Review – Astroneer
When it popped up on the ‘New Games’ channel of the Xbox One store I gave Astroneer a chance because it had a cool look and a gameplay hook – reshape and explore the world around you – that really scratches my sci-fi itch.
Launching the game for the first time, I knew absolutely nothing about what I was in for or how the game actually worked. A little over a minute later, my first astronaut was dead – suffocating on an alien world after running his oxygen tank empty while exploring. From that I learned how critical it was to maintain awareness of how far away my home base was.
Minutes later I learned to watch out for holes that could – hypothetically, of course – drop me into an underground cave and prevent me from reaching the ship in time to replenish my oxygen supply…
That’s not to say you’re completely without means to protect yourself from the climates of these procedurally generated planets. You can deform the terrain with an environment-shaping vacuum of sorts that raises or lowers land while also pulling in needed resources. Need to cross from one side of a ravine to the other? Just build yourself a land bridge!
All those resources can be used in an increasingly complex crafting system that lets you create everything from solar panels to rovers to space ships. You’ll also be rewarded for thinking a bit outside the box, like when I put a winch on my rover, then pulled a crashed satellite over to my base, hooking up to it so it would become a giant solar collector for my power system.
Collect enough resources and expand your base enough and you’ll even be able to build a space ship and return to the skies, where you can either relocate to a new base on the same planet – different spots can have vastly different geography and resources – or to an entirely new planet that might be barren, lush, arid, exotic, etc…
You don’t need to run around those worlds by yourself either, as you can jump into multiplayer with up to three friends. Whether you want to run around the world farming resources or just sit on a hill and watch the visible planets and moons orbit by, it’s all fair game.