I’ll admit to having been hooked on both Terraria and Minecraft for quite a while. I’m a builder at heart, and putting the most literal interpretation of a sandbox game at my fingertips is a very good way to lose me for days at a time. There’s something undeniably satisfying about being given tools and a world, then left to your own devices to decide what to do with it. For many, such games never have a chance to take root in the mind due to the lack of direction. Building for the sake of building isn’t for everyone. The steady march of updates has given players of other sandbox titles plenty of things to do in addition to feed the lego-lobe of their brains, but what if the scope and variety had been there from the start, built in instead of patched in? I think the answer to that question is Planets3.
From the first glance, Planets3 is an incredibly ambitious game. The main visual it presents to you is a striking one, a cubic planet, each surface covered with lush biomes and voxel weather. Even the most superficial glimpse should let you know that there’s more going on here than a simple attempt to replicate the success of Minecraft. The simple addition of angled blocks, for example, gives the world a much smoother, more organic feel to it. Even in the game’s very alpha state, the environments feel more natural that many games in the genre.
Let’s dig deeper, though. When visiting the Kickstarter Page, the game presents itself first as an RPG. Missions, adventures, and advancement are at the very core of the game’s design. You’ll encounter natives who will ask you to help them, and in exchange will provide you with their services as builders, cooks, goldsmiths, and more. You didn’t just come to this world to punch down a tree and kill some monsters. There are mysteries to be solved! Now yes, to solve these mysteries some monsters will have to die, but Planets3 plans to give you just as much flexibility in your combat as it does in your architecture. Loads of weapons, tons of fighting styles, and loads of places to use them. You’ll encounter dungeons, complete with bosses. And to get to them you’ll use perhaps my favorite addition to the formula of them all; vehicles.
One of the most bothersome aspects of any game with a truly epic scale is getting from point A to point B. GTA and vehicular games of that nature make this aspect fun by giving the player cars to steal, but that’s hardly in the creative spirit. Planets3 plans to extend your crafting skills to Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts-style car construction. Much as I enjoyed laying cart tracks and saddling up a pig to ride randomly, I get the feeling I’d have enjoyed Minecraft a bit more if I could blast across the landscape in a souped up motorcycle or tear up the skies in a custom starcraft. Yes, that’s right. You can progress from digging holes to leaving orbit.
If you’re afraid that all of this structure and narrative is going to cramp your style, fear not. The game is designed to be modifiable, with a full-scale editor one of the stretch goals. You can set up multiplayer worlds with your own custom tweaks to build the experience you want, then invite friends and explore together.
Planets3 is in the final days of funding via Kickstarter, so if you would like to see this game take off, I suggest you get over there and give them a hand. It is a game with a tremendous amount of promise, and I’d love to see where they (and we) can take it.