Early Access Impressions: Hurtworld

Hurtworld [official site] is the latest multiplayer craft-me-do to go flying off Steam’s shelves, in the vein of Rust and its many followers. But, I suspect this one – despite being absolutely packed with features – is too early. It’s brilliant that you can build and race cars, but it’s dreadful that the crafting interface doesn’t have even the most basic elements in place.

So, as is achingly familiar at this point, you begin dumped on a beach (albeit without any sea) with nothing, for no reason, and no idea where to go. But you’re hungry. Dear God, you’re hungry. Charging about, I gathered sticks and stones until I had enough to craft myself an axe and pickaxe, and then set about gathering more sticks and stones. Why? Because I’ve played so many survival games that I’m pre-programmed to do so. I’d deliberately picked a quiet server, because I’m scared of other people, and always think I’m intruding when I pick one, but the world bore no signs of life at all – beyond a few rabbit-things. And so to crafting.

The interface, which I think at this point should be the very first thing a team creates when making such a game, is very poor. Needlessly nested sections duplicate their contents across the confusing window, while displays of which ingredients are necessary aren’t highlighted or faded to indicate whether you have enough of anything in your inventory to make it. Just rudimentary stuff, really.

However, with sticks and stones I could build a workbench (with a circular saw!), and with that I can suddenly build a ludicrous range of home DIY equipment. (Seriously, it includes an automatic assault rifle, skater beanie, and a working fridge.) Were I to possess the necessary components of course, which reveal themselves without having previously been encountered, and offer quite remarkable recipes like creating a reel of string from an animal bone. Quite the trick.

Hunger is, as is so tediously often the case in these games, an incessant nag from the opening moment. My character, apparently male, occasionally declares to me how incredibly hungry he is. So food then – I desperately hoped that if I could take down a decent sized animal, I’d have enough meat to put that fuss aside for a moment and better explore what the game offers.

Despite creating a spear, I managed to kill a deer-thing by brutally stabbing it to death with a pickaxe, and then – rather tidily – it dropped a rare steak of its flesh in a tiny wooden crate next to its corpse. Hmmm. Anyway, food! I lit a fire, cooked the meat, ate it, and… saw the hunger meter slip back a fraction. Oh for fuck’s sake.

I killed another deer, this time with a bloody incredible aim of the spear, and it dropped two of its neatly packaged offerings – both of them hide. I had, in the manner of an MMO, managed to kill an animal that had no flesh inside. Oh for fuck’s sake.

By this point it was night again and I needed to sit next to a fire so as not to freeze to death, and listened to this chap complaining about his empty tummy despite having so recently tucked into an enormous steak. Come morning, I dropped down off the rock I was on, a distance that in real life might have reasonably hurt a shin, perhaps at worst twisted an ankle, and was told I was “close to death”.

I got better. By waiting.

A while later, I was killed by a “Bor”, which is the clever way they’ve spelt “Boar”. And, to ensure I was once more reminded why I so adore the online element of these games, the chat window declared:

iwuvcats: rip
iwuvcats: i already killed 7 bors
iwuvcats: even tho i only started 30 mins ago

It’s mostly bores that kill me, it seems. I’m not iwuvcats. However, being a bit more canny, it’s a quick process to be at the point where I keep getting killed. Until, joining a server apparently for my nearest town (Bristol), I found a much more established population. Buildings, people in clothes, people with shotguns.

I was sniffing around some buildings, and a guy spoke to me. “Uh uh uh,” he said, levelling his shotgun at my face. I stood still, interested to see where this would go. “On your knees,” he said. Oh boy. Obviously I just stood still. He didn’t seem to know what to do then, just pointing a gun at my and sidestepping. Eventually, growing annoyed with this, I hit him with my pickaxe, and after a rather ridiculous chase, he shot me to death.

The game is very nice looking. It’s found a pleasing aesthetic, one that borrows from but stops a way short of Firewatch’s gorgeous cartoon world. It’s a strong start, and even the animal animations are decent at this early stage. Glitchy, but decent. Hitting rocks with pickaxes and wood with axes makes satisfying, growing cracks appear. Unfortunately there’s no final animation for that just yet, meaning they pop out of existence and into your inventory.

But goodness me, it’s so fussy. Your inventory is limited by slots, but not by weight, making for the most ludicrous mechanic. I am able to carry hundreds and hundreds of wooden logs, but there’s not room for a bit of string. Completely daft. More inventory slots can be crafted, but then you’re in the tricky position of needing a lot of materials, not enough space to keep them, and the vicious circle of therefore not being able to build the equipment to store them.

Oh, and most fussy are the fires. Stand near one and you develop “heatstroke”. Stand a foot further away and you freeze to death. Very silly.

My explorations took a more interesting turn when I stumbled onto someone’s home high in a mountain. There didn’t appear to be anyone around, but I did see an exciting unlocked locker outside the house, and a field of orange-things! Could I steal? Would I get caught? Did I want to spoil someone else’s game? Well, rather than continue starving to death (for whatever reason the game had stopped spawning wildlife for a very long time) I grabbed his orange-things, and then I admit I stole some string and a cool looking magnet thing from his locker. I left the rest, because I’m a gentleman thief. And then I hot-footed it out of there, seeing someone walking toward the place, and thrilled with my narrow escape.

Then I got killed by a boar or died of cold because it stopped spawning flint or some dick shot me for no reason or whatever.

The more I played, the less I disliked Hurtworld. But it needs a lot of tidying, a lot of basics better in place. Oh, and it would be kind of nice if they’d remove the crudely scrawled dicks from the boxes. Seriously. And most of all, it needs its own gimmick early on. Right now it’s hard to distinguish between any number of other games for far too long. I see cars in the videos, but goodness knows how you’d ever get to that in a hostile, glitchy world. If anything, right now Hurtworld feels like a template for a game, without the unique ideas in place. I hope they’re on their way.

20 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    A ripple of polite applause for the way you no-sold the shotgunner trying to order you about.

  2. gedmansre says:

    John, who stole your lollipops as a kid?

    The tedium of hunger is kind of a primary mechanic in survival games. If you don’t like that, why play a survival game? It’s like saying, “this puzzle game is so puzzley!”

    • Premium User Badge

      IJC says:

      (\opinion) These games are not “hunger games”(no pun intended), they are “survival games”. He, I and many others dislike games in which you spend all of your time gathering food and eating it. Of course you should become hungry over time, but survival is a combination of many factors (hunger, thirst, temperature, shelter, sleep, defense…) not just one. It is not the existence of these factors that is worthy of critique, but the fact that they are badly balanced.

    • BorgiaCamarones says:

      I disagree. No game mechanic is necessary enough to be tolerated if it’s tedious, but that is not John’s point, it’s that a whole deer’s worth of meat barely fills a corner of the pc’s stomach. Not only is that distracting from the immersion these games desperately want you to experience, but it also makes hunger the star of the show -the main activity- instead of the exploration and crafting which really are more interesting.

      • gedmansre says:

        I get what folks are saying; good point. I guess the

        “Hunger is, as is so tediously often the case in these games, an incessant nag from the opening moment. ”

        quote strikes me more as a complaint against survival games, rather than a simple “The hunger mechanic needs serious rebalancing”. “The Long Dark” had some hunger balancing issues in the beginning, like many others.

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      John Walker says:

      Oh gawd, really? It’s about realism. If you are driven to collect insane amounts of food at the expense of doing other tasks in the game because your character is apparently some sort of bottomless-stomached alien, then it’s a tedious chore. Needing to find sensible, realistic amounts of food is what makes survival games fun.

      • Josh W says:

        Yeah, I remember playing a skyrim mod with my friends where the requirements for food were so great we never actually left one tiny valley because solving the problems of sleep, food and heat left us with no opportunities to actually do any adventuring. It was like embracing being some lost survivalist, but without any hope of flares or helicopters.

      • citrusninja says:

        Then is standing too close to a fire and taking damage too realistic?

    • Barberetti says:

      For a lot of people, including me, a game is worth playing if the fun stuff outweighs the shit stuff enough. Why would I not play a game if I’m enjoying it 95% of the time?

      Shit, I’d have never finished the majority of games I’ve played if having one or two aspects I didn’t like were the deciding factor.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      That’s more or less the root of the complaint, isn’t it? The percentage of time that must be spent finding food is too high, obscuring more enjoyable parts of the game?

  3. Aliaz says:

    ive been playing the game for 3 or 4 days now and i have to say, you dont spend 95% of your time looking for food getting food is so easy i dont think ive ever seen some one in game die of starvation, eating 4-5 steaks will keep you going for ages in which you have time to enjoy the game and do everything else, most of your time spent in game is trying to find wood and get materials to build and craft not find food.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Eating 4-5 steaks, which going by the above could mean eating five entire deer? That’s still ridiculous. Starvation takes weeks, not hours. I, a wretchedly skinny bum with multiple illnesses, can live off light snacks for days without even getting particularly hungry. A healthy adult shouldn’t need to consume an entire sack of meat just to stave off death.

      • rexx.sabotage says:

        If you have enough imagination to fill in the gaps left when playing with one less dimension, I’d Recommend UnReal World (no, not THAT Unreal). Heck, I’d go out on a limb to say that it’s probably the deepest survival experience you can find in a video game.

        Adam knows what’s up!

  4. racccoon says:

    Graphics in this game could quiet easily be made into a ALBION Online game. lol its so a like.
    Nice looking from youtube vids looks ok fun game.

  5. Tammy says:

    Not sure why you gave this such a bad review, I find nothing wrong with the UI at all. It is a more of a survival game than a survival simulation, and it works well IMHO.

    By the way – ‘quite remarkable recipes like creating a reel of string from an animal bone. Quite the trick.’

    It’s a tendon, not a bone.

    Having played this a little while myself, it feels like this review was made hastily after a very short amount of play time.

  6. Zalvu says:

    The hunger system in Hurtworld is so much better than the one Rust uses cause in Hurtworld you have to think about if you run, walk or stand still. And in Rust it’s nonexistent, you just eat till you’re at 1000 food and water and then you can play for a very long time without even seeing it move even though you run around all time…

    And the heat/cold system it’s also much more real then any other game. Try go out in the woods in only your underwear and make a campfire and sit right next to it and by that I mean within 0.5 – 1 meter of it and see if you get a heatstroke and if you walk out far away from it you’ll start freezing really fast.

    And by the way it’s a (hardcore) survival game it’s meant to be real and hard to survive.

  7. Orageon says:

    Good to hear your opinion, as I was eyeing this one newcomer on my steam recommendations. Looks like wayto early yet but I hope it gets better, looks interesting for that pool of legacy Rust fans.

    May I suggest a view/review of the new (Huge) update from 7 Days to Die ? they changed so much stuff, from GUI, to crafting/upgrading, to zombies models/MoCap/Audio, to loot tables, to items, to a new skills system for level ups, etc…

  8. HurtWorld says:

    Hurtworld – New BEST SURVIVAL GAME?

    Ok.. After playing like 70 hours off this game, i really want to say that the game is really good.. Not superb, but really not bad, not even close! I think the best off the game is that almost computer can run it, yes Rust/Ark (….) have better graphics but how much you need to invest on a computer only to play those games?? But there are also a lot off things that need to be changed, and i am here to share my thoughts about that! .C4 should be a lot easier to make, all materials should be craftable.. Before everyone starts shouting let me say, once you reach end game you don’t have anything to do beside killing newbie players, you know it’s true, you can’t deny it no matter what you say.. With C4 you could try raiding some people, at least you have one objective, bcause, once you reach endgame.. Well that’s the end! .Please, once you die let us choose where to spawn, i know that it would be a lot easier but, come one.. I have 2 bases and sometimes i have to suicide like 5 times to get where i want, where is the fun on that? Try adding a limit off totems, put a spawn timer, i don’t care, but make it possible to choose where to spawn. .Assault rifle with no recoil? Well, this is supposed to be a hardcore survival game, i don’t see any hardcore part on “no recoil”, this is a MUST fix do. .Try to modify the costs off some wepons, ammo, gear, etc.. I mean, if you want to craft 1 shotgun bullet you have to spend 20 animal fat??? .People go AFK like 10 hours, please make a counter to kick AFK players in order to free slots, it would be reall nice!

    I really wish success to this game, and that’s why i am “wasting” my time here. I just want to say one more thing about the C4, making it easier to craft will change the end game to everyone, you’ll need to spend more resources on your house, and consequently, you wont be shooting newbies just because you are bored, it will make the game a lot harder and funnier.

  9. Halk says:

    Hi guys, i install the game, but when i run the game steam tell me “Start Game Failed (executable missing)” (or something like that). What i must do now?