Games! So, I was really in to Minecraft for a long while there. And really, I still really like Minecraft but I’m not playing it quite so obsessively. But in the past few years, I’ve gone through some kind of weird survival genre binging (I just realized how strange the word ‘binging’ looks o_O). Also, MMORPGs have come and gone. (R.I.P. City of Heroes) And I’ve played some things that I didn’t really expect to get in to (Diablo, Hearthstone, GTA5). For the most part, though, it’s just been survival game upon survival game upon survival game. So, for this post we’ll talk about survival games and then get in to other genres in the next posts, I apologize in advance for the wall of text. Let’s get started!
Survivalating: The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Steam has been an amazing source of indie survival games for the past few years. It started for me with Project Zomboid, which I already talked a bit about in some posts from a few years ago. I loved it and then after the developers had that huge setback, I left it alone for a while. They had to slow down their progress and I wanted to give them time to get back in to the swing of things, it only seemed fair to give them a chance to pull back together. Plus, I REALLY wanted to play PZ in multiplayer, which it didn’t have at that point. I waited. I was still craving that zombie horror survival, though. So, I started grasping at straws. Steam had an ever growing selection of straws to offer.
I jumped in to Don’t Starve for a brief period after that. It was also very early in development, but super fun and I love the graphics. Once again, though, I was craving multiplayer interaction. What fun is dying over and over in the wilderness if you don’t have anyone to laugh at you? So, I moved swiftly on and actually ended up going back to Minecraft for a while after that. However, Don’t Starve Together is currently in beta. I can’t wait to get some people together in to that game. Should be good fun!
Anyway, after Minecraft and going back to some MMOs for a while (I’ll talk about those in the next post) I went back to trying to scratch that survival itch again. Planet Explorers caught my eye. Sci-fi sandbox survival? Yes, please! Alien monsters, quests, and multiplayer? Sounds perfect. Well… maybe it’s just that the game was too early at the time or something. It had great reviews on Steam, though. But the multiplayer didn’t work very well. My boyfriend and I struggled to play together. I found the controls and combat to be clunky and frustrating. The graphics were very pretty, the premise was good, but something about it just wasn’t fun. We stopped playing after just a few days.
And then GRAV popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, just as we were abandoning Planet Explorers. Sci-fi sandbox survival? This sounds familiar… Alien monsters, quests, and multiplayer? Hmm. We dove in anyway. And it was fun! GRAV was built using the newest Unreal engine, which meant the controls were smooth, the graphics were beautiful and it was easy and fun to play. It was super early in development, but my boyfriend and I still managed to play the shit out of that game. Unfortunately, though, we dominated it completely within a matter of weeks. Before we knew it, we were standing atop our massive fortress with our jetpacks and our amazing weapons and we had nothing left to conquer. We’ll probably revisit this one after more content has been added. It was a good run.
Life is Feudal had looked interesting for some time, and after running out of content so quickly in GRAV, I was craving a survival game that might be longer lived. While Life is Feudal had pretty good reviews on Steam, many people complained that the gameplay was too slow, and that it was too hard to do anything alone. Excellent. With the way my boyfriend and I can eat through content, this should be perfect, right? …Right? This game was torture. I cannot stress that enough. Unless you’re bringing a guild of 20 people minimum in to this game with you, don’t even bother. Let me tell you how I spent 6 hours in this game. My boyfriend and I found a place to settle together. We built a fire and gathered some very basic materials, but our inventories were filling fast. We needed to build some storage so that we could gather enough materials to build a real shelter and progress. Sounds about right for a survival game, right? Seemed fine up until this point. So, what was the most basic storage container? A barrel. Okay, no problem, let’s make a barrel. What do we need? Some planks, some nails, and a metal band. Sounds like a barrel, okay. Great, how do we make those? Get carpentry to level 60 to make planks, get blacksmithing to level 30ish to make the nails and metal band. Uh. Okay… seems like a lot of levels, but let’s just grind it out. We got the carpentry by just cutting logs a whole lot, but then for the blacksmithing we needed ore. Well, we needed to get mining to like level 30 or something to get the ore. But the only way to work on mining was to level up terraforming to level 60 so that we could dig a hole. Okay, fine. We’ll grind it out. No problem. We wanted a slower experience anyway. Six hours later, we’ve ground these things out and my boyfriend has been clicking away at the ground, trying to dig a hole for literally about the past three hours and has not made more than a dimple in to the earth. I haven’t been able to help him dig because I need to harvest food to keep us from starving to death. We finally stopped and decided this wasn’t fun.
And then I remembered, wasn’t there some game called Rust? Isn’t that a survival game? Reviews were mixed. I guess at some point the devs decided to rebuild the game’s backend, essentially starting over with the development. This upset a lot of people. We decided to give it a shot anyway. And I enjoyed it. It was clearly very early in development when we tried it, so we ran in to the same problem we had with GRAV. We pretty much did everything we wanted to do in the game within about a week and then we felt done with it. It’s another game I’ll have to revisit once more work has been done on it.
By this time Project Zomboid had made leaps and bounds in its development, had multiplayer and structure building. I definitely had to give it another go. It’s really just a great game, I can’t recommend it more. I had a server running for a while for several friends. The main problem we really had was basically that… well, we suck at games. So, the difficulty on my server was turned down a bit to make it a bit more sustainable. But then we ended up with a sort of imbalance and I ended up wanting to play something a bit more hardcore and also more immersive, like in a 3d environment. But Project Zomboid is so good. I needed more zombies.
Steam told me that if I liked PZ, I’d probably also like 7 Days to Die. I’ll admit that the look of the graphics had put me off initially, they’re really not impressive, but after reading in to it a bit more I threw caution to the wind. It had zombies and Minecraft-style building. Like, actually Minecraft-style with giant fucking awkward looking blocks. In a semi-realistic 3d environment. The textures were also pretty terrible to look at. However, it turned out that 7 Days to Die was really fucking fun. And also super fucking scary. My boyfriend and I actually got a few weeks of solid gameplay out of it and enjoyed the hell out of it the whole way. However, as with the other early access games, we ended up conquering the world and ended up with nothing really left to do. We are definitely hoping to revisit this game, though. It was really great.
I tried a couple of survival games after that which weren’t really anything even worth talking about. CastleMiner Z and Unturned. I blame my boyfriend for those. I couldn’t play them for more than a few minutes, so maybe I didn’t give them a fair shake. Really, though, they just played like toilets so I couldn’t be bothered. I have no idea how Unturned has such positive reviews on Steam.
And then ARK: Survival Evolved came out of nowhere. It just showed up and dominated Steam for a while, holding the best selling game spot for quite a while. And rightly so, this game is fucking amazaballs. Fucking character customization, built solely for multiplayer, fucking dinosaurs, killer graphics, uses the Unreal engine so runs smooth as butter, very responsive handling, everything I could ever want in a survival game. And then on top of all that, the devs are updating this thing nearly every other day. Good, substantial updates. Updates for players AND for server admins. I can’t even praise this game enough. And the amount of content. My boyfriend and I have played the shit out of this game. I’ve logged almost 400 hours on Steam and I have not yet conquered this game, but I’ve still made so much progress and had so much fun. The game is just so deep. Just call me The Raptor Whisperer. I haven’t had the chance to get back in to this world in a few weeks because of real life and the kitten and MMOs, but the next time I get the survival itch, this will be the game I’ll be hopping back in to first.