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.
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.
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.”
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.