Preview: SOE’s ‘Landmark’ Building Game Closed Beta
Must… stop… building… must… write… article… Sony Entertainment Online’s latest online game ‘Landmark‘ recently made the move from Alpha to Closed Beta. For those of you unfamiliar with Landmark, it’s a huge open world game, where you can build anything you can imagine… And that means you can spend a lot of time in this game, tweaking and perfecting your creations. It say it’s somewhat addictive would be an understatement!
What is Landmark?
Landmark is a massive online sandbox where individuals, or groups can build anything they like. It’s about taking your pick & axe, heading out into the world, hacking down trees, mining for minerals, and using them to build something cool… And people have really were building some incredible stuff, from simple houses to huge statues, to castles, to aeroplanes! It’s amazing the amount of control some pretty simple tools can give you!
We’re at the start of Closed Beta, so there’s still a lot of features to add in – water, caves/underground, & combat to name a few key things, but those will come in time. What we do have are lots of destructible environments which you can mine/chop to get different minerals, gems and wood. You start out your Landmark adventure at a travel ‘hub’. This allows you to travel between the various islands in the game (more on them later), and also has a couple of basic crafting stations. You have a basic pick and axe, which means you can head out into the world, to start mining and chopping straight away. All you need to do is find a copper vein, or tree and get to work! Once you have a few basic raw materials, you can come back to the hub and craft the all important ‘Claim Flag’.
Staking your claim!
As much fun as destroying things can be, what you really need is a place to call home. This is called a ‘Claim’, and gives you an area where you can build permanent structures. You make a ‘Claim’ by crafting a Claim Flag at the hub crafting station, then running out into the world to find an unclaimed bit of land. If you’re struggling with this, you can switch on a ‘view claimable land’ option in the settings menu, which will highlight where in the world you can and can’t build. Once you find a open spot you like, you just have to ‘right click’ your flag to stab it into the ground and screaming ‘CLAIMED!’… (okay, that last bit is optional…), and your now a proud land owner! Claims have an upkeep of 300 copper (which is the most common resource) per day per Claim. You can currently only pay for 5 days at a time, but i suspect this’ll get altered as the game moves to Live. It’s a case of not wanting to have prime real estate sat doing nothing, and more importantly giving Beta testers a reason to login more frequently. It’s not really a huge hardship, as you can get around 300 copper out of a single copper vein, so it’ll only take 10 mins of mining to come up with a weeks worth of fees. It’s possible to chain a few claims together by crafting additional ‘Claim Flags’, and attaching them to the side of the main Claim, but for that, you need to make yourself some crafting stations.
Let Building Commence
Now you have your claim, you can start building whatever you like with the raw materials you’ve already mined. At this point, that’s mainly going to be wood, stone, some metals, and dirt. It’s enough for you to build some basic structures, but to get the more advanced building tools, better picks/axes, things to help you mine faster, and ‘props’ (which are pre-made items, like chairs, tables or lamps you can use as extra decoration), you need to build your own crafting stations. This is done by getting some basic raw material and crafting at the free crafting station at the Hub, or finding a friendly claim nearby that has the option to allow visitors to use their crafting stations turned on. Once you have your own crafting station, you can place it on your Claim, and get to work on gathering more advanced materials to improve your building options and tools.
Finding Advanced Materials
Not all materials are available on your current island. To get the higher level stuff, you’ll need to use the Hub to jump between locations. Each island has a different look and some unique building material referred to as ‘biomes’. For instance, Desert Biomes, as you’d probably expect, have lots of sand and unique tree types, where as Tundra Biomes have their own unique trees, plus lots of ice and snow. Currently the islands are split into tiers 1-4 and all the mineable material is on the surface. So the lower level materials such as copper and iron are in lower tiers, whilst higher level materials like obsidian and diamonds are in higher tiers. This will eventually be switched so all tiers will be be layered in single Biomes, so you’ll have to dig down to get to the higher tiers, rather than it all being on the surface.
The Tools of the Trade
I’ve been playing the game since Alpha, and have had some great fun just trying out the building tools, and seeing what I could create. This is where Landmark is way ahead of any other ‘building’ game. Rather than just stacking blocks on top of each other, Landmark gives you a variety of simple geometric shapes to build with. Cubes of various sizes, a variety of corners/triangles, and spheres in a range of sizes. You start with the basic ‘Add‘ ‘Delete‘ and ‘Heal‘ tools (the latter reverting whatever you’ve done to the landscape back to its original state). You can do a lot, even with just these, however you can also craft additional tools:
- Select – which allows you to select/copy/paste areas
- Smooth – which smooths out your shapes the more you use it)
- Line – which… draws lines… and finally
- Paint – which allows you to ‘paint’ an existing area with a new material
As I mentioned earlier, the game is still in Closed Beta, the the stuff you can build even now is quite incredible. Just take a look at the official player showcase forum, and you’ll see some astonishing work. As I implied at the start of the post, I’m spending an awful lot of time in Landmark, just enjoying the chance to build and rebuild anything I can think of. What’s nice about being in the Closed Beta is the developers are watching how player use tools and props, and are developing the game around player feedback. There’s a lovely community spirit to the game, and the forums. There’s also a lot features to come. I’m looking forward to the day they add in water and underground features like caves and caverns. There’s also some basic combat incoming, although that’s really not the focus of the game. The other feature I’d love to see is an equivalent to Minecraft’s redstone system, to allow the ability to create electrics, but I suspect that may be a way off.
Personally, for my build I decided I wanted to stay reasonably traditional, but rather than build one massive structure, I wanted to build a town… A Geektown if you like… There’s a video above, and screenshots below, but if you want to take a look in game, it’s on Satisfaction (EU) server > Arch, just next to the Hub. Everyone is welcome in Geektown, and the crafting stations are open to all. And if you see my toon (Tathor) wandering around, give me a /wave. 🙂