Let's talk games: Sandbox Survival

My friends and I have been getting really deep with our gaming conversations, so much so that I’ve been contemplating setting up a podcast. I thought it would be interesting to bring my favorite little gaming forum into the mix… that’s you guys!

Right now it seems like everyone is making a survival sandbox game. The early access is completely filled with them:
Rust, 7 days to die, stomping lands, life is feudal, dayz… etc. I can see what the draw is, I absolutely love the genre myself. I am the type of guy who keeps the TV on in the background constantly watching shows like Dual Survival, Survivorman, Naked and Afraid… etc so the genre is very interesting to me all around. These games are legitimately thrilling, there is an urgency in your decisions and survival and when you throw in some PvP it literally becomes an adrenal roller coaster ride of fun.

I do however feel like the genre is cursed. It seems every one of these developers are taking advantage of early access and many of the games seem to be nightmares which development has slowed, ceased, or players are kept in the dark. This gets me wondering is this another fad genre which is piggybacking on early access and kickstarter or are these games so huge that they need AAA dev teams, giant pockets, and a few good years of development? I think it may be a combination of both.

I’ve bought two of these games Rust, and DayZ.


The existing incarnation of rust that exists now and did before they scrapped the engine and started rebuilding the game was actually quite fun. It wasn’t worth the price I paid mind you but I enjoyed hundreds of hours on that archaic version which felt like it was a game from the late 90s more than one from the present. Rust suffers from a few problems it is essentially two games now… the classic which is the old incarnation, and the experiment version currently being worked on. The old version is a basic game, it isn’t much but it functions as a game and can be quite fun. The new version is pretty far from a game at this point but has potential. The issue comes with the new version, they basically started from zero all over again so the official release is easily years away… To me it seems like these games that come out on early access and still have such a long period of time before release fail. They seem to stay in a constant state of development and the moment interest drops the devs walk away from the project. I have hope for rust, but I am not putting my eggs in one basket.


I can’t stand this game. I can’t really even give an honest review of it because I’ve yet to have a good experience with it. I do feel this will be another perpetual development game though and the most likely outcome of this game will be that the minute interest in it drifts, and people stop streaming it etc… the dev team will slap a 1.0 sticker on it in whatever state it is in and call for the full release.

That’s two reviews which aren’t that great. These games turned me off from early access but, and this is a big but, I am still easily seduced by this genre and others seem to be as well. Every time a game like this comes out I immediately check it out and research it… the big one right now is “Life is Feudal” its another game which in my head sounds amazing and something I want to be a part of. I am resisting. The games always look and seem too good to be true, and then they are and it just seems like the genre is completely cursed. Here I am though watching youtube videos and questioning my decision because I am drawn to these games. Perhaps it is just my secret off the grid fantasies coming alive on the screen, or some other deep instinctual draw but for me and many others right now … these games are like crack.

So lets talk survival sandbox… recommendations, thoughts, criticisms, etc! go nuts.

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Don’t Starve! Awesome sandbox survival, fun look and feel to it, and they’re currently in a closed beta for a multiplayer mode. One of my favorite ‘modern’ survival sandbox games.


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Life is Feudal!

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Have you played Life is Feudal @Lemonsquid? How is it? I’ve been thinking of getting in on that, but I’m not a fan of random open world pvp where some shmo is gunna come and ruin everything I’ve gathered/built.

well its only 64 player servers atm. You can find servers that promote PVE(Working together rather than opposed) to avoid getting attacked. The current version is more of a learning version to get a handle on when the MMO side comes out(which you will get for free if you get the early access).

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Life is Feudal is different than other survival sandbox games I’ve seen.

I bought it a few days ago and have been playing a lot since. The key is in the way the skill system/tree works.

The game almost forces you to cooperate and join a village. For each skill tier, (i.e.mining, contruction, farming/cooking, lumber) you have to raise your skill level to 30 in the current skill in order to advance to the next skill, and you have to raise the prior skill to 60 and the current one to 30 to advance again. For example, I would have to advance to 30 prospecting to unlock mining, and then advance to 30 mining and 60 prospecting to unlock smelting. There are 5 skills per tier. Now the reason you have to work together is two-fold. 1, it takes a long time to work down the skill tree, and 2 (and most importantly) there is a skillcap. You literally cannot become highly proficient in more than a couple tiers. You can’t unlock all the high tier skills at once, forcing you to eventually pick a profession or 2 and work with other people.

Every server I have joined, there’s is always a couple or more settlements starting out (or established), and they are usually happy to get new people to join because it takes a while to gather resources and work skills up, and all the villages are basically having a tech race to get to iron, houses, and walls.

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you can join a server with a very high skill cap, allowing you to solo everything. but it still takes long time to get things done

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Thanks guys! That sounds really neat actually.

Any chance you can create/host your own servers?

Do the people who own LiF here think it’s worth it’s price? Or should I hold out until either release or a sale?

you can create your own private server, or get a dedicated server. Right now you get Lif:YO which is the 64 slot, more solo type learner game. The MMO side will be separate from the current version. If you pay 40 USD right now, you will get Lif:YO and the MMO for free. You only get 1 character in the mmo to prevent griefing and what not. I assume once the game goes live, each version will be 20 USD or something of that nature.

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I’m not a huge fan of MMOs. 64 players sounds good to me. I think I’ll wait for the 20 USD version with only LiF:YO. I looked up the game and it sounds like it could be fun with a medium size group of friends on the smaller server one.

Like I said in the OP… I am very weary of these games now… but the concept of them is just so appealing to my brain that I find myself constantly watching let’s plays of LiF. I am resisting at this point, but I honestly understand now why there are people who like a specific type of game and just run out and buy it without questioning every time… I find myself on the knife’s edge really having to try not to spend money.

What worries me is that LiF is such an ambitious project that is quite huge. My fear that it will remain in a perpetual alpha because of it and end up never really reaching the projected end point that everyone (including the devs) suspects. I actually have my doubts of this ever reaching MMO status… but that doesn’t really effect me as I wouldn’t be interested in the MMO bits anyway.

Ultimately it is my wallet and I’m abstaining for now, this genre keeps churning out games which at the beginning seem amazing but development seems to completely stop or slow to a very slow pace. To me LiF is a great game on the surface but I think it honestly needs a good 4 year development phase to make it the great game it could be, and I don’t see it getting that special treatment.


I think sandbox survivals are so appealing because they speak directly to why I (we) play video games to begin with – the idea of being someone else. ALL games in some way allow you to live out this fantasy, but for the longest time, that came with restrictions, whether that was story, or genre, or the level barrier. Sandbox survival opens up those restrictions, and presents you with a general time or technological period, and just lets you live it however you want.

Cant go wrong with DF adeventure mode, longest game I have had was 20 minutes. But tbh I havent botherd to learn adventure mode much.

I hear that! :smiley:

As for LiF. I really hope to hear more from those who have it. I still really really really really want this game, but I don’t need another game which I buy full price and then only play it a few hours ever. The genre is sound, but to find a game in it that is actually complete and not disastrous is hard. Anyone know much about the LiF dev team?

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A fun little game, good for about a week is Unturned. Kind of like a blocky version of DayZ, with all the excellent charm of its predecessor in its servers :wink:. It got huge hype about a month ago on Steam, and I still pick it up and go for a ride every now and then.