Xbox’s new survival game is like Minecraft, but scarier
September 30, 2022
It’s dark and I’m scared. I hide behind a small chest and a rock. Around me, there are some fragile walls made of leaves. Outside these walls, I can hear it: a giant, angry spider. I can’t spot him directly, but I can see the massive leaves and tall blades of grass surrounding my little shelter moving as he searches for me. Above, a large mosquito flies; a few steps behind, an ant springs up on a fallen branch. I hate bugs and bugs, and I’m starting to regret playing Based.
Although it’s been in early access for about two years now, Based finally reached version 1.0 this week via a big update for PC and Xbox. Developed by Obsidian, Based is a survival game in the same vein as Minecraft. Yes, you will hit things with rocks to get other things to do better things to hit bigger things to get more things. It’s one of those games.
But Based has two big advantages over so many survival games that have followed in Minecraftwakes up. First, it has a really interesting story involving scientists with secrets. And second, it takes place in the backyard where you play as a young child who has been shrunk to such a small size that ants, spiders, coins, and soda cans tower over you. Maybe you have seen the movie Honey, I reduced the children? Good, Based that’s it but with more violence and resource management. And way too many bugs.
Still, even with all the nasty creatures, it’s really exciting to explore a handcrafted world – no procedural generation here! – as a tiny survivor. Hiding in huge soda cans or picking up huge blades of grass is something I’ve never done in a survival game. It also made exploring more interesting. What random everyday item, now made massive, would I encounter next in the newly deadly yard?
The game’s basic gameplay loop allows you to build your camp with resources you collect from the garden. As you get stronger, you can find new areas of the world that contain new knowledge to discover and quests to complete. Completing these quests helps you achieve your end goal of returning to normal size, safely escaping the domination of spiders and gnats.
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I will fully admit that I almost activated the game anti-spider mode before starting Based. (This changes the appearance of spiders in the game in an effort to make it easier for people with arachnophobia to enjoy the game.) But I decided against it, partly because I wanted to fully enjoy the game , and also because all the other bugs in Based, such as larvae and fleas, would not be altered at all. So I realized I was going to freak out anyway, so why not just go for the full spider-filled experience.
No story spoilers here, but Basedit is writtenis solid, and I found myself increasingly intrigued by why my character shrunk and what happened in the backyard before I arrived. This story helps you keep going when the going gets tough. You know those times in every survival game where you have to spend an hour moving your base or hoarding resources to build better gear? You still gotta do it all in Basedbut at least on the other end of it all is a new story beat or piece of lore to enjoy.
Another reason I kept playing Based, even as I slowly became paralyzed with fear of all those fucking bugs, that was how well done it was. Navigating menus, using your inventory, crafting items, and building bases are all enjoyable. And even better, everything is very simple and fast. Building in particular is easy but not straightforward. You can create large, complex and detailed structures, but the blueprint system keeps things organized. I imagine spending a year in early access, letting players help out with feedback and testing, is probably a big reason. Based feels more polished than so many other survival games.
Based might be the perfect game for people who got bored of hitting trees and crafting axes. Yes, you do some of that in Based, too. But on a whole different scale. You are not cutting down trees, but blades of grass and shoots. It’s a refreshing take on a genre that has become a bit stale for me over the past few years. And its well-crafted story and gameplay systems keep me going, even when the moment gets a little too much of a survival game.
If you have Microsoft’s Game Pass, I’d definitely check it out Based on Xbox or PC. And if you want to play with a friend, it also supports co-op! Just let them know in advance that there are a lot of bugs in this game. Please.