Avorion: In Rust We Trust


#1

Space voxel games have been sort of hit-or-miss for me. There’s a fine line between not having enough freedom and having way too much of it.

Avorion strikes that balance really well; the tutorial is good and interactive, and the game plays like a mix of Minecraft and X3, with a procedural galaxy of space empires, pirates and aliens. The building tool is really good; blocks can be scaled down to miniscule bits, allowing you to place sheets of armor and stick frames as well as blocks and prefabricated block patterns. Unsurprisingly the majority of AI ships look Minmatar in design, but you have enough freedom to also create smooth curves.

Plus it’s on sale for $13 on Steam, so naturally I treated myself. So far I can’t put it down.


#2

The single-player puts you at the edge of a galaxy with the overall goal of traveling to the center. Resources get better as you gradually travel inward, but so do the threats, and thus you have to incrementally improve your ship, grabbing up missions and loot as you go. Sometimes you’ll find networks of warp gates and wormholes that will save you a bunch of jumps; other times you’ll accidentally jump right into a pirate enclave.

The combat is just okay right now. Weapons exist as their own blocks that you have to loot or buy, so finding them is a pain in the ass, same with mining lasers. I’m severely underarmed right now, despite having more than enough of everything else. Creative Mode only gives you unlimited resources, not weapons, so I haven’t even been able to experiment with better firepower yet.


#3

I just no-lifed this game for like four hours straight.

Highlights: Found a wormhole that saved me like ten jumps, found a neutral empire who kindly let me use their jump gates for a small fee, found a series of mysterious beacons with coordinates which eventually pointed me pretty far southeast (“Project Exodus”), got distracted by a smuggling mission, thirty jumps later reached the dropoff, but the misdion NPC warped out without paying, which escalated into another mission to seek revenge; also found a wormhole leading to the opposite side of the galaxy but no closer to the center so I ignored it.

Now I’ve found another new empire with a gate network.

Here’s what my progress looks like on the map:

And here’s what that progress looks like on the galactic scale:

Holy shit, this is going to be a long game.


#4

The game gets better.

Throughout the galaxy are gaps in traversible space that you can’t bypass except by randomly-placed jump gates. These rifts pose a minor annoyance early-game, but at about 150 spaces from the center, a giant rift prevents you from getting closer unless you’ve collected eight artifacts found only by completing specific quests. Some of these are a little arbitrary (a traveling merchant has one) and some involve boss fights.

I’m starting a new game to grab up the earlier ones I skipped. It feels more like an ARPG than a sandbox game, which is great.


#5

I’m about to take a weekend-long break from this game to (hopefully) record part of an album, but my takeaway is:

Combat isn’t kinetic enough; enemies sit in one spot and most weapons have very short range, plus there’s no leading reticle so if you’re trying to be dodgy you’re going to be guessing/missing like 90% of the time. I realized tonight that the only exciting part of combat is the looting, which itself just segues into more combat/looting.

The mining/trading system is more than adequate. You can use fighters to mine and even move cargo to and from stations, so technically you could just sit in a system directing mining drones and shuttles to do all the busy work. Unfortunately this is still slow and tedious, and again, it only segues into more mining/trading.

A bunch of good streamers, like ZiggyD and Lathland, have put up video series for Avorion, but both have pivoted back to PoE and FtD, respectively, and nobody of consequence is playing it anymore. I can kind of see why - once you’ve played through the game once, there’s not a whole lot to do. Unlike X3 where the progression is slow and the challenges more surprising, the difficulty in Avorion scales so gently and the campaign can be started and finished in a lazy day.

Maybe in a few update cycles they’ll do something interesting, it just looks like there’s very little else to do on my part.