GRAV Preview

Grav is an action survival game that has you exploring huge environments on different planets to collect resources, battle enemies, and use everything that you have gathered to create bases.

Most of your time will be spent roaming around in large environments made up of different biomes, such as forests, deserts, and even alien landscapes. These environments are full of different resources that you can collect, such as wood from trees and fossils from bone piles, and even unique resources like sunstone that can only be found in deserts. Many environments are also hazardous, in that staying in them will eventually cause you to take damage over time. The starting home planet has many different biomes on it, while moons and smaller planets look relatively the same on their surfaces with their singular biome. As you are exploring environments you can run into “dungeons”, which come in the form of caves, science labs, and ancient towers. These areas have the highest density of resources and enemies, as well as chests that are full of resources.

Environments will also be filled with enemies to kill. While the base attributes of enemies are rather plain, since they all basically just move towards you so they can attack, there are random aspects that can greatly change how they perform in combat. Each group of enemies is assigned a random element, such as fire or poison, which can affect combat later on when you get equipment that has similar elements assigned to them. Enemies can have additional bonus attributes as well, such as moving faster, dropping extra loot, and dealing more damage. Boss enemies are the strongest versions that you can face, and other than simply dealing more damage and having higher health, some of them also have extra abilities like a ranged attack.

While killing enemies you may find blueprints, which allow you to create a variety of objects. Finding a blueprint just requires you to kill enemies that are within a certain level range and with enough luck you will get them. They let you create equipment, consumables, portals to go to other planets, vehicles to help you move around faster, different structures to put into your base, and many other things. No matter how many times you die or materials you lose, blueprints can never be lost once you find them.

Other than determining how much damage you deal and take during combat, combat levels are tied to different jobs. Each job must be leveled up individually, and as you gain levels you unlock various passive and active abilities. At first you start out as an astronaut, which has abilities that help you to survive in harsh elements, but later on you can learn to become a hunter, engineer, scientist, pilot, and others.

When you’re not out exploring you will most likely be working on making a base. At first you can only build simple wooden rooms with doors and windows, but later on you can build bubble shields, turrets, jump pads, portals, and much more. If you’re playing on a multiplayer server, everything that you build can have settings set on them to determine who can freely use your base.

Unless you start out on a PvP server where other people can kill you, GRAV is relatively easy. Combat is the only thing that can cause problems for you, and since it is all based on the difference between your level and the enemy’s, focusing on enemy’s below your level can ensure you won’t run into any difficulty. Everything else about the game is just exploration and collecting materials to create stuff for the most part. The game is always saving your progress so you can stop playing at any time you want. Exploration is the only thing that can take a while to do, which is made faster when you discover better and faster vehicles to use. Even if you play on a PvP server, or fight monsters higher than your level, the game doesn’t become all that hard. Combat is almost entirely a numbers game, since there isn’t much strategy or skill when it comes to fighting anything, you just have to be stronger for the most part to win.

Maxing out a single job can easily take at least 20 hours, meaning that the game can last easily over 100 hours if you’re focused on leveling up every job. Building a base, exploring the world, playing with others, and other things will just further increase how long the game will last. The only reason the game won’t last you a long time is if you were to become bored of it, since it can be rather repetitive. It is surprising how lacking the options menu is, especially with how complete the rest of the game is. You can’t even change the volume levels, graphical settings are essentially nonexistent, and there isn’t much of anything else. The only complete part of options is the ability to change keybindings, which there are a lot of. The graphics are probably the most complete part of the game when it comes to textures, light effects, and large draw distances. Performance can vary greatly while you are playing the game, which seem to be affected mostly by how far into the distance you can see stuff. The home planet and other smaller planets have decent performance, but moons have great performance because they are very small and render almost nothing far away. Unfortunately, graphical options come in the form of very few toggles that don’t even include draw distance, meaning that there is no way to get the game to work better on bad computers. The game will also stutter randomly at times, whether you are out exploring or simply doing stuff in your inventory window.

It would have been nice to talk about the music, but it is almost impossible to listen to it. Instead of there being volume sliders, the only sound setting is one that lets you turn music on or off. Even if you keep music on, sound effects are much louder than it which means you have to listen to stupidly loud sounds just to hear the music. Some of the music does sound nice, but so far it has been impossible to really judge it. Another problem is that music seems to never loop or there is just not much variety in it, since most of the time there is no music playing at all, even when there are no sound effects happening. While feeling smoother than many other games still being worked on, using menus and controlling your character still needs some work. General use of your character is fine for the most part, while jumping and combat can be quite sluggish. Using a gun zooms really far in with low FOV, but hopefully this is fixed later with an options setting. Dying in combat happens usually because your character gets stuck on enemies and not because the game is hard. Outside of combat, using item menus of any kind can be a pain. Clicking on items doesn’t always register and you can easily accidentally use an item when you simply wanted it to be moved.

Loading into a planet, especially the home planet, takes a couple minutes most of the time and while this is usually fine, especially since there are no loading screens once a planet has loaded, you will quite often travel between planets once you unlock warp gates. Even though you’ve loaded a planet previously and that they are usually the same layout as last time, it can still take multiple minutes just to be able to play on them. Funnily enough, planets on multiplayer servers load faster than if you are playing in solo mode.

Survival games are one of the biggest genres in modern gaming, especially when it comes to early access games. I’ve played my fair share of them, and I can easily say that GRAV is better than most of them out there. However, even though GRAV is touted as a survival game and everything, it is actually more of an RPG with slight survival mechanics, even feeling like an MMO of sorts when played on multiplayer servers. This is because there is almost no threat from survival mechanics, you spend most of your time killing enemies for experience and loot, and the grindy job system lets multiple players to work together.

I spent about 17 hours on the game, which let me see pretty much everything the game had to offer, except for getting to see all the available blueprints. The whole time was spent on solo mode instead of playing online with players, which allowed me to focus more and I even learned something important about the game. One of the last things that happened to me while playing was that an object spawned in the middle of my base, which caused enemies to appear around it and since I was the only one there and defensive turrets weren’t working for some reason, I lost all resources that I spent 15 hours gathering. Luckily, you never lose equipment or blueprints you have obtained even if you die so I still had those. Since solo and multiplayer is exactly the same game wise, you are severely handicapped when playing alone. The biggest thing is that instead of multiple people training different jobs, you must train every job in order to do stuff yourself. This is especially bad when you must spend a long time killing enemies just to use advanced vehicles as a pilot. Want to then efficiently build a base? Spend another 20 hours killing enemies for experience so you can learn passive talents. If you’re looking for a fun game to create large bases and have with with all the cool things you can create by yourself, you might as well go somewhere else unless you want to spend 100 hours unlocking everything.

Other than solo mode being handicapped, which was discussed previously, there are a few other things that are severely detrimental to GRAV. While it is good and bad that each job must be trained separately, the fact that you only get experience and blueprints from combat makes no sense. The hunter job, which is focused on killing enemies, makes sense to train it with combat, but why would someone with the jobs to make building bases and gathering resources more efficiently want to spend hours killing enemies, instead of actually doing their jobs. Instead, most of everything in the game should grant experience and blueprints, with bonus experience rewarded if it is part of the job you’ve selected. Combat is also very plain and boring, as it just involves you running backwards while you shoots tons of ammo at enemies. The only time that you die in combat is if you’re in a cave or other dungeon area, where enemies will pretty much just spawn on top of you and your character gets stuck.

Overall, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad about GRAV. It all just depends on what you’re looking for in a game to determine whether or not you will like playing it in its current state. GRAV costs 20 dollars on Steam, as well as a pack of 4 copies for 60 dollars. The price is worth it depending on what you’re looking for in the game, since if you just want something that will last you a long time it is already worth buying, but if you don’t like grinding a lot or want the gameplay to be more than just shooting enemies for hours on end then it’d be best to wait. The price of the game is planned to stay the same, so you don’t have to worry about it costing more when it is released.

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