It’s Columbus Day here in the States, so what better time than now to take a look at Planet Explorers? Planet Explorers is currently in Early Access on Steam and is being developed by Pathea Games. Planet Explorers first popped up on Steam Early Access around the same time as the initial announcement for development of No Man’s Sky. Now two plus years later Planet Explorers is closing in on release, so let’s take a look.
As you would expect, Planet Explorers does involve exploration. You have crash landed on an alien planet along with a few other ships, so there is first the excitement of getting to see what this world holds. This being a sandbox game, you are free to do whatever you’d like, but if you want to craft things first you will want to help out with some missions at the start. These will help in familiarizing yourself with the mechanics and also net you some recipes in order to craft. These tend to be your traditional RPG gather resources, collect this, slay that types of missions.
Once you have a few things you can craft and have helped out at the starting area, you are free to move along. Again, you can really do this at any time, the only real question is if you want to forgo some of the important recipes to crafting before then. After doing so, well, the world is yours to do whatever it is you want. If you want to explore, the map is extremely large with plenty of places to visit. Along the way, of course, you are most likely to bump into some of the “locals”.
The planet is populated with all sorts of different creatures and beings. Some of these are harmless, others will attack you with impunity. So, if you are going to set about on an exploration, you would be wise to prepare. Weapons are always a good choice when dealing with hostile locals. To start with there are limited options, namely wooden weapons like swords, shields, bows and arrows, and they progress on from there. There are also vendors along the way to buy equipment from.
If buying from a vendor isn’t what you want, then there is, of course, the crafting option. This will require a lot of resource collection. Picking flowers, chopping down trees, digging in the dirt, and even slaying some local fauna are all ways to collect resources. Most likely you will need to gather a bit of everything. If crafting is your thing, there is absolutely no shortage of resources here.
What crafting experience would be complete without some good options to build? For those with more imagination and patience than myself, the options are endless. Want a fancy house? Better start digging. Want to build a helicopter or tank? It’s absolutely possible here. To save time there is also the option to commit certain designs to a quick build. For example, instead of building a wall brick by brick each time, you can just as easily save plans to build the wall in one shot.
While out exploring this strange planet and raging war with the locals, one thing to keep in mind is that every action will shape the world. Dig a hole in the ground looking for something, it will stay there. So, you are entirely free to remake the place in anyway you see fit, provided you have the time and desire to do so. If that doesn’t do it for you, then you can always go the venture capitalist route and just rake in the money. In the adventure mode, pretty much anything is possible. However, there is also a recently added story mode to help those along who like that option.
So where does that leave us? Well, if a crafting/world building sandbox game in a sci-fi setting is something you fancy, this will be right up your alley. Plenty of odd characters to see, things to make, and locals to kill. Can’t really say it too many other ways, the possibilities are essentially limited to what you can come up with yourself, or if needed, supplemented by the story. There are options, lots of them.
After playing the game for a while, it does become apparent that to really enjoy what is available to you, it will require quite a bit of a time investment. Although, this is the case with most anything that requires all methods of resource collection. One other thing that was also rather apparent is that I was unable to even replicate the graphics shown for the screenshots. When I first launched the game, I was met with a pop-up asking me to select a fix in case I had blurry text. This being my first time launching the game and having only gotten so far as the title screen, I had no clue if that was going to be an issue for me or not. I clicked “No”, and that was possibly the wrong choice, but I was unable to find a way to have that option available to me again.
The game certainly did not look as good as the screenshots that were presented on the store page, and given an i7 3820k processor and GTX 980 TI graphics card this shouldn’t have been an issue to match those results. Instead, it mostly looked like I was playing Anarchy Online, and I’m not quite sure they were going for a retro esthetic with the game. As a non-builder, the game really did play much like the aforementioned Anarchy Online not just in the sci-fi setting but also in the basic combat and quest system. Even adding recipes to your book felt oddly reminiscent of learning new nanos. While I’m certain that fans of this style of game will probably enjoy Planet Explorers, I’m not so certain that it does anything to really gain any new followers to the crafting/sandbox/shape the world genre.
Developers: Panthea LLC
Publishers: Panthea LLC
Release Date: TBC