Oxygen Not Included Needs Some Mods That Aren't Language Packs
It's hard to deny that Oxygen Not Included, the latest game from the studio behind indie hits Don't Starve and Invisible, Inc., is a good game. Despite still being in Early Access, ONI boasts an overall "very positive" rating on Steam, with players praising the base-building survival game's physics mechanics, complexity, and art style. But if Oxygen Not Included has one critical flaw that could prevent it from becoming a lasting hit, it's that the game needs mod support.
As a quick glance through the game's Steam workshop will tell you, the only mods currently available for Oxygen Not Included are language packs. And while knowing how to say "I want better decor" in German is sure to be useful someday, language packs are not the type of content that will keep players interested in the game long post-launch. Mods are.
Despite ONI's largely glowing Steam reviews, a recurring complaint is that there's little motivation to play once food, oxygen, and heat are under control (feats that can be accomplished quickly if you know what you are doing). This flaw is an unfortunately common one. The inherent problem with survival and colony management games is that players inevitably reach total self-sufficiency -- the point where all the players' needs are met in excess by their farms, factories, etc. -- and expansion serves no purpose.
Players can always start a fresh save, of course -- but once you know the strategy for constructing the perfect base, it often becomes a matter of simply going through the exact same steps as last time until you've once again obtained a self-sufficient colony. There's some variance, of course, but the formula for success is too often the same.
What breaks up this formula -- and consequently keeps even veteran players coming back -- are the additional mechanics/challenges/silliness provided by mods. You may already know how to create a thriving space colony in vanilla Oxygen Not Included, but what if one of your dupes is actually a double-agent working to sabotage your base? How will you react when you accidentally uncover a Xenomorph? Or maybe the game is just more fun with Nicolas Cage's face stamped on almost every visible surface.
The point is that mods add the additional fun, challenge, and replayability that games of the base-building and survival genres desperately need. A good vanilla game is important, sure, but mods are what make a survival game survive. Games like Terraria, RimWorld, Age of Empires II, and even Minecraft are fantastic on their own, but mods give them a fresh set of legs that keep players coming back long after the their first few save files.
So why is there such a lack of mods for Oxygen Not Included? It's both simple and perplexing: the current version of Oxygen Not Included just doesn't allow mods other than language packs. Developer Klei Entertainment has remained pretty mum on the topic of mod support for ONI, which is a strange choice considering Don't Starve, Don't Starve Together, and Invisible, Inc. all support community-generated content. So what's the deal?
Many players believe the current lack of mod support is to prevent modders from adding features to the game that the developers themselves intend to implement during the Early Access period, and that modding will be enabled closer to the release of the final product. Hopefully this is the case, because survival games need mods like dupes need oxygen; and without mod support for Oxygen Not Included, the game runs the risk of being just a few playthroughs' worth of fun rather than a long-lasting and perpetually evolving experience.
Do you think mod support is essential for most games? What mods would you like to see in ONI? Let us know down below!