After 1500 hours - A Space Engineers fan summary
After 1500 hours in-game, all of them within the last 9 months, I fell I'm qualified to make a few constructive criticisms on general game play. After my 1500 hours of playtime, this game, in it's current state still feels to me like somewhat of a paradox.
- For first-time players, the game starts out fun and exciting, this is in fact what got me hooked initially. The initial base building is slow but rewarding as you get your first equipment scaled up. Traction, however, is gained exponentially and you can quickly scaled to an "unlimited" supply of resources if not engaged by anyone. Mods with "threat score" are then required to allow for balancing, and we are suddenly getting out of core game play. I play with a friend on private server and he is able to destroy server performance due to his ridiculous scaling of ships after crossing this "unlimited" resource threshold.
- Single player is fun, however quickly feels like a big automated universe taken over by machines. Engaging NPC's quickly loses it's thrill after fighting the repeated onslaught of automated turrets and grinding down ship remote controls. You'll quickly fell like you are fighting a big, empty universe devoid of any life. Perhaps this was Keen's goal to feel "isolated" but it loses fun quickly due to it's repeated elements.
- Multiplayer is pretty fun as well, however suffers from some paradoxical elements:
- New players tend to begin with planet (labeled "easy") start, however planets are too small in scale and it's way too easy to find and pick on new players. Such game-play dynamics drive the need for planets to be 10 times the size they are now to allow folks to "get off the ground", however the game engine won't support this.
- The game is essentially devoid of any "life" however the "default" Keen servers only host 16 concurrent players in the game. This means that you'll either be subject to base rape early on (see previous point) or you'll do a "deep space" start and never see anyone. This game really needs to implement a scalable networking middleware such as SpatialOS or Scalify (or Keen write your own?) to allow for a much larger concurrent play base. This would mitigate the issue of lack of interactible NPC's. Some private servers do scale up to 50 concurrent users, however this requires 3rd party tools to constantly disable or limit block types and run clean ups to keep the sim speed within remotely playable levels.
- Similarly to the previous point, there is limited concurrent player base however there is no AI to speak of to fill in the gaps of either lack of concurrent players in multiplayer, or to fill in the universe in single player. I personally would prefer a hybrid model with both NPC and Humans, and would enjoy an online version of the game where it's difficult to initially discern between the two.
- 5 years development and only one face per model? This is unacceptable. Purchase a cheap face model plugin if you are unable implement this yourself. I would prefer this "quality over quantity" type of update over the onslaught of silly DLC toilets and textures, which don't really expand game play. Unless keen is planning to implement game play such as "getting the runs in space", I won't waste my limited grid count on a space crapper.
Overall I really like this game and what it set out to achieve, but it's current limitations really create some paradoxical issues.