Empyrion 8.0 Review

Empyrion: Galactic Survival Alpha 8.0 was released today, and is available as an Early Access game on Steam.  I began playing the game last year, during the Alpha 5 stage, and the game has come so far since then!  The Alpha 8.0 update has made the biggest improvements to the game of all the major updates I’ve experienced since I began playing.

*****Author interruption: I didn’t change this review in the previous 6 months, despite the fact that all of my feelings and thoughts of the game had changed.  I still felt some tiny fondness for my original experience of the game that I didn’t want to discourage people from trying it themselves.  However, after learning that things have only gotten worse since I quit playing, I felt it’s important to share the updated review I posted on Steam when I quit playing.  Also, if you continue to read this first review, please keep in mind that I hadn’t been able to really play the new version when I wrote this.  I thought some changes would be good, then discovered how it felt to play with those new features–and it wasn’t good.  The Steam review is included below the original.*****

The most significant changes are with the star system itself: now there’s the ability to play in a randomly generated system with much bigger planets and varying sizes of planets, new types of moons, the ability to have more than one moon orbiting a planet*, and planets and special things in space have randomly selected names as well.  You can also choose to play in the original star system, if you prefer, with the same planets and star map each time (terrain and POIs are still randomly placed according to the seed you use for your game).  The original star system (in the Akua-Omicron scenario) has also been enhanced with planets of varying sizes, and the new moon types.

(* The Default Random scenario does not include multiple moons for any of the planets yet, but you can customize your solar system configuration file.)

The new desert moon features sandy craters, mountains, and desert varnish.

All of the planets in Alpha 8.0 have been enhanced in many ways beyond the varied sizes–but the larger planets are truly amazing and more immersive for me.  The planets now have multiple biomes; for instance, the temperate planets have lakes, swamps, grasslands and savannas, deserts, forests, mountains and possibly a rare oasis!  (I haven’t listed all the biomes found on the temperate planets, but enough to let you know how much variety there is on every planet.)

On top of all of those improvements, there are no more barriers on the planets or moons, and you can traverse the polar regions.

Some moons are larger than the former planet sizes!

The NPC AI has improved significantly: wildlife has much more natural behaviour and reactions to the players, and some critters will join forces and become a group or even a swarm.  Some areas of planets are hot spots for certain creatures and pose new survival challenges.  Enemy troops can now patrol their important POIs, so be prepared for a gun fight when you’re approaching unknown structures!

The exploration gameplay in Empyrion: Galactic Survival has also been enhanced by the introduction of a scanners to point you toward ore deposits and POIs, and a “Fog of War” that helps you see where you’ve been on the planets and moons.  If you spawn on a planet or arrive at it by using a teleporter, the FoW will be completely opaque on your map until you explore the area, but if you reach the planet or moon from space the FoW will be transparent.

The Fog of War is not used in PvP gameplay, and is only for assisting players with exploring the large planets and moons.  Perhaps sensors and radar will be added to the game in the future, but I’m happy to have the exploration aspect improved so much.

The Default Random scenario features new survival challenges.

If you play the new scenario with a randomly generated star system, you’ll be able to enjoy a new survival experience at the beginning of your game.  You start off with only your indoor suit and a few supplies, so you’ll need to pay much more attention to your environment.  You’re practically defenseless at the start of the game, but a small survival constructor is now built into your suit, enabling you to construct basic devices, drinks and food.  You can construct a survival tool to help you collect resources and defend yourself from wildlife, plus a mobile air conditioner to help you manage the temperatures when you have no armour to protect you.

The new default scenario features a unique starter planet with some moderately radiated biomes–light armour is enough to protect you in these areas, but you need to hold off on going there until you’ve progressed enough.  When you have a suit of armour, you can dive underwater and salvage materials from crashed ships!  There are also new floating POIs that also prevent you from visiting until you have a Small Vessel, making progression in your early levels much more rewarding.

The game has had many more changes as well, with improvements to everything from crafting recipes to graphics.  There are new missions, including a new story mission for the Default Random scenario.  Managing your health in the game is more important than ever before because new status effects have been added, and conditions can worsen significantly if treatment is delayed too long.  A simple thing like indigestion can get quite uncomfortable for your avatar if you ignore it, but there are plenty of natural remedies for your afflictions now.  You can learn more about the status effects, new crafting recipes, and more from new PDA entries, so you’ll never be left trying to guess what treatment you’ll need to stay healthy and survive in greater comfort.

Empyrion: Galactic Survival has been my favourite game since I began playing last year.  I’ve put in nearly 1450 hours at the time of writing this post, and I’ve really enjoyed how the game has progressed in one year!  The developers, Eleon Game Studios, are constantly working on the game, and this is a fantastic time to start playing if you haven’t tried it already.  The game is still in its Alpha development stage, but when bugs arise the developers are generally quick to fix issues.  I must let you know that this unfinished game is better and much more fun than the “finished” games in my collection!  I’m certainly looking forward to conquering a new star system over the next few months–I know I’ll have hundreds of hours of fun playing with my friends, and working on custom bases and vessels.  I encourage you to join in and experience the fun yourself!

 

***Updated review posted on Steam in October, 2018 is included below.****

 

I played this game for roughly 1 and a half years, put in 1500+ hours playing and used to rent a server for MP gaming. It was once my favourite game. However, it has changed so much since I bought it.

It seems the devs are determined to develop the fun out of the game, as they continuously introduce more and more grind to the early stage of the game, rather than add more mid and late game content. In addition, any complaints about the start of the game are resolved by creating a whole new New Start with every major update the game has had since I began playing.

The devs are quite responsive to positive feedback, and gameplay suggestions that specifically slow progression–and if it can break immersion too, that’s a bonus and ensures the idea will be implemented at the earliest possible moment. For example, the mobile device used to construct your needed items in the start of the game was too sensical, and required strategic choices when going out to collect resources. It’s somehow better to have a magical, invisible constructor in your pajamas that lets you process ore into ingots, and construct a mobile air conditioner almost as large your own body! Let’s not forget taking away the hand drill so players need to make a tool that uses your stamina to create some energy beam to hit rocks (and trees) over and over until they fall apart.

What’s worse, the community is very toxic and cannibalistic, filled with many jealous and insecure people who seek validation through the upvotes on the Workshop uploads. Then vicious gangs form and attack from the shadows by downvoting every other creation shared that wasn’t built by a member of their group–surely they believe each and every thumb down is a cold and hurtful stab to the heart, just as it is to them!

I do not recommend this game to anyone, except possibly screenshot enthusiasts. It’s a pretty enough game, but you might try the Creative Mode to skip over the dissatisfying gameplay.

 

© 2018 – 2019, Starwing. All rights reserved.

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