4 Reasons Astroneer is Going to Continue to Kill it in Early to Mid 2017

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Released on December 16, 2016, in Steam Early Access by System Era Softworks, Astroneer has gathered a passionate following on the internet, stacking a total of 11,952 reviews on Steam, 90 percent of which were ranked as "positive" by the platform. 

The game is currently in its version 0.20.117.0 and as players continue to explore its resources, hype only continues to grow for the full release. 

In this list, we will share four reasons why Astroneer will continue to blow everyone's minds throughout the first half of 2017 -- and beyond. 

 

Procedural Generation 

This was one of the biggest selling points of No Man's Sky, but after that fiasco, players became incredulous over the potential of this rapidly growing ubiquitous technology. Luckily, however, Astroneer proved it is possible to have a beautiful procedural world with interesting maps and dazzling sights. 

This adds a virtually infinite number of locations for the player to explore. Of course, some will inevitably be similar to others, but from what we have seen thus far, we can believe some repetition will not be a problem as the quality of the code (and overall design direction) in this game remains breathtaking. 

Multiplayer

Astroneer features a cooperative mode that supports up to four players. In a game with as many variables as Astroneer, implementing multiplayer is an incredible achievement and the team behind the game certainly deserves praise for how it's implemented. 

Even if the planets in this game provide players with mesmerizing sights and interesting places to explore, the fun would not be complete if your friends could not join you in your interplanetary endeavors. (Yes, we're looking at you, No Man's Sky.) 

Consequently, the co-op functionality of Astroneer will only help increase its popularity. YouTubers will create series about and share memes of their adventures on social media, boosting the game's presence; streamers will surely get together and partake is crazy adventures; and average players will be able to team up and overcome challenges that could never be completed with just one set of space gloves. 

Crafting

After the success of Minecraft, adding crafting systems to games has become somewhat of a trope. But problems arise when developers add crafting in a context where it makes little sense. 

In Astroneer; however, the crafting system works in complete concert with the core elements of the game, adding depth to the gameplay. 

As players explore planets, they acquire more resources and craft new items, which in turn, allow them to explore more planets. This is something that many players of No Man's Sky, for example, have been clamoring for. And something that definitely sets Astronomer apart.

When crafting actually has a purpose and just isn't used as a selling point, it's not a distraction, but a major enhancement. 

Imagination

Astroneer and The Sims have more in common than you might at first think. 

While the universe of Astroneer provides players with incredible vistas, the textures and the models of the in-game avatars are not truly detailed, as we can see in the image above. The game aims for a more minimalist approach to its graphics, much like The Sims.

This allows the player to insert their own imaginations into the hopping space suit they see on the screen.

As the author Katherine Isbister writes in her book How Games Move Us -- Emotion by Design:

"Astute design choices made in The Sims series help make the game extremely absorbing. The nonsense babble, and the simplified cartoony graphics and animations leave more to the player's imagination than if the game had highly polished dialogue, surfaces and performances."

The simple graphics of Astroneer allow players to project their own imaginations onto the in-game avatars, thus making it a more personal experience. This creates enhanced engagement and buy-in, making the experience that much more engrossing. 

Moreover, as Scott McCloud explains in his book Understanding Comics:

"A more abstract and stylized rendition of a character allows viewers to project more of themselves onto the character".

The author says this in the context of character design in comic books, but the same principle holds true to characters and environments in video games. The more a player can insert his or her own consciousness into the game world, the more they will become part of that world. 

If Astroneer can keep doing this for players, it's popularity will only continue to expand throughout 2017. 

While we'll have to wait to see the final product, we can infer from what we have already seen that Astroneer has the potential to become a watershed exploration game that takes the genre to brand new heights.

By making players believe in procedural generation after the No Man's Sky fiasco, adding a multiplayer mode, developing a meaningful crafting system that adds depth to the experience and allowing players to personalize their journeys through their own imaginations, Astroneer is a game that will continue to rise in 2017. And if you have not started playing it yet, you definitely should. 

Published Jan. 21st 2017

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