Grounded is a game that you don't expect. Not because of its type of ownership, because the game survives full of the world, nor is it because of its youth-friendly nature from an aesthetic point of view. His father was more shocking than the others: Obsidian. The team that brought it to the world took a considerable risk, but with the precautionary measures typical of those who knew the videogame industry as a pocket. On the other hand, Obsidian is one of the names that makes the skin of RPG fans creep, and Grounded is far from the kind of work that studios have used: what hit their new project, the first under the Xbox Game Studios label and Microsoft protection; the first chose the strict Access Early Path on Steam and Game Preview on Xbox One. Therefore, what Obsidian runs is the path of uncertainty and feedback from the public, being able to make rough diamonds brighter or let them rot without being forgotten.
We are still talking about the history team but are a bit used to picnics outside their comfort zones: think in this term, Grounded is not a trip out of town, it is a trip on Trans-Siberia. But that doesn't have to be seen as a thorough or rushed step: first and foremost, it was from the fall of 2017, long before the acquisition by the Redmond company, which was discussed internally; Another important detail is that the workforce allocated is less than 10% of the total (30 developers, compared to around 200 total employees), crammed almost entirely into one of the many rooms at the Irvine headquarters, one hour from Los Angeles, which we are pleased visit at the end of October on the occasion of a closed, highly classified and exclusive Italian presentation. A small studio made up of veterans such as game director Adam Brennecke (in Obisidan since 2004), and Senior Programmer Roby Atadero: a group that bases its strength on its small size and modularity, because each member transacts more aspects of development, alternately as needed.
Nice little game
"Piccolo" is a keyword to describe Grounded. This adjective does not apply to his ambition which, although production efforts are clearly reduced compared to The Outer Worlds, looks just as impressive as the large oak located at the center of the gaming world. That of course remains a term that applies to the team's protagonists: they are actually four teenagers, namely Max, the funny guy on duty; Willow, very irritable but with a heart of gold; Pete, the scout boy and the group's official bookworm, and finally Hoops, the coolest of the group.
Difficult, at this time, beyond the quality of the writings of the cast, but Obsidian focused so much on the unique personalities of each of them that they raised it to a unique characteristic element, at least for now: no boy actually has a certain role or class, nor does he have a strong ending, shows the distance from the canon which is typical of the type that the California team has written unforgettable pages.
With the exception of the technology tree – where, however, Obsidian hasn't spread too many details – there are very few roles played on Grounded: on the other hand, people feel the magic touch that only the authors of Neverwinter Nights 2 and Pillars of Eternity. they know how to embed it in their creations. This is where a very public park, which is behind a typical American terraced house, becomes a large playground full of danger that must be faced alone, or better yet, at the company: grass blades form impenetrable and unpredictable shrubs, the puddles look like lakes, cereal boxes left unknowingly appear like monoliths, remnants of civilization that have disappeared for thousands of years.
This will also be Lilliput less exotic than told by Swift, however equally strong and suggestive, thanks to a new perspective (both in the first person, and the third, based on preferences) from which we observe the remnants of worldliness turn into pure fantasy. Actually the protagonist is actually a guinea pig from a strange experiment that has seen them shrink dramatically, and that will make them have to engineer themselves to survive in a context that is far more hostile than the saturated colors of the suggested art style, building bases and blockhouses, but also imperfect weapons and armor, exploiting and interacting with every element on the screen, from the trunk to the leaflets, past rocks, fibers, and insect parts.
Multiplayer "like a party"
Although the typical extreme realism of survival leaves room for that arrangement a cross between Treasure, children have shrunk and A Bug's Life, in the demonstration shown there was the voice of a cold robot communicating, through a device called Sca.B, the need to test the body's reaction to the intake of edible elements (such as mushrooms, in the first proposed proposal) and fluids, could be obtained – among various ways – by dropping dew drops that are dripping from the blades of grass.
Food, if cooked in an appropriate campfire, will be tastier and more nutritious (especially if approaching decomposition), while water must be pure so as not to experience unpleasant malus, as is the tradition of the genus. Also the need for sleep is inevitable, but at least at the "standard" level of difficulty, none of this will have a truly positive or negative impact on gameplay.
The focus is all focused on the possibility of sharing adventures in an ecosystem in sustainable mutations, with unpredictable and unique situations, which vary in each game and according to the players involved. In this case, the game is partly reminiscent of Sea of Thieves: as in the title Rare, Obsidian's will is to let users write chapters of a story in their own way. In the case of Grounded the narrative component is well-defined and well-established (there are not many choices, to be clear), but the approach to experience can change based on the group of friends with whom we will face the dangers of the park: besides surviving in solitude, we can also live in Groundend with a mild multiplayer component and "Party-like", a term repeated several times by the author.
In such a way that no experience points can be obtained, or extreme and exhausting milling races, and you can enter and leave other people's games at any time, without obstacles or conditions. The price to be paid for a player who is accustomed to a more classic and magnetic multiplayer experience is that the rosewater approach to developing his own avatar is really not here: there will be no items to carry in his game, and the only gift from multiplayer will be a crystallized event in the example of the game that we experienced at the company.
A Bug's Life
The hope is that each cooperative game will be unique and fun. In this sense, various biomes and creatures can be found on the road let's hope: each insect has a very appropriate behavior, as well as routines that must be followed every day, as well as certain areas of action, the garden area / world where, except if necessary, tends not to come out. Spiders sleep during the day and hunt at night, which is why there is a good chance that they will attack your base at sunset: knowing this pattern, if a particular mission asks you to enter one of their nests, you already know what the right moment is later.
Bees perform important functions of pollination, guaranteeing the rebirth and growth of plants, fungi, and in general the resources needed to survive. Aphids (ie plant lice), in essence, are good if cooked properly, but are harmless, and following them discreetly, without interrupting their path, can lead to reliable fast food. If you feel a certain hunger, to reward them, you can stab it and cook it perfectly: nothing is blocking them.
Every creature struggles to survive as much as they can, and will not fail an epic battle worthy of Monster Hunter where we can help with an enthusiastic audience, or participate in favor of one or the other, to then share booty. During the program we watched a duel between two giant little animals, tarantulas and ladybugs, the results of which were uncertain from time to time.
Going forward in the plot and carrying out a series of missions and tasks designed to progressively introduce new mechanics (such as handicrafts and basic buildings), the area that can be explored will also be expanded, with areas that can be accessed with the discovery of new instruments, including for example anti-gas masks necessary to enter "Haze", the point of a park filled with irresistible pesticides. There will also be new creatures and obstacles, such as the evil cobweb that will eventually be trapped, with the risk of turning into a delicacy of cunning hunters with too many legs and eyes.
Defense is the best attack
But how can you protect yourself from such threats? We will be able to sell our skin with great gratitude to the basic building system for which we can only see a few bases, with barriers, walls and doors made with plant stems and what is found around: the minimum requirement for erecting shacks and, with minimal & # 39; More effort (maybe accompanied by other players), a real anti-insect fortress. Difficult, even in this case, evaluate system depth of the few shown so far, but will be very curious to feel the impact of our structure on the ecosystem: will a few leaves be enough to stop the dozens of unstoppable hungry ants? Can we create a system of violations, as well as defense?
Certainly developing along the technological tree that will guarantee more and more powerful instruments, we will have the opportunity to forge traps and weapons that can be used to guard a single enemy: we have seen in action only axes and spears, but both, besides offering various types of bonuses (the second, for example, has a greater range and can also be used in water), they have a secondary attack that gives a deep touch to the combat system, by itself is quite classic and basic, and can also be thrown from a distance.
Also through crafting we will be given the option to prepare bandages that are useful for healing wounds, a task which, in a multiplayer session, in the absence of a "doctor" class, must be entrusted to one of the team members. What is certain is that to set foot in an area with the highest level of difficulty, because there is no form of leveling, it will be the equipment that makes the difference. Armor in particular, besides giving a more personal touch to an avatar, will offer bonuses for the statistics needed to deal with increasingly frightening insects and areas that are more difficult and inhospitable.
Like a chameleon
For Grounded, Obsidian chose a alternative route to the usual modus operandi, or Early Access (or Game Preview, on Xbox One). Expansion to the nth level of power with what is done with the Pillar of Immortality, where community feedback is received and implemented thanks to the beta provided to the supporters. In the spring of 2020, games – included in Game Pass – can be purchased and tested before the official release, and at that time the developers will work side by side with players to improve the overall experience and introduce new features (a in processing, for example, consisting from adding meteorological systems).
The choice seems reasonable, given the small size of the team, and the economic calm guaranteed by the acquisition by Microsoft which thanks to Game Pass aims to guarantee that the reason catchment area is useful for growth, improved and prosperous, with the aim of turning into a bigger and more ambitious project.
It is very difficult to predict from now on whether good intentions will remain the same or if the title will prove to be a pleasant surprise. At present, however, we have warned one read a dose of confusion and uncertainty from studies on some mechanics, seemingly superficial and unattractive, whose role in playful economics must still be well focused even by the same team.
A similar argument is also for the pure technical and artistic sector which looks curious, colorful and suggestive in the demonstration, but devoured by a blurred movement which is still pointed. Obsidian is still a guarantee, like Microsoft's solid backs: but Grounded is a different job from ordinary home software products that makes betting scary and thrilling.