Of course I had to pre-order this one after reading World Without End in The New Yorker. I’ve only played a few evenings, haven’t done anything ambitious, but I’ve learned that when you’re learning something is a good time to write about it.
It’s just really cool bringing your ship in for a landing on a new planet.
There seems to be a consensus that with this game, spoilers are a virtue; I think I would have found it severely frustrating if I’d had to puzzle out all the crap I picked up in a quick scan of Reddit & IGN.
There’s another consensus that, whether or not it’s actually good as a game, the early experience of just wandering around looking at stuff is pretty compelling.
Of course, the quick convenient interplanetary traversals are wildly implausible physically. Charles Stross’ Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera has the details, but I’m not letting them bother me.
Notwithstanding Stross, the fact that humans like inventing new planets (or, in this case, arranging to have them computed) is one of our better features.
I’m giving my systems and planets names like “T. Bray 00003”. Sue me for an unimaginative clod. Except for I fat-fingered the one above, which is now known simply as “T”. And there’s no redo once you hit “upload”, because who’d ever want to fix a typo in the name of a planet?
Which makes me think about the database. There may be a kazillion bajillion planets, but I guess they’re computed on demand. But once I’ve visited one and lit up a few beacons, that has to be persisted. Given that there are likely millions of people playing, I bet the state is aggregating at an alarming rate. I wonder what they’re using? I wonder if they’re on AWS?
There are planets with lots of useful stuff that are radioactive and dangerous, and others that are safe but empty. I suppose nice and fruitful is possible in principle.
Who knew the experience of space travel would be just like that old Windows 3.1 screen-saver with the stars hurtling toward you?
There’s a trick for combining the melee and jetpack buttons to make huge cross-country leaps. I’m not sure it really gets you there faster, but it’s fun.
The scripted parts of the game can be a little mean-spirited; there was this one place where you can get something cool for twenty carbon only I didn’t have any, but there were two plants in the room I could mine, for a total of 19.
I was following a beacon signal towards a new planet when I came under fire — still haven’t figured out who was shooting. I twisted and scrambled and accelerated and came in for a hard landing on the nearest moon, where the attacker wouldn’t follow. Is that space opera or what?