Outpost Zero by Symmetric Games
Outpost Zero is a sandbox survival game in the same vein as Ark: Survival Evolved and Rust that comes packing a few tricks of its own, most notably the ability to manufacture support robots that can perform a variety of tasks, ranging from harvesting materials to defending you from hostile forces. Outpost Zero aims to set itself apart in a genre that is heavily saturated, so is it an unmissable evolution or just another survival game?
Zero is the Loneliest Number
When I first booted up Outpost Zero, I wasn’t sure what to expect; I opened the single-player mode, swiftly got bored by the tutorial coupled with the barren wasteland commanding every horizon, and decided to try out the multi-player, as this seemed to be a game that would thrive on the emergent stories that come from interactions with other players. I can say now that I didn’t meet one other player whilst playing Outpost Zero, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel their presence in the world through the structures they had built.
My first online game began with a punch, as my wayward exploration was interrupted by some sort of volcanic disaster affecting a sizable portion of the local area. Once this abated, I began to survey the landscape for somewhere to set up a base; most of the neat little nooks in the nearby cliffs were taken, so I ended up building a small outpost on a cliff overlooking the plateau I spawned on. I found the building system to be intuitive and straightforward, but I soon ran out of resources.
No Endless Droning
At first the process of harvesting resources in Outpost Zero seemed fairly typical for this kind of survival game – repetitive and time consuming. I enjoy punching wood as much as the next Minecraft addict, but there are only so many times that a new survival game can foist its slow early mining experience on players before it becomes a little too familiar.
Imagine my delight, then, when I found that I could assign a support drone – the game actually furnishes new players with one of these straight away – to go and harvest specific resources. This kind of simple automation is a welcome revelation in the survival genre, and I found it almost introduced an element of classic RTS management to the experience.
Soon after this eureka moment I noticed an ominous building on a cliff not far from my base. Curious, I went to explore with my pair of drones in tow. The structure was painfully square in design but efficiently built and, upon inspection, I found I could easily pass through the “shield -doors” separating the shelter it offered from the outside world (this seems to be some sort of glitch, perhaps related to latency issues, as the doors appear to be the primary method of barring entry to a structure).
Within, I found a treasure trove of chests full of useful resources. I decided the owner of this building would be my unwitting sponsor in my exploration of Outpost Zero’s world and proceeded to empty their stores entirely (a process that took several round trips).
Robbers and Robbers
With Operation Goldilocks complete (my unfortunate victim’s store of diamonds were indeed “just right”) I sat back and admired my newly constructed store room full of pilfered goods. I soon realised, to my irritation, that the resource I most needed, iron, was not among the many items I had stolen, and so I set my drones to work.
In the meantime I had my first encounter with a randomized pirate attack; a relatively feeble pair of attackers ran around near my base and shot at me to little effect. In response, I frantically waved my newly-built sword at them.
Whether it was server lag or simply the game’s current state of development I do not know, but I found combat to be somewhere between amusing and vaguely pathetic. Most of my strikes against the enemy seemed to pass through without harming them and their counter-attacks were similarly unimpressive. Eventually both enemies crumpled to the ground, and I found a single round of 9mm ammo on one of them. How quaint.
50 Shades of Grey Tile
With my foes vanquished I returned to my base to find that my drones had accumulated some iron, at last. With this, I set to work building walls and a ceiling for my safe haven. Finally I wouldn’t have to stare at the interminably bleak landscape and could instead enjoy the homely ambiance of grey square tiles. Satisfied with my work, I placed one of those fancy looking “shield doors” on the front of the base. That’ll keep my hard won resources safe from potential thieves.
Outpost Zero is something of an oddity; the game is clearly still in development, but its creators are active, and the community seems to be satisfied with their work. The game’s world is bleak but oddly beautiful, and while the aesthetics could still do with a lot of improvement, the foundations are solid.
The game is indeed “yet another survival game,” but it tries out some interesting new ideas in its sci-fi setting and for the most part they work. My first instinct regarding the game was that it’s still too messy, too incomplete and too derivative to entirely recommend; however, I definitely had fun with my time on Gaiya, Outpost Zero’s brave new world, and for those keen to try out a new a take on the genre with a little more automation thrown in, this is definitely a survival game worth considering.
Outpost Zero is available in Early Access via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Outpost Zero below: