RimWorld Console Edition Preview
Since its release in 2018, Ludeon Studios’ RimWorld has captured the time and attention of PC players with its incredibly deep gameplay. Combining open-world survival mechanics with a building sim is only part of what’s going on. The heart of RimWorld is the story, and how the player reacts to unfolding events. It’s hard to imagine a game as complex as RimWorld finding its way to something other than PC, but guess what? It’s coming soon with the RimWorld Console Edition.
If a Tree Falls on RimWorld, the AI Will Know
Without even trying to wade too deep into the weeds, RimWorld’s premise is that the player controls three colonists who have crash-landed on a planet. It’s a little like saying life began as a single cell organism. What happens after that is pretty wild and unexpected. You have a home base, of course, which you can and must expand. There are resources to collect. Animals to domesticize. Storms and plagues to weather and all manner of emotional turmoil to overcome. You expand your population both naturally and by absorbing refugees and prisoners.
It’s probably no exaggeration to say that if you can imagine something happening in the “real world,” it can probably happen in RimWorld, too. Because, butterfly-effect and all, every action ripples across everything else, the underlying AI machinery is incredibly complex. That’s one of the reasons it has taken so long to come to consoles.
There are dozens of survival/crafting/sim games. What makes RimWorld stand out is that the world is constantly being manipulated by one of three AI storytellers, dynamically responding to the game. Each storyteller has specific tendencies, some more apt to send down a hurricane than others. In any case, this ever-present uncertainty makes every playthrough of RimWorld unique. Well, that, and the thousands of decisions, relationships, attitudes, and emotions that the colonists develop during the game, with and without player input.
If you’ve never played RimWorld, a glance at the screenshots will suggest that, for all its mechanical complexity, the art is very simple. The aesthetic suggests top down, 2D pixel art games. Character models are somehow expressive without having any real detail. Thanks to their behaviors and expressive shorthand, it’s easy to grow attached to your colonists and their lives.
For the console port, the game remains essentially the same, except for one significant difference. The UI has been completely redesigned to make it readable from the couch several feet away. Personally, my consoles are attached to my desk monitor, so they’d might as well be PCs, but not everyone has that setup. Maybe the biggest change to the UI is the addition of a cursor/reticle. Hover over anything on the screen — people, objects, animals, etc — and the game tells you the actions possible. Not having hands-on time I can’t say how well this works, but in the developer’s presentation it looked like a great idea. Finally, recognizing that some players will be coming to RimWorld for the first time, the game’s tutorials have been revamped and expanded.
RimWorld will not becoming to Game Pass, at least a launch. The console versions include the Royalty expansion/DLC, with other expansions available for purchase. Of course, the Steam version supports literally thousands of mods via the Steam Workshop, a feature obviously lacking on consoles.
RimWorld has a devoted fanbase, and it’s not hard to understand why. It’s an incredibly engaging, deep and surprising simulation and maybe the best-ever example of emergent gameplay. For anyone who missed it on PC, prepare for your next gaming addiction when RimWorld appears on consoles.
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