Slime

Thoughts on game (Xbox version)

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I used to play Astroneer long ago, when it was much simpler, but decided to come back with this new update to see what was going on and here are my thoughts:

  • The colors are too saturated now, it hurts the eyes. The slightly washed out palette from before was more pleasant and relaxing.
  • The day night cycle seems a little weird. I landed during the day and no less than 3 minutes later it was night time. If I was a new player to the game, this would be a frustrating experience because you're still trying to figure out controls, the surroundings, and everything else, but you're in the complete dark, literally.
  • Tool tip overload. I only had a few things down and was overwhelmed with all the tool tips and they didn't seem to go away. Standing in one place I easily had 10 different labels on my screen and it's a complete clutter. Not to mention some never went away, like the one telling me to open my backpack.
  • There seems to be a lot of 'noise' in the graphics now that wasn't there before. Everything is a lot more grainier for some reason.
  • Camera controls are a disaster. Trying to pick up, move, and select things is a lot of work, compounded by all the text on the screen.
  • The unlock/progression system is not intuitive at all and it's fragmented. It's this weird combination where I unlock things through my backpack, I unlock things by building base components, and then I unlock things by just having things unlocked. It's not clear at all what the flow is and what I'm supposed to be doing.
  • The "in-game computer" where you can cycle through things seems like a good idea on paper, but the execution is kinda poor and just adds unnecessary complexity. I see things are grouped into tiers, but there is no explanation for the grouping. And like the progression system mentioned before, cycling through crafts in my backpack and cycling through crafts in the computer seem completely different, but are essentially the same thing.
  • Having to read the the helper screens shouldn't be a requisite for playing the game. Before when I played, things unraveled a lot more natural and it was easy to figure out what was going on, but now they drop all these mechanics on you and you haven't even had time to figure out the controls. There needs to be a more organic way of unlocking, and moving through the game. I had all these things in the beginning and didn't know what anything was. Maybe a 'questing' system could alleviate this problem.

I'm sure I'll come up with more, but I think this game is getting too complex for the console and for new players. It's doing way too much at once and I'm losing the sense of wonder.

 

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As a newbie to Xbox gaming as well as to Astroneer I agree with a lot of what has been said here. I just about mastered Minecraft and am enjoying the challenge of Astroneer but the complexity is somewhat overwhelming. It looks lovely on my TV screen. My PC has a real problem though. It should be possible to downgrade the resolution in some way so it will play as well as Minecraft

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So I played a new save to see what kind of experience I had this time and here are some thoughts:

  • Fresh games / new landings shouldn't roll into night time so soon. I'm not sure if it was by chance, but this is the second time where it was night soon after I landed and it just didn't feel right. I was still going over all the mechanics, getting used to the camera and placing objects, but I was in the complete dark, making it nearly impossible to see all these things that I was just exposed to not a few minutes earlier. There needs to be some grace period for new players before the game activates the day/night cycle because as a new player it doesn't do anything for the experience besides "showing off the day/night cycle", which doesn't have to happen immediately either, especially during a time where it's crucial for new players to learn some of the basic stuff, but forcing the night on them isn't really necessary at all.
  • The launch pad functionality is a little awkward. You have to examine it to drop some "freebie" crates which eventually unload into a platform and some machine of you're choosing, but even after these are built you can go back to the launch pad and basically destroy them by requesting the same "freebies" all over again. What's the point of that exactly?
  • Rotating machines/modules on platforms to have them face a certain direction is a real pain. I was only able to get it to snap in one direction and never again. I couldn't figure out how to do it properly each time and it made for a frustrating experience because the machine wanted to craft on top of existing objects.
  • It doesn't seem possible to move platforms that already have machines/modules on top of them. I could never get the cursor to snap to the platform because it always snapped to the machine/module, the power outlet, or some required ingredient, but never the platform. When I was able to move the platform, the modules fell off of it while moving and that seems like a terrible idea considering I'm just going to place the module back on it.
  • The tool tips are still an issue. Either there are too many on the screen at one time, the size differences between them vary too much, or the fact that some have icons while others don't, they need to be a lot cleaner and legible. This needs to be improved upon greatly because they clutter the screen and make selecting things complicated and overwhelming.
  • Holding Y on your backpack to access the "unlockables" doesn't make much sense to me. Why is this on the backpack? Why not just have a computer module, or some thing that's built into the home base module where you can access all these funky screens. It just seems like an after thought more than anything.
  • Hitting a button on the controller to remove the glass cover of the button on the computer and then hitting the controller button again to finally hit the computer button is completely unnecessary. I'm not sure if that was supposed to give off immersion, but it's just annoying more than anything. And the "in-game" computer system is kinda hard to look at. Doesn't look as clean as the other things in the game and feel like it could be done better. Is it so bad if you had a full screen popup with a proper interface? Not everything has to be this little gizmo floating in the world. It's cool and gimmicky, but not needed for everything, really not.
  • The helper screens need to be built into the game as a tutorial. Having no context for these screens doesn't do anything. If you actually showed the player how you get from point to point it would actually feel better. Everything still feels fragmented and a little linearity would go a long ways in some regards in showing the players what's going on instead of having them just figure it out. When the game was much simpler figuring things out on your own was easy and enjoyable, but now it feels like a chore.
  • All the other points I mentioned in my OP still stand, such as colors being overly saturated, camera controls feeling clunky, etc.

Unfortunately I can't even get into the game long enough anymore to see what other things I can do or critique on, which is is a shame because I really want to like this game, but it's feeling like they are losing the vision on what they want it to be and are getting shiny object syndrome.

 

 

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