Saturday, 16 April 2016 00:00

Hide & Hold Out - H2O - Early Access Review

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Hide & Hold Out – H2O has an excellent premise: you are stranded on a water world with very little hope, and must fight to survive. It has the potential to be great, but bugs and lack of direction will put off a lot of newbies.

The settings are both an asset and a liability. The first issue users have is getting it going. It takes a long time to load, and there is a known issue keeping people on the loading screen. Potential fixes—like allowing users to lower graphics content—are gone until it is already loaded up. Laptops have a harder time than desktops once you get it to load, because of the default size of the screen. I had to go through and make it so the toolbar on my computer would become invisible just to find the play button, as it was hidden directly underneath it. It's possible that others had this error, as I saw many known issues about the loading screen “freezing.” That is exactly what it looked like until I looked closer. Strangely, my desktop also had an error before I got to game-play. It had a “fatal error” trying to load, and I had to delete the game and reload it three times before it finally worked. At least on the desktop the play button wasn't stuck under the toolbar and it booted right up. Both ways had glaring errors that someone coming for the first time would be put off by. Not a great start.

Then, you have the servers that you can log onto. The good point is that you have plenty of servers to join, so if one doesn't suit you, join another one; however, there is no clear separation of realms for regions. You have to wade through the list reading every server name just to find which ones would even work for you. In addition to this, servers seem to have a lag problem for no apparent reason. There will be 3 players out of 50 available spots, and you still can't load the server at all. Another issue is that when you join a different server you start off with just the basic items again. That can also be good or bad. It's good, because you can start a new game from scratch at any time. It's bad when one server doesn't work at all, and you have to start all over because of something you have no control over.

Next, there are both good and bad with the gameplay itself. As mentioned, when you first join a server you start with some basic items to survive. You get four items: a tool to harvest materials, a raft, a flashlight, and a piece of bread. You run, swim, or raft around, and collect materials with your tool. Awesome, right? Well, what do we do with them? Craft them into other things, duh! There's a problem there too, however. The only tool boxes I found to craft things were found deep underwater. So, while you are trying to craft things, you can drown.

It wouldn't be as bad if you ever found boxes lying on any of the islands, or the big oil rigs floating around.

I also wondered what the point of those was. When you climb it, you expect to find something you can take. Nope. They are just there to stand there and look pretty. Why can't I harvest nuts, bolts, metal, or anything else from them? Meanwhile, the sharks in the water somehow know that you are climbing the rig, and surround you. That's right, in this apocalyptic world, only aquatic creatures and humans survived for some reason. Sharks, clams, and whales seem to be all that exist. I know that the premise is that you are living in a water world, but no avian or reptilian creatures survived at all?

The Player versus Player aspect is a good idea, but I have a problem with this as well. Sure, it's fun to go around killing each other. In an apocalypse, many other titles have the same aspect, but I don't like that they steal all of your materials. I was killed for the first time within twenty minutes of playing the game. I then re-spawned with the basic items again. I get that people would loot you for resources in real life, as a dead person wouldn't need then anymore, but that makes it really hard for the person getting killed to get anywhere in the game. This too will put newbies off of the game. What is the point of playing the game if you keep getting killed by people that have played since day one, and they take all the resources before you have a chance to build any weapons?

In addition, the new player is hopelessly lost. There is no indication on your map of where anything is, except the oil rigs. No NPC's exist to help you in any way. You have to hit escape and look at the controls to figure out how to use any items. I would never have guessed you have to press “E” to climb on your raft, for example. I originally thought it was a server error, and pressed escape to try a different one. No such luck. Every server is like that. You have to figure things out for yourself, or press enter and type to others on the server, hoping someone helps you out. Otherwise, it's just you, lost in the water world.


The Verdict

Overall, it has a good idea, with some known bugs. A few fixes need to be made, and some help to new players would be appreciated. I can see the potential, but it just isn't quite living up to what it promises just yet. I'm excited to see what the game will become in the future, which is a good thing.

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Katie Bauer

Kate played games since she was five years old. She loves playing classic games along with modern titles. Her PC gaming has ranged from WOW to Farm Heroes Saga, and her console gaming has ranged from Super Mario to BioShock Infinite. Her preferred genre is fantasy RPGs. When she isn’t playing games, she will be working on her B.A. in Communications and doing freelance photography. She already has an A. A. in English. Her love of games is only surpassed by her love of writing.