Sun Tzu once wrote, “All warfare is based on deception.” He also wrote, “Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.” Sun Tzu was certainly wise and an impressive general, but can his tactics be applied to videogames? Traditionally, it is difficult to deceive in videogames; the battlegrounds are established, the boundaries are known and it is often suicide to feign weakness. However, what if you could alter the battleground at will? That is the central principle behind Guncraft that goes beyond destructible environments, although they do feature. In Guncraft, it is possible to build structures, defences and immovable objects that alter the battlefield, how players will play and how battles will play out.
The best way to describe Guncraft is Call of Duty meets Minecraft, and it’s a description you will likely see a lot. The team is well aware of the Minecraft comparison as you can see from the beta launch trailer. As in Minecraft, players can tunnel their way through objects, build using a variety of materials and create magnificent structures. For the pacifist, there is the Free Build mode, which can also be played in multiplayer. This gives players access to all building materials and as much of everything as their little pixelated heart desires. Unfortunately, unlike the creative mode in Minecraft, players are unable to fly so some thought and forward planning is required for certain projects.
As the name implies, Guncraft adds guns from assault rifles to sniper rifles, along with grenades and melee weapons. The main game modes are Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, which are pretty straightforward. The main difference to a more traditional deathmatch game is that players can leave their own mark on the environment. To restrain players from popping up a never ending stream of blocks, there is an in-game currency used to purchase blocks and ammo. Don’t get too attached to anything you build in the competitive environment though; absolutely everything can be destroyed and levels are reset to their default state after each round. However, you can use the environment to your advantage by destroying blocks to launch sneak attacks or construct on-the-fly traps.
The default levels are diverse and interesting. Players can currently choose to wage war around the CraftTower and nearby supermarket, on the Star Wars themed EmpireStrikesCraft, in the house from Home Alone, in New Haven, on the Egyptian themed TempleOfBlock, in Winterfell, or on a blank canvas. It’s the little touches that really complete these maps and show the care that has been taken with them. The supermarket in CraftTower is stocked for whenever the war is won and the victors need refreshments, while EmpireStrikesCraft features AT-AT Walkers, turrets and laser shots in flight.
The game has that familiar cube-based Minecraft look in terms of graphics and it works well. Everything is distinctive and easily identified. Stairs do cause some issues however and it is a little unusual to have to leap up them. Hopefully the sound will be tweaked in future versions. Currently, each block is placed with a metallic clang, which is a little disconcerting when you’ve just planted a flower. It’s a small gripe and will certainly be altered for final release.
More updates are planned with a Capture the Flag mode to be released in the next version. The team has also promised unique never-before-seen game modes, extensive leaderboards, clan support, chat rooms and more. Anticipation is building for the full release of Guncraft; a mix of a first person shooter and Minecraft should be a great title. It is certainly shaping up well so far and it will be interesting to see the developments that are in store.
Exato Game Studios has successfully financed the project via Kickstarter. The PC beta is currently ongoing and there are some tweaks and additions expected for the final version. A launch for the full release has been pencilled in for some time in June. The team also hopes to bring the title to the Xbox Live Indie Game marketplace, but a release date has not been set yet. The team can be followed on Facebook and Twitter for further developments.