The dream of space exploration is more alive than ever right now. We've found thousands of planets outside our solar system, we're finding water on (or in) just about every planet and moon that we study in our own, and NASA is furiously pumping up its "Journey To Mars," which should happen some time in the next two decades. The private space industry is alive and well, too — and now it's the subject of a brand-new space adventure game called Astroneer.
You play as an adventure-happy explorer, someone who has signed up for one of the daring flights offered by a company called Exo Dynamics — "the dominant conglomerate in the new field" of private space travel, according to the official website. You're ready to risk everything that you have in order to explore the galaxy, and boy is there a lot to explore. For more, let's go to the official description:
Astroneer is game about wonder, discovery, power, greed, mystery, and grand endeavor in a new age of expansion on the fringes of humanity. You will land alone, or with a small crew of friends, on a planet to call your own. Harsh but bountiful, infinite worlds will beckon you to explore, exploit, and ultimately to reshape to your desire. Excavate and deform the land, uncover precious resources, jury-rig equipment to suit your taste and needs, create industrial scale extraction and manufacturing facilities, and locate rare items and artifacts. Contribute to the survival of Earth-based humankind, and get rich along the way.
The worlds in Astroneer are diverse, from huge spherical planets with atmospheres and vast landscapes, to strangely shaped small asteroids floating in the rings of gas giants. Each world is procedurally generated, unique to your experience, and can be totally reshaped by your tools. Excavate vast underground tunnels or create megaliths on the surface; the world is your Play-Doh.
The game blends key components from a number of others that are either well-regarded or highly-anticipated. Astroneer's worlds are procedurally generated, much like the endless possibilities being promised by No Man's Sky. It has a painterly aesthetic and a twee soundtrack, much like Flower or Journey. (At least, the pre-alpha teaser video does). The things you can build and uncover also appears to skew unabashedly nerdy and deep, similar to the cutesy (but devastatingly demanding) space simulator Kerbal Space Program.
Astroneer was built with Unreal Engine 4 by a team called System Era, which boasts Ubisoft, 343 Industries, and Valve DNA. There's no official release date just yet, but they say they're aiming to release Astroneer on Steam's Early Access program in the first quarter of 2016. That build will be more of a sandbox, and a full release with a story and full multiplayer capabilities will follow.