Pinned under fire, your cover is peppered with bullets and shattered in seconds. Strafing away, you hit a dead end, but it’s OK – you can drill through. You pop out of the other side, frag your off-guard opponent, deploy a bunker and get inside; ready for the rest of them. This is the type of scenario Exato Game Studios has bestowed on players of Guncraft, their inventive voxel-based first-person shooter. It offers huge potential for customisation and will appeal to those who enjoy getting creatively involved with their games.
“Comparisons to Minecraft are inevitable”Although comparisons to Minecraft are inevitable, Guncraft’s originality and Exato’s vision help set it apart from its ancestor. Whereas Minecraft is primarily about building and creation, Guncraft is primarily about building and demolition. Nearly every block in the game is destructible. Building blocks are not mined or harvested; you earn performance-based cash to spend on available resources during play. This helps to both keep you stocked up on ammo, grenades and mines, besides allowing you to build on the fly.
At first it feels like, by reshaping the map, you’re breaking some intrinsic FPS rule but playing in a malleable environment is refreshing and being able to construct and destruct at will gives you a stimulating freedom. Building is practical, for instance to quickly change levels or to throw some cover up, but you can’t build and shoot simultaneously so it’s easy to wind up in a sniper’s cross-hairs whilst you’re busy selecting materials. This is where prefabs come in.
“Allows you to create your own skins, guns and maps”Guncraft invites you to construct your own prefabricated structures which you can then use as finished pieces mid-game. There’s existing prefabs such as stairs, walls and a tower, but making your own and using it is wholly satisfying. You can build almost anything you like (offensive things are banned), so long as it doesn’t exceed the allotted block limit. This is where you can let your creativity, and possible Minecraft experience, flourish. As you build the structure in the editor, you can keep an eye on how many blocks you use and how much it will cost to use in-game. This is a laudable feature but one that’s presently underutilised.
Besides prefabs, Guncraft‘s foundry allows you to create your own skins, guns and maps. You can even import your various Minecraft creations to use as levels, which again boosts its scale and scope. Designing your own weaponry takes place over three stages: overall design, point attribution and iron sights. This obviously takes time and commitment to learn, but once you’re fragged by a player toting their own hand-cannon – you feel compelled to board the gunsmithing freight train.
With this level of creativity afoot, every round of Guncraft has the potential to be unique. The addition of a fleet of vehicles to some matches promotes further chaos, with tanks and attack helicopters giving players an easy means to dominate matches. Despite this, combat can feel oddly cold and clinical at this point – but this will likely be resolved as more players get involved and make the game their own.
“Addictive and ambitious”Besides deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag modes, new modes lava survival, siege and onslaught further bolster the game’s broad shoulders. Lava survival sees lava rising to consume the map as players ascend to avoid it and do battle, with lava-contact spelling sure-fire death. This is fun but frustrating if you’re killed, as you must spend the rest of the round (10 minutes) floating around as a spectre, permitted to destroy a single block every few seconds.
Siege pits two teams against each other as they try to construct a massive trebuchet and onslaught is Exato’s take on horde mode. In onslaught you must construct a fort for five minutes before waves of enemy robots descend, increasing in number and variants each time. This is an intense mode, especially once the robot flyers are unleashed, and a well-crafted fort and team-work is the key to staving off the enemy.
Guncraft is addictive and ambitious. Exato has achieved a real feat in utilising Minecraft’s template in such innovative ways. The potential for creativity and its pure gameplay should make Guncraft a hub of imagination once it becomes more populated and utilised.