As of this weekend, I have tried virtually every sandbox MMO on the market, so I figured I’d post a brief rundown of each one.
A Tale of the Desert
Non-combat building and crafting game set in ancient Egypt. 3rd-person POV. I’ll admit, I barely gave this one any time. I think it could be fun for some people, but the lack of any kind of combat is a turnoff to me. It doesn’t even have mobs from what I could tell. Graphically okay, but the controls are weird. Didn’t check sub prices, but it’s F2P to try.
Fantasy setting. Open world, non-consensual PvP with full loot. 1st-person POV. The towns are safer than outside the towns, but it’s not 100% guaranteed. Biggest reason to be wary of this one is they’re completely revamping the game, and they’re not doing anything to the current version except bug fixes. No central market system at the moment, which means buying and selling goods is almost impossible. Has housing, but space is very limited. Bad UI and beginner experience. Wait for the revamp and then see if the game is worth playing. Trial but $15/month sub.
Sci-fi spaceship game. The biggest one of them all. Hardcore, not for the faint of heart. 3rd-person POV. Non-consensual PvP and full loot. Even high security space isn’t completely safe. The only time you’re completely safe is when you’re docked in a station. Steep learning curve and a lot of information, but if you’re willing to learn, it’s not impossible. The more you put into this game, the more you’ll get out of it. Lots of work has gone into refining the UI. Trials available but $15/month sub.
Face of Mankind
Sci-fi setting. Graphically dated but acceptable. PvP game. 1st- or 3rd-person POV. I don’t know if PvP is full loot or not, because we got out of this game as soon as we realized there wasn’t a damn thing to do after the tutorial. Empty hallways. Empty rooms. Not even NPCs around for flavor. It’s a sandbox game with no toys. The game completely went splat after the tutorial. Limited free accounts or subscription.
Post-apocalypse setting. Consensual PvP only (you can flag or go into PvP zones). 3rd-person POV. I would really call this more of a sandpark than a straight sandbox game. No housing, but you can be a focused crafter or PvPer if you want. F2P with no limitations on content or bag/bank slots, so free players aren’t as hindered as they are in other games. It’s mostly in the number of things they can craft at once and a slower harvesting time. Graphically okay. It can look good at times, but the UI needs an overhaul. Various subscriptions available.
Fantasy setting. Open world, non-consensual full-loot PvP. 1st-person POV. This one is much like Darkfall in lot of ways. Bad UI and no centralized trading tools. The community is a lot like EVE’s. Towns are safer than outside if you can call the guards on an attacking player fast enough. The Awakening expansion due soon (as in a handful of weeks) will overhaul the UI, the mob AI, and add centralized traders. The game has housing, the ability to declare war on guilds, and the ability to control territories. Very deep crafting system. Combat is pretty good, though it could be better. Of all the fantasy, combat-focused sandboxes out there, this one is best. Like EVE, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. This is probably the closest there is to a Skyrim Online in terms of setting and depth. Still lacks a few toys, but the next expansion should be adding a lot. Trial available, or box price + $15/month subscription.
Sci-fi setting. Alpha islands are safe from PvP, but beyond that is open-world, non-consensual, full-loot PvP. 3rd-person POV. Bears a lot of similarities to EVE, and in fact a lot of the community comes from there. Instead of spaceships you’re building and controlling robots. Learning curve is similar to EVE. EVE players usually find the game easy to pick up. Has player-build settlements and terraforming. Decent UI and graphics. Repeatable missions are rather dull, but it has quite a few toys to play with. Trial available. Sub game.
Fantasy setting. A lot of people consider this a sandbox, but from my experience it was mostly quest-based. I didn’t play long, though. 3D isometric POV. Graphically dated and browser-based. Lots of content. I saw several quests that were real puzzles. I suspect this one is fantastic, but the graphics have a hard time holding my interest. UI isn’t all that great. Free-to-play or subscription.
Fantasy setting. There are both open world, non-consensual, full-loot PvP servers and PvE only servers. Graphically dated. Almost no animations, and zero combat animations. 1st-person POV. This is a game about exploring, building, and making your own goals. It’s incredibly complex. Possibly the most complex and detailed crafting system there is, and almost everything you do makes sense from a reality standpoint, even with the presence of magic and demons. The community is very small, so there’s not much in the way of an economy. The game has housing, and you can build your house in whatever shape you want and in virtually whatever place you want. Game has terraforming, too. The development team makes constant small updates, adding new content all the time. Very community-focused team. A lot of their development decisions are based on what the players vote for. Great game if you’re a fan of complex crafting and struggling to succeed. Free-to-play or subscription at 5 euros a month.
Post-apocalypse setting. 3rd-person POV. Supposedly it’s open-world PvP, but very few people even play. Graphically dated. Good animations and combat (compared to WURM; not compared to Guild Wars 2). Like WURM, this is about exploring, building, and making your own goals. Crafting is almost as complex as in WURM. The community is very tiny. Mobs are currently only animals, though revenants are supposed to be coming in a couple of weeks, and there are far too few mobs at all, making the world empty. Again, the tiny community means no economy. Game has terraforming. No trial, and cost is $40 for the box then $15/month for subs after the first month. The lack of a trial is seriously hurting the game. I would recommend staying away from this one until it has a larger community and a free trial.