In order to be successful in today’s entertainment market, a game must either contain creative new ideas or improve upon existing ones. Despite its clever name, Guncraft is not the first game to combine blocks and gunplay. So does it at least contain the necessary upgrades to make it stand out from the crowd? Unfortunately for Exato Game Studios, the short answer is no.
At its core, Guncraft is a mesh of Minecraft and Call of Duty, featuring a voxel-based design and modern military shooter mechanics. Theoretically speaking, this should be an easy combination for success considering the high following that the previously mentioned intellectual properties have. And to be honest, when it works the gameplay feels decent. However, as we can tell by the lack of success for Ace of Spades, things that look good on paper don’t always deliver.
This brings us to our first major issue; the game is broken, incomplete and feels like it still belongs in beta testing. Upon first logging into the game I was greeted with an incredibly generic black menu screen and option choices that are more basic than most low budget indie titles. Currently there are no video or resolution settings at all, which is inexcusable. On the positive side, there are field-of-view and keybinding options, but that doesn’t really make up for the lack of video/resolution settings.
Looking past the initial, mostly preferential, flaws there are so many other bugs that make Guncraft not worth playing at this point in time. The worst offender is the lack of dedicated servers, which means that player hosted servers are the only viable option right now.
At any given time there are approximately 25 servers being hosted, 5-10 of which have a playable ping and maybe 1 or 2 with enough players to have an actual game. Furthermore, just because these games appear to have a low enough ping to reasonably play does not mean that players won’t experience terrible lag spikes during a match. Since the game is essentially multiplayer only, if there aren’t enough stable servers the game is already dead in the water.
Let’s say we find a suitable server and other players to create a friendly battleground; surely all is good in the world of Guncraft now, right? Not even close. Having a 100% destructible environment sounds like a great idea, and it is for the most part, but when even the map floor can be destroyed there are going to be issues. Falling into the abyss immediately after spawning is not enjoyable and getting stuck in a black pit with no way out is even less so. Another interesting conundrum is the grenades. It seems as if they simply fall through the world after they’re thrown most of the time. Sometimes they do explode if direct contact with an enemy is made, but grenades are not projectile weapons.
If it wasn’t for all of the bugs and performance problems, the gameplay in Guncraft would be comparable to most other modern military shooters. It possesses a similar class-based system, with two main weapons, a melee ability, perks and killstreaks. The 100% destructible environment adds a realistic element to the game and even minimizes some annoying issues usually present in these types of games, such as an overabundance of campers. Unfortunately, the destructible environment is where the realism ends. Anyone looking for authentic feeling weapons should look elsewhere because the guns in Guncraft have absolutely no recoil or accuracy falloff on them whatsoever.
Although there are currently multiple issues with the gameplay in Guncraft, the Foundry is the light in the dark. Being able to create unique maps from the bottom up with structures, skins and even weapons is a new twist on an old genre. On the other hand, this aspect of the game is also quite complicated, and without a tutorial of any sort it’s likely that many players unfamiliar with voxel-based games will hit a steep learning curve.
Of course, anyone can throw together a few structures and call it a map, with some level of satisfaction, but the “gunsmithing” takes complexity to a whole new level. While most people know what a gun looks like, building one out of blocks is completely different. Additionally, special “handle” and “muzzle” blocks are required, stats must be assigned, and aiming sights should be included before the weapon can be submitted for approval. After a few attempts of my own, I created something that looked nothing like a firearm, but it’s clear there are some very creative people out there who have made some powerful weapons. Consequently, this has also created some unbalanced weapons, such as portable mini-guns that shred players in seconds.
In an attempt to combine Minecraft and Call of Duty, Guncraft seems to have flown too close to the sun and was released too early. As a result, the game is plagued with stability issues and gameplay bugs that cause it to be nearly unplayable in its current state. The positive aspects are unfortunately overshadowed by unstable servers and balance problems, creating an overall unpleasant gaming experience.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which we were provided with.