Minecraft-like Boundless To Include PS4 Cross-Play

Boundless [official site] looks like a massively multiplayer Minecraft with portals. When I saw the video from Sony’s press even this morning, I was impressed by the art style but wary of the claims that this single universe, open-world sandbox would be altogether different from the many that I stumble across when picking through Steam on a Monday morning. Should I have been surprised to find Boundless in the Early Access section of Valve’s store, where it has existed for almost a year under the title Oort Online, until a recent switch to this snappier new name? Video and details below.

It looks a treat but I can’t be alone in finding it odd that a game apparently revealed on-stage last night has actually been available for purchase these past twelve months. Steam reviews are ‘mixed’, although most of the complaints focus on the lack of players and things to do rather than issues with the game’s foundations or eventual goals. That’s to say, it doesn’t appear to be bugged and broken. Just a little empty.

Updates have been fairly regular, although I can’t comment on how much they’ve actually added to or improved the game, not having played it myself. Perhaps Sony’s involvement will act as a catalyst, pushing the game toward its ambitious end-point. Changes in the most recent major update, released at the end of last month include character customisation, and new creatures, tools and weapons. There were also useful cosmetic changes (equipment is now visible on characters) along with an overhaul of the user interface.

That last big update had been a long time coming and Wonderstruck address the issue of frequent-versus-substantial releases:

“We don’t plan to leave multi-month gaps between updates, and we’ll certainly try to avoid them as much as possible in the future.”

The 1.0 release had initially been planned for the end of 2015 but because the game is “even bigger” than originally planned, more resources have now been committed to the project and it’ll remain in development for a while longer. The 1.0 release is due sometime next year but the next update should include “a big portion of the Oort Online core gameplay loop”, including the basics of an economy, trading, crafting and land-claims.

Here’s what the devs have to say about their long-term vision:

“Your homeworld in Boundless looks and feels unique, procedurally generated to look like no other. You don’t like it? Hey, acid rain can be a serious drag. No worries! Build a Portal and instantly step into another world in the Boundless universe. Ah, a beautiful pistachio-coloured, livestock-rich nirvana — much better for a farmer like you.

“The universe is huge and disparate. When you open a Portal to a new world you never know what you’ll get — sometimes you’ll thrive, sometimes you’ll have to fight to survive.”

The development of the homeworld and those journeys through portals seem like the key to the game, but there’s more. Huge team-based battles against giant boss creatures sound appealing:

“Search each new world to discover the location of its ancient Titan. Once activated, these huge sentient fortresses menacingly stalk the landscape searching for anything they perceive as a threat. These apex predators are filled with traps and swarming with deadly Protectors.

“Attempted alone, your only hope is to explore, survive and escape with a handful of valuable resources. If you’re feeling brave, call together all the citizens of your adopted world and attempt the impossible — defeat the Titan.”

PvP will come in the form of battles over territory. It’ll be possible to leap through portals into other worlds and claim land there for yourself or your clan. Wannabe colonists and pioneers might face resistance from the inhabitants of new worlds though, whether in the form of AI-controlled creatures or other players.

Boundless is available direct from the developers as well as through Steam Early Access. The former purchase option comes with a Kickstarter-like series of stretch goals, with the maximum buy-in costing £3600. That’ll provide you with all sorts of in-game goodies, as well as the opportunity to design an item and world, and to chat with the developers over Skype once a month.

It’s all brimming with possibilities (as are so many other Early Access games), and perhaps the name change, Sony announcement and eventual cross-platform play will all work in its favour. For now, I’m just going to have a quiet chuckle at Sony’s misinterpretation of the terms “first look” and “new”.

12 Comments

  1. Squishydew says:

    Wont be picking this up until I’ve seen something other then building. maybe combat, or out of the ordinary crafting mechanics, farming and herding with an actual point to it?

    right now it all just seems like a minecraft clone, an incredibly pretty one, but a clone either way.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      Honestly, if any game can ever give me all the flexibility of Minecraft — including all the fun and crazy mods, like power generation and machinery and whatnot — and graphics like Boundless, and see-through instant-travel portals rather than loading screens …

      … yeah, I’d be quite willing to overlook the fact that it’s a “Minecraft clone”. Because cloning something and doing it way better is perfectly legit in my books.

      (Sadly, I expect it’ll be a long time, if ever, until I see something like that.)

      • Premium User Badge

        Qazinsky says:

        I am with you there, I would personally settle for a Minecraft-like where things weren’t “cubey” (except for building blocks, seeing how that makes player building easy yet quite flexible, I am ok with that), some better combat and preferably some kind of progression, I’d be all over that. Minecraft-likes are like the Zombie survival games, there are a ton of them, but few are out of beta or Early access and even fewer has done it the “right”(imo) way.

  2. Crafter says:

    oh, I did not realize that Oort Online had a new name.
    I tried their first alpha. It showed promise but was extremely empty (which was expected for a first alpha).

    • Artist says:

      Did not change much in the past year! Still mostly barren and dull! Development seems to be byond snails pace!
      Guess the negative reviews that stemed from that have been a reason for the rename!

  3. Kollega says:

    Can anybody give me a quick rundown of how this game compares to Minecraft in terms of gameplay, community, technical details, etc etc? Because I’ve been long searching for a Minecraftbut where “but” is “but setting up a multiplayer session on a whim when you want to play with a few friends isn’t a royal pain in the butt”.

    • Artist says:

      Quick version: Just exploring, lack of development, dull, boring, underdeveloped, some good – but untapped – potential! Better visuals than MC, though.

  4. racccoon says:

    Oort not to a game.

  5. brucethemoose says:

    Sony is jealous! They clearly want their own slice of the Minecraft’s immense popularity, and it looks like Boundless is their most recent solution.

    Normally, I’d be skeptical… But with Sony’s bank account and marketing department behind them, I think this game is going places.

  6. snowgim says:

    I’m not sure all these Minecraft clones are a good idea.
    Sure, they might tempt some people away with fancier graphics, but I’d wager the vast majority of players are either already bored of Minecraft or so heavily invested in it that they’ll never leave.

  7. pistachio says:

    So much potential.

    Would have paid 15 euros, just to see the engine; 32 is simply too much for a game that is unfinished, is said to lack content and has a 19 euro dlc button to boot.