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Looking for recommendations: exploration and building
Nagezahn 21 Apr

Hi there,

I've got an itch gaming-wise that wants to be scratched, but currently I find it difficult to identify a game that'll do.

Recently I tried Terratech (during the free weekend), and while it was fun to discover new stuff, the exploration part and game play overall was a bit dull as far as I've seen it. The (base) building bits were especially annoying due to the clumsiness of the controls. So I didn't play for very long, though a part of we would have liked getting to the part were you can build flying machines very much.

Also some time back I tried the Aground demo (got reminded of that due to it's recent launch covered here), and while I kind of liked the progression and story and the beginning, my desire to make all the inventions myself was very disappointed to find that there were some actual leftovers of civilisation, economy and tech on the other island reachable during the demo. Also the stamina system (or what it was called) was more of a pain in the whatsoever than fun.

So I tried looking for similar games in Steam's Labs, though so far without success. I thought about starting a new world in Terraria (which I love), but as it will get a significant update soon, I'd rather wait for that. Any of you has some ideas what I might like? I'd prefer titles with a proper (Linux) release, not Early Access or Proton only. Also games on the affordable side of things would be appreciated, although I haven't spent much on games for a while now, so I'd be OK with higher prices if the content/developer is worth it.

I guess the info I've given about what I'm looking for is pretty vague, but it's not that clear to myself what that itch's desire actually is about. So pardon me and please feel free to recommend any games that pop up in your mind!

Salvatos 21 Apr

Maybe Stranded Deep? It doesn’t have a story, so the exploration is really limited to finding different types of islands and the materials you need for whatever you choose to do with the sandbox. It is Early Access, however. I’ve been looking a bit at this genre as well after seeing Sin play The Forest, but there wasn’t much in that space that tickled my fancy and had a Linux build (I ended up playing Raft via Proton for a little while; I might pick up The Forest later to play with friends during lockdown).

Rooster 21 Apr

No Man's Sky and Subnautica immediately come to my mind. But of course, that's Proton.

For similar games with native Linux version, maybe Project 5: Sightseer?

Also, since you mentioned Terraria, how about Starbound or Junk Jack?

Pangaea 21 Apr

RimWorld doesn't exactly have exploration, but there is plenty of base building. You'll be attacked a lot, though, so the base may burn down. It's a fun game from a good developer, though I'm not sure if this is exactly what you are asking for here.

You can send out caravans and trade with other cities, and go to various maps to drill for resources and the like, but it doesn't truly have exploration.

Ehvis 21 Apr

Not much to go on for gameplay, so I'll just try my building games for the past months.

7 Days to Die - Excellent survival with building and exploration. But the game is a bit intimidating as a single player game. A ton of crafting and skills to get through. Combat is harsh, especially in the beginning. But the game was made for building. Fully destructible world (including the terrain up to a certain depth). And building is necessary to survive. However, building is just static, no custom vehicles or anything that moves.

Planet Nomads - Gameplay wise it is a bit mediocre. There is some story and mystery to figure out for which you need to explore the planet. Haven't finished that bit because it's not all that engaging. Building is excellent though. Both bases and vehicles (land, sea and air) can be built. Terrain (the planet to a limited depth) can be destroyed (but not rebuilt). The game purpose of building is to explore areas with harsher climates to progress with whatever mystery there is. Not much in the way of enemies and what's there can easily be avoided. But with the big selection of macro and elementary blocks, the building is the highlight. Very harsh on the system though! Especially the Linux version since the Vulkan renderer is buggy on this one.

Starbound - Much like Terraria (built by a former Terraria dev I think). A bit different in gameplay and scope and maybe the need for building is less.

Factorio - Completely different style of building and exploration. Factory building instead of bases, strongholds or vehicles. Although the game has an objective, you should really treat it as sandbox and set your own rules for the world settings you create. Either quietly build your efficiency optimised factor without an enemy in sight or keep up your military production to keep the relentless onslaught of enemies at bay. There is some exploration (the world is almost infinite), but that is really mostly done to find more resources.

X4 - Curve ball entry :D Space game of course, but it does allow you to build space stations. Probably not what you had in mind though ;)

A game I have in sight but have not tried yet:

Avorion - Looks like something to build spaceships and get in combat. Looks interesting, but I haven't delved into the details yet. Need more time!

Nagezahn 22 Apr

Thanks everyone for your suggestions, there are some titles among them I haven't had heard of yet. I'll take a closer look when work let's me do so and report back when I've tried something. Since refunding is possible the hurdle to give a game which does not look too promising is quite low. :)

Nagezahn 27 Apr

So, I decided to pick up "Project 5: Sightseer" and have mixed feelings about it, just like the reviews are "mixed". There is a tech tree which allows you to research better vehicles, equipment and buildings, but in the end there is no real point to it. Unlike in, for example, Factorio there is no goal whatsoever, no "if you manage to launch a rocket, you can be proud of yourself but still continue the game". So the goal I set myself was to research all tech which requires you to gather a load of different resources throughout the game. And that's part of the problem as this game lacks in proper UI. You can and have to found different outposts to be able to gather all the different stuff, but you only know how an outpost is doing, what resources it has available (either for mining or in storage), what it is researching etc. if you are in the area. Travelling even in the most advanced vehicles is slow and often cumbersome.

Very often I got to the point where I needed a specific resource to build that awesome new equipment I just researched, for example some selenium, and I knew I had come across one or two deposits until now, but couldn't remember where. Think you can browse all the deposits you had discovered? No, the games doesn't do that for you. Ok, well, you can place markers on the map (which is a feature I miss in many many games). But there are so many deposits of so many different kinds it would be very tedious to mark them all, and early on you don't even have a clue on which might be interesting to mark an what not. And even if you'd decide to place a marker for all of them, you can't because the developer decided for whatever reason that markers have to have some distance between each other. Oh and the text you can put into the description can only store, what, 15 characters or so. (There's a mod which creates markers for you automatically in the Steam Workshop, but I learned that way too late.)

The overview you have about one outpost (you are currently in) is also quite limited. There is a quick info showing what's going in, whats going out which is useful in some way. If you want more detail, you can have some insight be selecting one resource a time, listing you consumers, producers, net and storage capacity. But I found those numbers not always telling the truth - that's the case when you consume more than you produce. More than never I couldn't get from the numbers where exactly the shortage was in the supply chain. The tutorial also only teaches you the very basics and leaves a lot unexplained. There is a wiki somewhere, but it's not official if I get that right, and there isn't a lot info in the first place. So usability wise this game is unfortunately a real mess.

There are some ships in there (three different ones, which is a lot less than ground and air vehicles), and honestly while it's fun for some time to travel around and listen to the humming of the engines while your vessel dashes through the waves, they could have skipped the hole water part entirely. It does not add anything to the game, and while there are resources out there available, they are the same like everywhere else and a pain in the rear to mine, so not worth your time end effort.

Also the amount of different resources is just too high. There's only a few very minor production chains which works by combining some elements in reactors (mostly carbon based recipes), but other than that it's just "you need a load of copper, iron, lithium and some tungsten, go find deposits, mine, transport, done. There are some resources I didn't mine once (oil, for example), and some I only needed for one or two specific products that got outdated real quick. So having a lot less resources would greatly increase overview while not removing anything substantial from game play. I'd rather have had have some production chains you can actually manage.

I have to say that the game mostly targets a more MMO style with players organising in factions, having alliances or waging war against each other, and I haven't tried that part because I don't like PvP and rather explore and progress all by myself or locally with friends. Though I can't really imagine that mixing PvP with base building and tedious resource gathering would be very enticing in this game. It did entertain me for a while (longer than I'd like to admit considering what I wrote above), but that time was in parts too confusing and frustrating for me to recommend it.

randyl 28 Apr

Quoting: EhvisNot much to go on for gameplay, so I'll just try my building games for the past months.

Planet Nomads - Gameplay wise it is a bit mediocre. There is some story and mystery to figure out for which you need to explore the planet. Haven't finished that bit because it's not all that engaging. Building is excellent though. Both bases and vehicles (land, sea and air) can be built. Terrain (the planet to a limited depth) can be destroyed (but not rebuilt). The game purpose of building is to explore areas with harsher climates to progress with whatever mystery there is. Not much in the way of enemies and what's there can easily be avoided. But with the big selection of macro and elementary blocks, the building is the highlight. Very harsh on the system though! Especially the Linux version since the Vulkan renderer is buggy on this one.


X4 - Curve ball entry :D Space game of course, but it does allow you to build space stations. Probably not what you had in mind though ;)

A game I have in sight but have not tried yet:

Avorion - Looks like something to build spaceships and get in combat. Looks interesting, but I haven't delved into the details yet. Need more time!
Thanks for the info on Planet Nomads. I've been eyeing this off and on for a while, but think it's probably one I'll pass on for now. Astroneer looks more interesting. It is supposed to run well through Proton, which I don't mind.

I would be interested in hearing more about X4 if you and the OP don't mind.

Avorian is at the top of my wishlist right now. Have you played yet? I'm interested in your thoughts on this one too.

Ehvis 28 Apr

Quoting: randylI would be interested in hearing more about X4 if you and the OP don't mind.

Avorian is at the top of my wishlist right now. Have you played yet? I'm interested in your thoughts on this one too.

I'm not far enough into X4 to provide much more than the basics. I know you can buy "plots" and construct stations (since there are jobs for that), but don't have nearly enough money to even try. There are people in here that know much more than I do.

Haven't played Avorion yet.

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