A couple weeks ago, I got an opportunity to see Dual Universe in action with a live, hands-off demo. The sci-fi sandbox game has a lot of incredibly ambitious ideas that the development team wants to layer atop a single-shard game, with every player shaping one massive shared universe.
I've been skeptical of similar experiences executing on their promises and this was my first chance at a real, largely unscripted, and raw look at Dual Universe. I came away from it a bit less skeptical and pretty excited for what the team has in store for future players. Whether it has the impact of the more popular large-scale sci-fi games or not, Dual Universe is headed toward becoming a wonderous sandbox for its dedicated players and has infinite potential for growth. If I don't touch on something you're curious about, head over to Chatty and I'll try to respond the best I can.
Dual Universe Hands-off Impressions
Out of the gate, I learned that terraforming is very important to the Dual Universe experience. Novaquark's proprietary voxel system offers a lot more visual variety and flexibility versus a game like Minecraft, but carving out the land before placing down your creations will be crucial too. The experience looked very fluid, visually operating like No Man's Sky's mining but at a faster pace and without an overheating tool. Players will also be able to scan for different types of materials as well.
The planets in Dual Universe are gigantic, by the way. Not just "relatively large" when compared to typical player spaces either; There's definitely a chance that players will never, ever interact with each other while inhabiting the same planet. Seamless transition into space is possible once players build a ship capable and there are other planets out there to settle on, including sanctuary moons that eliminate PvP, but there's incredible potential on the starting planet alone. Land claiming is a mechanic that will keep griefing under control, but we'll have to learn more about that in the future.
I saw a few ships during the live demo, including player-created ones. There wasn't a noticeable drop-off in quality builds between dev built ships and player-built ones, lending to the dedication of the early players and, hopefully, the intuitiveness of the Dual Universe proprietary voxel system. The structures I saw had that same level of consistency, including a massive city that was built in less than 48 hours by players. It included a bar, restaurant with television screens, and a movie theater. Like any good game with creative mechanics like this, there's going to be a marketplace where players can sell their designs. The Dual Universe economy is entirely player-run, so it legitimately pays to be good at what you do.
One of the most interesting things I got to see is Novaquark's scripting system. It's a powerful tool that will blow the door wide open on Dual Universe. It can be used for opening doors, moving platforms, moving massive structures. It can also be used to create puzzles with intricate interactions, giving players a chance to build a diverse collection of games within the game.
To get a snapshot of what the gameplay involves, check out our report on the Dual Universe supporter packs that give alpha access to curious gamers. Stay tuned to Shacknews for more updates.