EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Howie Howard
previewed on PC
Mars occupation is all about the updates
Occupy Mars is still in somewhat of a very early development period after having just been released into Early Access at the start of May. The full game is expected to be released sometime in 2024 or possibly 2025. With the game still in the early stages, it is not surprising that bugs are present, and a lot of the content is not yet available. The game is playable though, and the developers are releasing updates on an almost daily basis. Unfortunately, that didn't prevent my game from crashing a couple of times upon trying to accomplish some task or by heading to a particular location. For me, that is fine because it is early and the developers seem to be very dedicated to the game.
The basic premise in Occupy Mars consists of the player's character being selected to be an astronaut tasked with going to Mars to build a colony. The story line is that building a thriving colony will give humanity a foothold on another planetary body. The game has a rather lengthy tutorial that needs to be looked at before one can even step foot on the planet. The tutorial is basic in nature, and it emphasizes how to move around and how to use tools by activating other keys. Learning such very basic things are something that everyone that has ever played a computer game will already be familiar with and so hopefully the developers will refine the tutorial to make it less bland.
Resources, resources and more resources...
Everything in the game is based upon gathering resources in order to build and upgrade the habitat and accompanying equipment. As we all know the environment on Mars is not suitable for human consumption without the usage of specialized equipment. By that, we mean everything needed to survive on the planet must be found and then manufactured. The tech tree is quite extensive after being researched and then advanced items that are needed to progress, can be built. As an example, extra oxygen canisters and batteries for the space suit have to be built as do advanced systems for the entire base. The space suit requires constant monitoring because battery power and oxygen will run out. If the suit runs out of oxygen or power, then its game over. So, keeping spare oxygen in the suit is a must.
Everything is detailed and in a nicely developed technical manner. Every astronaut needs food and water to be able to survive on Mars, and after building the greenhouse; players graduate from eating MRE's to being able to grow vegetables. Every expansion of the base requires raw materials that are refined and used to build. Energy is important and additional energy sources are needed in order to expand the habitat. Energy is what drives the progress of humanity on this planet - and so solar panels and various other improved power generating equipment constantly need to be built.
Shall I walk or drive?
Players won't be walking around a whole lot once the Mars rover is built. When using the rover to wander vast distances on the planet, similar complications arise as with the space suit. Players will still need to carry enough oxygen and battery resources, so they'll need to be sure to plan the trip accordingly. The resource search will end when enough raw materials are found, and other items are salvaged from derelict space vehicles that litter the planet's surface. Once the rover is filled to the brim then heading to the resource refinery will be in order.
The game has a nice day and night cycle which in turn can bring additional problems and issues. Night time is very cold on Mars and that means extra power will be required to be able to ramp up the heat. Solar power is obviously not available at night and batteries quickly run out of power so advanced power generating systems need to be researched and built. The entire game is filled with one disaster or another and they need to be remedied quickly or existence on the planet will come to an abrupt end. Systems and parts break down and need to be repaired and weather conditions can turn bad and so on. These instances serve to add a sense of emergency to game play which keeps the excitement level high. Stockpiling resources and having a solid plan in play can save the day in a time of emergency.
Blast off or crash and burn?
Folks, the Occupy Mars Early Access demo looks to be a very interesting survival, base building and sandbox game with a technical item building tree. Everything in the game can be built, repaired and improved upon but some planning needs to be taken seriously because things can go wrong on Mars. It's a bit too early to give a definitive opinion on whether this title will blast off or crash and burn but from what we've seen so far at this early stage, the developers are on the right track. When game mechanics are ironed out and additional items and content are added, then Mars can finally be fully occupied. Keep an eye on this trip to Mars because it could turn in to a good one...
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There are no guarantees - but we'd bet our own money on this one. If you're going to take a chance with yours, odds are good this one will deliver.