I’ll admit, when I first laid eyes on Rising World I almost instinctively lumped it in with the likes of Castleminer Z – games that to me initially appeared to be flat-out Minecraft clones that somehow keep making it onto the Steam Store’s front page. That said, checking out the game’s store page revealed that Rising World has gained a great number of good reviews, with a lot of people saying that whilst it has a number of similarities to Minecraft, there are some points to the game that differentiate it.
Oddly intrigued, I decided to dive in to give the good people of the n3rdabl3 readership my Early Access first impressions of JIW-Games’ Rising World.
In order to play the game, even through Steam, you need to make an account on the game’s website, www.rising-world.net. As you don’t have to log in again each time you start the game it’s not really an issue, but it’s just something to be aware of for those who don’t like having a bunch of separate accounts.
After logging in to the game, I headed straight for the Single Player, which brought up a World Creation screen which – I promise I won’t keep hammering this point in – bore a strong reseblence to Minecraft’s World Creation screen. From here, you pick your World Name, Seed (a string used by a procedurally-generated game to create the world from) and Gameplay Mode, of which there’s only currently one mode available, that being Survival. There are three others planned – Creative, Stranded and Adventure. Whilst I’d imagine Creative and Adventure will be similar to the same modes found in Mojang’s title, I found myself wondering what “Stranded” will entail – my money’s on a dedicated Island Survival mode.
You can also specify what kind of world you’d like generated – Normal, Superflat and Bizzare as well as whether or not you’d like a few different geographical features such as caves and vegetation, which could definitely come in handy for worlds specifically made for large builds. Keeping everything at the default setting I set up my World Name and Seed before taking the plunge into this new, perhaps even “rising” world.
Once my world finished being generated I was dropped in with a mess of grass right in my face. Slightly bewildered, I turned around and realised that the game had dropped me into a hilly area, complete with a mountain positioned just behind me that I immediately resolved to try and climb.
One of the first things that struck me as I started exploring was that despite the fact that most of the environment appeared to be composed of stretches of long grass mixed with rocky hills and mountains, interspersed with the occasional thick pine forest, Rising World’s landscapes still managed to look really nice, kind of in a similar way to how Oblivion’s landscapes can still look quite good – if nothing else I was looking forward to reaching the mountain’s summit just for the vista I’d get. There’s a bunch of great little details too, such as how all the grass and trees sway in the wind, which I immediately took a liking to.
Anyway! There was no time to stand around and admire the scenery, I had to get building if I wanted to have somewhere to call home. On my starting hotbar I found a Pickaxe and an Axe – so far, so familiar. Time to find a tree. A quick dash across the myraid of hills before me lead me to a few lone trees, which I immediately set my axe to.
I chopped away at my wooden target, felling it before long. At was at this point my Minecraft-hardened façade was shattered as the tree proceeded to tumble to the ground, as an actual tree would. “What!?” my brain honestly said to me. Not only that, but I wasn’t just immediately given the spoils one might expect, I had to go and chop up the tree I’d just felled. “What the!? What!? Physics, what?” my survival game instincts were being challenged by something closer to realism – even 7 Days to Die has the tree immediately turn into wood log items after its felling animation completes, and here I am chasing after a couple actual wood logs that started rolling down into the valley I’d climbed up to get here. As odd as it sounds, I found myself actually impressed by the fact that Rising World actually applies something akin to the proper physics when it comes to one of the first things you tend to do in these kinds of games.
I strolled through the wilderness, coming up and over hills and slopes of various sizes, until I found myself in what looked to be a small glade, where I found a group of animals. All the survival game staples were there – pigs, cows and of course a goat strolling around them, almost as if to protect them. This was it. I would build my home here, so I could live among the cows, the goats, the pigs and the trees. Plus, if things got desperate I had about five sources of food right beside me.
I popped open my inventory, quickly finding the “Crafting” tab. From here, I was quickly able to find exactly what I could make, as well as what I’d need to make it, all from a simple drop-down menu interface listing each category of craftable item. I crafted my wood logs into lumber, and some of that lumber into sticks, which I then made a basic shelter out of. Just in time too, as night had fallen. Diving into my new leaf tent I fell straight to sleep. Time for day 2.
On the second day I thought I’d try and find myself some ores to try out Rising World’s mining mechanics.
Experimenting with the crafting system some more, I found that I could create a Workbench out of the lumber I’d gathered earlier. I built it, set it down, and was presented with a much more expansive selection of craftable items already – including a bunch more Crafting Stations such as the Blockstation, which allows you to fashion materials into Blocks to make structures out of, a variety of weapons, a bunch more tools including hoes, sickles and a rolling pin and most importantly, a somewhat anachronistic looking grill and smoker. Nice to see that you can have a barbecue once your house is built.
As with a few other sandbox survival games that use a kind of “smooth voxel” world, where the world doesn’t look like it’s made completely out of blocks but can still be deformed, mining is a bit more of a task. You can’t just go around quickly breaking away block after block, you strike your pick against the rock and watch as you end up slowly carving out a cave in the environment. Anyone who’s ever played the original Red Faction will know how these caves begin to look once you carve your way through them.
I began to see that Rising World seems to include a bunch of more realistic details Minecraft eschews. For those who cut their teeth on that game there will be a lot of “Oh, that makes sense!” moments coming up as you acclimatize to Rising World – I strode around my pitch-black, self-made cave wondering why I couldn’t magically attach torches to the walls before realising I could craft wooden torchmounts. After crafting one of those and placing that on the wall, then putting a torch into it, a static source of bright light was created and I could finally see once more. It’s one of those things the genre has taught me I don’t need to do, and here I was actually enjoying seeing Rising World challenge that – helping to separate the game from the other Minecraft-esque titles out there.
After a bit of mining I came across a natural cave system, where I finally found my first chunk of iron ore. Mining the hell out of it, I strode triumphantly out of my cave, ores in hand. At this point I used the Workbench to craft a furnace of out of all the stone I’d ended up collecting whist mining, placed it down and flipped it on. At this point, I found myself at another Minecraft-experience-induced point of confusion – I’d interacted with the furnace, but the only menu option available was to turn it on and off. It turns out what I was meant to do was take the raw ore I’d mined and place each one individually in one of the 24 slots available in the furnace, a lot like arranging bread in a baker’s oven. It’s little details like this that made me think that Rising World could end up being a superb “chillout” game, perhaps even surpassing Minecraft itself in that aspect.
On the third day, I aimed to get a sword (or a battleaxe or morning star) and venture out into the wilderness, however I hadn’t collected anywhere near enough iron to craft an anvil, and even then I probably wouldn’t have the materials to make a blade anyway. So, leaving the extra mining till later I resolved to finally build my house.
Cutting down a few more trees, I made myself a Blockstation. This crafting station lets you refine the materials you’ve picked up into blocks, with a great number of block categories available, from the familiar wooden cubes to the more modern-looking metal and ornamental blocks made with stone and iron. Thanks to my mining exploits I had a whole bunch of stone left, so I set about crafting myself a lot of stone bricks and wooden planks and got to work.
The block-placing system in Rising World expands on Minecraft’s in one simple way that makes it very intuitive indeed. Whilst right-clicking will place a block as normal, by holding left click and moving your cursor, you can plan out a straight line, after which right-clicking will fill that line with blocks. It makes planning out the foundations for a building very quick and easy, and whilst you’re at the mercy of the ground’s shape unless you craft yourself a rake to terraform it a bit, the smooth voxels do a good job of accommodating your blocks whilst still looking presentable.
Once again, those used to Minecraft will have to make a few adjustments to their muscle-memory building style – your character in Rising World is three blocks high and two blocks wide, making even the most basic of stone shacks require a few extra blocks to complete.
Once it was finally complete, I adorned my new, barely liveable hovel with a crest, using Rising World’s “Custom Image” item, which lets you upload an image from your computer and place it somewhere in your world.
When you do venture out into the wilderness you’ll find yourself up against quite a few opponents, one of them being hunger and thirst. Your hunger and thirst don’t deplete too quickly, so it’s not that difficult to stay on top of, especially as you’ll often find food items in the world, such as the watermelons and pumpkins you might just happen to come across and apples that fall from the branches of some trees when you chop them down (the little details in this game, I swear!). Eating these refills both your health bar and your hunger and food meters by different increments depending on the type of food, so if you ever find yourself losing health, cramming every piece of watermelon you have into one’s face is usually a good way to get it back. You’ll also need a good sense of direction, as I wasn’t able to find any sort of map system in Rising World.
You’ll also come across the occasional hostile mob, though there doesn’t seem to be that many creatures that actually attack you on sight at the moment – the only ones I encountered during my playtime were a few bears, one of which I managed to trick into falling into a massive hole, but who still somehow managed to hit me from the small perch he’d been able to get on to. Some animals, such as a huge stag I came across, will only really go for you if you attack them first and others like the cows and pigs just run away if you try to attack them.
I tried to take a look at the multiplayer, but unfortunately most of the somewhat populated servers (still only around 6-8 players) were a bit out of my league with regards to ping, getting into the multiple hundreds. With all the ones near me hosting maybe one or two players, I resolved to focus on the Single Player experience instead.
Overall, whilst Rising World is still quite clearly an Alpha, with a slight lack of hostile mob types and seemingly only a few types of landscape variations (which will most likely be expanded in the upcoming Biomes patch), there’s definitely some great survival systems in place and a huge number of things to get crafting, alongside a bunch of realistic details you’re unlikely to find elsewhere, a point which in my view certainly helps Rising World carve out its niche. If you’re looking for an alternative to Mojang’s king of the sandbox survival kingdom, Rising World is definitely a great place to start. Very much one to watch as the version numbers tick by.
Rising World can be purchased on Steam Early Access for £10.99.
Good luck to JIW-Games with the rest of development!