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5 Great Indie Alternatives to 2016’s AAA Games


5 Great Indie Alternatives to 2016’s AAA Games

These small-budget indies beat their heavy-hitter counterparts.

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Astroneer Instead of No Man’s Sky


This post was authored by Aron Gerencser.

Every year, there are a few massively hyped games that just don’t deliver on fans’ expectations. Luckily, the games industry has grown immensely and has become more accessible in these past few years than ever before. More people and companies are making games, so chances are that for every disappointing big-budget release, there’s a humble alternative that gets things right and scratches that particular itch. Let’s take a look at a few games that offered respite from the biggest flops of the past few years.

Where No Man’s Sky would have been better suited to be an early access title in the state that it launched, Astroneer has already eclipsed its ill-fated counterpart while actually being an early access title.

Leading up to release, No Man’s Sky was set up to be a revolutionary experience, setting players on a long and adventurous journey to the center of the galaxy.  The game ended up being feature-thin with many expected mechanics missing entirely, such as massive fleets, landing on asteroids, destroying space stations, joinable factions, and large-scale NPC battles that occur regardless of player action, but can be joined.

While the journey we got in the end was long, relative to other games, it was still shorter than promised and dull instead of adventurous. The “mystery” of what lay at the center of the galaxy had a disappointing conclusion, and the journey towards this goal was dull and repetitive. The developers have since added a base-building mechanic, and while this update was actually fairly well received, it felt too little and too late. The space-sim genre currently going through a renaissance, and there are a few alternatives out there, though most focus on other mechanics.

Astroneer already kicks things off with a more complex premise. While No Man’s Sky tasked players with exploring the galaxy, Astroneer wants you to explore and strip-mine the crap out of every planet you encounter. Base building is already implemented, and Astroneer comes with a unique and fun geometry-altering mechanic, allowing you to mold the planets you discover as if they were clay. Your goal is to go to a planet, play around with the topography, extract valuable resources, and construct a functional base.

Here, the planets aren’t just stepping stones towards an end-goal, rather all goals in and of themselves. You don’t just tick off a checklist and hop away, but nurture your base into a large, functional installation. The game also features drop-in/drop-out co-op gameplay, refined survival elements, and charming visuals. Astroneer is shaping up to be an incredibly solid title, and when it launches, No Man’s Sky might end up being a no man’s land.

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