Written by Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
After the initial success of DayZ, the creator Dean Hall left Bohemia Interactive, and we haven’t seen much from him since. While he did try his luck with a VR title, it wasn’t really of the same caliber as DayZ. After hearing about all of his passionate ideas, and where he brought DayZ to in the end, I was expecting a lot more from him. Now Dean Hall is back with a game heavily inspired by both Space Station 13 and Space Engineers, but with its own take of being a simulation game set in space. Since I have been a big fan of both of these games, I also got very interested in Stationeers, primarily because of its very serious look towards surviving in space.
When you start Stationeers, you need to know one thing about the game. It’s not gonna be easy. Although it is mostly very simple and straight forward, it’s going to take a while before you figure everything out. When you have some basic knowledge on how to survive in space, and have played the earlier mentioned games, you are already familiar with the controls and how important it is to get the basic fundamentals down in for your survival. The harsh and brutal environment has been taken from Space Station 13, along with its controls, and has been combined with the type of building mechanics found in Minecraft and Space Engineers, to result in Stationeers. While the controls will take you a few hours to figure out, the logic behind these controls make it easier in the long run since you will be working with a lot of tools, and switching between them needs to be fluent yet simple.
When starting a new game in survival mode, you are stranded on an empty moon and you have to Matt Damon it up like in the Martian. First thing first is power. Since you are in space, the first only usable power source you can use is the sun. Just like in real life, what we’re using on the international space station is a whole bunch of solar panels. Solar Panels are the easiest and cheapest source of power in space, and you will have to focus on getting a solar panel up first. Especially since everything you’re doing is draining power from your battery, so it is a priority to get this sorted out as quickly as possible. Also, I might have forgot to mention, but this game is actually quite difficult!
Since the tutorial only teaches you how the controls work in a very basic introduction, you are simply let loose to the wolves when it comes to your survival. For a new player it will take a few tries before everything works correctly and you don’t kill yourself through a lack of preparation. This game seriously isn’t easy when it comes to setting up your base of operations. Think of Minecraft videos where some young kid has set up a whole factory, automating everything for his survival and whatever he wishes to do in the game. This is basically what the whole process looks like for everything you have to set up in Stationeers. Even wiring everything up, making sure your base has enough power and electrical wires is a process you will keep building on, and your network of wires will keep evolving over time. Who would’ve thought that surviving in space could be this hard?
After hours upon hours figuring out how to make something that resembles a home, you’ve now wired everything up properly so new batteries are charged and your solar panels actually follow the path of the sun to get the most optimal amount of energy you can possibly get. You are only one step further than you started and it is time to set up all the other crafting stations so you can get your production on the way. When starting a new game, you are given a few chests with materials and food to get you off the ground and get your production going, but you better prepare yourself for when the resources run low.
Since you are on a moon, chances are you will find a lot of minerals like iron and copper, that are both used a ton when making materials. So together with your mining tool you can mine these up, and slowly mine away parts of the moon to get enough materials for whatever you are building. But don’t forget, your goal is also to get off the moon, and while the moon you’re staying on is quite large, there is still a finite amount of resources. Don’t make the mistake of mining down in the cave: Despite the floating in space type of thing, there is still fall damage and you wouldn’t want to break your legs on an important mission like your survival.
Stationeers is a game you will have to take slow, because rushing through it is almost impossible. Obviously this seems a little odd to say, but when you think of sandbox games it usually is really straight forward with what you have to do, and getting yourself set up takes little to no time. This is very much different in Stationeers. The game isn’t really laid back like that, and while the controls and principle of building things is by itself somewhat simple, it still requires a lot of thought behind it, and you will mess up plenty of times before you do something right. I do enjoy games like Stationeers, but I did have a lot of trouble initially starting out. It took me several hours to figure some of the basic things out, and even after this I had a lot of trouble trying to get everything set up. The game isn’t a cakewalk, it will take an extensive amount of time before you really start to enjoy this game, and before you will slowly get to more exciting stuff. If you prefer a more laid back game, perhaps Stationeers isn’t the right game for you, but if you stick with it I’m sure that if you like everything related to space, that you’ll love Stationeers. While it is still in Early Access the game still can go lots of ways, but it is definitely already a very solid and fun experience.