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Minecraft collides with Valheim in staggeringly huge open-world RPG you'll be playing for months

Ewan Moore

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Minecraft collides with Valheim in staggeringly huge open-world RPG you'll be playing for months

Featured Image Credit: Clockwork Labs

As far as names go, I couldn’t help but judge BitCraft. It conjured up images in my head of some kind of web3 NFT scheme. Fortunately, I can assure you it’s anything but. In fact, I came away from my brief hands on with an early build of the game absolutely giddy at the sheer scale and possibility of it.

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BitCraft is, on the face of it, similar to games like Valheim or Minecraft. You explore with friends, craft tools, gather resources, and build cool shit together. However, BitCraft takes the social aspect even further by setting the game in one single open world where every change every player makes is totally persistent.

For example, if I load up BitCraft and work with my friends (I have a few of those, I promise) to build a small settlement, you and your friends could stumble across our humble township on your own adventures. Better still, you could join up with us to make our settlement even bigger, or we could simply trade items and go our separate ways as you focus on creating your own budding empire.

If you’re as nihilistic as I am you’re probably already asking the question: what’s to stop griefing assholes from simply pillaging your town and undoing all your hard work at any given time?

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The answer is a set of incredibly strict social systems and rules put in place by developer Clockwork Labs to ensure everybody gets on and plays fair. You can’t actually interact/meddle with a town’s buildings and resources unless you’re asked to join, and you can even make it so you can put out requests for specific types of players to join you. Maybe you need someone interested in gathering supplies? Perhaps you need someone to keep the markets stocked? Or maybe you just want as many people to sign up as possible! It’s all totally up to you as long as you’re within your space of “claimed” land, which can always be expanded as long as you have the resources/manpower.

BitCraft / Credit: Clockwork Labs
BitCraft / Credit: Clockwork Labs

Even within this system, there’s a series of hierarchies and permissions that you can grant to players, allowing them to either do everything you can do within your town, or simply help out and earn their keep. And of course, if you don’t want to march to the beat of somebody else’s drum, you don’t have to; simply going off and forming your own town is always an option.

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Clockwork Labs told me it would have been “naive” to assume everyone would get along and work together in BitCraft all the time, of course. In fact, during testing players almost immediately formed their own factions on Discord, with a kind of central “United Nations” in the middle of it all to keep the peace. But friendly rivalries are absolutely something Clockwork Labs is happy to encourage, and it’ll be fascinating to see what kind of conflicts and alliances arrive when the game finally launches properly.

If all of these complex social and political systems sound a little dry for you, it’s important to stress that you don’t really have to get involved with any of this in BitCraft. The aim of the game is to offer complete freedom, and allow players to really embrace the roleplay aspect of MMOs by letting them be pretty much anything. You could offer your services as a transporter of cargo between towns, for instance. Or you could hunt and sell food for other players. You could also simply become an adventurer, build a boat, and set off across the game’s massive map which I’m told at present can take around 12 hours to cross. However, the game may start to get even bigger as Clockwork Labs expands it, adding new stretches of wilderness for rookie players.

The incentive for exploration, aside from resources that can be sold or used, is the shrines scattered across the map. To be clear, these small puzzle dungeons aren’t actually called shrines, but they’re so clearly inspired by Breath Of The Wild that it’s the most apt term for them.

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BitCraft / Credit: Clockwork Labs
BitCraft / Credit: Clockwork Labs

Within these dungeons, which can be explored alone or with friends, you’ll find all manner of challenges and brain teasers. In the shrine I explored I had to find the right path through a maze by working out which way the wind was blowing, using a torch to see how the flame moved as my clue. It was a nice little puzzle, and I’m told there’ll be plenty of these hidden throughout the world. Plus, each shrine ends with a mad dash to grab as much loot as you can before the whole ruin collapses, which will definitely cause chaotic arguments if you’re in there with friends.

BitCraft has been in development for over five years now, and it’s clear the team have put their blood, sweat, and pretty much everything else into this game. It is without doubt one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever heard about, and the incredible part is that it actually looks like it might just work. With more playtests coming next month, it’ll be fascinating to see how BitCraft evolves and changes based on the actions of players.

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One thing is for sure: if Clockwork Labs sticks the landing, BitCraft could very easily be the gaming world’s next big obsession. Watch this space.

Topics: Valheim, Minecraft, Indie Games

Ewan Moore
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