Worlds Adrift is described as an unscripted sandbox MMO with real-time physics. It's currently in closed beta and developed by Bossa Studios who are using some surprising new tech in the development process making it look like a pretty unique game. However, the MMO market is booming and it remains to be seen how it will stack against the usual combat/craft/loot formula of many of its competitors. Let's check out what's currently in the game and what are the plans for the future.
Worlds Adrift is available for purchase at Steam for 31,99€.
STORY AND GAMEPLAY
Since the game is still in beta, it's light on story elements. What's here are bits and pieces of info that will tell you a bit about how the world in which the game takes place was basically shattered due to a cataclysm. This is a great excuse for the current state of the world as it consists of floating islands which the players themselves create in a free external software that's completely free, even if you don't own the game.
Right off the bat, that right there is one of the great positives of the Words Adrift. I have to admit that I spent more of my time with the game in the island creator than playing around as a character. It's a really great, intuitive and simple-to-use tool that basically enables you to create islands to your heart's desire in the same manner that the developers themselves do it.
It's also a tool incredibly easy to update with new features and objects thus making its future potential huge in terms of player created content. It also offers you the ability to instantly explore and admire your creations as a character within the tool which certainly saves time and helps you see if everything works from the boots on the ground perspective.
As far as the regular game goes. It's a play on the standard formula of crafting, exploration, and survival. When starting, you are met with a character creator featuring only a couple of presets with a handful of options for hair and clothing. Upon completing your character, you are thrust into a randomly or user generated island. You spawn into a room where the exit is seemingly beyond your reach. That is until you discover that you are in possession of a Just Cause-like grappling hook and can climb vertical surfaces, much like Link in Zelda: Breath Of The Wild. Later on, there is even a craftable wingsuit for faster traversal.
Pair these mechanics with a pronounced physics engine applied to most objects in the game world and you have a formula for a very fun traversal and the world ripe for exploration and experimentation. Sure, the system is far from perfect. It can be clunky with body parts going through the environment, or your character getting mangled while using the hook but that's sure to improve as the development continues.
The game currently lacks any real objective and direction other than giving a vague "gather knowledge" using your scanner. Although this can be attributed to the fact that the game is not yet finished, I actually like this as it incentivizes exploration and the sense of wonderment. Knowledge is gained by scanning almost any and all objects and represents the currency with which you buy skills and upgrades.
Other floating islands are clearly visible around the one where you are situated and you'll very quickly strip your island of resources and explore everything worthy of exploring, so naturally, you'll want to go to those other islands. You do this with either the wingsuit, mad grappling skills or, another big part of Worlds Adrift – constructing your own flying ship.
The knowledge scanned from the environment is used to unlock different schematics which along with resources are used to construct your ship at designated locations around the islands. They will serve their purpose of getting you from point A to point B but they are painfully slow and not very fun to control although building them to your liking can be. There are also the basic shooting mechanics, either with handguns or using cannons when flying a ship which came in handy as even though I rarely encountered other players, when I did, they've mostly been hostile.
Despite that, my interactions with some players provided hilarious situations of perpetual killing, island sharing and constantly trying to one up each other. It's these kinds of spontaneous moments that made Worlds Adrift shine. These kinds of situations surely occur more often and are more fun when playing with a group of friends.
VISUALS AND AUDIO
Although the game is not finished, the prevalent art style is really amazing. The cartoony graphics look and feel great managing to stand on their own even as more and more MMO's opt for this kind of visual style instead of the nitty gritty realistic one. What supplements the art style, along with the peaceful and slow exploration and crafting is the beautiful and calm soundtrack.
With that being said, the game is not without its problems as other sounds are severely lacking, and the game can feel quiet and bland if it weren't for the music. The game also had frequent FPS drops and freezes when seemingly nothing intensive was happening on screen. But this, along with the problem of character animations and general clunkiness can be ironed out as the game gets closer to completion and is optimized for the full release.
Worlds Adrift, as it is now, doesn't offer a whole lot, but what is here can be very fun. The developers have put forth great ideas that need more development time and polish to reach their full potential. The traversal, the physics, the ships and the game world come together to form a unique experience that is only bolstered by the island creator. This ensures longevity and diverse content that comes right from the book of Bethesda's mod friendliness that keeps their games relevant years after release.
I found the lack of direction and the focus on exploration to be refreshing as I didn't feel like I'm competing against someone, even when I did. Minecraft is another game that evoked such feelings and Worlds Adrift certainly has the potential to become something similar. The game is still in early access so as always, despite the preview, set your expectations accordingly and if possible, bring a few friends and you will surely have a good time.