Minecraft is undeniably popular. Look at the most popular Let’s Play series or a small new channel’s early videos on YouTube, Twitch streams or parodies of popular music uploaded to iTunes, Spotify or Bandcamp and you’d be hard pressed to not find Mojang’s game filling the screen with results.
The appeal of the game isn’t limited to its adventure side – numerous overt or self-imposed quests that require the mining and crafting the game’s name implies – but the sandbox, extremely vast, lends itself to a dizzying array of possibilities. The world size is practically infinite and limited only by the the 32-bit maths used to generate the world.
Given the phenomenal success of the game, which got Mojang snapped up by Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014, over 70 million users across every major system, a TellTale episodic spin off, 10 Lego sets, an official convention and a vast array of merchandise, it’s not hard to see why other developers might wish to emulate this winning formula in their own games.
So what are the alternatives to Minecraft Steve and his many adventures? Here are five worth some of your time and money.
The game recently re-entered development, which isn’t the best of endorsements to give a game. But with a development team of two people, it’s unfair to expect the development cycle of even a normal indie game. The voxel-based world boasts an infinitely sprawling world with just as much variety in it’s biomes, land generation and creatures as Minecraft has. With the recent addition of questions, updates to the various skills of each character class and even more regular updates, it might even have more. The game’s now been in development for four years, but fan expectations are still high.
Terraria and the upcoming Terraria: Otherworld are a pair of games that take the Minecraft formula and turn it 2D. They pixelate the graphics and give it an amazing soundtrack to the dozens of boss monsters and insane amounts of weapons, armour and other accessories that fill the games. Terraria: Otherworld is the yet to be released sequel taking place in an alternate reality where the world is already corrupted – you need to purify it. The developers have promised larger worlds, more bosses, weapons and more things to build. It should be a huge expansion to a game which is already probably the only true competitor to Minecraft.
This indie title has seen a massive update during its move to a new engine so the graphical fidelity is second to none. Don’t spend too long staring at the pretty sky, though, as you’ll likely be gunned down by the far more experienced player running past, cackling. The permadeath adds a much needed sense of risk to Rust. “Are the shotgun shells in the power plant worth the radiation?” or “Do my traps stop the other clans reaching my fragile wooden walls on this new base and C4-ing me to hell?” are concerns you’ll run into, and it blasts the immersion sky-high. Just try and avoid the many servers which require nudity.
A slight departure from the above games, with a Tim Burton-esque take on the survival genre, some distance apart from the usual survival mechanics of food and water. There is a sanity meter you must also maintain (or abuse) to build your way through a very detailed island of horrors and find a way to escape.
Essentially Minecraft with the Lego brand scrawled all over it. The LEGO styled texture packs for Minecraft are perhaps some of the most used, but this game is fairly bare bones at the moment – although that does mean it’s on the cheap side. You should be able to get all the official Lego sets in this game – which would be amazing for a multiplayer server where you build the Death Star then ride around it in the Batmobile while kitted out in Bionicle gear. Basically it has the potential to be Lego Dimensions but (hopefully) without the hefty DLC price tag.
Are there any other sandbox creation games we’ve missed out? Have you played any of these? Let us know in the comments.