Planet Explorers Preview – MOUSE n JOYPAD

Planet Explorers Preview



Fancy a voxel-based open world game like Minecraft, but set in an extraterrestrial sci-fi setting, with massive plains, beautiful canyons, rivers, lakes and mountains, where you could build and manage your own colony occupied by settlers defending, working on and farming your land, design and build your own dream car or aircraft, and fight scary gigantic alien life forms and killer robots? Then Planet Explorers might be the game you are looking for.

Brought to life as a Kickstarter project, Planet Explorers has been in active development by studio Pathea since early 2013. So how does Planet Explorers measure up in comparison with other games in the genre?

Planet Explorers supports both single and multiplayer modes. The single player consists of three distinct game modes. In Story mode, the game follows a group of ill-fated astronauts who have crash landed on a planet named Maria, which they initially presumed was devoid of technologically advanced life forms and were initially tasked with colonizing, after their ship lost control under mysterious circumstances. As you advance through the game completing quests, trying to locate missing comrades and eventually find your way back to the mothership, you are given a grand tour of how the whole thing works and what to do with it.

Adventure Mode is similar to Story mode, except that there is no story line to follow, nor are there any set objectives or quests to complete. Build Mode, on the other hand, is similar to the creative mode in Minecraft, in that you do not worry about dying or fighting creatures, and are given an infinite amount of each type of resource to do whatever you please. Whichever mode you might want to focus on, you are first taken through the process of creating your character. Afterwards, you are launched into an alien yet strikingly beautiful and massive earth-like landscape featuring expansive grassy plains, mountains, sandy beaches, rivers, and scenic forests, to name but a few.

A number of tools are available at your disposal for taming this vast wilderness and also to overcome geographical barriers, such as rope guns (similar to a grappling hook), jetpacks, gliders, scuba masks as well as the use of land, air or water vehicles. The land abounds with native wildlife and as you roam the lands you might chance upon a jaw-droppingly huge Testudo Mariturtle. Either way, one of the most awesomely difficult enemies you will have the opportunity to fight have to be the giant robots. These nasties can emit a red laser ray at you or launch a barrage of missiles at your location that could kill you in an instant if you are not fast enough to dodge out of the way.

There is already an astounding number of things to do in the current version of Planet Explorers. Apart from farming your own crops, mining for resources, and making weapons and armour, you can also build a colony and then assign colonists to specific jobs such as defending your headquarters, farming, and building defensive structures and weaponry to defend your colony, to name a few.

Mining for resources, harvesting and hunting the local flora and fauna are all important parts of the game as you will need to stockpile sufficient materials to create all manners of essential supplies, such as food, weapons, armor, and even vehicle parts and colony structures, although it is possible to buy materials and items off from NPCs provided you have enough meat, which is the currency of choice in Planet Explorers.

Creating objects is done via the Replicator screen, where you select from a list of objects you wish to create provided you have the proper scripts beforehand. A script is basically a blueprint that allows you to create items such as weapons, armour, food, and even basic colony structures and vehicle parts; In story mode, these are obtained from NPCs either upon quest completion or by buying them off of NPC vendors and then adding them to the list of objects you can create in Replicator mode. One of the more exciting aspects of Planet Explorers has to be the ability to design your own vehicles and weaponry. Fancy riding a stylish sports car across the surface of Maria? Perhaps the swords provided in-game do not strike your fancy and you prefer to wield a huge Cloud-Strife type sword? All these can be done in the Creation System screen, a 3d modelling interface that allows you to design your own melee weapons, guns, shields, land vehicles, boats and aircrafts to suit the look you desire. The design is then saved as a Voxel Creation “ISO” format file (.vciso extension files), before being “instantiated” in the in-game world with the Export Creation button in the Creation System screen provided you have all the required materials or sub-components.

If you don’t fancy yourself the creative sort, or just don’t have the time, there is already a sizeable collection of community made “ISO” files that you can download through, or simply use the (currently in beta) Steam Workshop. At present, Planet Explorers does not come with any ready-made ISO “templates” for vehicles or other objects, and since the Creation System is the only method through which you can build a vehicle, this means you will either have to create and design a vehicle from scratch yourself or download one of the vehicle ISO files from a community website.

So what’s not to like about Planet Explorers? For one, the path-finding in-game is far from perfect. I have frequently experienced an NPC escort mission where the subject was no longer following me, only to realise, when I checked the in-game map, that the NPC had gotten stuck behind a tree in a heavily forested area and that I had to backtrack to retrieve them. For party member NPCs however (you can have up to 2 companion NPCs, not including quest NPCs), that problem is easy resolved with the “Call” button in the NPC character’s inventory screen, which then auto-magically teleports the NPC next to you.

Creating items using the Replicator would have been handy if the Replicator interface allows for a button to automatically construct sub components that are required for some of the object you are creating, instead of having to manual create the sub components yourself. For example, if I wanted to create a jetpack, I am required to have a couple of chipset components in hand which in turn requires some available raw plastic resource and copper wires which in turn required further raw materials to create.

In conclusion, apart from a few minor gripes, Planet Explorers is already extremely playable and enjoyable in its current state (alpha version 0.831 as of this preview), and with a bit more polish should be a game many fans of the voxel-based survival genre will appreciate. Featuring a beautiful and massive open world, a vast (in every sense of the word) assortment of enemies, the freedom to design your own vehicles and weapons, and a host of activities to do in-game, all make Planet explorers a compelling and interesting addition to just about any game library.