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Planet Nomads Preview

Explore strange alien planets and survive in their harsh and often hostile environment in Planet Nomads. Do that by unleashing your creativity to build shelters, vehicles and anything else your mind can think of.

Planet Nomads Preview

INTRODUCTION

If you check the "more like this" section on the Steam page for Planet Nomads you will see that there is plenty of games trying to do the same thing. Generally trying to fill the huge void No Man's Sky left for a lot of players, each game in its own unique way. Planet Nomads, in its current state, goes for the single planet (with plans to expand) with multiple biomes survival and creative building using Lego-like blocks.

Plenty of games go for the survival route, but only a few manage the feeling of true survival, but Planet Nomads could be onto something with mechanics of Empyrion and the feel of Subnautica (only not in water) which is a very good thing. Considering the often hard and bumpy road from Kickstarter to Early access, a lot has been done and it seems the developer is taking his time listening to feedback and tailoring the game for the player.

Planet Nomads is available for purchase on the KeenShop.

GAMEPLAY

When starting a new game in Planets Nomads, you are given a choice between playing in survival or creative mode. As you would expect, survival makes thirst, hunger, heat, cold and other needs and hazards relevant. You have to keep track of their levels on the hud of your exo-suit, mind your surroundings to gather resources (using your multitool) and use them to can craft the things you need to survive. You crash land on a planet that is filled with flora, fauna, and ore with which you can craft most of the few dozen currently craftable objects. On the other hand, in creative mode, you don't have to concern yourself with needs or hazards as well as having everything unlocked and craftable without the need to gather resources.

Planet Nomads Preview Basebuilding

As mentioned, the primary tool you will be using for resource collection is your multitool while a handy jetpack is used for traversal. Multitool usage is simple – you just point it at objects in the environment and wait until they break apart into collectible components. A nice addition to the game is the inclusion of terrain deformation. The multitool can dig holes into the ground and I have yet to find an object that isn't fully deformable or destructible.

Building is a big part of the game, no matter the mode you choose to play in. And I have to give props to the system. Considering the building is block based with no prebuilt structures – it is extremely approachable and simple to use. You transfer the blocks and objects you want to build to the shortcut 1-9 numbers in the lower part of the hud and then just place them anywhere you want in the game world. Left mouse button places them, right mouse button deletes them. Simple as that. The snap-on is pretty accurate and my first makeshift base was constructed pretty fast, complete with foundations, walls, doors, and windows.

Planet Nomads Preview Forest biome

I found that I constructed it much faster than in other games of this type and this transfers to vehicles and just about everything else. It took me 3 minutes (in creative mode) to construct a functional buggy and I was pretty satisfied with it visually too. This process is sure to get more time consuming as more objects and parts are added – but the simplicity of placing them should most definitely remain. You can go pretty wild with the designs even at this stage of development and I have already witnessed people constructing the Millenium Falcon and other pieces of fictional or brand new vehicles and buildings.

It's important to mention that if you have ever played any survival game of this type, you will feel right at home as the mechanics are pretty straightforward without much need for explanations. That being said, the game could do a better job of explaining some of the more obscure mechanics. There is a basic tutorial for new players, but the game can often feel less than it really is due to lack of explanations for some of the mechanics.

Planet Nomads Preview Crazy vehicles

VISUALS AND AUDIO

As you can see in the screenshots, the game looks very good. This carries more weight when you consider the early stage of its development. The environment is vibrant and color saturated and the objects are surprisingly crisp, but the ground could do with some additional texture work. The atmosphere and the weather effects add a layer of immersion and believability to the world with day to night transitions, rain, snow and other, depending on the biome you are in. It still feels a bit unpolished with player character and fauna animations being pretty stiff with clunky movements. The HUD is minimal and very well made. Every piece of information is clearly visible, and additional info about objects and their purpose can pop up once you hover your mouse over them.

Planet Nomads Preview Jungle base
Graphical optimization is a big problem. The game has gotten much better regarding it, but there is still a long way to go. Some of the earlier versions had some players hardly hitting above 30 fps on high-end machines. During my playthrough I had the framerate hover around 50 fps with the occasional dropdowns when I was up high, and a lot of objects were in view. Texture pop-in is ever present but it's probably a way of making the game more stable and playable at higher framerates until it's further developed and optimized. There is little in the way of sound and music with only bare bones of sound effects without much fidelity with a couple of ambient tracks, but nothing memorable.

CONCLUSION

During Kickstarter, Planet Nomads was funded enough for the first tier of gameplay mechanics which are present in this preview version. Further tiers promise more with orbital flight, modding system, more biomes, more objects, unique sound, orbital building and a lot more. The devs even showcased some of it during its Kickstarter lifetime. Hopefully, the game makes full use of the Early Access program to deliver on the promises.

The foundation this small team has built is solid and the game has massive potential to bring together mechanics that are the highlight of other games into a new and exciting whole. Updates are regular and the devs are very responsive and reactive to criticism and advice. If you buy the game, as is always the case with Early Access – set your expectations accordingly as Planet Nomads doesn't offer a lot currently, but you are bound to find a very different, new and improved game each time you start it up again.

Take part in our Planet Nomads giveaway for a chance to win a key for the game so you can check all the above for yourself.

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