by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I don’t really play too many sandbox games. They require a serious time commitment, one I’m not generally able to put down; but I do enjoy the concept, even if I seldom have the free time. However, I do genuinely like what’s on offer with Memories of Mars. Today I joined a group of press and YouTubers to get a look at what’s to come when we all touch down on the surface of Mars later this year. Memories of Mars is an open-world sandbox MMO that, of course, takes place on the Red Planet. Nothing is friendly, and very little life awaits on the dusty red planet next to Earth, but it’s where we’re slated to go regardless. There are hostile life forms, hostile people, and a harsh, unforgiving climate where you must have oxygen, and must eat what you can when you can.
We grouped up with one of the developers, created a small clan, and worked together. Our time was definitely expedited, since building, gathering resources, and getting ready to explore will certainly take a lot of time. One of the fears that was alleviated quickly though: there will be enough room when players start to begin gathering resources without fear of being obliterated by players who have been around much longer. There should be very little fear of being camped as soon as you get into the game, which I am very grateful for. I tend to arrive to the sandbox party late, so I want to have a chance as well other players, I’d like them to be able to have fun too. We had the luxury of having bases built instantly, and tons of ammo, food, and weaponry at our disposal.
We did start off the same way as other players will, in a cloning facility, picking up equipment, including a helmet that will provide your HUD. After leaving that building, you move onto the red sands of Mars. You’ll need ore out in the world, which you’ll pick up. It’ll be obvious that you can interact with it, as it will gleam, or glow slightly. This is not a game that you will just start and be awesome. Like most sandbox titles, you must work at it. And work you shall. One of the things I think is interesting is how you craft what you need. Players acquire a 3D printer in the cloning facility, which will be how you produce the tools you need. I just think that’s a fascinating concept, to use this technology which is really coming into its own in our time, for such advanced concepts in a video game. That’s just interesting. You’ll use these to transform the raw ore into bars, then use the bars to begin building a base, which you can use to build weapons and more.
We also learned about “Flops”, which made me immediately think of Teraflops. This is not too far from the mark. It’s a form of currency in digital form. There are a variety of bases and holds littered around the planet, and if you gain command of a terminal within, the terminal, as long as you hold it, will transfer Flops directly to your inventory. Defeating enemies will also allow you to gain Flops, and if you have the right tools, you can gain more from these bodies. The going will be slow, but time invested will definitely feel worth it in my opinion. Even though it’s Mars, a barren planet with seemingly nothing on it, it is still beautiful. Even in this Alpha build, it’s breathtaking to see the sun rise out in the distance.
There is no safety though, no haven where you cannot be attacked. Even if you make a clan and alliance, you can and probably still will be attacked, if you have something to offer. There is no protection against friendly fire, so you can accidentally kill your friends (or on purpose, if that’s the kind of person you are). I don’t know if there will be penalties for killing people on your side, but I imagine you’ll be booted from a clan swiftly, and then killed by your former friends. We did get to try several different guns too, pistols, rifles, and shotguns. There will be a few others as well.
There will be three tiers per gun, and three types of ammo per gun. Each tier does not necessarily mean that it’s better though. Each will have their uses, playstyles, and will probably be more familiar to certain styles of players. There also will be frag grenades, smoke grenades, riot shields, and much more. Though PVP is open and has no restrictions as of yet, there are also aliens in the world, weird species of spider and worm that have intelligent AI. They will learn from your patterns, predict what you’ll do and act accordingly. This means there will be fewer if any “zombie” type enemies. You know, they just lurch forward and do nothing, wasting your ammo killing them.
The gameplay is pretty simple, too. You have a bar where you slot items, and you can cycle through them like you would in Minecraft or any other sandbox/builder. Your guns, crafting items, and more will be slotted here. For example, you equip your 3D Printer there, point at the ground, and plant it. You will access it here, and build the main things you need. This is also dangerous because you can be killed while printing, crafting, et cetera. So you’ll want to find an out of the way place to do most of your work. Running, jumping, punching, these all take Stamina, and that bar fills quite slowly. When you’re building your base, you won’t use the 3D printer as much. You’ll use the B button to start placing structures in squares/triangles and fill it in with another tool, which will convert your iron bars into more solidified structures. It’s a cool idea. The last part of the preview was spent throwing grenades at each other, and then simply relogging and spawning in new areas to see everything the planet has to offer. The world is vast and open, with plenty to see and do.
I Stand Alone:
Now, Memories of Mars is not normally my type of game like I said, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a lot of fun exploring a new world. It’s still in Alpha and has a long way to go, but it’s definitely showing promise. The world as we saw it had about four kilometers of land to explore, but the full game will have far more, at sixteen kilometers of total land mass. With plenty of room, vehicles, bases to claim, buildings to make of your own, people to kill and discoveries to make. I am looking forward to seeing what else we will be able to build. So far I only saw iron and nanite ores, but I imagine by the time we see a full launch there will be more, much more. Cool weapons, a gorgeous planet, it all feels very thematic, very real. You can be looted when you die, you need to keep your caloric intake up. You can’t fall or jump from high places without taking damage, and it doesn’t appear that there are any regenerative features to be had. Though you can respawn back at your base, so there’s that at least. This is a hardcore game, and not one that is going to coddle you. I appreciate that. Memories of Mars promises to be a truly special sandbox game. I highly recommend that if it’s your kind of game, you keep an eye on it.