Planetbase: challenging but highly addictive:
Up until now, I hadn’t given Planetbase a go. It was released in October. In Planetbase, your 7 colonists and 2 robots set off on an adventure to colonise a new planet. It is a real time strategy game similar to Settlers but with a more ‘city-building’ feel. It costs £14.99 on Steam.
You start off with 7 colonists and two robots. Your job is to build up a new colony that will attract new colonist by immigration. You need to concentrate of supplying food, power, water, entertainment and medical facilities for your colonists. The game mechanics work pretty well. There’s a day/night cycle and the wind is not always consistent. So your power generation is never consistent. The solar panels are a good source during the day. The way round this is to build power storage. You really need to be planning ahead. If you are getting new colonists, they’ll need somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat, and you’ll need to grow more food. You colony is on an alien planet. This means you need to produce your own oxygen for your colony. All the while keep paying attention to your power – power cuts ruin everything. Your colonists will die of asphyxiation and starvation.
Your power generations require maintenance. Again, this means lots of thinking ahead. You need ore from mines, to generate steel in your processing plant, which is just one of the two components needed to make spare parts to maintain your solar panels and windmills. A nice touch in Planetbase is the variation of visiting ships. You can be visited by traders, colonists or visitors. Each ships looks different giving a nice feel to the game.
There are some things I would have preferred to be in the game – maybe they’ll make it into Planetbase 2 if they ever make it. I don’t like how there is an invisible edge to the building area. It would be better if the landscape was the limiting factor so everything that looks like it can be built on, can be built on. I would prefer it if your colonists could mate and make children like in Settlers – a natural increase in population like that would be cool. There are only 4 maps which limits Planetbase’s re-playability to an extent. However, the game is a challenge so you’ll spend a long time completing the milestones for each map.
A few tips for playing the game
- Always keep an eye on your food first and foremost. Your colonists will rapidly die if you don’t maintain enough food for them. This means building bio-domes as well as cafeterias.
- Power is super important. It’s easy to lose track of how much you need, especially during the day time when your solar panels are working at full rate. Built enough power storage to keep you going if there’s no wind in the night.
- You need to maintain your power generators. This means you really need spare parts. This leads into the next two points:
- Build starch producing crops for bio-plastic which you need for spare parts.
- Build mines (and later get drilling robots) to produce ore for metal which is needed for spare parts.
- Don’t expand too quickly. You’ll use up the metal and bio-plastic needed for spare parts and suddenly you’ll find all your power is gone.
Planetbase is really fun and quite challenging to play. It’s soundtrack is repetitive but gives a good space vibe. The graphics are good but the camera positioning can be a bit annoying at times (they did this deliberately). Planetbase isn’t a game where you can just build and advance without planning or thinking. It really does require strategy in a similar way to a city planner or Settlers. It would be cool to see a wider range of buildings and maps if they make a Planetbase 2. Planetbase was released in October and costs £14.99 on Steam.