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Shuuda avatar 11:19 AM on 07.15.2013  (server time)
Cube World Alpha Impressions

Cube World is a game that I've expressed an interest with in the past, and with the recently released public alpha I decided to pay my first visit to this voxel based exploration RPG and write up about it. For those who aren't aware of it, Cube World is being developed by Wolfram “Wollay” von Funck and Sarah “Pixxie” von Funck from German. The game takes inspiration from the likes of Minecraft, Zelda, Diablo, and much more.

Please note that Cube World is still in early alpha, and therefore far from finished. Just keep that in mind when I go through my thoughts and criticisms.

I went into the character editor and made myself a gruff, old, human warrior with a beard and created my first world (which basically involves putting in a seed number). The character customisation is pretty satisfying, with eight races to choose from including humans, elves, frogmen, and undead. There's a good range of hairs and faces to pick along with almost any hair colour imaginable. It's also interesting how the characters and the worlds are separate, meaning you can play different characters in different lands if you so desire. You even keep levels and items as you move between them.

The combat in Cube World from what I experienced as a warrior is very simplistic and some might find it lacking in depth. It consists of performing ordinary attacks until the MP character was full, which you could then use perform a special attack depending on what weapon you are using, such as a spinning attack if you're wielding two swords or a power block if you're using a shield. As you level up you can acquire special skills that can stun and do extra damage to enemies. One example is a jumping attacking that allows you to slam down on a group of enemies and knock them down. These skills have recharge times, but no indication as to how long they are on the actual skill bar. The controls for fighting, which I do not believe can be rebound currently, have a few quirks. Most frustratingly is having to roll by clicking the mouse wheel. It just feels like the wrong place to put that functionality and it caused me not to utilise the move to any great degree.

Levelling up in Cube World is perhaps the most tedious part of the game. Some enemies give as little as one experience for their defeat, which makes taking on some mobs feel very unrewarding. Even when I moved onto tougher groups it still felt like trying to strength up my character was taking forever. It risks sullying the exploration aspect of Cube World and turn it into an MMO grind.

This feeling also extends to Cube World's crafting system. While it's by no means a bad thing on its own, combined with the grinding nature of the combat it does feel a bit too familiar to an MMO. Most of time was spent harvesting heartflowers which I could then take back to the city and make some potions with when crafted with some flasks of water. Various metals can also be collected and used the forge new weapons and armours, making Cube World's crafting more like Terraria than Minecraft. However, rather than just making items as soon as you have the right equipment and materials, some require you to purchase formulas in order to learn, giving more purpose to the money you find from slaying mobs.

Hang gliders and boats can be purchased in Cube World to further exploration. Having these kind of optional travelling methods is seriously cool, but there is one elephant in the room in regards to them. At first the ten silver for the hang glider seemed like it would take a while to get, but it did not. Good right? Afraid not. The problem is that using the item also requires me to get the skill to use it by levelling up and finding a trainer, which I have already explained is a painfully long process. Having the hang glider in my inventory but not being able to use it is really unpleasant.

At this point I decided to blow caution to the wind and simply do what I wanted to do in this game in the first place. I headed out for some exploration. Cube World's procedurally generated worlds have roads in them, which meant I had a good route to follow at the start. When I reached the end of the road however I simply wandered off in any random direction.

The worlds in Cube World are separated into different regions that generate when you enter them. Each region seems to have its own city where you can do some crafting and trading. Various named landmarks and areas will be dotted around the regions such as forests, lakes, etc. These labelled areas will have a concentration of certain kinds of tougher enemies. During my play sessions I wandered into a forest full of lizardmen. An objective for the area also came up which involved defeating their leader, who turned out to be a giant lizardman. Naturally I was immediately crushed when I tried to take him.

The strength of enemies in Cube World can vary rather dramatically. It is not uncommon to find weaklings and mighty bulls who hit like trucks in the same patch. Even more unusual was the surprising power of certain enemies. This is no more apparent than when I came face to face with the deadly, deadly squirrel. The first time I encountered one of these vicious little buggers it went straight for me and showed no mercy. I barely won with my life intact. Finally, it is worth noting that if an enemy defeats you they recover their health, meaning you can't keep trying to beat on them in the hopes they'll break down eventually.

Right now, Cube World is offering some wonderful exploration, but the worlds feel rather empty beyond the endless mobs to fight. It is worth noting that the price of getting into the game during alpha will be cheaper than when it goes into beta, currently at around $14. There's potential waiting to fill these worlds. However, unless you're seriously interested in the what the project might have to offer, or you just want to buy in at the cheaper alpha price, then I would advise caution about buying. It's a very sweet – but far from complete – game. If you're interested you should check out the developer's website.

You can also read this on my personal blog.

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