Just wanted to post my feedback about the game whilst this weekend is fresh in my mind. A big thank you to @cor-karolis for helping me find my feet. I am wary of early access these days and without their help I would probably have asked for a refund. Not because my experience was bad per se, but since the steam threshold for returns is 2 hours I didnt have a lot of time to get acquainted with the game… That being said! I have been having a lot of fun wandering around and the community here is really great. The criticism below are just my personal experiences and questions I asked myself when I was playing the game. There may be good answers to these questions but my point is that as a new player I have no idea what they are and the game hasnt provided any answers yet.
Firstly, the intro to the game is awesome. I definitely had a wow moment when I popped that first portal after being guided by the shaman tutor. After wandering for aimlessly for a little while I settled in a random spot and built my first beacon. This is when I was to be introduced to my nemesis… The crafting menu.
(Full disclosure: I absolutely love the FTB Infinity modpack on minecraft. I know it’s probably the bajillionth time someone around here compared boundless to minecraft but I promise I will try to be objective about it.)
Oh crafting menu… Firstly. For the love of all that is pixelated, why is there no filtering or search functionality? Every time I wanted to craft more stones from my rocks I had to scroll aaaaalll the way to the bottom of my “craftable” menu, select the thing I wanted, and then mash the “craft 2” button. Then after that I had to craft a crucible, so I opened up the menu again, scrolled even further down, overshot, scrolled up, clicked on it, and checked what I needed… Weird… I thought I just crafted stones? Oh! They’ve been put into a completely separate output inventory… That’s ok I guess? It’s kind of annoying how I have to move them out of the output inventory and into the regular inventory… Cant it just go back into the item inventory? That way when I put wooden logs and tallow into the crafting table, I dont have to fish them out as planks and then again as sticks, just to make torches?
What is also kind of frustrating about this problem is how much screen real estate there is. A good 2/3rds of my screen is reserved for my character to stare at me whilst I develop carpel tunnel scrolling around for the billionth time. It would be nice to have some Left <-> Right from the inventory to crafting and back again.
SPEAKING OF INVENTORY. I love smart stacks. I love this game and the dev team just for thinking those up. They’re great. Just having those is enough to almost forgive locking the larger inventory away behind an arbitrary grind wall… Almost.
What isnt forgivable is the lack of storage at the start. Just building in the tiny area around my house I collected a bunch of materials which I had nowhere to put after a very short amount of time, and being new to the game I had no idea what I should trash and what I should keep. So I did waste a lot of time dumping mud and sand out of my inventory every time I found something new. I understand that I can unlock storage later in the game but… Why? I dont really get a sense of accomplishment unlocking shelving after a level up… It’s just a pain in the butt to manage my tiny inventory until I whack enough things to level up enough to put the whacked things onto a shelf. I walked around a little and noticed that the other players were using crafting benches as interim storage but it felt a little cheesy… If players are going out of their way to substitute storage just because it’s locked behind a skill wall… Why have it there at all?
Speaking of level ups, I realise that the progression system is new, but it feels a little gung ho to lock even sprinting and crouching behind a skill wall… Especially when they’re literally the only skills you’re able to get in the beginning. I understand it’s partially to introduce players to the levelling system but you can do that railroading with the basic crafting tree. It honestly felt a little silly that I had to unlock the ability to crouch and sprint and a bit counter intuitive that I couldnt understand what I was looking at until I picked up the scanner perk.
So, now that I’ve set up my little slice of nowhere I did what any person who’s picked up minecraft for 20 minutes would do… I dug down. I made a nice little staircase and grabbed more stone, hunting for the ore and tech parts I needed to craft a workbench. I was loving that I could hold my shovel in one hand and my hammer in the other. It was fairly late by this point so I logged out and turned in for the night.
When I logged back in the next afternoon my entire staircase was filled in again! At first I thought that it must have been the rain washing mud into the hole (Cool!) but after some reading on the forums it turns out it was just the server cleaning up after 8 hours… I get that in order to save memory on these massive MMO servers you have to make some concessions but erasing all the work I did, practically on the doorstep outside my claimed area was still a huge kick in the teeth. Especially since after all that time digging I hadnt found any tech parts yet. So feeling a little lost I set out to find other people on the server and get some answers…
It’s handy that I can see player icons on my compass. Running across the vast, largely untouched plains of my starting planet of Vena V, occasionally seeing half finished huts or haphazardly placed beacons littered around the place was a nice experience. Maybe a little more accidentally post apocalyptic than the devs might have intended since the lack of players made it feel like everyone had been raptured… After a lot of running I finally found my first player! He let me into his house and told me I was the first player he’s ever met. I told him I also started this weekend, to which he replied: “No, I’ve been playing on an off for a few months…” Oops…
Without a goodbye my new friend logged out. It was nice that the greifing protection meant he felt comfortable letting a stranger explore his house and his setup did look pretty cool. So I decided to take what I had learned from it back home. USING PORTALS!
After setting up the portal to my house the game tells me that it costs 100g to open a portal. I realised there was money but didnt think you’d have to pay to use the thing that made the game look so interesting from the promo videos. Again, I realise there is probably a heck of a lot going on under the hood of the game whenever someone cracks a portal open to another server so you want to limit us from going crazy with them but at this point in the game I didnt know (and still dont) know how to make money… And if it was through trading with players… well… That was proving harder than I thought it would be…
After that I return home with no drama other than the slight anxiety that comes with spending 5% of the money you own without knowing how to get any of it back.
And that’s about it! I dug another staircase down and discovered a cave, this time using up the rest of my plots to keep half of it claimed… I guess it’s better than trying to re-dig the entire tunnel… And I am still hunting for those elusive tech parts, which after consulting boundlesscrafting.com, are supposed to be around here somewhere…
On a more meta side of things, it was really hard to find info about this game. I am glad my searching led me to posting on the forums here but the official website has no mention of the discord, barely anybody is let’s playing the later versions of the game on youtube, and the reddit is a ghost town. So, my usual avenues for figuring things out were not available. It was kind of nice going into a game completely blind but I am not sure that the directionless flailing at the start helps people who are keeping an eye on that 2 hour return limit…
All in all, I love the potential of this game and I focused on the warts of my first hours but I still had a lot of fun! I’d probably have a harder time convincing friends to join me in this game in its current state but I think it’s good that most of the problems I have had are relatively superficial. I think that a well placed free weekend further down the line will be enough to jumpstart the community, and most of the design/UI choices can be iterated on. I understand the difficulty of also designing a menu that works with a PS4 but there’s a great community here willing to give constructive feedback!
Lastly, I hope this review is helpful for either the devs or some newbies out there searching for info on this game. I dont claim to know better than the people actually building this game but I tried to give an accurate representation of my thoughts as I had them.
Thanks for reading
See you all in Boundless!