Windborne is a described as a creation sandbox game with social features. Players will each get a floating island that they can explore and build on and dig under to build there too. The island is a wilderness with some old ruins and populated by feral creatures and some sentient creatures called Jin. The world and the graphics reminded me of Japanese animator and film maker; Hayao Miyazaki’s works in some of the whimsy and landscapes, and the island is huge. A player could simply play this as a single player game and never visit other player islands but spend his days exploring, building and doing quests to help the Jin. However it is a social game and players helping each other will be able to accomplish things faster, much like in Minecraft.
There are clues and artifacts to seek out the secrets of the ancients and passing islands that you can explore and/or loot for resources such as minerals and rare plants. Digging deep down into your own island, you might find ancient dungeons and find a dragon egg. Players can craft and improve most anything, and according to Hidden Path’s Michael Austin, everything you craft will have a purpose. Players can trade with other players and what do you do with that dragon egg you found? You can trade it or hatch it and breed dragonlings to unlock special abilities, such as the ability to fly.
The world may be wild, but there aren’t any creatures that will hurt you. It is a kind and benign world, however, there are annoyance NPCs, those that may eat your crops or steal your resources. However, if you help the Jin, the Jin will help you, and some of the things they can do is keep the annoyance NPCs away or herd your birds. In the bit of play through I saw, we encountered a Jin hanging about some ruins. An ancient gateway with a broken bridge. We could jump across, but it couldn’t. It hung about and moved to the edge, then came around again. Once we repaired the bridge, it walked across and was happy. That’s the faction work. Make the Jin happy. Once the Jin are happy with you, you can guide them. Build them homes, rebuild their world and they will in turn, help you.
There are other fauna that can be tamed like the dragonlings but at this stage of design, Hidden Path’s plan is to get a minimal build on Steam Early Access at the end of thie year and see what the players want and where they go with this sandbox. Player trade will be the initial economy. After the game launches, there are plans for non-invasive PvP. Players will be able to attack a copy of another’s island, build defensive towers and arm the Jinn, but those are future plans. For now, exploration, building, quests and missions are the focus.
I was happy enough to roam the vast landscape, watch the changing scenery, the strange yet wonderful fauna pass by in herds (fluffy winged sheep!), find a treasure map, help a Jinn and run giggling madly back with a dragon egg to incubate. So unlike your typical MMO where your first days in the game are going around madly killing rats in crowded areas with hundreds of other players, you will be tending your own home. You will be exploring your land, building your home, farming your land, growing animals, helping the natives before you go further afield, visiting other islands to trade, make friends and helping each other. Meanwhile out of game, you will be participating in the community forums and exchanging information. For players that love the exploration and crafting aspect of MMOs, this could be a dream world.