An In-Depth Look at Miner Wars 2081 @ E3 2012
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 19th Jul 2012
First thoughts are always telling, and our first thoughts after getting the full presentation for this game was "how come there are not more space-combat/mining games?" which was quickly followed by the thought "why do we have to wait to get this one?"
Set in the year 2081, the game world is that of a post-apocalyptic inner Solar System just ten years after the destruction of the Earth. The human race is completely dependent upon its ability to scrape out a safe habitat in space -- and that displaced population is really struggling to adjust to a life in space mining colonies that must be lived without a home planet.
The critical life-sustaining resources that are required like food, oxygen, building materials, and fuel are in very short supply, with the small cadre of miners and their mining ships being all that stands between humanity and extinction. Unfortunately the story is not one of peace and willing cooperation as different factions have formed among the survivors, factions that are at odds with each other to the point that the outbreak of war in space is inevitable.
A first-person action-survival space shooter that has been in development since 2009, the game puts players in control of their own mining ship operating within an open world asteroid belt within which in addition to obtaining resources and protecting themselves, they must also build bases and enclaves, and undertake several types of missions that include exploration, mining, rescue, and defense, to build infrastructure, as well as strategic missions that include stealth recon, search & destroy, and raids to acquire specific resources being monopolized by the enemy!
The massive scale of the game world combined with a wide variety of mission types combined with a variety of ship types that means there is a "right" type for every mission means that strategy plays a major role in success. Winning doesn't just mean staying alive and keeping your faction alive, it means making real progress while attaining different goals in a fluid and deadly environment. It is not just the enemy you have to fear, but also the vacuum of space that is ever-present, all around you!
With a single-player mode that pits the gamer against the environment, and a multi-player mode that adds the threat of an active, thinking, human enemy who has the same needs and desires that you do, Miner Wars 2081 is a well thought out and immersive game whose focus upon survival goes hand-in-hand with exploration and the exploitation of the resources that are discovered.
If that was all that there was to the game it would still be wicked cool, but when we factor in the mixture of common zones with player-owned and created zones that come together and apart as a product of the MMO-like structure of the game, it begins to take on an entirely new and unique dimension that is both exciting and intimidating at the same time. Adding in the fact that the game was created from the start with the notion that the players would not only create the expanded universe within which it takes place, but also leverage the easy to use game editor to create maps with unique characteristics -- from the types of materials to build from and every other detail -- our attention was locked onto the presentation like an auto-blaster on a womprat!
In spite of the plethora of features that we were shown at E3 -- and a presentation that showed us a game unlike any we had seen before though we did recognize some bits in it that must have come from other games that inspired it -- Miner Wars 2081 struck us as having the right combination of features and focus and, perhaps more to the point, originality -- that we were left wondering why nobody ever thought of this before?
As we watched the demo unfold the combination of situational awareness for the enemy and the need to maneuver in and mine the resources that were uncovered by blowing into an asteroid the size of a small planet was overshadowed by the ability to hollow-out a large section within which the player can then build a base to operate from, not only providing a safe-haven for their people but a convenient place to store the cargo holds of resources that are the product of that mining. A ship can only hold so much ore and other resources before it must unload it somewhere, and the fact that building what amounts to castles in space in order to safely store those hard-won resources is an element that clearly has potential well beyond the brief showing we received.
The appeal in being both player and creator -- the sort of custom games that they expect players to design includes limited resource maps in which the key resources are focused into one area requiring mining and combat at the same time being one example -- left us convinced that this would be one of those games with a really strong community once it launches, and considering that it was already a game we wanted to play, that says something.
Developed by Keen Software for the PC, the game has a projected release date for the 3rd / 4th quarter of 2012, and will support single player, co-op, and PvP play.