Videogames have given us so many different flavours of apocalypse to fear, and this one certainly sounds like it’s created a world perfectly suited to the survival genre. A mysterious substance known as Stardust has infected everything—and I do mean everything. Not only have all living creatures (including humans) been affected, soil and water have been polluted, making the very act of eating and drinking dangerous. Needless to say, you’ll have more than aggressive snacks to worry about.
By embracing genre of new weird, which began in the world of literature, Once Human is aiming for an atmosphere that fuses the prosaic and the fantastical. Stardust has twisted the world into strange and unfamiliar shapes, and created mutated monsters known as Deviants. Your mission is to slowly reclaim the world for humans, and to uncover the truth behind what Stardust is, and where it came from.
In order to do all that, however, you’ll need to look after your basic needs first. You’ll need to build yourself a customisable home via the Territory Core, allowing you to create anything from a utilitarian barn to a fully-featured cosy house. Think of this element of Once Human as Animal Crossing, only the surrounding creatures want to kill you rather than chat and gift you furniture. Helpfully, you’ll be able to relocate your base as and when you need to. You’ll also need to manage your hunger and thirst, although the Stardust pollution means that there’s an extra element of risk involved. Eating or drinking anything polluted will reduce your Sanity which, in turn, reduces your maximum health.
The open world is split into varying biomes, each with its own set of creatures. Some of the monsters you’ll be facing are huge, warped and suspiciously pointy things which move with terrifying speed. There are, accordingly, a wide range of weapons for you to use. About 100 in fact, blueprints that feed into the crafting system. Guns are customisable, too. Each carries stats such as accuracy, stability, and reload speed, all affected by the attachments you choose to use. Looting and crafting will be important for defence as well as attack; you won’t want to hang on to the same piece of armour for too long in the early stages of the game.
As hostile as the world is, you won’t be entirely alone in trying to survive in it. You’ll find various human factions and, yes, some of them will want to murder you, but others will be friendly. While playable as a solo experience, you’ll come across other players too, who can either help or hinder you. There will be dedicated PvP, such as Stronghold Contest, which sets two groups against one another for control of the central territory.
On top of that, there will be four-player co-op Raids, unlockable after passing a certain point in the story. These are tough missions that demand not only cooperation, but a variety of weapons with differing attributes in order to succeed. In terms of difficulty, planning, and teamwork, these sound similar to Destiny raids, and they offer similarly valuable rewards. With a variety of ways to play, a new weird atmosphere, and some promising customisation, Once Human is shaping up to be a survival game worth preserving.
Once Human’s first PC beta test will launch on January 6, 2023. To find out more, head to the game’s Steam page (opens in new tab).