Planet Explorers Early Access Review
By Nathaniel Liles
I had to wait a good long time to even play Planet Explorers, much to the annoyance of everyone involved. The non-gaming laptop I had been confined to for the last few months could run Far Cry 3, Alan Wake, and many other demanding games steadily (albeit at minimum settings), but Planet Explorers refused to launch. I didn’t even get an error message, it just booped away and it was gone. So, now that I’m running with an 8 core CPU and a GTX 760, I can finally, finally fire up the Planet Explorers Early Access and take a look around this massive, inhabited, minable, craftable world. My friends have all been anticipating this game quite a bit, so let’s see if Planet Explorers was worth the wait.
The first of many game modes I tackled was Story Mode, where you crash land on a strange and randomly generated land and have to complete a number of tasks to go from completely screwed to thriving. So I begin by going through an entirely too thorough and boring tutorial to teach me basic inventory management and item use. Next, I walk. And I mean I walk. It takes ages to reach anywhere you need to go, and the landscape on the way, although beautiful at first, gets boring when you realize that there is nothing. Flat grassland with a couple hills, randomly scattered plants and animals, and too many things that are too strong for you to kill make this a tedious and boring experience right from the get-go. There is a fast travel system, but it costs meat to use. Meat. Quests include killing unlabeled animals with ridiculous and confusing names, most of which aren’t enough for you and the two NPCs you can bring along to help. You’ll also be asked to do the same quests over and over again to convince people to join you very early in the game. Instead of killing 12 Wigwerbly Flonnis Crats, you have to kill 3, go back and get another quest to kill three, then repeat the process until you’ve killed 12. It is madness. Next, I tried out Adventure Mode. Here, you make your character, select a couple options for your randomly generated planet, and then do the exact same thing as Story Mode, but with even less to do. Buildings look like an awful Minecraft texture pack, characters have little to nothing important to say, and to open a door, you have to click on it, open a menu, and select “open”.
Building (not to be confused with crafting, which is convoluted and requires you to travel insane lengths to gather materials for even the most basic items), is actually a fairly fleshed-out system that allows you to build all kinds of things. Buildings, weaponry, tools, vehicles and more can apparently be designed and implemented here, but the process is hard to learn, and if you’re going to sink this much time into a game, this isn’t the game to do it.
Aesthetically, this game is actually fine to look at and listen to, aside from some characters sitting right smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. Environments (when devoid of buildings, at least) look fine, and the grass and large landscape set pieces look great, but unfortunately, this game has inexplicably high system requirements. This computer I just built can run Far Cry 3, GTA IV, and Skyrim, with mods, maxed-out settings, a good frame rate, reliable stability, and AA all over the place. Planet Explorers runs like it just sprained its ankle.
All in all, do not purchase this game yet. It’s a wreck, it won’t run worth a damn on most computers, crafting is convoluted and entirely too central to gameplay considering how badly done it is, and the one cool mechanic, building things, takes forever to learn, and the end product of that isn’t even a proper 3D model, it’s a LEGO set that you can wave around like a sword. As far as actual gameplay goes, Planet Explorers is like a single-player version of the most boring, grindy MMORPG you’ve ever played. Almost all of the time you spend playing this game will be spent walking in a single direction through an unpopulated wasteland. I hate to see a game with so much hype and potential amount to such a hot mess, but after waiting so long to play and review this, I was extremely disappointed, and I think many of our readers would also be very disappointed. If you’re just great at making the most of customizable, randomly generated games, Planet Explorers might be worth a passing glance, but for those of us who have already found a suitable game world to make our own, Planet Explorers is just an overly ambitious copycat trying to ride the wave of popularity brought on by other randomly generated games.