Cube World alpha impressions: The little voxel MMO that could

Cube World

By on July 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm

There’s movement in the distance. A small, cubular creature bounds around at the base of a forest made entirely of cubular trees.

You approach, carefully, worried that it might be a squirrel. You’ve been murdered by squirrels twice tonight. As you get closer, you see that it’s actually some kind of alpaca instead. That’s good.

Sensing your approach, the alpaca turns to face you expectantly. You rummage through your backpack, looking for pet food. You have, uh… bubble gum. And blood orange juice. The alpaca stands there, patiently, while you mash the bubble gum onto its face and throw juice at it.

It’s not working. Disappointed, you pull out your sword and hack the alpaca to death. A solitary experience point appears in your progress bar.

You see more movement in the distance, and head over to take a look. It’s a roving party of elf adventurers. The mage spots you and kills you instantly with a laser beam. Welcome to Cube World.

New pixels on the block

Cube World is a voxel-based exploration RPG from husband-and-wife team Wolfram and Sarah von Funck in Germany. It’s currently in alpha, and you can buy early access to it directly from the developers over at Picroma.com.

It’s tempting to compare Cube World to Minecraft, but aside from the fact that there’s a lot of brown-and-green squares in a sprawling, procedurally-generated world, the two games really couldn’t be more different. Minecraft is a sandbox game of world-building, but Cube World has more in common with World of Warcraft than anything else. With four classes, eight races and colour-coded enemies and items, the similarities to an MMO ring out far more strongly than any link to Mojang’s monster.

At its most base Cube World is a game about two things: exploration and murder. The enormous, infinite world is populated with towns and wandering NPCs which are eventually supposed to give you dynamic quests, but in the current alpha stage the only way to gain experience is by murdering things.

Murdering things is surprisingly hard. Nearly everything you’ll come across at first level will quickly destroy you, and so you’ll spend a lot of time running away. It’s kind of weird, because it means that the objectively best way to level up is to pick on things which just aren’t very good at fighting, like defenceless chickens.

Dungeons form a key part of the Cube World experience, taking the form of castles, catacombs, pyramids, ruins, and other areas you generally shouldn’t wander into unarmed. Each dungeon has a boss monster who can be defeated for mad lootz, assuming you can get past all the other minions on the way. There’s also a slew of crafting options (if you can work them out) and various special ores and materials you can collect in the world.

Miniature multiplayer offline RPG

At the moment Cube World offers multiplayer support for up to four players, and you can host a server yourself simply by running the server application found in the install directory. It works flawlessly on a LAN, or you can expose it to the internet and allow players to connect directly to your IP.

With another person at your side, Cube World quickly becomes a lot more fun and a lot more accessible. The classes work well together and complement each other and it’s much easier to clear out a dungeon if you’ve got someone else watching your back and feeding you pumpkin muffins every time your health is low.

Rough around the edges

Cube World does actually have one feature very reminiscent of Minecraft — you’ll literally never be able to work anything out for yourself if you don’t have the game’s unofficial wiki open in a browser. The in-game help extends as far as telling you the controls, and there’s absolutely no guidance on what the stats for items mean, which items do what, who to talk to in any given town, why this object you can supposedly interact with does nothing, or… well, practically anything.

It is, to use the colloquialism, a hot messCube World is stupidly gorgeous and the voxel graphics look just amazing, especially as you explore different biomes and watch the sun rise and set, or as you scamper through a cave with your lantern out. But there’s just no instruction at the moment on what to do or how to do it, and the game’s mechanics (again, in this alpha state) just boil down to “let’s go and murder these adorable animals together”.

As the game keeps updating and new features are added, Cube World will eventually shape itself into something very special. It’s got a lot of promise and it’s a heap of fun to play, but without another person around it quickly becomes very clearly shallow. If you haven’t got a friend who would be keen to pixelate out with you, it might be worth leaving it for a while.

Cube World is available in alpha for 15 EUR, or around $22 AUD. Buy it here.

Once you’ve bought it, why not head over to our Cube World forum for a chat?

Thanks to Cas and SuBw00FeR for the screenshots.

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14 comments (Leave your own)

Ridiculously hard giant ogres? 1XP.

Defenceless chickens? (Up to) 2XP.

You can’t explain that.

 

So earlier on in the peace, I bought a hang glider. I thought this was great, I looked at it in my inventory and went “how the flock do I use it?” Figured out after looking at the controls and in the inventory to slot it into the special slot and activate it with the G key, and then sat there pushing the G key over and over again wondering what’s going on.

“I know!” I exclaimed. “I need to be in a position where I need to use it!”

So I trek off to the highest point I could find, jumped off and proceeded to hammer the G key all the way until I splatted all over the landscape.

An hour or so later I’m levelling up my character and suddenly notice the hang gliding skill. Oh so that explains it! Mind you you have to put at least 5 points into climbing first, so the next few levels I’m cramming points into climbing, until with triumph I’m at a place where I finally cram one more point into climbing and the first point into my hang gliding skill. Full of excitement I close the skill tree and press G…nothing happens.

“Ok, let’s trek up that high point again” I say, climbing up a lot faster now. Get all the way to the top, leap off and then press G all the way down to splat on the landscape again.

“Huh?” I pop open the skill tree only to realize I’d put the points into the skills and then forgot to click the “learn now” button yet again. Facepalm my face so hard I’ll have a handprint for a week and then proceeded to fix the problem.

The moral of this story is to check everything. Twice. I had another splatter later on when I jumped off a mountain only to realize I had a boat equipped in my special slot. The other thing to take away from this is that the game doesn’t explain anything at all. I still haven’t managed to get a pet yet, and still don’t know half of what the figures actually mean. That said the game is still in Alpha so there’s a lot to add to this game down the track. I look forward to seeing where this game goes. For the time being I think I’m way to addicted to it than I should be.

 

I’m enjoying it, it’s quite fun and a lot more explore-y than Minecraft was IMO.

 

This game feels a bit empty atm, even playing with friends. This review sums it up nicely. Explore – kill random stuff – repeat.

All the hype about it seems to be more focused on what it could be when fully released, not what it really is now. That being said, its pretty good for an alpha release and has great potential to be something really good in the future. I would recommend at least waiting for the beta to play it though.

 

Im loving it

 

Jess Colwill:
Ridiculously hard giant ogres? 1XP.

Defenceless chickens? (Up to) 2XP.

You can’t explain that.

Those ogres are jerks!

As above, at the moment it’s fun, but what this game could be, has me keen to see how it turns out.

 

Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one that seemed to be followed around by cute murderous squirrels.

Now I delight in hunting them down and… well.

This game has turned me into a monster ;)

 

Those squirrels are kung fu murdering demons

 

“a laser beam’
those ion cannons are RIDICULOUS !

my biggest issue is with the development term “alpha”, its not in alpha it is in beta when you allow someone outside the development team access to a program it stops becoming an alpha and becomes a beta this is my biggest issue with gaming right now.

 

I logged in and got killed by everything….

After I finish sobbing in the corner for a while I’ll fire it up again

 

spooler,

When I was a student, they told me the main difference between Alpha and Beta was that Beta was considered stable (no crashes, lock-ups or game-breaking bugs) – both are ‘feature complete’. Anything missing features or content was meant to be pre-Alpha. By that definition, I would think some games have never even left Alpha.

Seems that definition has changed a lot over the years though…

 

I always considered alpha was “it’s still under construction, lots of features being added/removed/fixed etc” and beta was “mostly feature complete, most work is just fixing/tweaking stuff.” Not that it seems to matter much nowadays, everybody seems to just ignore that. Just look at the War for the Overworld “bedrock beta” which is in such a raw state, I’d hesitate to even call an alpha.

Oh and I got a pet owl. I’ve called it owlbait as it seems to die a lot. Also doesn’t seem to fly too well for an owl, I spend a great deal of time teleporting/gliding around the map so I usually have to put him back in the inventory and pull him out for those times I feel like walking. Still it’s fun to knock over a bunch of enemies and then watch him cruise over and ferociously beat them to death with his wings… (probably explains why he doesn’t fly too well)

 

hellbender:
This game feels a bit empty atm, even playing with friends. This review sums it up nicely. Explore – kill random stuff – repeat.

All the hype about it seems to be more focused on what it could be when fully released, not what it really is now.

Dunno, I enjoy it even now, more than many AAA titles even. The combat system is nice, responsive and interactive, unlike many other RPG titles i’ve seen.

vcatkiller:
The other thing to take away from this is that the game doesn’t explain anything at all.I still haven’t managed to get a pet yet, and still don’t know half of what the figures actually mean.That said the game is still in Alpha so there’s a lot to add to this game down the track.I look forward to seeing where this game goes.For the time being I think I’m way to addicted to it than I should be.

It’s an alpha, its not meant to explain much. That aside I didn’t need much explanation for anything at all. Seemed quite intuitive overall when you read the skill descriptions and try around a bit. Note: you can unlearn skills :P Just rightclick them, you need to be at a class trainer though.

But yeah it’s quite addicting.

Jess Colwill:
Ridiculously hard giant ogres? 1XP.
Defenceless chickens? (Up to) 2XP.
You can’t explain that.

Explanation: alpha. Also those ogres aren’t quite that hard.

@Article: It’s not an MMO and your heading looks truncated

The only time I needed the wiki was to figure out which pets want which pet food, because I didnt feel like trying all the food i had on every animal I saw.

Though for some reason many people seem to have huge problems in understanding how the game mechanics work. I found them rather easy to figure out.

 

Claiming that you HAVE to use the wiki to play it is completely wrong.

Everything can be rather easily figured out by yourself. Sure, some more descriptions would help but it’s really not that bad.

There’s no need to look at a wiki all the time.
In fact, if you look at a wiki to (for example) learn which pet requires what food, then you’re actually taking away some of the fun.

 
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