The Survivalist: Osiris New Dawn is doing early access right even amid disappointments

A couple of weeks ago, when Osiris: New Dawn introduced new classes, I’d delved back into the sci-fi survival sandbox after a bit of a break to check out the state of development in. I was pleased as I perused the new skill tree, doubly so when I saw all the new items that could be crafted. Once I got to the task of actually surviving, I found that that beginning experience had also changed a fair share, from crash landing farther away to new missions to direct you. True, I missed my little robot companion and my inflatable dome, but overall I was pretty impressed with the progress and started a penning this Survivalist to say so.

So imagine my surprise when just before completing my thoughts I read the dev blog about negativity toward the game and its changes. Here I was happy to see how far it had come and others were ripping it absolutely to shreds. Fenix Fire CEO Brian McRae was so affected by the negative reviews and complaints that he penned a response addressing the issues. I admit, when I started reading I was taken aback and even a tad annoyed at the negative Nancys bashing the game. Didn’t folks appreciate the fact that this early access with forging ahead at a decent pace? Sure there would be bumps, but that was a part of actual development.

As I kept reading, two things occurred to me. One, I became more impressed with the devs themselves; the candor with the community while explaining the situation and owning up to the problems earned my respect. Two, I wondered why I felt the desire to defend the game and the team when other early access games have recently caught my attention — and earned my ire — for tone-deaf changes instituted without any apology at all. Then I realized, the second is tied directly to the first. Add in the regular development, and I think Osiris: New Dawn is definitely a game to keep an eye on.

In the beginning

When I very first loaded up Osiris and started in on the business of surviving, I was in for quite the shock. I actually didn’t make it very far: Even with warning from the friend who hosted the server, I didn’t quite understand what was happening when I logged in. This was no “explore a while while leisurely gathering some food” beginning. No, you log in to imminent death. I barely managed to figure out how to and repair my suit with only seconds to spare. Then I could finally take a breath and look around. Now that’s starting with an adrenaline rush!

After I got that all squared away, I began exploring, defending myself, harvesting, and building. I quite enjoyed poking my nose in deep caves, and thanks to my friend I had quick access to vehicles without doing all that work myself. I did, however, make my very own crab-mobile. It was all in all an enjoyable experience, but I could see that there wasn’t too much more to do after playing for a bit. You made your camp, made your vehicles, traversed the map, and then after all that you had nothing really left. It was fun for a spell, but the game lacked some staying power. That was OK with me. I knew it was early on in early access and that much development lay ahead. So I set Osiris aside and resolved to pop back in here and there as the game progressed. And that brings us to the state of the game now.

Part way there

Fast forward six months from my first foray into the game and there’s been some significant — and let me stress, positive — changes. The game is starting to flesh out more with additional classes, skill tress, and activities. It has really come a long way. So why are people dogging it? Because of the rest of the changes. Now, I am totally on board with bemoaning the loss of the robot sidekick; he was pretty cool and endearing on top of useful. He was my friend in a hostile environment! I, too, experienced the inability to find a rock in order to be able to start crafting stuff necessary for my survival. But this didn’t really dampen my enthusiasm for the progress that was being made. The increased feeling of danger was welcome (night was especially harrowing, even with my flashlight!), and just seeing the added depth of the crafting was exciting. Oh, and let’s not forget the added texture and vibrancy of the world itself; it looks gorgeous and so much richer in color than before. I see so much promise!

Where’s the beef?

The more I experience early access, the more I appreciate this approach of playing intermittently. The game is developing, and mighty changes are expected. If I play heavily and fall totally in love with the game only to find it change away from what I loved, that would suck. In fact, it has happened to me in a very big way with another title. Yet how I feel about the two games is very different right now. I see some distinct differences between Osiris and the unnamed compatriot that have me cheering for the space game while watching the extinction of my enthusiasm for the other.

I do get that some of the changes took away from the initial experience. But wasn’t changing that experience the whole point? Wasn’t that what folks wanted to make it a deeper game, to put more features in? Perhaps the changes weren’t as painful to me since I wasn’t playing daily; maybe I am missing some of the worst gripes. Sure, it isn’t fun having a game feature you enjoyed taken away while new things are being implemented and things are getting balanced, but it could be a very necessary step.

And it’s worth pointing out that the reason this game is keeping my attention is how devs are treating the community. The devs get it! The CEO himself expressed that in playing just like the rest of us, he came across the same problems. He said, “I felt lost, frustrated, hopeless. I thought, ‘I see the potential but this is crazy hard and not fun’. Sound familiar?”

This team is trying to make a game, listening to feedback, and working to keep communication open. That’s what this latest dev blog emphasized to me. McRae admitted the problems and the team is actively working on fixes. When things needed to be changed up for specific testing (I’m looking at you, melee), an explanation was offered, and McRae humbly asked for players’ understanding as the team experimented to find the best working solutions for features. Just the tone of that blog won me over. That “other” game? It lost my goodwill and expended my patience over the course of so many decisions that really just said “screw you” to all the current and loyal players mixed with heavy doses of “we’ll do whatever we want so stuff it.”

Worth the wait, and waiting’s OK

Osiris: New Dawn is in active — and I do mean active — development. It is going to have growing pains because it is using early access as it is intended. (Heck, I used to be able to say that about the other game, so I’m hoping that won’t be a trend!) Fenix Fire got a base game out there and continues to work on features and content. I respect that. I respect how the company is treating folks. It’s not like it has morphed its game through two years plus of early access (without fixing long-standing bugs) but still charged folks for expansions!

I know the game isn’t there yet, but the company’s track record of development coupled with its treatment of the community makes me very excited about the promise of this title. And from the gameplay I’ve experienced so far, I am really looking forward to more. There is fun to be had now, but I completely understand that early access isn’t for everyone. I think Osiris: New Dawn could very well be one that is truly worth the wait.

In the survival genre, there are at least 1001 ways to die, and MJ Guthrie is bound to experience them all — in interest of sharing them with you! The Survivalist chronicles life and death struggles against all forms of apocalypse, outbreak, mutation, weather, and prehistoric wildlife. And lets not forget the two-legged savages! Tune in here and on OPTV to see who feeds better: MJ or the Death Counter.
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12 Comments on "The Survivalist: Osiris New Dawn is doing early access right even amid disappointments"

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Lateris Ablon

Downloading now, really cool perspective MJ.

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Mewmew

Most Early Access titles that are still in development seem to get absolutely demolished in Steam reviews. Not all of course, but most actually using it as a way to further develop the game and that are in an earlier state get just blasted with negativity. Too many people buy in thinking they’re just getting to play a mostly finished game a bit early, thinking it’s like Open Beta used to be.

You can’t always go by Steam reviews. You have to look really close if it’s either an Early Access title, or a Free to Play title (almost any F2P game with a Cash Shop gets horribly negative reviews by a huge bunch of people just for the fact that it’s F2P with a Cash Shop).

Many Early Access titles with mixed reviews will be really decent games moving through development, and a lot of F2P titles may be pretty fun even if you see “mostly negative” for them overall.

One thing I really hate about Steam reviews is people will downvote a review and say it’s not helpful simply if they disagree with the up or down vote the game gets. Someone may have a lot of good points as to why they personally like a game and the community will downvote their review because they’re giving a positive review for a F2P game or something. Reviews can have a lot of helpful info in them even if you don’t personally agree with the overall recommend or not portion, though it’s a minority of people who will rate reviews with that criteria.

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Scrungle

I jump in this game every update. The game is moving in a great direction. The only obnoxious thing I experience is normally every update by base ends up underground or high in the sky.

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BalsBigBrother

I know what early access means, bugs, changes in direction, progress wipes etc but it is just not something I can or am prepared to deal with. I have tried with a few games and even though I thought I would be ok accepting the above it turns out I am not.

I found it all incredibly frustrating. More so when you have taken the time to send in constructive feedback as we are supposed to be testing after all. Yet things remain the same month after month or more things are added that exacerbate the issues you reported ages ago.

I am not one to rage at games but I did find the process frustrating and that is not what I want from my gaming time so I walked away from the whole early access thing. There are a lot of early access games that I have an interest in but they won’t be seeing me or my wallet until they have launched.

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George

Nice article, thanks MJ.

As a side note, which is the “other” game you wrote about?

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BalsBigBrother

My guess would be Ark: Survival Evolved :-)

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Cypher

The problem, as ever, Is that people can’t/ don’t/ won’t read.
As far as many are concerned, early access means early release. At no point do they consider the game is still in development as can be seen by many steam reviews of ea games. Bashing things that you’d expect to be broken or not even implemented at such an early juncture, even thungs like crashes in a game that is clearly not far away from an alpha build get the full nerd rage reaction!

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Stropp

It’s one of the problems I’ve seen with almost any game doing the early access thing. Players buy the game expecting an almost finished game and severely criticize it for any, even the most minor, imperfection. Sometimes when looking at the reviews I feel like screaming, “but it’s early access you moron!”

I think it’s at the point where a game studio is doing themselves and their game a disservice by early accessing their game. For the sake of some early sales, they’re damaging the reputation of the game. Deserved or not.

Maybe Steam should disable reviews on early access titles, maybe that would help, but then it would be harder for buyers to make an informed decision. What to do?

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BalsBigBrother

My issue with that is some people often go too far in the opposite direction and use the oh its early access you are not allowed to criticise anything to white knight an early access game. Those folks are doing just as much damage to the game development as the folks who rage.

As MJ alludes to in her article another early access game she has invested in has many long standing issues. If it is the one I imagine she is referring to some of those issues have never been acknowledged by the dev team while things get added to make the issues worse. Should that get a pass just because its early access, imo no it shouldn’t.

As always it should be a two way street and communication is always the key to success. In that other game all the dev team had to say was “yes we are aware and it is on the known issues list but we can’t promise a date for a fix at this time”, job done. When that doesn’t happen people get frustrated and if left long enough that can often turn in to the rage you may see in reviews etc.

I acknowledge that isn’t the case every time and some people are just dicks. However I do think some will be a result of frustration for things that could easily have been avoided with better communication.

In short early access should never be used as an excuse to shut down people talking about problems with the game.

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Cypher

I should read other comments before stating pretty much the same thing…

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Nick Smith

Awesome! I really need to try this now.

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NeoWolf

A very good article MJ, and I agree it will be worth the wait.

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