Overwhelming. That’s the first thought that came to me when playing Endzone – A World Apart Early Access. Depending on your outlook, that could be a negative assessment but bear with me.
For starters, a lot is going on. Not that it’s cluttered, but just the sheer weight of actions, monitoring, objectives and more. The overwhelming part was more about the concept; taking a small community and help them to not only survive but live through a fallout.
Endzone – A World Apart Early Access, from Gently Mad Studios and Assemble Entertainment (Twitter), is a real-time strategy game, building structures, sourcing and manufacturing resources, exploration and keeping up morale. That’s no walk in the park.
Endzone – A World Apart Early Access Review
Similar to other titles in the genre, it’s common to have so many hats to wear when leading a small community, but the difference here is the environment you get to work with.
You have to collect water and set up a distillation process, tend to crops and salvage scrap and wood from the nearby woods and general vicinity, making new gear like a scruffy MacGyver but with the constant threat of infertile land affected by radiation.
I’ve never been a fan of The Walking Dead as there seems to be zero hope and makes me feel melancholy. What’s the point? The odds are stacked against you in Endzone – A World Apart Early Access however and pending you pay attention to your workers and their needs, there is a chance for survival, unlike the aforementioned comics/show.
In the introduction to the game, there is a fairly lengthy tutorial, but entirely worth it as it teaches you the fundamentals. For the majority of the time, you could surmise the functions of each action through common sense, but as there’s a lot of multitasking, it’s encouraged to at least learn the basics.
You first build a jetty to fetch some water, then attempt to remove the radioactive elements to hydrate your workers, then numerous structures that can source new materials and make new tools, apparel, accommodation and schools for education.
The first hurdle was getting used to certain activities being assigned to free workers. You can’t select individuals and give them tasks; instead, you have a menu of your current structures and can assign workers to a dedicated role. Anyone left will keep themselves busy.
In some way or another, your workers/settlers/fodder will use their initiative and pull their weight in your camp – you’ll never see them idling about. However, basic tasks such as collecting lumber means using a waypoint over some trees, and whoever is free will chop them down.
The number of buildings on offer are impressive, fine-tuning your production line with recycling options and new technology. Note that the latter isn’t laser beams and teleportation devices, but producing new tools out of salvaged gears such as plastics and metals.
Creating A Happy Environment
Any boss, whether good or bad, will know that productivity will improve with a happy worker. To keep your community in their element, considering the situation they’re in (post-radioactive disaster), you have to fulfil their needs, producing the items and requirement they seek.
Ensuring you have the best products also matters where you place the structures and the overlays you can use in Endzone – A World Apart Early Access is brilliant. Check whether the land is fertile if there are sufficient resources left, and if radioactive, your workers can mostly clean it, but some structures will still produce products that are tainted.
But it’s not all work and no play – they need somewhere to reside, and reality check: a place to make babies, i.e. future workers. Building a settlement with a variation of homes is at your disposal, and interestingly, despite being the same building, each model looks different to the others, as you would expect when they are built of recycled components.
However, building on the purest of terrains possible is the first hurdle, the second is creating them in a suitable location. If you place these buildings too close to other structures, your people will be unhappy – understandably. While this makes it even more complicated, it’s an excellent mechanic and stops you from placing structures all over the place and devise a sensible strategy.
The Future’s Rusty Brown
For such a desolate time where hope is possible but highly unlikely, Endzone – A World Apart Early Access is surprisingly moreish. Ignoring the amount of depth involved in the game – which I hasten to add is not incomprehensible, just a lot to deal with – it’s easy to get attached to your mini population.
There’s a real satisfaction of establishing a community with a rusty camper van then moving on to a fully-functioning town that really does make Fallout look backward. Everyone pulls their weight, and it’s a communal effort.
For all the dried up vegetation, browns and greys, this bleak colour palette is fused with excellent modelling – the structures are beautiful in some respects, like an abandoned building tour you’d happily watch on National Geographic. That’s one for the gaming demographics…
It’s certainly not an easy feat as I frequently killed off the bulk of my workers through long hours and poor working environments. Completely unintentional, of course. Additionally, not being able to control individuals was mildly challenging, but you get used to it and forget about the chaos outside and focus on the calm inside.
Endzone – A World Apart Early Access is available on Steam now and as there’s no score as it’s Early Access, it does get the recommendation nod, thumbs up, non-sexual harassment pat on the bum if you enjoy resource management based games.