(Review) Boundless

So if you’ve never (somehow) played Minecraft up to this point or you you’re not tired of playing it, but you are looking for something a bit “more”, Boundless might just be what you’re looking for. There have been many games lately trying to join in on the massive-building-survival-sandbox genre and quite a few have either gone by the wayside while in development or have failed after launch. There’s no shortage of them, but still. Many fail to grasp that initial feeling that Minecraft gave players, including myself. That’s not to say that there aren’t decent ones out there or even great ones, but does Boundless have the chops to stand on its own or simply be referred to as “yet another clone?” Let me break it down for you.

I found a city! There were creatures still walking around the city looking for my blood. There is no safe place here!

To tell you where I’m coming from, I’ve played the game without assistance for about ten plus hours on and off when I stopped to compile my thoughts a bit. Boundless does feel like Minecraft did back in the vanilla days. I really hate to compare it so much, but that’s what it brought to my mind. There are vast worlds to explore only this time they aren’t truly in biomes only, they are on completely different planets. (Maybe it’s more like No Man’s Sky without space ships? I haven’t played it.) You’ll start out by picking the planet you want to colonize and off you go through a portal. This is the main appeal to the whole Boundless experience. Whole worlds being connected by these portals (that you can see through in real-time) that you walk through and “poof!” you’re on a completely different planet, super-far away… without a loading screen! You’ll be needing to go to different planets to get different resources for building cooler looking homes and more useful equipment (as per the survival norms).

Speaking of equipment, crafting is where the game lacks a little for me (or mainly the menus). It’s not that it’s hard to work the crafting tables or anything, but figuring it all out on how to start after the initial “tutorial” gets you setup with a basic place of residence. I found myself needing “simple” and “very common” ingredients and not having a single stinking clue on how to get them. It took me a while to look through all of the menus to realize (and it’s probably just me and I’m ok with that) that there is a Knowledge Menu that tells you how to build everything and what equipment you’ll need to do it. To be honest, I got confused with the menu system and how many different ones there were attached to different hot-keys. It seems like such a crappy thing to whine about, but it did annoy me. That and you could switch from the Exchange Menu to the Character Menu with the touch of a button, but not the other way around. (Sometimes it’s the small things.)

Confirmed: You can’t dig through the planet. That made me sad.

So you’ve got every bit of knowledge there at your fingertips… what do you do with it? You start. It’s that simple. Follow the Objectives as a guideline to moving up in the world because it does actually create a fairly decent path to upward mobility. As you progress, you’ll notice something that becomes blatantly obvious. You can’t find everything you need on the planet you start on. You’ll soon need to go to a different planet to gather more resources. For some reason, you can build a portal for free and connect it to another close by planet (or if you’ve leveled up and specked into it, a planet that’s much farther away), but it costs money to use it and it’s destroyed after you use it. You’ll need to build one to get back as well and pay to use it too and don’t forget that it is also destroyed afterwards. Finishing Objectives and trading with other people is the only way to get more credit. (I’ll come back to this in a second.)

The game proper seems a bit slower paced than I would anticipate as well. At least in the beginning. Hitting baddies and materials while you dig/mine/harvest seems much slower than I would like. Leveling up actually matters here as well. There is legitimate progression in Boundless. You’ll need to choose how you are going to specialize as you go. Will you go full crafting or fighting? How will you fight? What will you fight with? I believe there’s healing in there as well, but I’m not sure how to do that yet. As you specialize into something, you’ll get better at it and the more options you have in what you can craft and how hard and fast you hit come around. There’s a lot to explore here and figure out.

You can make portals that don’t close as you progress too so the possibilities open up more as you continue playing.

With that, Boundless doesn’t really feel like the type of game that’s best played solo. Some of the higher events to get better crafting materials will basically require you to go in a group to conquer them. I’ve read stories of some players doing the meteor fights solo where you go and fight a bunch of flying enemies who suck. I can’t imagine doing it solo as fighting one can be rough because they tend to hang out in groups and they don’t like being hit or shot. If you run out of money, you may need to find a way to get to another planet and back to get more resources to be able to progress to either finish more Objectives or sell to other people (which obviously requires other people to have a transaction take place).

A big negative to some players is the cash shop. I’m not sold that this is a negative as a whole. You can’t buy crafting materials, but plots of land and cosmetics and getting rid of the necessity to refuel your Beacon that stops other people from breaking your house. (The beacon timer is crazy long with “crappy” fuel, but I can see the desire in not having to worry about it.) It’s basically for people to be able to build up a giant plot of land to make a city (usually with other people). If you don’t like the amount of experience needed to keep leveling past the max, you can buy a new character spot to have characters who specialize in a specific task faster… but you can also buy one with cubits. It’s pretty prevalent in the menus, but I don’t see the reason to hate on it. It is optional and I don’t see this really breaking the game. The only thing that could ruin the experience for me is if PVP was a real thing and people putting plots around your plot to block you in (because some people are jerks). Luckily the planets are pretty big so someone would have to be pretty spiteful to do that. Luckily people aren’t that horrible… right?

Those are some big asks right there. Especially after you paid for the game. However, you don’t need to because you get these in the game for free. If a “whale” wants to buy a planet… let him do that, just go to a different one.

Further Reading on Boundless: Facebook / Official Page / Steam / Twitter

Unfortunately, I think Boundless came around the time that I could have dropped any desire I had to play Minecraft and switch over, but just doesn’t quite do it for me. Even when the combat gets better as you level, there’s something fundamentally off about it for me that I’m not sure I can get past. That aside, Boundless is well polished and expansive. It’s a beautiful game that runs a crap-ton smoother than I would expect it to with all of the people playing and portals active at the same time. It’s a great community simulator and there are people who are really enjoying themselves. There’s just not enough for me currently and I’m not great at making friends online since I stopped playing World of Warcraft. I have no shame about that. If the price of entry was $20 instead of $40, I could see being able to have my friends jump on board and probably enjoy myself more. Boundless is a cool game that has a lot of what I want, but just doesn’t grab hold of me at this point.

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