There’s ambition and then there’s this; sheer naked madness, seemingly matched to some kind of genius. Dual Universe is an impossible game – impossible because it’s hard to comprehend how something like this could possibly exist. An amalgamation of Eve Online and Minecraft, it’s a single shard MMO where countless numbers of players can get together in a shared universe to create, to spectate, to get lost in the inevitable politics that emerge when you give humans whole planets to mine and to sculpt and to exploit or explore as they see fit. It’s one of the most ambitious games I’ve seen not just this year but any year, a thing of raw wonder that, going from the short technical demo that ably shows how thin are the seams that hold its solar system together, actually works.
Dual Universe is an exciting prospect, then, but it’s got a big problem. After player expectations around No Man’s Sky were brought crashing down to earth, it’s hard getting people excited for another space sim. It’s not really advisable to promise too much, lest you find yourself setting up the same traps Hello Games sprung after the release of its much anticipated game. It’s a problem that developer Dual Universe is currently wrestling with right now
“No Man’s Sky has hurt us, very clearly,” Jean-Christophe Baillie, an impeccably smart looking Frenchman, tells me as he finishes his short demo of Dual Universe in action. “This is a post-No Man’s Sky era. People cannot do the same thing. There’s a huge amount of distrust in the community. As you know we’re doing a Kickstarter, and half of the comments are like this is just No Man’s Sky all over again. We’re struggling. We’re not quite there yet because of that. Our statement is we totally understand what’s going on, and our policy is to be totally transparent.