Game Reviews

Astroneer Review: A blooming world with some early access flaws

Being launched into the worlds of Astroneer was both unlike any game I had ever experienced and like every other crafting game I had ever played. Neither is a particularly negative experience, but when it comes down to it Astroneer is a special mix of familiar ideas and unique execution. Some problems arise though when its early access roots come into play though.

What to expect

Astroneer is another adventure crafting game on the surface, but it is full of differences that make it special.

The first and most obvious difference is the unique terraforming element. You’ll have a gun permanently attached to your hip that you’ll use as your primary source or gathering resources. The gun can also suck up a massive amount of soil. This can be used to create huge man-made tunnels and caves, but the soil you suck in can also be spit back out.

After you’ve gathered enough soil. you’ll be able to use what you’ve gathered to build onto the world. Your gun begins shooting out land, and it’s a really cool way to do things.

While it is fun, it does get a little frustrating to use in tight areas such as caves. Many of the caves you enter will have huge verticality, and using a gun that shoots out mass ends up making some pretty hard to use stairs and ramps.

Blasting off

Astroneer starts off just like many crafting adventure games before it. You’ll land on the starting planet with a small starting base and almost endless possibilities.

I love having a blank slate, but Astroneer’s tutorial is completely seperate form its gameplay. Astroneer attempts to follow the Minecraft approach, throwing you into the world and having you figure everything out, but it doesn’t work very well right from the start due to the fact that Astroneer has so many unique systems that really need more hand holding to figure out.

I don’t mind having to pull up the Wiki page for the game in the background, but I would much rather the game start me off on my adventure with some basic knowledge of what I’m doing.

The game barely describes anything to you. Unless I alt+tabbed in and out of the game to look at the Wiki page, I had no idea what to gather or what I was gathering for. There are so many machines available to craft that have no description of what they are and what they do.

Once you get a little bit more used to the systems and you’ve done some reading on what you’re even doing, the game starts to slowly move along.

A new world

Exploring is exciting, and it really does capture the essence of the unknown. During your journey you’ll find strange structures and lifeforms that can sometimes be dangerous. Sadly though, there’s no real combat system in place to defend yourself from some of the dangerous beings you’ll find.

The only way you’ll end up defending yourself is by using your terraforming tool to suck the ground out of underneath whatever you stumble upon.

This makes encountering enemies a not-so-fun time. Not because of difficulty, but because it becomes a boring chore to just kill an enemy by sucking the ground.

Getting around

Eventually, you can unlock ways to get around the massive planet and to the other planets.

It’s extremely satisfying to build buggies and spaceships, but this really starts to show what’s wrong with the game.

There’s not much to work for other than cool vehicles and traveling to other planets. The game is a fun time despite lacking any real in-game help and having to tab in and out to check the game’s wiki, but once you build something really impressive you start to wonder why.

Like I said earlier, this is a problem Minecraft has had for quite some time, but after Minecraft’s full release they added actual objectives. There’s none of that here.

And even if Minecraft didn’t have objectives, the limitlessness of what you can do means you hardly ever ask yourself why you do things.

Astroneer isn’t limitless, and the lack of direction really makes the game boring after some time.

Bugs

Even though Astroneer claims to be a fully released game now, you’re going to run into plenty of issue that shouldn’t happen as often as they do.

The main issue I had when playing is that the world would constantly leave bits and pieces of the ground that were completely transparent. This usually happened around areas I was terraforming, but it did happen out in the natural world as well.

I also fell through these holes in the world multiple times. When I did, I was instantly killed after falling for a little while.

Luckily, my body remained on the surface so I could retrieve all of my belongings, but this issue became a huge annoyance especially since it happened more than a single time.

Conclusion

Astroneer is beautiful, and the unique path it takes makes it a special game. After that charm wears off though, you’re left with a game that doesn’t have a real point.

If you can find tons of enjoyment in a game despite not having any set goals, then you could find yourself lost in the many worlds of Astroneer.

But to me, it still feels very early access despite the fact that it claims to be a full release.

Disclaimer: A review code was provided to us for review purposes.

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