Astroneer’s Switch port: great for exploration, not for base-building

Astroneer might be a survival video game, however it has actually constantly had more of a sandbox feel, thanks to the lower pressure of its “survival” aspects. In experience mode, you pass away when you lack oxygen — a gauge on your knapsack reveals the staying supply — however oxygen is quickly offered through structures, lorries, or crafting tethers that link gamers to an oxygen line.

This has actually made Astroneer suitable for gamers who take pleasure in crafting and base management, however would rather pursue those objectives in a low-pressure setting. The video game plops an astronaut onto a procedurally created world where gamers collect resources, develop their base, and check out the large nooks and crannies of area. The brand-new port to Change, which is out on Jan. 13, provides mainly the very same enjoyable experience however in a portable setting, offering the video game an edge for casual, innovative play sessions. However if you’re trying to find more extreme base-building, Astroneer is still a much better title on Windows PC, which gains from more exact controls and higher processing power.

In a lot of aspects, I was happily shocked by just how much I took pleasure in Astroneer on Change. The vibrant, low-poly art design equates wonderfully to the console. This is crucial, as the majority of my time in Astroneer includes strolling worldwide’s lovely, large map utilizing an unique ray weapon to customize the environment and gather resources.

With these tools, the capacity for expedition in Astroneer feels almost boundless. You can spelunk deep into caverns for mineral resources. You can terraform odd cliffs and launch yourself off of them. You can rather actually burrow into the world’s core and keep going up until you emerge on the other side. Unlike Valheim, another video game that eliminated the survival grind from expedition and base-building, there are no managers that soft-gate areas.

The Change controls are decently instinctive: The ideal trigger is either a cursor or the gamer cam, depending upon whether the ray weapon is toggled. When it’s a cursor, gamers can get products like seeds, resources, or base products, along with plug in power cables and move the positioning of a tether. When the ray weapon is toggled, the ideal trigger highlights the location the weapon will terraform. Turning in between these modes is a breeze. It’s likewise extremely pleasing to strike the ideal trigger to make the ray weapon go brrbrr, absorbing the environment around you in a whirlwind.

In spite of the kinetic complete satisfaction of checking out and terraforming, I earnestly had a hard time with base-building. It’s much more difficult to navigate a joystick specifically over a things’s pickup window, which is irritating when you’re attempting to get small products from your pack, and stick them on numerous printers for crafting functions. (I can picture Joy-Con drift would make this much more discouraging.) It’s frustrating since this is a base-building video game. I’ve constantly been a management sim gamer mainly on PC — I’m a sicko who likes a thick menu, great deals of stock management, and high-stress circumstances, and I usually play these video games with a mouse.

A screenshot from Astroneer, where two astronauts stand inside a pink cavern

Image: System Period Softworks

I initially played Astroneer on PC in 2019. I focused more on goals like developing a shuttle bus and releasing myself into area. I wasn’t truly terraforming or checking out simply for ambient enjoyable — I utilized terraforming tools to make long slopes that my astronaut might “snowboard” down, and structured courses to valuable resources. I ultimately got lazy and simply began sticking dirt containers into the soil centrifuge, which drawn out fundamental resources for me. Though I didn’t experience it personally, I understand frame rate suffered on Xbox throughout the video game’s preliminary launch, particularly for gamers who constructed a more significant base. I haven’t built a large enough base in my Switch playthrough to notice the same issues, but given the console’s lesser processing power, I could see it being the case down the road.

Playing on Switch didn’t diminish the enjoyment of pure exploration in the video game. If anything, it pushed me to explore more — there’s something about using a controller for traversal that will always feel more natural to me, as a person who grew up playing Nintendo games. More than that, Switch portability means I reach for the game more frequently for chill play sessions in creativity mode, where I can really lean into the sandbox nature of the game, and use terraforming less for resource gathering and more for straight-up shenanigans. In my current save file, I’ve constructed very little — but I have hollowed out the core of a mountain.

As a dedicated fan of simulation and base-building games, I’m delighted to have two places to play Astroneer, each of which gives me a different focus — PC for base-building, and Change for running around and doing dumb things. While I wish the Change were a sharper platform for the actual base management, the portable option gives me more opportunities to play around in the video game’s world. With Astroneer’s expansive and highly mutable map, that’s still an embarrassment of riches.

Astroneer will be released on Jan. 13 on Nintendo Change. It is also available on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. These impressions are based on a final “retail” Change download code offered by System Period Softworks. You can discover extra details about Polygon’s principles policy here.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.