I'm always cautious when venturing into games in early access but that only makes me all the more pleased when I find those titles to be more than competent games with a bright future. CryoFall is one of those pleasant surprises, and my hands-on time with it makes me think it'll be a blast to play when it's fully released! Read on for my full preview.
When I first started CryoFall, I noticed that the dedicated servers in the US weren't that populated with active players. This was mostly fine with me, as I generally like to deal less with strangers and more with the environment in my survival games. If you're more into the PVP scene of things I would wait until full release to see how populated the servers are then. The game is best enjoyed with a friend, however, as there's lots to do to ensure your survival, and a friend or even a small group of friends could work toward building bigger and better things.
Speaking of building, there's so much to build in CryoFall. I didn't expect to find branching, tiered lists of skills and blueprints in an early access game, so I was thoroughly blown away by the sheer amount of things to learn, craft, and build. The initial basic set of items you can find throughout the world is rather small, but those items can be combined and cooked and experimented with until you can make things as advanced as chemistry sets, weapons workshops, and so much more. It was a lot of fun to level up each skill tree to see what new things I could make. My assumption is there will only be more when the game fully releases, and I'm excited to see what other branches each skill tree will grow.
The explorable world in CryoFall is, much like the amount of craftable items, surprisingly large. There are valuable resources that can only be found in a few of the game's many biomes, and so exploring becomes as important as crafting for your survival. This also means that where you build your base will matter greatly, as you ideally would want a base as close to all biomes as possible.
While playing, I encountered huge bases run by multiple people, most of which commanded control of mining resources in the area. You can see player characters even when they're offline, so sneaking onto their land and mining some copper wasn't too hard, but it felt scandalous. I was afraid that one could log back in at any moment and destroy me with their advanced weaponry while I had nothing but a rock tied to a stick for my protection.
Despite preferring solo play, I began to wish some of these logged out players would log back in, just for a bit of excitement. The closest thing I got was being spooked when I encountered a player in the wild at night, only to return the next day to realize he was logged out there.
Naturally, I killed him and stole his stuff, but the point is, I realized I sort of had fun feeling that rush from encountering other players. I could befriend them and survive along side of them or try my luck with fighting them and gaining whatever they were carrying.
CryoFall is a game that has the base of a great survival game, but the player base will really have to be brought up on full release to make surviving mean something, I feel. Moreover, the combat is very simple, and so I hope they add more weapon types or attacks to keep things interesting.