FortressCraft Evolved as its name implies is the evolution of the original installment FortressCraft that appeared on XBLIG in April 2011. Taking advantage of the power of a modern PC with several times more RAM and processing power compared to that of the aging console, FC:E offers a more expansive world than ever before.
The game builds upon its success from the console version by offering the best creative tools available in any vox game including:
Superbuild - An interface to quickly build geometric structures of thousands of blocks to save time for the detail work
Paint gun - Paint select blocks using nearly any color you could dream
Detail blocks - the micro blocks of the XBLIG version have returned with even more flexibility. Choose from 2x2 - 8x8 blocks in your detail block design to add a finer touch to your world. The PC version allows a nearly inexhaustible collection so you'll have plenty of options to add more detail to your world.
Copy and paste - Take a unique design and reproduce it to fill in your world with color or simplify a large project by reducing it to a set of duplicable pieces by copying and pasting elements of your world.
Build2me - Excellent for covering roofs, building bridges, or filling in gaps build2me allows you to place an entire line of blocks from your target all the way to your current location.
High graphical fidelity - Incredible texture resolution, whole array of shaders, and a lighting engine that must be seen to be believed makes an incredible project look that much better.
All of these provide the player with the tools necessary to build beautiful constructions of a scale that until now has been unimaginable in a vox game. In this regard it is a huge step forward from the console version. As of the time of writing this review the primary missing feature from the creative toolbox is animating the detail blocks. This feature has yet to return but remains on the roadmap so expect it to appear before the full release. I highly recommend checking out some of the Top rated
screenshots to see some of the incredible things players have built already using the engine.
One of the most desired elements that I had waited on with the console version was the development of a survival oriented game to make the most of the engine. That time has finally come as the survival mode has seen its public debut and with only a few weeks of development time it already shows promise for an entertaining experience that will last many, many hours. The player is dropped into a world where the environment itself is hostile.
The early game has the player battling the cold by sustaining a supply of energy to power his high tech hazard suit to prevent freezing to death by hypothermia. The suit also appears to be designed for heat, radiation, low oxygen levels, and toxic environments so expect to see a variety of hazards to face from the world itself. As of the time of writing the cold is the only threat. Although the suit can be heated up by standing on a torch there is no danger from heat yet. It will attempt to consume energy to keep you cool however.
The gameplay centers around the idea of your suit energy being your life and that venturing far from your main energy network is a great risk. You'll spend much of your time developing a network of power distribution to your mining network which is driven by machines called extractors which collect ore from resource nodes albeit at a slow pace. This process is slower than the player's own mining ability however it is more efficient and automated as long as you sustain the machines with energy. Later on you gain the ability to make batteries to store power and provide it to your machines, lasers which are used to move power between batteries, a generator for burning coal to produce power, hoppers to collect the resources from the extractors, and robots to move items among the hoppers. The end result is the complete automation of your mining operations and the ability to generate and move energy around your base of operations to keep everything alive and moving including yourself!
A few other relevant bits about the mode: torches can be placed as a source of light and heat. They serve as little beacons of safety in the harsh world. The player is provided with a grappling hook to quickly climb from the depths as the world goes down many light years. Surival mode currently only utilizes the first several hundred blocks down but will eventually stretch to several thousand meters underground. The player has a handy ore/cave sensor which consumes a quarter of your suit energy but provides an indicator of the closest ore/cave from the player. This removes some of the tedium associated with finding resources and just getting about underground.
All of this is only after about a month of development. There is already a list of planned features to expand upon the mode including suit upgrades such as increased energy storage, greater insulation from the cold, upgrades to the ore sensor to identify specific ore types, and more. The first mob was added to the game which is a real treat. The details of which I won't provide here as they are more fun to discover on your own. :) He isn't much of a threat yet but I'm sure that will change as the tools necessary to combat him are added. In the current state it takes several hours to proceed through the current tech tree and with additional features promising to fill out the game the survival mode is shaping up to be an incredibly entertaining experience that will be even more fun with friends given the natural scale of the game.
It is now I should probably place a reminder here of the normal warnings of early access games. This is an early access title so it isn't complete yet. Among the features still missing that is probably most desirable is multiplayer. It is on the roadmap and even in development right now. The devs have the game roadmap
including multiplayer progress on their website where you can keep track of progress if you don't wish to buy in immediately. As mentioned above the animations are not available for detail blocks and survival mode is only a month into development. Other areas that still need work include the menus where many options are still unavailable and do not use a mouse interface yet.
In the end I guess the question that matters most is: Is it worth it? If you enjoyed the creative experience offered by the XBLIG version or are looking for a more powerful block builder than you can get with other PC titles then FC:E is already a must buy. If the survival experience is more what you are after then the answer isn't as clear. Although the game is progressing very quickly it is still far from complete and there are many features required to fill out the experience. There is also a lot of bug fixing and optimization needed as so much is being thrown into the game so quickly. If you absolutely must have the end result then it is worth buying now at the introductory rate which is said to be 40% of the final price and will increase with each major milestone. If you still are unsure then be sure to check out the forums regularly as new patches are released multiple times a week with fixes and new content. At the rate the game is currently moving it will be making a big name for itself in voxel gaming this year.