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Dual Universe Beta Impressions

Dual Universe Beta

As someone who is a total science fiction geek, developer Novaquarks‘ Dual Universe is a game that I’ve been very curious about for quite a while now. Just as a little background—when I was a kid, I used to visit local used book stores and peruse through the dusty science fiction books. I still remember many of the book covers and reading their back matter descriptions would spark my imagination before even cracking them open.

While I’ve tried to capture that same spirit of endless possibilities within the digital medium, by playing science fiction games, nothing has really moved my needle. Empyrion – Galactic Survival came close because, for the first time, I was able to start off with virtually nothing, collect resources, build a ship from scratch, and fly it out into space (after testing it terrestrially). But other games such as No Man’s Sky and Space Engineers just didn’t cut it for me, and I haven’t experienced enough of Star Citizen to form a valid impression of it yet.

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Fortunately, Dual Universe holds a lot of promise. First of all, it’s better optimized than Star Citizen (its main competitor), so it doesn’t seem like I’m playing a slide show. Secondly, it also seems a little more accessible to newbies. For instance, when you begin the game, there’s a handy tutorial that walks you through its basic mechanics. Once you learn those, you’ll know how to get your bearings, travel, craft items, and other fundementals.

As soon as I finished the tutorial, a gaming buddy of mine beckoned me to his already-established base that wasn’t too far from where I’d spawned. So, I jumped into a small craft (that is provided to all newbies) and sped off toward his location.

Soon after arriving, I plopped my territorial claim marker not too far from his base (doing so allows you to build upon the marker’s location) and began to build my first starter base. Later, my friend showed me the ins and outs of the marketplace, how to reap resources via mining, and how to interact with megacorps in order to acquire valuable ship components.

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Then it was that time—once I’d constructed my first little spaceship I gazed upward at the sky and wondered if I’d be able to make it to my destination, which was a far-off moon base. Would my experience give me that same adrenaline-pumping feeling I got with my first Empyrion blast-off?

After my buddy stated that he was crossing his fingers for me, I engaged my ship’s engines and launched her off. As the planet’s topography began to fade behind me I looked ahead with a feeling of awe and high tension. Would I make it out into space or would some technical hitch doom my maiden voyage?

Luckily, my ship broke through the atmospheric barrier and lurched into the vacuum of space. Was it similar to my experience with Empyrion? No. It was much better.

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A few things that Dual Universe has going for it is a pretty hefty budget, some seriously brilliant developers, and a massive scale (it’s a full-blown MMO). This allows for some gorgeous graphics and advanced technical intricacies when it comes to both the game’s scope and its core mechanics. Instead of taking ten or so seconds to reach space (from the planet) as in other space games, it took quite a while, which is indicative of a much larger playing field. All of these factors combine to give you a much richer and more immersive experience than with most space sims out there.

I’m very excited about Dual Universes’ future and can see massive potential for it if it’s handled with care. So long as they stay away from the much-maligned monetization models that are so prevalent these days, I think that this title could vie for the number one spot within the genre. Only time will tell.

I’ll circle back around once things are further down the development stream and render my review.

Dual Universe has some pretty good looking graphics that make its space MMO gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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