In Planet Explorers, an RPG currently in early access, you do as the title implies; explore planets. Given the interesting inhabitants and workable mechanics, the game is generally fun. But, other than its deep building mode, there’s little that makes this title stand out.
In Planet Explorers, you begin in the year 2287 with your spaceship having just crashed down on a strange planet. You made it out of the crash just fine, but your shipmate didn’t fair so well, and she needs some medical attention. You’ll need to search your immediate surroundings to find supplies in order to help her out. This short mission essentially serves as the game’s tutorial, as you’ll learn many of the gameplay mechanics while beating it.
From then on, the game opens up, giving you the ability to tackle the planet in any way you choose. You’ll occasionally be given missions by NPCs, and the story does advance, but, generally, it’s more of a justification for you being on and exploring the planet rather than a comprehensive narrative.
Outside of exploration, players will spend their time protecting colonies from invading lifeforms, negotiating with other species, gathering resources and crafting. Money, which can be used to buy equipment upgrades, tools, etc., is earned by killing random creatures and selling their meat. In order to build a colony or build upon a colony, a player will need to obtain crafting materials, which can be acquired through actions such as chopping trees. Once the player has enough material, they can craft a large variety of items, weapons, etc..
While exploring the game’s world, you’ll find a huge amount of unique and intriguing animals. Everything from hammer-head dinosaurs to giant flying birds roam the land (with many hoping you’ll be their lunch). The variety in these creatures keep the game fresh; there were numerous times while playing when I’d walk up to an animal knowing it would likely lead to my demise (and many times it did), simply so I could get a better look.
The game’s environments are colorful and varied, though not as brimming with detail as other modern titles. The game’s world is certainly fun to explore, and one could get lost for hours simply roaming the land, though random creatures attacking you can sometimes make this a challenge. Combat in the game is workable, though generic, and the game’s graphics are solid, though not special.
Outside of the game’s story is an “adventure mode,” which allows players to play on a randomly generated planets, giving them the ability to choose the climate (rainy, dry and temperate) and biome (grassy, forest, dessert or red-stone). While in this mode, players can complete randomly generated missions and generally do everything else you can do in the game’s story mode.
The game does feature a detailed and fairly intuitive building mode, which allows you to create custom weapons, vehicles, etc.. You can convert these creations to in-game items, which you can craft once you receive enough supplies. The depth of this mode will keep many people hooked, while those who aren’t typically fans of item-creation won’t have their minds changed.
Planet Explorers also features a multiplayer mode, which offers both cooperative and 16 vs. 16 competitive matches. Given the game’s unique creatures and detailed building mode, I would imagine multiplayer matches are interesting and fun, though at this point the game is still in Alpha mode, and because of that, a playable match was nearly impossible to find.
Overall Planet Explorers is a fun game which certainly has its good qualities, but there are few things that truly make it stand out among a crowded PC market. Still, I applaud the game for the things it does right, namely its huge open world and fascinatingly odd creatures. I look forward to seeing the final product.