This title is currently in Early Access and is exclusive to PC and was reviewed as such.
I’m going to start this review by pointing out that in my days, I was a Minecraft sucker. My obsession forged a special love for Survival games, especially if they’re multiplayer. That’s what the developers of New Dawn are aiming for, and at this stage missing.
Right off the bat when you boot the game up, you’re greeted with a VERY long start screen that you can’t skip, which really frustrated me every time I launched it, especially since I had to do that multiple times due to the random crashes and bugs that didn’t hesitate to show up. I know this is an Early Access game, but you don’t have to shove that fact in my face for 2 minutes every time I click “Play”.
Like every normal gamer on the planet, first thing I did when I saw the menu, is press “Create Character”, because who doesn’t love messing with the character creator in every game? I can’t say I was impressed though, there wasn’t much choice, and no matter what I did, I ended up with an abomination of god. I didn’t hate this part, I kind of understand because it’s set in the ancient times of piracy and such.
Much like other survival games, the story doesn’t really play a big role. All you need to know is that you’re on an island in South America, inhabited by pirates. There almost weren’t any people in multiplayer, so I played solo. Starting with no tutorial whatsoever, I tried figuring out the controls and finding them through the options menu, but I had a really hard time figuring out how to collect resources and build, since all your starter tools are in your inventory, rather than your hands. One thing that really infuriated me, is that putting something like an axe (or any other item) in your hand doesn’t let you use it, you have to right click it and choose “Equip” in order to do that. Almost everything in the world is loot-able, and the axe is the main tool you need to harvest anything, so why not have it equipped on spawn?
Since you’re on an island, there are a lot of animals, hostile (Hyenas, Bears, Wolves, Pirates…) and neutral (reindeers, bulls…). The combat system is a little complicated, but it’s unique and original. To start fighting an enemy, you need to opt into combat mode, which will change some of your controls, then you have to target the enemy, and do your “combos” (not really combos, but that’s the closest word to it). You can also change the direction of where your character will hit if you’re using a melee weapon, there’s forward (for humans), up (for large animals), and down (for small animals like hyenas). You can also dodge your opponent’s hits by jumping while targeting them. If you’re using a ranged weapon like a bow, just aim and shoot, and you can switch between third and first person views. It took me a while to familiarize myself with this system, because I didn’t see the small tooltip at the bottom right of the screen as it’s basically hidden because it’s white. A better idea would be putting a background colour to the text to highlight it a little more.
New Dawn wouldn’t be a survival game if it didn’t have “its own” building system. After you gathered enough resources, choose a good spot and settle down to start building your village. I’m not going to talk about the actual stuff that you can build since the game is still in Alpha, but I am going to talk about how the system works. To build something, you have to open up your inventory, choose something from the crafting recipes, click on it, and then wait for the crafting delay. Exactly like Rust. Yes, games of the same genre sure can have similarities that you can’t avoid, but when it’s this exact, it’s called copying. Even when you’re ready to place a structure in the world like a tent, the free placing and even the colours are the same… Very disappointing for a game still in Early Access, and I hope that they change it and find their own unique spin on the formula.
Even though the Gameplay wasn’t that enjoyable, the graphics definitely were. The game stood out in terms of visual satisfaction, the textures were beautiful, smooth lines, sharp edges, nice lighting. I really liked the UI’s art style that went with the environment and setting of gameplay. Variety was also present, there were different biomes, different materials and a unique texture for every single resource. Animations weren’t very consistent though, sometimes when you break something it’ll show you an animation of how you broke it, but sometimes it will just vanish. I hope they fix these issues before the final release.
New Dawn definitely had me disappointed because of what I expected. Some features that they promised in Early Access weren’t even there, like the slavery system for example. How am I supposed to know how that works (if it’s actually there) if there isn’t even a tutorial?! This game isn’t ready for Early Access, it still needs more internal testing to fix the gamebreaking bugs, the crashes, reworking the building system to something original, and many more things. Hopefully, as we get closer to full release we’ll see the game they promised.