There’s a lot to like about Worlds Adrift. The world concept and execution is breathtaking. You play among the ruins of a fallen advanced civilization, which mastered flight thanks to minerals known as atlas crystals. These are also what give the islands the ability to float. It’s theorized that far beneath these floating islands is an actual planetary core. No one has ever survived the trip down to confirm the rumor. The Old World lurks beneath your feet, waiting to be explored for resources and knowledge.
Each island is custom-built by the players of the game. Players harvest resources to craft anything from torches to ships that allow them to navigate from island to island. The game itself focuses largely on physics. You must consider applying anti-gravity minerals to other materials you can find and craft throughout this floating world.
Worlds Adrift is often described as a sandbox concept, and it’s an accurate description. A sandbox is a world you can make into your own, and that’s exactly what Worlds Adrift is. When you log in, you have an island creator option where you can add your own to this growing world of floating islands, inviting others to explore your space. There is no real structure or story, no bosses to fight or areas to conquer.
The only enemy in this game comes by way of other players. As in any world, there are those who would love to kill you to steal what you have. It’s a scavenger world, after all, and not everyone is there to build peaceful islands and become friends. When you die, you lose your inventory and it can be looted by anyone nearby. You don’t lose your character, however, as you can respawn and make your way back to the area where you died.
The visuals of Worlds Adrift are beautiful — blocky but artistically so, and the options to create your own character add to the aesthetic with a variety of outfits, haircuts and expressions available to the character. This lends to the idea that, like the ships you’re tasked to build, you can craft your own experience.
But be careful what you collect. This game takes physics seriously, and you don’t want to end up with a bag full of materials you can’t or won’t use. Each item has its own weight, and this weight has an impact on a variety of factors, from your ability to climb with your grappling hook to your ship’s ability to fly quickly, or at all.
Worlds Adrift has been in early access mode for a few years now, and one wonders if that might be due to the large number of bugs and updates the game still finds itself laden with. When attempting to log in, it’s not uncommon to be met with a crash error that aborts the entire application. Just going through the tutorial can trigger multiple overlapping glitches, causing text to overlay where its impossible to read and making completing your required tasks impossible.
Another point worth revisiting is the way Worlds Adrift implements its PvP elements. While PvP is an important part of any MMO, the way it’s used here feels disingenuous, like it was added to the game purely to tick a box. One moment you’re exploring some ruins on a neighboring island, the next you’re face-down on the ground because another explorer decided to shoot you in the face.
Walkthroughs could also be improved before this game’s final launch. A lot of the instructions are as confusing as they are incomplete. You’re largely left to fumble around on your own and hope you get it all right, which wouldn’t be so terrible if you weren’t landlocked until you figure it out. It’s hard to fly to another island with a grappling hook, after all. Especially when multiple layers of instructions pile up on top of one another.
Overall, Worlds Adrift is an amazing concept. With time it may become a truly great game alongside infamous world-building crafting games like Minecraft. The introduction promises a rich world filled with ancient history, almost like an open sandbox version of Horizon: Zero Dawn. There are a lot of places this game could take itself as it finishes. As it stands now, it’s a bit too buggy and a bit too much of a sandbox. After you’ve built a few ships and hopped over to a few islands, playing can feel aimless, which is a shame. Hopefully, more is added to this game that extrapolates on its lore before its final release.
Unfortunately, the makers of Worlds Adrift have just announced the game is shutting down in July 2019, so if you wanted to experience the game, play now before it’s too late.