Cube World: Its Definitely Hip to be Square
Its been a month since Picroma’s Cube World hit the public with its Alpha release, and its become quite clear that the future of the Voxel revolution is in good hands. Husband and wife team Wolfram and Sarah von Funck have not only developed a game worthy of the attention of gamers everywhere, but more importantly one that overpowered my childlike attention span, and had me coming back day after day to play just a little bit more. If you haven’t had your head in the sand, all you need to know about Cube World is this. You make a cube character, that wears cube clothes, has cube weapons, and lives in a cube world. Now I’m sure this immediately evokes mental images of Minecraft, the last great 3D Voxel game, but Cube World would appear to be both less and more at the same time. In creating the game, Picroma have managed to mash together some of the best gaming franchises in recent memory, crediting inspiration from games such as Minecraft, the Zelda franchise and even World of Warcraft.
On any other day one would be hard pressed to admit it, but more often than not, first impressions are everything. My first impression of Cube World was that the game was simply gorgeous. Its rare that a game can truly be said to “look perfect” and with its use of voxel content, Picroma had an advantage right off the bat, and have potentially already visual perfection. I mean seriously, how much better are cubes gonna get? A broad colour palette makes each biome feel different, and gives the landscapes a unique sense of life. Most map generations drop players in the Greenlands Biome, an area of lush flora, hills, streams and animal life, which when coupled with the game’s unique NPC animations and behaviors, gives some interesting habits and actions to both the player and NPCs. In exploring other biomes, characters are able to experience new contrasting locations, unique colour schemes, NPCs etc. These biomes link together to form a massive amount of space, but perhaps one that could be considered too big.
Players choose one of four “standard” RPG classes, and create characters with an array of potential looks and races. In my own adventures, my ranged character had bows, boomerangs and glaives to choose from for weaponry, and unique sets of Armour to find and make. Other classes included warriors, rogues and mages, who had class exclusive weapons including axes, swords, knives, staffs and wands. Players can go to quest locations given from NPCs and clear dungeons of enemies and a boss, who was usually just a larger, more powerful enemy character. When playing with friends, I initially found my class to be ineffective, and found rogues to be more effective fighters than warriors. If anything could be said for the mages, it was that they were OP from the start. While these issues became irrelevant after a while, in future development I’d like to see the combat more balanced for initial levels. Another important point is that the game doesn’t punish death, which was useful due to the sheer number of times I died, but made fighting a little monotonous and boring after a while. Leveling is currently less in depth than a Pokemon title, but does rewards upgrade points that players can use to upgrade one of two unique sub class abilities, or skills. A system of ever diminishing returns means upgrade points slowly become less and less useful, and a re-spec NPC allows characters to pump all their points into one ability, only to switch them out later. These concepts can prove good or bad depending on the situation, but detract away from the game as much as they add to it.
The game features a fairly in depth item construction system, allowing players to construct various objects from gathered or bought materials. Players are able to collect food items from stores or as loot which can be used to tame wild animals as pets. Pets have their own individual leveling system from players, with certain pets being of certain use to players. Animals such as the tortoise acted as tanks, where as bats could make use of flight. Some pets in the game can be ridden, a mechanic that serves to quicken travel time. In taming pets, the hardest and most frustrating part was finding the food one wanted to procure a particular animal. After buying a hang glider or boat, players can make use of more fast transportation, the boat useful for ocean biomes, the hang glider for large hills and mountains.
Multiplayer allows friends to go questing together, with as many as four, or eight on a carefully modded server. The ability to explore and battle with my buddies is what made the game for me, but in leveling enemies by the most progressed character, huge XP returns led to power leveling which made me skip huge amounts of time I might have spent diligently questing on my own. This definitely needs some rethought, as no one should ever gain 12 levels by killing one boss with their friend. Future plans for online multiplayer include PvP which I can definitely see working for the title, and a proper over-arcing story would help keep interest in the game.Overall, this title has a lot going for it. It looks great, feels great, features quite a few classic RPG activities and its a joy to player with friends. In saying that, Picroma have a lot of work to do. Keeping in mind that the game is only in Alpha, it definitely needs refinements into its current battle mechanics and concepts, as well as adding some new general ones, such as building houses. It would be nice to see the towns in the game filled with some more useful buildings, as well more engaging quests (In terms of an actual “story” the game currently has none). One final nitpick is on beginning a game, where I’m sure players would be grateful for an in-game tutorial. This game is a great buy, it has lots to do and lots to see. Unfortunately it needs to be tinkered with before I can rate it higher, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a go.
At the end of the day, this game is fun. With more content to come, buying Cube World could only be considered an investment, so head over to Picroma go buy it.