PAX West 2017: Dual Universe

Friday, September 8th, 2017

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Dual Universe | Ship maintenance

I got a chance to meet with Novaquark at PAX for a demonstration of their upcoming space sim, Dual Universe. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play the game myself, but rather watched the developer play the current build of the game while explaining its premise.

Dual Universe is described as having a “continuous single-shard” universe. That means that there is only one central server for the entire world, which will be constantly shared by all players in-game. There will be no zone divisions, no player caps, no instancing or anything; just a single server hosting all players. How exactly they plan on making this idea work was never made clear, aside from describing the server as a “supercomputer”.

Dual Universe | Space station

The world in Dual Universe is fully editable, with players able to dig freely for resources and use them to build ships, buildings, electronic components and anything else. On top of being able to build things, players will be able to freely edit scripting for things like computers and vehicles, giving them free rein to customize the way they behave. The developer showed off a computer with a simple Breakout-style game running on it, created in-game.

Players will be able to claim sections of planets for themselves, which blocks other players from destroying, mining or editing anything inside. These sections are hexagonal divisions of the planet, with larger planets having several thousand sectors available. The developer addressed concerns of planets becoming fully claimed by asserting just how big the planets are, and that if there’s no space on your current planet you can always leave and try somewhere else.

Dual Universe | City, ship

The developer also addressed concerns of entire planets being mined out. Apparently, with 1000 players doing nothing but digging eight hours a day, every day, it would take them 19 years to dig out 1% of a large planet.

Dual Universe is one of the most ambitious games I’ve ever seen. If everything the developer is trying to do actually comes to pass, then it could really be something special. However, it’s also very possible that it will fall short and be another case like No Man’s Sky. The lack of any specific goal is somewhat worrying, with the developer expecting players to figure things out for themselves when they get the game. However, only time will tell, but as it stands I think it would be wise to wait until the alpha begins this year and see if the game lives up to Novaquark’s lofty promises before jumping in.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. He's a fighting game player, with a focus on BlazBlue and Under Night In-Birth games. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Persona 5, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.