In today's article, I cover the demo build of Voxlands: an impressive voxel based sandbox game from the veins of Minecraft. This game looks pretty damn gorgeous, and there's a demo to play right now as part of Steam Next Fest!
Bite Sized Reviews: Enshrouded Early Impressions
Previous Bite Sized Reviews: Age of Darkness Final Stand
Voxlands Preview Impressions
I got the chance to preview the upcoming voxel-survival game Voxlands. More on that soon, because it’s impossible to mention Voxlands without bringing up its inspiration. That, of course, is Minecraft.
Calling Minecraft a successful game is like calling ******* ‘a big planet’. Even more than the Pokemon games, Minecraft developed its reputation as the best-selling video game ever made. That’s one hell of an achievement. With over 300 million copies sold on a dozen different platforms, it’s tough to find someone who hasn’t played Minecraft. When games strike gold, they inspire clones that try to emulate it. Even after so many years, Minecraft inspires creators to make something new.
So when I got to play Voxlands, I jumped right on it. Right now, Voxlands has an extended demo for Steam Next Fest — an amazing event where developers get the opportunity to showcase their projects. Thanks to Keymailer and the developer for providing me with a preview code, by the way! This is a very early impression, both in my time with the preview build and the current development of Voxlands, so take my rambles with a grain of salt!
What is Voxlands? After my Minecraft rambling, it is easy to see the comparisons. Voxlands boasts a visually captivating, voxel-based sandbox for players to explore. The usual crafty/open-world gubbins are all to be expected. The build I played contained several worlds to experience. Each had the same basic gameplay loop we expect from all sandbox games, but I was impressed by the variety on offer. One map focuses on trading/crafting in a bustling town, while another is more typical for Minecraft fans. Wash up on a mysterious island and work up from there. For an early alpha, the amount of content on offer was impressive.
One of the biggest draws to Voxlands is the visual design, taking advantage of raytracing and modern-era technology. Voxlands requires some pretty beefy hardware to run well. The developers recommend an RTX 3060 equivalent GPU, and as most alpha’s go, the optimization isn’t quite up to snuff yet. I did not read that on their Twitter page until after I had the game installed. That’s a whoopsie! No problem, I figured. It would be educational to test how Voxlands works on modest hardware, and I was up for the challenge.
My laptop specs, while okay, aren’t enough to run most modern games. With 32GB DDR4 RAM, an i7-8750H processor and a middling GTX 1060 6GB Max-Q graphics card, it’s winning no awards for modern gaming. As I expected, Voxlands pushed it hard. I had to turn down several settings to get a playable 30FPS, and like all laptops, it makes my fans go wild. With such an old graphics card, I can’t get the great raytracing features. Despite the technical shortcomings, I was surprised Voxlands was playable on my rig. That’s good news for gamers. Even with Voxland’s early development, there’s plenty of room for updates to improve performance. I’ve yet to test Voxlands on the Steam Deck, but my hopes aren’t high. Have you tried the demo on the Deck? Leave a comment down below!
As for gameplay, it’s largely what I expected from this genre. I spent several hours messing around with the different maps. A couple of the scenarios on offer are more combat-focused, and I had a blast running around the map murdering the many different enemies. I preferred the survival and crafting maps, but that is my personal preference. It’s difficult to write about a preview because a lot can happen between alpha and launch. My impressions right now are fairly positive. It ran a lot better than I expected despite being significantly below the recommended specs, and the game itself is an honest, voxel sandbox.
Keep an eye on Voxlands. It has a long way to go, and we haven’t got a dedicated launch date yet. However, in an ocean of games trying to make themselves heard, this one has the potential to be fantastic.