Boundless, from developer Wonderstruck, has been in development for several years and has seen many changes in focus and even name over its long development cycle and has finally arrived for full release on both PC, Mac OS, and Playstation 4. This Minecraft inspired sandbox is an interesting mix of many things that have come before it but also attempts to bring a new level of creative freedom to players. Does it accomplish the goals it set out to achieve? Did I manage to get lost for several hours at a time before realizing I could port to safety? All these answers and more can be found right here. So grab that coffee, kick back and enjoy our review of Boundless.
Boundless is set in a unique universe where planets are connected via portals. Upon starting the game for the first time you will be tasked with running through a basic character creator and then choosing where you would like to start your adventure, with the literal sky being the limit as to starting locations. Once dropped off at your new ‘base’ of operations it is up to you to explore, create and break the world around you as you see fit. The environment is completely destructible with the collection of resources allowing you to craft everything needed to start your new life on the planet you have chosen.
The title doesn’t do too much hand holding but instead opts to allow you the freedom to discover. In fact outside of the basic “this is a hammer, go smash’ type tool tips that accompany most starting areas I really was left to my own devices. This type of experience harkins back to the early days in Minecraft where exploration and discovery were king and satisfaction came through long hours of figuring things out.
As a player you do have the choice as to whether to start on a gentle or harsh planet which in turn really allows people the opportunity to play the way they want. In regards to playing the way you would like, interestingly it is very easy to treat this title like a single player experience, carving out a little corner of a world and calling it your own. Player built items and buildings can be protected keeping griefing to a minimum and with plethora of procedurally generated worlds to choose from it is entirely possible to go days without interacting with others. In this way the game is very much like Minecraft.
However, in choosing the single player life it's worth noting that you will really be missing out on some of the best bits that Boundless has to offer. The multiplayer aspects of this title are what really set it apart from other sandbox , building titles. For starters, players can work together to build literal cities for players to explore and experience. I spent an entire day just traversing the world I started on looking at other peoples creations and experiencing everything they have left for people to do. It's an extremely accessible way to experience other people's creativity.
The economy is completely player driven with players being able to set up shops for other players to make purchases. This encourages focus in regards to crafting and gives real purpose to building multiple items for reasons other than crafting progression.
Boundless feels like a game you can play the way you want. From store keeper to hunter gatherer all the way up to city planner Boundless not only offers but encourages a level of freedom of play that I haven’t experienced in a game. The early game can feel a bit daunting if your trying to rush through the play experience. Boundless isn’t that type of game. Instead it rewards time invested, creativity and co-operation on a level that I haven’t experienced before.
Ultimately, despite its long development cycle, Boundless is still very much a new experience for a lot of players. Much like games like Eve Online or even Black Desert Online, time will be the real measure of how well this player driven MMO really works but at present I’m having a blast running around and exploring because that's how I like to play!