basics of survival and crafting, prompting you to build a new ship to continue your search for Mr. Elmwood.

You’ll then have the freedom to explore several islands across six unique regions, all of which boast different resources and wildlife. Initially, you’ll only have access to the tropical region, but after exploring a couple of the islands the region has to offer, you should have enough exploration points to unlock the other regions. I recommend paying attention to the difficulty level of each region before you move to a new one though, because you might struggle without the appropriate gear for the climate and enemies.

Ylands’ adventure mode has two types of objectives that help you progress. First, there are story objectives, which are pretty self-explanatory. As I’ve already mentioned, the first of these is seeking out Mr. Elmwood and undergoing a series of trials to prove your mettle as an adventurer. The second type are diary objectives. These are more concerned with the game’s survival mechanism with tasks like ‘craft a torch’ and ‘scout the tropical region.’ Completion of both diary and story objectives is rewarded with resources and exploration points.


Survival of the Fittest

In any survival game, crafting is an essential part of the gameplay, and Ylands’ crafting mechanic is actually pretty comprehensive. It features a tech tree where you can use resources to unlock skills in areas like survival, combat, manufacturing, and more. This will give you access to a wider range of recipes that will help you survive and excel as an adventurer across different regions.

The crafting list is extensive, and you can make yourself a pretty impressive base if you have the attention span to do so. I don’t, but I have made myself a basic little camp with all my crafting essentials and storage chests. This provided me with somewhere I could drop off the items and materials I didn’t need to take with me; this way, I wasn’t constantly finding myself running out of inventory space.

In addition to the crafting mechanics, Ylands also features hunger and temperature damage, which add to the realism of the game without being too unforgiving. You can tame a lot of the animals you come across as you explore, several of which can be ridden to make exploration a lot quicker. You tame them by feeding them specific bait and petting them until they’re friendly. After that, they can either follow you or be left behind at your base.


Build Your Own Yland

The expansive adventure mode is what appealed to me the most, but Ylands also boasts an impressive creative mode. Within it, you have access to all the tools, weapons, and materials that adventure mode has to offer without the need to unlock their recipes or use resources, so you can allow your imagination to run wild without having to worry about logistics.


Overcoming Hurdles

For the most part, Ylands is a pretty solid survival-crafting game with a lot to offer, but I did experience some problems with its performance on the Switch. Awkward camera angles made crafting and placing objects difficult, so I often struggled to get them exactly where I wanted to, and there didn’t seem to be a way to adjust their position once placed without dismantling them and starting again.

There were also a lot of instances where the game would lag pretty badly when running, sailing, or fighting – the latter of which was particularly frustrating because I died a few times as a result. The game even crashed entirely a couple of times, which would have been a nightmare if the game didn’t frequently save to keep me from losing progress.


Final Thoughts

With a vast adventure mode and a substantial creative mode, Ylands has a lot to offer in terms of content and replayability. I enjoyed the gameplay, particularly the crafting mechanics, and the scope of the islands available to explore, but ultimately, I felt that it was let down by its sluggish performance on the Nintendo Switch. Hopefully, a post-launch patch will improve its performance and allow for a much smoother and enjoyable experience so players can get the most out of what it has to offer.

Developer: Bohemia Interactive

Publisher: Bohemia Interactive

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Release Date: 20th June 2024

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