Ask anybody about the sandbox genre and Minecraft will probably be the first game that comes to mind. Whether you liked the game or not you can’t deny the large influence it’s had on game development and the gaming industry. With countless merchandise and even Minecraft birthday cakes becoming mainstream it’s influence hasn’t gone unnoticed.
While I was looking around for my next game on Steam I quickly found myself flooded with sandbox styled Minecraft Games (most of them in an Early Access state). With so many still in their infant stages I can’t help but feel that we are on the cusp of an entirely new era. I’ll be covering a few that really caught my eye with unique ideas but there are many other sandbox games out there and I’d love to hear some of your own favourites in the comment section.
The first game that caught my eye (and ten thousand+ other eyes) is Rust, a game that quite possibly is the ultimate survival experience. Still early in development but very much playable the game has stayed in the top 3 selling Steam games since it went live back in early December.
Starting out with only a rock it challenges you to survive in a harsh game world where you a threatened by wildlife, other players and zombies (although these are planned for removal). Rust plays in a very similar manner to DayZ but adds more sandbox and building elements that allow you to reach a point of relative safety once you’re setup (similar to Minecraft) where as DayZ is a constant struggle for survival.
The second game that I settled on is StarForge, a more combat heavy experience that doesn’t settle for just sandbox gameplay with elements of FPS, RPG and even tower defence making an appearance.
The most notable features that pulled me in was the level up system, vehicles and the random weapons that almost feels like a page out of Borderlands (a long time favourite game of mine).
Last but definitely not least is a game that will turn you into an engineer, Space Engineers. This sandbox game is all about construction in space with a focus on large space stations but also has room for smaller ship building.
Beyond maintaining these space creations you’ll also get to pilot them and mine asteroids for your resources. Space definitely feels like the next logical step in the sandbox scene and I only hope that Space Engineers can pull off everything that it promises (and more).
There you have it, 3 games that take the sandbox genre into a new generation. Is there one in particular that you’ve got your eye on as we press forward into 2014? For the time being you’ll find me running around naked with a rock in Rust and you’re more than welcome to join in.