Blockstorm – Early Access Preview

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BlockHeads

Another early access preview and another Minecraft clone? I can hear you groaning already! But unlike some of the other voxel based releases we have previewed here at Frugal Gaming, Blockstorm is rather good, in my opinion at least.
Now I bought Minecraft early and I’ve spent many a happy hour with the base game, but that’s as far as I’ve ever taken it. I have never tried any of the mods or been on other peoples servers, it’s all too complicated and time consuming for me. Whilst I know there are FPS mods for Minecraft, (hell I even saw a TitanFall game mode on YouTube the other day), I’ve never been interested because unless I can click one button to launch the game I’m just not interested. That’s where Blockstorm comes in.
Available now on Steam Early Access for a penny under £9, Blockstorm is Minecraft with guns, but that’s not all. Anyone who has played a FPS will be immediately at home with how the game handles and the game modes on offer. The usual WASD and mouse controls work very well, RMB to aim down iron sights and LMB to unleash whatever weapon you’re using. Whilst the shooty controls are tight, movement does at times feel a little bit slow, especially if you’ve come off the back of something like COD.
With hopefully more game modes on the way, the only ones available at the minute are Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Assault. Whilst the first two need no introduction, Assault splits the player into opposing teams, those who must assault or defend an area of the map. It’s without a doubt the most tactical mode and also gave us the biggest laughs and the most fun.
There are multiple load outs at your disposal, each set-up has a main weapon, a sidearm and explosives of some type. All the weapons look great, made up of the tiny blocks, cute and yet just as deadly as their real life counterparts. The twist here is that each weapon has a different weight, and whilst I’m not 100% sure at the time of writing, it does feel that the heavier your load out the slower you move. This is a great idea and although the weapons still need a bit of balancing, the play-off between lightly armed yet swift, or a tooled up but slow tank do add to the tactical aspect of the game.

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Being a voxel based game opens up a whole bevy of options during the fire fights. You can build and demolish nearly all of the blocks in the game. Want to play the sniper and pick off targets from a distance? Then find yourself a nice hidey hole and block up the entrance so the enemy can’t flank you. Having trouble getting into the enemy’s base in Assault mode? Why not tunnel to victory? It does add something not seen in any other FPS and can lead to some hilarious moments.
A fully featured level editor, the same piece of kit that the developers, Ghost Shark Games, have used to create the pre-baked maps that come with the game is available for everyone. Just think about that for a minute. An endless supply of levels limited only by your imagination and that of the community. Anybody fancy recreating Doom?
The creativity doesn’t end there either; the devs have also included the character editor that they used to create the multitude of pre-sets available, from Robot to Gorilla or a Chef. The inclusion of both these editors is a great idea, however they do take a little bit of time and effort to get used to. Some tutorial videos for these would be great, and whilst the developers have set up a wiki page for the game at the minute its empty. I’m hoping that as the both the community itself and the content it creates grows, the people at Ghost Shark introduce some way to showcase the new content and curate it to, let’s face it there is always an element of absolute rubbish to wade through when it comes to this sort of user created content.

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Being a completely multiplayer game, it seemed right and proper to get some of the Frugal Gamers together to preview Blockstorm. What was only going to be a 30 minute session stretched into something much longer. Here’s what these guys had to say!

Mark Kerry

Blockstorm offers a great combined experience- if you love Minecraft and love Call of Duty you’ll love this. The iconic Minecraft voxel style that has seen a rise in popularity since the hit game first landed, and the ability to dig your own nest along with an online FPS experience is really refreshing and makes for a different experience every single time.
One thing that really interests me is the level creator, an awesome feature in which you can build your own level, host a server and play with friends or random players that join. This is great as it gives you the freedom to explore your own creativity and then test your creations out against players from around the world!
Watch this space closely, I can’t wait to see this in its final release form.

Moaning Bastard Karlos Morale

OK it’s fun in multiplayer. I’m pretty sure that the guys will have poured sugar all over this title because we DID have a pleasant evening playing together – but the same could be said about most functioning multiplayer games. Blockstorm is as basic an FPS as it’s possible to get, chucked into a Minecraft-esque engine.
Blockstorm comes across an undercooked proposition in its current form. The biggest issue currently is the lack of options in terms of interactivity with the landscape, in terms of what players can add in a given game. You are currently limited to adding a single block colour coded to your particular team. A range of block types, possibly with different effects, would make for a more interesting and dynamic landscape to play the game in. With that in mind, the load outs are also shallow and offer little in the way of options – some more development of the weapons available to offer more significant advantages and disadvantages would greatly aid play variety. Currently there are clearly optimal weapons on a given map and no incentive to deviate.

Bwortang

Like finishing a jam doughnut without licking your lips, describing Blockstorm without calling it a Minecraft FPS was going to be tricky. This simple block-based shooter with it’s destructible and construct-able environment allows for several weapon load outs as well as a variety of characters ranging from Rambo to a chef.

Currently only 3 vanilla game modes are available in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Assault (which is an attack/defend mode). Further game modes would be appreciated and I’m sure are in the pipeline. With a map and character editor the fun is only limited by the communities imagination, If they could migrate some Minecraft fans across and fill the servers with players on custom maps, in a budget price range they’d be onto a winner.

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Have You Got What It Takes To Beat The Cubes? Back To My Opinion.

Blockstorm is off to a good start and I’m definitely looking forward to playing more, however there are some stumbling blocks the developers need to overcome. Player base and price, and they are both intertwined.
Whilst I understand it’s very early in the games life, there are just not enough players on the servers. This morning there was one server with six people playing, at other times over the last week when I’ve tried to play there has not been a soul online. A multiplayer game without multiple players is not a game at all. This preview would have been virtually impossible if the other Frugal guys hadn’t jumped in and it’s such a shame because Blockstorm is a whole lot of fun, especially when playing with friends.
I do feel, at the minute at least, that Blockstorm is just quite simply overpriced.A little lower in pricewould be about perfect for me. People wouldn’t think twice about picking the game up for a few quid but £9 is getting towards the considered purchase price. A cheaper price would mean a lot more people playing in theory, which would immediately raise the value of the game, not to mention the amount of fun to be had, levels created, and the general buzz around the game would be much higher.

Blockstorm has got a lot going for it, I and a couple of the other guys had a lot of fun in our multiplayer games and I really want to continue playing. It’s a cracking idea that would appeal to lots of gamers. Console players would lap this up! But it needs to walk before it runs and those first steps need to be building and maintaining its community. I really hope that in a years’ time I’m still playing Blockstorm and a whole lot of other people are too.

Blockstorm is available via Steam Early Access and can be found here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/263060/