An Early Look at Wild Terra

The other day I got an email out of the blue from developers Juvty Worlds asking me if I’d like an early access key to their upcoming survivalbox game Wild Terra. Independent of the key, they asked if I’d take a look at a game and write a little something about it. There was no explicit or implied quid pro quo here, and since the email arrived unsolicited, and since several larger sites have been handing out Wild Terra keys recently, I opted to take them up on this offer after consulting with my Board of Trusted Advisors.

This is the fouth iteration of this post, from top to bottom. I had completed three other posts with pictures and everything, but have removed them in their entirety because of reasons.

My original reticence to accept this opportunity was simply because I like to think of myself as a nice guy. I don’t like to speak ill of people or things and I didn’t want to try the game only to find out that I had nothing but bad things to say about this product. I never complain out of pure malice, though, and I would never take a game to task due to my philosophy that if a game seems “bad” it’s merely a disconnect between what the game presents and what we expected the game to present. It does happen that a game doesn’t jive well with me, so my reaction is to just leave it, but if I accepted this opportunity then I would feel obligated to say something about it, good or not.

My first post ended up being a misdirected screed that had little to do with the current state of Wild Terra. The second post seemed too meandering (what? Not my post!). The third post, in all honesty, seemed too harsh for no good reason. That’s why I’m here now, trying to find a way to get this square peg of an alpha game into a round hole of an impressions post.

What the hell are we talking about?

Wild Terra is an isometric open PvP survival sandbox game. That sentence has a little bit of “ugh” for everyone, I know. Some folks don’t like the isometric view unless it’s Diablo, Path of Exile or Devilian. A lot of people don’t like open world PvP. And I’m sure a lot of people don’t care for “survivalbox” games. For everyone else, there’s Wild Terra.

Why the personal conflict?

The game is currently in pre-alpha or alpha, I’m not sure which. That means there’s a hell of a lot that’s not in the game. My original posts saw me talking all about my experience in the game so far, which has been very limited in both time and features.

After writing up my third draft I thought that I should do my due diligence and check out the official website to see what Juvty World’s road map looked like before I commit to talking about all of the things the game didn’t currently have that might come across as show-stopping negatives. Turns out a lot of the things they don’t include right now are things they plan on including as time goes on: skill systems, larger worlds, more stuff to do. I have no reason to not give them the benefit of the doubt that these plans will be realized.

Since my first draft went into detail about my general dislike for open PvP games, and since I had heard that Wild Terra would be including PvE servers, I checked in to verify that as well. Turns out the servers are PvP-only for now because it’s what’s being looked at for development and balancing. I suppose it’s easier to develop something like PvP and then switch it off than to focus on building systems that ignore PvP and try and shoe-horn it in at a later time.

What’s the verdict?

The verdict is that there is no verdict, and I stick by that. I can’t possibly discuss any opinions on this game right now because they’ll be out of date as soon as this post hits the news stands, and because I don’t want to go out of my way to be an asshole, writing opinions about what’s in the game right now would certainly cause someone to believe that what game is now is what the game will be like later. People do that kind of shit, you know.

I will, however, regale you with a tale of my time in the world of Wild Terra and hopefully you can extract from it what you need.

I was born a woman

Here's you, a savage in a savage land.

Here’s you, a savage in a savage land.

Yeah, I didn’t get to choose my avatar, just my name. I was placed into the world wearing nothing by a loincloth and a…eh…boob cloth. I had no possessions, but was told to go find some stones and make a knife. Apparently, this was to be a community theater West Side Story, and I was drafted as an extra.

Baby’s first shank

Collecting resources is easy: you walk to a labeled node and click on it. Usually this will employ a default collection action. In this case, I was awarded stones after the progress meter over my head was filled.

Once I had my stones I opened the crafting window and clicked the button to create my flint knife. It was placed in my hotbar by default, Minecraft style. With the knife selected, I had additional options when approaching trees. Without it, I could take some logs, but with the knife selected I could also collect bark or cut a sapling. Later, the knife had to be equipped to skin animals, and I would be reprimanded if I tried to skin an animal with my bare hands.

Branch mats and an un-bearable life

The crafting UI. I had just built a bed of branches which serves as a mobile resurrection spawn point (you can kind of see the notification floating above my head)

The crafting UI. I had just built a bed of branches which serves as a mobile resurrection spawn point (you can kind of see the notification floating above my head)

While wandering around looking for more wood and more stones, I learned that I had to make a mat of branches. This craftable item is a mobile resurrection location and your first opportunity to play with the world placement system. You can craft these buggers and put them into the world, and when you die you’ll be asked if you want to rez at the mat, near the mat, or somewhere random in the world. It’s always a good idea to have a mat somewhere in the world, and an even better idea to create new mats in other locations as you travel so you don’t lose ground should you die. I assume you can only have one mat active at a time, but if you pepper the world with them, you can activate them when you visit the area.

Naturally I had to try the dying part, so I pissed off a bear and in two swipes of his paw I was eating dirt. Resurrecting at my mat, I was back at square one: loin/boob cloths and no inventory. When you die in Wild Terra, all of your inventory stays with the corpse. You can either run back to get it, hoping that whatever killed you the first time has moved on or that you haven’t been looted, or you can say “screw it” and start over. I found this to be particularly difficult because people die for stupid reasons all the time, and I’m not a fan of being reset and forced to redo content (as many frequent readers know).

A one-woman army

I had just killed a hare and you see the looting message above my head. A campfire waits patiently to cook my dinner.

I had just killed a hare and you see the looting message above my head. A campfire waits patiently to cook my dinner.

Now was the time to get serious. I made a new knife, collected more wood, and made a five pack of spears. I set out to hunt hare. You need a ranged weapon to hunt hare because they are always just outside of melee range. Killing hares gives you hide and meat. Hide can be used to make crude armor and bows, and meat can be cooked on the fire and then eaten to replenish stamina.

At this point, I was a killing machine with my new bow and a hide vest. That was when death came to player-town.

An ironic life

I had been playing for about an hour before I saw my first other player. He/she (the avatar was another she, but it was probably a he because statistics) popped into my frame from the north, and then paused. I paused. He/she approached and I waited. He/she took a swipe at me, and I put an arrow through his/her eye socket and proceeded to loot his/her body. The player’s name was “KillahDood” or something equally juvenile and pretentious.

I didn’t enjoy serving up that platter of farm-fresh whoop-ass, though. It was him/her or me, and I did what I had to do. I then beat cheeks in case Mr/Ms ‘Dood had a posse he/she was bringing to bear from the other side of the map or whatever.

Here’s where my dislike of oPvP comes into play. Mr/Ms Dood had some interesting stuff on him/her, like a bucket of water. I have no idea what went into creating that, but now Mr/Ms Dood was S.O.L. and had to start over because I took his/her stuff. He/she could have easily just kept on walking and I wouldn’t have bothered with him, but he/she gambled and lost. Was it worthwhile to try and be a badass, only to die so quickly and lose so much? Is oPvP worthwhile when all you want to do is take advantage of the exciting mechanics that make up 90% of the rest of the game? Usually, no, which is why I avoid oPvP games. This concludes the editorial portion of this preview.

Location location location

There were several settlements across the map already, although I never saw another living soul in or around them. Some where really small, and others were veritable fortresses. Considering the scarcity of resources, I couldn’t figure out how people actually made these things. I couldn’t scare up enough wood to make myself some ammo, never mind a nice stockade fence.

I wondered about the future of land availability. If there’s no limit to the size a plot can occupy, then I figure we’re destined to a world of abutting fences preventing anyone from walking anywhere. Roads can be built, and if history is our guide then there’ll be no shortage of gamers telling each other how to play, and how to organize their towns.

The end of an error

Death by bear. My heath is at 15 and my stamina -- used to attack -- us down to 59. I was armed with just a stone knife, which the bear didn't seem to mind. The hares are enjoying my demise.

Death by bear. My heath is at 15 and my stamina — used to attack — us down to 59. I was armed with just a stone knife, which the bear didn’t seem to mind. The hares are enjoying my demise.

Feeling all good about myself and my place in this new world, I struck off to the east. I ended up a desert biome where I could harvest iron (if I had a mining pick). I also got cocky and took some pot-shots at a wolf who didn’t get the memo that I was a badass, and who didn’t believe in the power of arrows, or understand the concept of bleeding.

I went to the desert and all I got was a one way ticket back to my rez mat.

Just some high-level stuff

Well, there’s a few elements about the game that I think we can discuss, with the caveat that specific grievances could (and very well might) change in the future.

  • Not enough resources: In survivalbox games, noob resources are usually in abundant supply. I had to travel far an wide to get a mediocre stockpile of stone and wood because there just weren’t enough nodes in the starting area, and what was there had already been picked over to make those sweet, sweet settlements. I assume the idea is to work together to canvas more of the world, but that doesn’t “solve” the issue; it just monopolizes the resources in a wider area.
  • Something to do: The main idea of survivalbox games is that you have to survive by harvesting, building, and fighting. For me, at least, there has to be something worth fighting for, and that’s usually fighting to not die so you can continue to progress. Since there’s no progression in the game yet, all we can do is harvest and build, and hope we don’t die before we can use those resources for something other than corpse-ballast or ganking rewards.
  • The audio: ye gawds, it’s atrocious. But also not a priority when we’re talking about needing to address critical gameplay issues. A dying hare sounds like an 8-bit squeaking door hinge or something equally terrifying.
  • Simplicity: Not a gripe; I actually like how simple it is to learn the game. All of the recipes you need are already known, so it’s just a matter of finding the resources and/or crafting precursor items. You have a hotbar. You have an inventory.  If you’ve played survivalbox games before then you’ll understand a lot of the conventions, like opening a campfire to add raw food and logs for fuel. That’s really all there is to it at this point.

Until we meet again

That’s about all I feel comfortable saying at this point. I spent about an hour and a half on Monday collecting, building, and slaying across gawd’s green Earth and in the end was no further along than when I had started out. I had lost my possessions a few times, had managed to build them up occasionally, but logged out empty and alone. That is the best example of how to get me to not play a game again.

But seriously, the game is still in development, so at this point I’m not sure there’s enough to get Wild Terra into my regular rotation. I’m a fan of the collecting and building, not so much a fan of the oPvP and corpse looting, and dislike the scarcity of the raw materials at this point. Perusing the forums, there’s talk about private servers (a la every other survivalbox game out there), and eventually the PvE rules will be activated for folks to try. I could see myself running a Wild Terra server for friends so we could build towns and farm…farms. Although a lot of folks are turned off by the isometric view, I kind of like it. It gives a better sense of a larger world before I’m 30 minutes into a commitment to run through it to reach a distant point.

I’ll keep an eye on it, and will certainly write back as time allows, and development progress is made.

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