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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Rust, Starbound and 7 Days to Die.

TranscriptEdit

It doesn't seem like that long ago when I thought it was a shame there weren't more wilderness-survival games, and I apologize. If I had known I had the power manifest my inner-most thoughts, I'd have brought about world peace and given all the buildings tits. Because the survival game cup has been runnething over lately on Steam. This week I downloaded three new ones and, in this video, will offer my first impressions after an hour or two spent with each. The twin spectres of Minecraft and DayZ's unrepeatable success seem to hover over them all like the fucking Luftwaffe.

So basically, all of them have crafting and zombies. Well, at least a statement that crafting and zombies are definitely possibly somewhere on the list of "features to maybe be added if we can be arsed," because all of these games were Early Access as well, the new politer name for "desperately unfinished." What's the matter, guys? You afraid you're gonna miss the boat? No other medium does this; you wouldn't expect, say, a graphic novel to be released in short installments over the course of... Actually, that's a bad example.

So, the first game I played was Starbound. Also known as, "Terraria? Never heard of it! And also we're sci-fi, and therefore different to the thing we haven't heard of." Although, Terraria itself was also known as "Minecraft? Never heard of it! And also we're 2D, and therefore different to the thing we've never heard of." So, y'know, join the fucking conga line. The premise is that you've got a space ship that can travel to different randomly-generated planets with different wild life to pester you while you endlessly punch the indigenous rock population. My first question would be why you need to travel to other planets, when like all procedural wilderness games, every planet seems to be functionally infinite? And if it's just a change of scene you want, you could always just walk to the right for ten minutes. But I suppose this method is quicker. In theory. Because you can't travel to other planets without fuel, and I never reached the point where you get fuel, or even figure out what you use as fuel. I tried putting a load of wood into my spaceship engine, and then I ran out of ideas.

Sprite animation is good. Interface is a bit unintuitive and messy, but the thing I liked was that it sets you a sequence of missions. Build a campfire, make a workbench, make a bow, cook some meat. Hey, look at you, you're surviving! Round of applause! If Minecraft had had something like this, a lot of senseless newbie death when the first night falls could've been avoided. But after a while, the missions ramp up until I was told to construct a distress beacon. Now this took quite a while, because it required a lot of different smelted metals, so the process of gathering them caused me to go kind of native. I built myself a two-story house, strip-mined the area, filled my nosh reserves until I could finally build that distress beacon, and proudly display it on my ornate roof. And you know what happened then? A flying saucer came down and blew up my house. Ten minutes later, I found myself wandering the wreckage of the life i'd attempted to build. "Why didn't you destroy the flying saucer?" asked the game. I WAS TRYING! With my bow and arrow! Which was the only weapon you told me to make! But the flying saucer killed me, and then the flying saucer went away! "Huh." said Starbound, "Guess you'd better build another distress beacon then!" I got a better idea, Starbound. Why don't you see if you can find one at the bottom of this bin?

You know, that earlier comparison to serialized comics doesn't really work, I've realized. Early Access games are more like a comic released in its entirety, but without color or ink and with half the dialogue missing. One wonders if it's really worth it, we live in a world where trends move so fast, studying them is practically a field of quantum mechanics. A new game has at most thirty seconds to grab someone before they move to the next distraction on the road to the grave. I'd have thought you'd want to make the best first impression, is me point!

The game I played for the least amount of time was 7 Days to Die, whose first impressions included a big, colorful graphic listing all the features the game doesn't have, before dropping me in a seemingly infinite plane resembling a Minecraft world, after someone has stamped it flat enough to push through the crack under a door. Little tip for the seven or eight billion of you out there planning to make a zombie survival game, maybe make guns hard to find? So I don't have three after twenty minutes? And can't climb onto the roof of a building, blow the ladder apart and spend the night listening to zombies, expressing their frustration at each other somewhere below? Bored, I moved to pastures new.

Finding things to do when night has fallen seems to be a common issue with these games, such as in Rust! I spawned in Rust, holding only a rock for bashing things, and had just about figured out that trees were among the things that could fruitfully be bashed, when the sun went down. But as I was sitting by the campfire, waiting for visibility to return, some bloke with an assault rifle ran up and demanded I drop my rock. He gave me to the count of three, but this proved inadequate for figuring out what the drop control was, so he gunned me down. How fortunate this community must be to have a watchman so dedicated to rigidly enforcing the laws against unlicensed rocks. But I must say, that's three more seconds than a player of DayZ would've given me.

And my experiences on Rust servers indicate more of a general "live and let live" attitude. Because the odds of survival are better from attacking things that don't fight back. Hit a wild pig, and then sprint after it, continually spanking its buttocks until it falls over, like a cross between Deliverance and the Benny Hill show. This done, you have the resources to build a bow, and then you've won the game, congratulations. Because from that point on, I never died. I ran faster than the bears and the inevitable zombies, so as long as I kept backing up and firing, I was rolling in free shit. A few hikes around the woods, intercut with trips to the wiki to figure out how to work the sodding furnace later, I'd built the now essential two-story house, and was armed to the teeth with guns I'd built out of antlers and phlegm. Basic resources spawn infinitely, you see, so once you reach the pig-murdering point, there's no scarcity and therefore no conflict. So things get real dull real fast. You might think this would be where rival players might come after your stuff, but a gun swiftly discourages the wielder of unlicensed rocks.

Man, this game is like a speeded up history of human development. You start off bashing rocks together, and then invent fire, then guns, and finally that most vital human invention, Classism: "Fuck those shirtless newbies coming over here, taking our jobs and shagging our pigs. But always be polite to your gun wielding neighbors!" I found that meetings with players who'd reached the same level of technology always went as follows:

  • Rust Player: "Hello. Are you friendly?"
  • Yahtzee: "Depends. Is that a gun?"
  • Rust Player: "Yes. Is that a gun?"
  • Yahtzee: "Yes!"
  • Rust Player: "Then I am friendly."

Funny, how many "friendly" people you meet when you've got a gun, isn't it? It's almost like the N.R.A. were right all along!

AddendaEdit

As long as I know how to love I know I'll stay alive: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

Maybe survival games always have zombies so that they can provide a handy 'How Not To Do It' example

I wouldn't date someone who didn't promise early access

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart · The Surge · Injustice 2 · Vanquish · E3 2017 · Strafe
Q3 Get Even · Hollow Knight / Dead Cells

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