need to know
What is that? A spatial sandbox that allows you to establish your own industries and trade in a player-driven economy
Expect to pay: £10.49 / $15 per month
Publication date: Now get out
Publishing house: Novaquark
Review of: AMD Ryzen 5 3600, Nvidia GeForce 2080 Super, 32 GB RAM,
Multiplayer? en masse
Link: Official website
My first attempt to reach space in the Dual Universe ended in disaster. I bought a space bike, which is an incredibly ambitious space simulation powered by the space-viable Novaquark, with the intention of making a test flight to one of the moons near the planet Alioth. But through a combination of ignorance and helplessness, I failed to escape the planet’s gravitational pull, and ended up crashing 60 kilometers from the nearest transport.
In Dual Universe, distance is measured on a 1-1 scale, and without the means to repair my bike, I was facing a two-hour ride back to civilization. Having already struggled with the game’s byzantine systems in every guise, I was tempted to ditch it entirely.
After a bit of excitement, I sat back down and moved on. And while not exactly exciting, the long drive home was more interesting than I expected. You see, the planets and major moons of the Dual Universe are not environmentally uniform, and as I traveled I passed through wind-sculpted deserts, lush forests, and grassland plains. I also saw many player-built structures, from prefabricated houses to elaborate industrial complexes, all with spaceships parked nearby. At one point, I spent fifteen minutes traveling along the bottom of a lake, and came across several player facilities built beneath the waves.
It gave me a sense of what was happening in other parts of the world, and by the time I finally got back to civilization, I felt like moving on. And this kind of encapsulates what it’s like to play Dual Universe. It’s a deliberately dark, regularly frustrating, and arguably unfinished experience. But hiding beneath the confusion of its many systems are moments vision.
The sky is the limit
Broadly speaking, Dual Universe is a hybrid of EVE Online, No Man’s Sky and Factorio, with a bit of Minecraft thrown in. It aims to be a fully simulated player-driven sandbox, giving players the tools to build their own structures, design ships, and create their own interstellar enterprises that are part of a dynamic economy.
You literally descend into this universe as a lone pioneer, given a patch of territory to claim as your own in the game’s opening moon Haven, before descending into the plot of your choice. Then you set up your starting habitat (I chose a flash futuristic villa with its own miniature track), deploy your starting vehicle, a speeder, and get a crash course in how the game’s voxel-based creative tools work.
From now on, you are theoretically free to do whatever you want and start building your own legend within the Helios system. In practice, you will probably go into the soil to find out what you have should doing Dual Universe’s learning curve is more of a launch pad, with dozens of interconnected systems to learn early in the game. Building, mining, crafting, laying industrial pipelines, two different types of flight mechanics, a labyrinthine talent system that dictates a huge amount of what you can and can’t do in different professions. Something as seemingly simple as buying and selling items on the market has its own tutorial the will it must be crossed.
It’s a scary prospect, and the great irony is that what you need to do at this early stage is very simple: break the rocks. Planets are scattered with randomly generated surface minerals that can be mined with your universal tool. These minerals are the basis for developing more complex materials, but they can also be sold en masse for a small but easily obtainable income. Once you have a few hundred million under your belt, you can buy independent mining units that passively mine ore and can be calibrated roughly once a day to deliver a piece of ore.
The problem with doing this is that eBay is not in the Dual Universe. To sell anything in the game, you have to take it to the market like a medieval farmer. And depending on where you originally set your flag, your starting point could be 20, 50, even 100 miles from the nearest market, which is a long trip at your starting speed. As a result, Dual Universe’s schedule is pretty miserable, as you drive to the market, drop off a big bag of rocks, go home, get more rocks, and then throw them back.
There are a couple of ways to escape this systemic chain gang. You can buy a new territory control unit and take a shuttle to the planet Alioth, where you can claim a new piece of land with rarer and more valuable minerals. But when you claim your first piece of land on a new planet for free, that land is subject to a weekly tax of 500,000 units (or two or three hours of surface ore mining). I don’t understand why he plays the game. To prevent people from claiming unused land, Novaquark can have the game deactivate its claim after, say, a week of not logging in. Arbitrarily taxing players in imaginary lands with a centralized fictional body is absolutely disgusting.
The alternative is to use your ore in a craft project, the results of which you can use yourself or sell on the market. But there are two issues here. First of all, doing anything remotely useful in Dual Universe requires multiple processes, and unlike Factorio, which starts you at the beginning and methodically works you through each process, here you start with what you want to do, before working backwards to figure out how to do it. that’s difficult when something as simple as a storage container has nearly a dozen nested components. Oh, and everything you craft by hand has a timer attached to it. If you want to build an assembler to start automating the crafting process, you’re working on about an hour to go from raw materials to final product.
The other thing is that even once you’ve made something, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to sell it. As mentioned, Dual Universe’s economy is driven by its players. But being a new game with a relatively small player base, the economy hasn’t had a chance to settle in yet, so it’s hard to know what to make and where to sell.
In short, every system is overwhelmed and difficult to deal with. At the same time, there’s a nagging sense that, despite the launch to v1.0, the Dual Universe isn’t really finished. The play area is currently limited to a single star system, with the “Space” section of the game’s map menu grayed out. The planets you explore are topographically beautiful, but largely inert, with no weather systems and no wildlife beyond a few pixelated birds and butterflies. The few basic shipping missions the game offers seem like a quick attempt to make up for the lack of experience in curation.
Basically, getting anything out of Dual Universe is hard work and only occasionally fun. Anything, that is, except the ships themselves. Honestly, of all the mistakes Dual Universe makes, the biggest one isn’t to immediately point to your nearest ship dealer and take to the air as quickly as possible, because flying is all about flying in this game. wonderful.
Dual Universe’s flight model leans towards simulation without falling into the control tower of realism. Ships are relatively easy to control, but handling is affected by engine power, fuel type, torque, gravity, as well as the mass of your current inventory. As a result, even the simple jump from your house to the local market requires careful and careful flying, as you need to control your altitude so you don’t crash into the ground, and carefully adjust your speed as you approach the landing bay, keeping an eye out for other players as well. vessels that may be parked or landing/taking off themselves.
Flying between planets is even better. Leaving the surface of a planet is a tricky business, as the planet’s gravity tries to hold you down, and the rapidly thinning air makes it difficult to maintain altitude. Get it right, though, and your speed will begin to rapidly increase from hundreds of km/h to tens of thousands. Spaceflight itself is all about managing your acceleration and deceleration, because at high speeds it takes several minutes to decelerate, and if you start that process too late, you’ll smash into the planet like a dart.
Aside from some LOD pop-ins on the planets, this is all completely unified. In fact, it’s one of the best examples of flightless space planets I’ve seen in a game. For example, if you’re flying a hybrid ship (one that can do both space and planetary flight), there’s a wonderful moment when your blue atmospheric engines shut down, and your orange space thrusters slowly kick in, pushing you inside. the gap
The Dual Universe is in trouble. It tries to bring together a wide range of systems, but none of them do as well as the games that borrow those ideas. Its difficulty curve is so steep that many players will slide long before they see the game at its best. Doing almost anything requires you to go through seventeen different steps, one of which you’ll inevitably miss and then have to start the whole process over. But hidden beneath it all is a palatable space sim with some powerful creation tools and a truly great flying experience. It is certainly not for everyone, but it is not a failure either, and for a certain type of brain, all its circles will be a cat juggling.