Ace of Spades looked at the popularity of games designed around procedural, voxel-based worlds and tried to incorporate those ideas and mechanics into a first-person shooter. Unfortunately that game ended up being terrible. Even so, that wasn’t going to stop others from following suit, trying to strike a balance between player creativity and a tight, competitive FPS
Many have tried, some have succeeded, and today we have Blockstorm, possibly the best execution of the concept yet. Despite being in Early Access, what’s on offer here is well worth buying into. The game is a blast, and it’s only going to get better.
Blockstorm offers no campaign for the players, and no context behind the fighting itself. The game is pure PVP, boasting classic multiplayer game types such as Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch as well as the more modern control-point-based Assault. Blockstorm proves itself to be a straight-forward shooter, but an engaging one nonetheless.
Destructible geometry is nothing new to the shooter space. It’s a feature that’s been popping up frequently these last few years, but not many games take it to this extent. Nor do they actually allow for you to add to the environment, creating structures and barriers in the middle of combat.
This is where the real fun of the game is to be found. Every player is handed one-hundred blocks of their corresponding team’s color, and given full freedom to build with them what they wish. This often results in players barring themselves in houses, using the blocks as makeshift barriers from the enemies and placing themselves in the best possible position for the inevitable assault. Those plans can then very easily be thwarted as the enemy players dig in from the top of the building to exact revenge for the frustrating delay. Sometimes, the blocks are just used to spell out epithets directed at the opposing team. The game is random – fantastically so.
Blockstorm’s chaotic randomness is what sets it apart and gives the game a certain charm over many other shooters currently on the market. For a competitive shooter, it isn’t trying to take itself seriously. At least that’s how the community handles it at this point. This is not for the hardcore gamer looking for their next competitive fix, this is for the everygamer looking to have a good time.
While small, the Blockstorm community is active, and it’s never too hard to find a game. It also happens to be one of the more friendly communities I have come across in the shooter space, though people’s experiences will vary in that regard.
Even if the game doesn’t make a point to push its competitive aspects, Blockstorm still proves itself as a proper shooter. While it doesn’t compare to the elites of the genre, the gunplay found here is actually rather satisfying. Its admittedly small arsenal offers a good deal of variety between the different weapons, and all of the guns have a satisfying kick to them. The game also boasts a number of secondary weapons, such as a bazooka, C4, claymores, or grenades, just to add a bit more to the chaos.
At the moment there are only a handful of maps on offer to players. Luckily there’s an in-depth map creator, allowing players to build and distribute their own maps to the community. This provides endless amounts of content so long as the community keeps with it. The creator also extends to the players themselves, allowing them to create whatever voxel-based monstrosity they can imagine and use it as their avatar.
Blockstorm is game all about the players and, sadly, that’s the one thing it’s lacking. Again, it’s never too hard for players to find games for the more popular (and infinitely more fun) Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch game types, but it’s still a very small, if dedicated, community. In my time with the game, I often came across the same names day after day. That isn’t a bad thing, mind you. The more we played, the more people got comfortable with each other and the more entertaining the matches became. But without a larger community things like user-generated maps –something I see as the backbone of the title — will be next to useless.
Do I recommend Blockstorm? Yes, I do. It’s provided some of the most entertaining sessions I’ve had online in recent memory, and it has a lot of potential. While it’s lacking in overall content, what’s on offer is very well-done and can only get better over time. We just need players. The more players, the better this game is going to get. It’s as simple as that. So while I do advise people to be careful of buying in, considering the low player base, that’s also the only way this game will get the chance it deserves.