Wandering the Land in Cube World’s Alpha

Cube World had been in development for a long while now, but the alpha was finally released in early July.  After a launch hindered by DDOS attacks things finally settled down, and with a bit of luck it should be smooth sailing from here.  It’s still early days and there are many updates ahead, but the Cube World‘s core is already a fun romp through a colorful, blocky fantasy world.

It is, however, a pointless romp, but that’s not really a problem.  There’s no story in Cube World, just a series of missions to pursue or ignore as you see fit, set in a giant open land that extends forever.  From the moment you’re dropped into the middle of the world you can go anywhere, and the numeric seed you entered at the game’s start governs every part of the world’s creation.  Hills, mountains, forests, villages, deserts, and all the other biomes, the landscape they cover, and the dungeons scattered throughout are generated based on the seed, and sharing it with a friend will give them the exact same world.  Once the world is generated, it’s time to go on an adventure.

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Cube World is mostly unstructured, but the point is to go exploring rather than to be guided through a narrative.  There’s you, terrain, monsters, and a map, and it’s up to you to survive the monsters while using the map to explore the terrain.  The map has a town marked on it, and some of the townsfolk will point out the dungeons, but no pressure.  You can go to the dungeon or not, it’s completely your choice, but there’s some nice goodies in there if you can survive.

Survival is tricky at first, and in its current state Cube World is one of those games that starts out very hard before settling in to a more easygoing difficulty curve.  Most monsters will be tagged in red at the game’s start, meaning that they’re far too tough for a level 1 hero, and while there are random wandering bands of friendly AI adventurers walking about it can get old pulling aggro and then running for help.  Fortunately, once you’ve gone up a few levels, the friendly wanderers become nice to find when available rather than absolutely necessary for survival.  At that point it’s time to start going for some very long walks instead of hanging around the outskirts of town, scavenging supplies and regenerating after endless deaths.  Dying may be consequence-free, but can get repetitious when even the raccoons can destroy you.

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Once the world becomes a challenge rather than a meat grinder, Cube World opens up into an absolutely lovely open-world adventure.  There are caves to explore, dungeons to fight through, tons of loot drops and items for purchase and crafting, and even hang gliding.  Climbing the highest mountain and riding the air is a great way to cover ground quickly, once you’ve leveled up enough to enable the skill.  Dropping off the glider into the middle of a group of hostile monsters, using a couple of combat skills to knock them off their feet, and then combo-ing them senseless (taking extra care to make sure the magic users go down first) is always good fun.

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While the current version of Cube World is worryingly addictive for those who like to chase after their own goals over being guided down a narrative path, it’s still early and there’s lots to come.  New character classes, new biomes, background lore for the world, a procedural quest system, more monsters and bosses, and even pet evolution are all planned for future updates.  There’s still plenty of work left to be done, but even in its early form Cube World is a big, inviting world just begging for adventurers to explore its farthest reaches.