Minecraft is an ever-present juggernaut of the video game industry, loved by kids and adults alike. Since the first alpha went public in 2009, the game has grown into such a phenomenon that it’s spawned toy lines, a yearly convention, and even an upcoming feature film. If you already have it, you know the fun of building and exploring with friends on any of the numerous player-run servers. Maybe you even run a server of your own!
When any game is as successful as Minecraft, similar games can’t be far behind, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Players who like Minecraft would likely balk if the core experience changed too dramatically, and this provides a great opportunity for other developers to put new spins on the crafting survival genre to entertain those who want something different.
These Minecraft-inspired games are all part of Steam Early Access right now, and each one offers exciting twists on familiar gameplay. As long as you understand the risks of Early Access, there’s no reason not to try them out in their pre-release state.
Landmark ($19.99 for Settler Pack)
Formerly called Everquest Next: Landmark, this game offers a taste of the tools that will power the next MMORPG in the Everquest series, but also stands on its own as a crafting playground. If you’ve ever wished you could add rounded objects or more varied angles to your Minecraft creations, Landmark will wow you with its smoothing and weathering effects. You’ll get a claim of land in a persistent world on which you can build and sculpt til your heart’s content.
Are you really good at making buildings and objects in crafting games? If so, Landmark deserves an extra measure of your attention. Sony Online Entertainment plans to incorporate their Player Studio into Landmark, which means the buildings and objects you create could be worth real money if they’re approved for the program. Furthermore, if you make a building that impresses the Everquest Next team, you might get an offer to have it added to the MMORPG’s world! Looks like it’s time to brush up those building skills.
7 Days To Die ($24.99)
7 Days to Die takes Minecraft’s block based building and crafting into a grim, post zombie apocalypse world. Harvest resources and fortify your home by day so you can withstand zombie and bandit incursions by night. But you can’t sit around and defend yourself forever. Survivors need food and water, both of which can become contaminated, so you’ll need to scavenge food items, hunt wild animals, or even grow gardens to survive.
The game’s final feature list, though not yet fully implemented, is staggeringly long. Characters gain experience and level up through skill trees. Blocks have weight and structural integrity, so structures will collapse if unsupported. The game can be played solo, cooperatively, or competitively as players prefer, and a story generation system promises to reduce aimless wandering by guiding everyone toward interesting content. If you want to watch an extremely ambitious open world as it develops, get in on Early Access right now.
Planet Explorers ($24.99)
Planet Explorers delves deeper into RPG territory than the other games on this list, but still promises the crafting driven gameplay you expect. When your colony ship crashes on a world full of dangerous alien flora and fauna, you’ll need to scavenge and harvest resources to build shelter for yourself and your fellow colonists. There’s a main campaign to complete if you prefer a single player story driven experience, but the randomly generated worlds of Adventure Mode will offer you lots of activity alone or with friends.
One of the more impressive features in Planet Explorers is the game’s Creation Editor, which lets you build and customize your own weapons and vehicles. It’s not just a tool to make pretty re-skins of existing assets, though you can certainly do that if you like. Vehicles need cockpits, engines, and fuel cells, and wheeled designs with low ground clearance risk getting hung up on terrain geometry. Weapons can be designed with extra barrels for faster fire rates. It’s a system that invites fun tinkering, and rewards attentive players.
Craft The World ($14.99)
At first glance, Craft the World (CtW) may look like nothing more than Terraria or Starbound with an attractive, cartoon art style. Differences abound, though. For starters, you’re not just controlling a single character. CtW lets you gradually amass an army of dwarves to task with mining and building. Dig deep into the earth to find rare materials and build your fortress in a number of different worlds.
Your Dwarves aren’t alone though. They live in a world full of skeletons, zombies, dragons, and other terrors intent on busting down your carefully constructed walls. To protect them, you’ll need to guide them to craft weapons, armor, and defensive towers, and help them with spells that you can cast from your vantage point as their mythical caretaker. If Minecraft mixed with real-time strategy gameplay appeals to you, get this one right away.
It’s easy to toss around phrases like “Minecraft clone” when you look at some of these games, but they’re full of innovations that let them stand on their own without reference to Mojang’s flagship game. The more developers tinker with this crafting survival genre that Minecraft invigorated, the better and more diverse your future crafting playgrounds will be.
Are you excited to see so many titles inspired by Minecraft, or have you had your fill of building with blocks? Give our community your take on the genre in the comments.
Would you rather change existing Minecraft features instead of playing a new game? Check out these cool mods!