Boundless Review

Boundless 1
A huge, connected world that’s thinking with portals
Ambitious. There’s just no better word to describe this impressive online sandbox.
Announced for PS4 at Paris Games Week, it’s a beautifully colourful world where everyone’s connected. Yep, whether you’re on PC or PS4, you’ll share one single universe with the rest of the planet.
“We think players get excited about games that try and do something not seen before,” enthuses game director James Austin. “We wanted to create an open-world sandbox where everyone survives and thrives together. For some players this just clicks and they want it. They’re desperate for something they can put time into, and with Boundless everything they create, everything they craft, every Titan they fell will be visible to every other player. Their actions persist.”Portal combat
While you start off on a unique homeworld, you can travel between different planets and take in the sights of the whole of each globe using a portal system. Open up one of these and you might spill from a barren wasteland into a forest overflowing with crafting materials and resources. “Portals are our way of seamlessly connecting every world, player, and place,” explains Austin. “If your friend has set up home on another world but you still want to be able to play together, then you can physically connect those two worlds with a portal. It’s like a doorway to another location.”
Helpfully, you can even take a look through to see if you fancy what’s beyond. “The portals are live and show you what is currently happening on the other side in real time. You can see people moving around, fighting, crafting and surviving,” Austin says. “Is there a dangerous creature waiting to pounce? Do you need to bring your brolly? Can you safely breathe the atmosphere? Just take a careful look through the portal and hope nothing is staring back.”
If you like the area you arrive in and fancy making it your home, then you can put down a Beacon. “It allows you to claim your own space, a plot of land you control,” Austin explains. “You can share it with friends or your guild to make a collaborative settlement. Once the claim is made, no one else can modify your build or harvest the land. Everything is yours, even the resources. It’s a great way to exploit the economy. But it’s finite. The world outside your Beacon gradually regenerates, whereas inside it doesn’t. So players will need to be really careful and a little tactical in placing them.”
But it’s not just a case of sticking your flag in the ground and building a house, the game wants you to explore new areas, find players to interact with, and see other settlements. “In Boundless you’ll not find every resource within 100m of your spawn point,” confirms Austin. “You need to get out there and explore, find creatures, find new worlds, and push the boundary of what has been discovered. Visiting other player’s claims is where you’ll find a bed for the night, shelter from the storm, and a shop full of supplies. Claiming land with a Beacon defines where your protected builds can exist. Builds outside of your Beacon will gradually degrade – reclaimed by nature. This is an essential mechanism for a single universe where everyone explores and plays together.”
And people playing together is core to Austin’s vision for the game. Combining your own talents and specialities with those of others will be key. “By letting players define their own path, and choose their abilities through progression, we’re allowing them to become known for their skillset,” he explains. “Master builders will be sought to build amazing headquarters for guilds, hunters will be paid to help battle Titans, crafters will create unique gear and run shops that players flock to. Achieving a universe of players that do the things they love doing, and use the economy to sidestep the things they don’t, that would be a success for us.”
Just like fellow ambitious indie No Man’s Sky, Boundless is full of different types of flora and fauna too. “There’s everything from innocent herds of ambient creatures up to the epic, unfathomably unstoppable Titans,” Austin says. “We’re working extremely hard to make sure that every species of creature encountered offers unique gameplay. They’re not simply different sized targets to whack. Each creature can be interacted with uniquely.”
Yours and mine
We can hear you thinking that this all sounds a bit like a certain game that rhymes with ‘inecraft’. It’s definitely an inspiration, but Boundless wants to create something different. “We’re constantly referencing and debating what we consider are the best exemplars for a specific feature,” says Austin. “The success of Minecraft definitely gave rise to voxel games as a genre. We’re all massive fans of Minecraft and its community. We also love sandbox games, and voxel worlds are just a really good basis for sandbox mechanics.”
The team is also looking to other persistent worlds. “EVE Online is a great example for how a strong economy can create really powerful social dynamics. We talk about it a lot,” Austin continues. “In terms of art and character design we’re really trying to do something different. We want to provide strong, interesting characters with loads of customisability.” Want a head start? You’ll find an Early Access portal to the game’s current playable state on Steam.
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