by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I’m not new to Memories of Mars – I did a press preview a few months back before it burst onto the scene in Early Access. Survival/Sandbox titles aren’t usually my wheelhouse, but I really like the idea of surviving on the Red Planet, with dangers lurking everywhere. You have mechanical organisms, as well as other players vying for resources and control of the planet. However, nothing is permanent, as the occasional solar cataclysm will rock the surface of Mars, obliterating all human life and all man-made structures, in what is their “Season” system. You can clone yourself and save an amount of your progress, but you can’t take it all with you. It’s very important to periodically back yourself up, whether it’s in a structure already created, or in your own base if you can manage to make one. Memories of Mars is certainly an interesting game, that’s for sure. I’ve been on and off all week, and even outside of the occasional bug that stripped me of all of my equipment, I still had quite a bit of fun exploring the Red Planet once again.
One of the important things to note is that your character does not cross servers. When you log in, you’ll see a variety of servers to connect to, and you can save your favorite ones to come back to. What is saved is your Skill Tree progress, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. In order to progress in the world, you need “flops”, which is a currency that you spend on the skill tree, as well as the upkeep on your base. You find these in random containers, and on the bodies of players/enemy creatures. This “is” a full PVP game after all. I’m not 100% sure if you can kill members of your Alliance if you even join one (but I highly recommend it). This is a dangerous, unforgiving world, as I learned just a few days ago. It’s very dangerous to carry all of your items on you, because if you are killing, whether by a mechanical beast or another player, you can be looted completely. The only thing you’ll ever keep is your 3D printer because, without it, you’re lost forever. But. . . you can leave it somewhere. That’s another fun thing I learned. Situational awareness is so damn important in Memories of Mars.
I’ve made something like seven or eight fresh characters across various servers to try different approaches to figure out the most likely path to success or at least, some tips to offer interested parties. This is an incredibly challenging survival game, and you’re probably going to die a lot unless you play this style of game frequently. Memories of Mars starts you with virtually nothing. You get a 3D printer, a helmet, and one or two minor items inside of the clone base you start in. From there, you have to head to one of three spawn points (East, South, West), and it’s time to survive. There are no real “objectives” per se’, but I have devised a list of personal objectives to determine if a character will be a success or not. This, of course, won’t apply to everyone (like people who are actually good at this genre of games), but this is the general route I took as a beginner.
Farm: You need a LOT of Nitrate/Iron Ore from the little pebbles on the ground. It’s going to take a considerable length of time (hours likely) to get the Pulse Excavator. The idea is that you’ll pick up a pistol in the starting area, and one of the items you start with the ability to make is standard pistol ammo. I made at least 100-200 rounds of ammo before I even considered doing anything else. This was after a few deaths when I was caught unawares.
Fight: Find a pre-constructed area to loot/fight enemies in. Those little spider mechanical beasts are annoying but they provide flops, which you need, as do some of the containers. I personally avoid the mechanical snakes which appear mostly on large, flat areas of land. You’ll see them coming from a mile away. These bases will have lots of mechanical spiders hiding. The ones with a green glow are a bit more passive, and the ones with a red glow hop around and are incredibly aggressive. Be aware of their annoying acid spit. Farm them for flops, loot all the chests (they’ll glow white. The red glow means they have been looted). You may have to run after one or two kills and wait for your health to regenerate. It will, but it’s slow.
Craft: First thing you want to build is the item that lets you mine for ore: Pulse Excavator. Now start farming the larger iron ore, or magnesium if you’re near it. But iron ore is infinitely more important in the early going. I took this time to craft body armor, make as much ammo as I could possibly need, and then worried about a base. Hopefully after a few base raids, you found you could craft some nutrients because starving to death is very bad. While farming, keep a close eye on your surroundings. If you see a long pipeline, you can follow it for Oxygen refills. You’ll probably have to do some monster farming in the basebuilding process, since you’ll want walls, a door, maybe some lights. This became the hardest step for me, less about the combat, and more about my hubris, or simply being ganked and looted.
Several deaths and a restart later, I also had to spend time farming up for an assault rifle and assault rifle ammo. I think the standard ammo should come with the ability to craft the gun, but that’s neither here nor there. Speaking of things I think may improve the game a bit, make it a little easier to find items for food crafting. You start with the ability to “make” it, but while iron is plentiful, the actual “food content” of the equation seems to be much harder to find, unless you risk more dangerous bases. I know I said that I farmed for most of my flops, and that’s true, but there’s another thing players ought to be aware of. There are larger bases that will occasionally have “flop events” where you can command a system that will, over the course of a period of time, will grant flops to you. But while it’s active, everyone will likely know, and the local enemies definitely will, as they rush to attack you. Enemies are also smart, and can definitely hear you when you’re making noise. So running across metal and rock will definitely attract them (but I run anyway when it’s time to flee). I learned a lot playing Memories of Mars, like if you’re looted, the Skull where you died no longer appears, so you know not to run and waste your time heading back.
Memories of Mars is definitely an interesting game and a challenging survival title. I avoided huge fiery meteors falling from the sky, that awoke all the mechanical life in the area, battled players, died to said players, built bases and tried my best to survive the Red Planet. Though I did not succeed by most metrics, I did by my own – I learned, I grew and got a little better each time I made a character. I do think there are some things that could be tweaked just a little, such as the speed at which you gain flops, perhaps some of the earlier skill tree costs, but I am grateful that your progress carries across servers. If you’re being camped and obliterated, but want to start somewhere quieter to get some skills done, that seems to be an option. I definitely feel like Memories of Mars would be far more enjoyable with friends, so you can have an Alliance on, playing at the same time and working together. It can be incredibly frustrating to play alone on a packed server, but I still relished the challenge of getting a little better with each attempt. I enjoyed routing out the map and figuring out the safest/smartest places to go. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing Memories of Mars grow.