Dual Universe is a game with big ideas, ideas of which aren’t the most unique on their own but when brought together could spark the next creative sensation. Think the politics of EVE Online mixed with the vast creativity of Minecraft – two insanely popular games on their own, but brought together. But can Dual Universe capture that lightning in a bottle?
At its core, Dual Universe is a sandbox MMO in which players drive the direction of the game. There’s no story, there are also no rules (in theory). NovaQuark is essentially creating a living canvas in which hundreds of thousands of players can come together to explore, build, develop economies, and much, much more. Having launched into early alpha, we were given a chance to take a look at the game in its current state and explore some of the possibilities surrounding this gargantuan game.
We first were introduced to Dual Universe at Gamescom 2016 when the team were showing off the game’s impressive networking tech. This “continuous single shard” as they’re calling it, is capable of hosting millions of players that can all interact simultaneously. While the tech was impressive back then and their concept of the final game was interesting, I wasn’t able to see further into how players would take to the game.
Ahead of Dual Universe entering its first Alpha phase, we were given a demo of the current build to show off exactly what players could do and I’ll be honest, it’s impressive, and, provided the player base grows along with the game, could be the next big sandbox title.
So what can you expect from the first Alpha? Well, the world of Dual Universe is built upon four key pillars, Explore, Build, Trade, Conquer. The Alpha will feature three of them, Explore, Build, and Trade. The Conquer part will be coming later in the development cycle as it involves PvP, which we’ll touch on a little later.
So being thrust onto the game’s starting planet, Alioth – which the developers informed me is slightly smaller than the entirety of the United Kingdom – you’ll be given the materials to craft a basic glider to allow you to travel around the planet a little easier. This is where the explore part comes in as Alioth features several different biomes from forests to frozen tundras all the way to deserts, each of which players can claim as their own as the planet is segmented into hexagonal territories.
As players explore locations, they’ll be able to prospect the land and discover what resources lie beneath the surface. Once they’ve acquired this information, they’ll be able to do of it what they wish, whether that’s digging deep into the planet’s surface to mine all of the materials for themselves, or become a prospector and sell this information to other players for valuable items. This is just one of the many “jobs” players can take up in the game too, though as the game progresses and players develop towns and even bustling cities, other roles will come into play.
Dual Universe allows players to craft their own stories, whether it’s being particularly skilled at building, finding rare materials, or simply being able to craft a metric shit ton of valuable crafting items, players can utilize their skills to their benefits, and as more and more features come into play, like the in-game economy, the ability to create organizations, and of course PvP, there are more ways players can integrate themselves into the game’s world.
The game could feature a world with player-run police forces, building organizations, mining firms, prospectors, bodyguards, you name it, players will be able to become it, and that’s what makes Dual Universe so exciting, it’s not just the freedom to do what you want, it’s the idea that civilizations could develop within the game and as players become more and more affluent with the game, buildings could become more sophisticated, vehicles could become much bigger, and eventually even mimic real life somewhat.
During the demo, we were shown many things players will be able to achieve, whether it’s small, personal dwellings, to huge complex buildings with intricate systems developed using the game’s in-game coding system which players will be able to use to develop things such as radars and even games within the game. Add to that, Dual Universe also features a system, not unlike Minecraft’s Redstone, where players can program switches, doors, sensors and all manner of other usable objects.
Ultimately, Dual Universe is already an incredibly feature-rich game with a very promising future provided players stick with the already lengthy development roadmap the developers have in place. With the goal to launch in 2020, the game will see a number of different alpha’s over the course of the next two years including the addition of PvP and various other systems.
As for me personally, I LOVE the idea of Dual Universe, it reminds me of games like Second Life where players can escape from the real world and “live” a different life, however, I’m more the sort of person that enjoys a more established environment than one who wants to put the time into what is essentially a blank canvas. Though, I imagine getting in early will allow you to put the foundations in place to essentially become a king when the game truly takes off.
Maybe I’ll reconsider my previous statement…