I Killed a T-Rex: Review of “Beasts of Prey”

It’s a funny feeling when you think you’ve “beaten” an MMO. I mean, technically, an MMO doesn’t end until it’s canceled, and you don’t get any special end credits or cut scenes for it. “Beating” an MMO, for me means I accomplished a goal that I feel has to be done, and nothing after that will be nearly as fun or fulfilling as that experience. World firsts on difficult content? That’s a start. Beating the best alliance on a PvP server? That’s pretty good. Jump starting the weakest faction and helping them become the dominant force in a theme-park MMO where “PvP is dead” and “No one cares about PvP”? Yeah, that’s pretty good. As you can see, I’m more PvP oriented, which is why I’ve been experimenting more with survival MMOs and games.

Before jumping into Beasts of Prey, Rust was my drug of choice, and truthfully, I wasn’t fully satisfied with it. I haven’t touched a lot of the games in the genre because they’re all saying they’re in alpha, but asking for my money. I don’t like that. See, to me, once you let people buy into your game and take their money, they become a customer, not a tester. I don’t pay money to sample potentially defective cars or chocolates, so why should I pay for a defective game? If you’re selling the game, that’s your launch, like so many free to play games. Yes, you can make changes later, but that’s an update. Unless something other than money allowed me to try the game, the exchange of currency makes the creator responsible for their game and my opinion of it. While it may change, I’ll simply judge the game like I would any MMO: by what I’m experiencing. This is why a certain Z-survivor game won’t be mentioned much; I’ve heard what the game has to offer now, about a year since it allowed people to buy it, and it seems underwhelming for the price. Rust was the one game that had the most features active that I felt were interesting and worth my limited time and money.

So, what do I expect from the genre? Something akin to The Walking Dead. The world’s gone to hell, I can’t trust anyone, but I won’t make it alone. There are other enemies that make life hell, but my fellow player can make it much worse, and I have to become friend or foe with them. There’s little room for neutral ground unless it’s a brief passing. However, from what I experienced in Rust, the genre currently is more about FPS friends coming together and splattering other people until a bigger group of (e-)friends stomps them and burns their home to the ground.

Oh, yeah, that’s the other thing I expect: world building! I expect to kill or be killed by other players over control and ownership of supplies and or territory. I need both, and I need a reason to not just kill in this world, but to want to live. I can kill people in World of Warcraft all day long if I want, but there’s no fun in that for me. I want to build a community, go to war, make enemies friends and take part in daring escapes. For me, the problem with Rust was that the killing part was done well enough, but not the living. No one I talked to wanted to, you know, be human. It was almost always kill or be killed. The very few friendly people I met did their good deed for the day and left. The not so friendly? Just murderers. I’ve played hardcore PvP games before and could turn the angriest 13 year old into an ally, but even with voice chat, it feels like people view their neighbors almost like nightmare-mode mobs just there to be killed or screw you at the wrong moment if left alive.

So, how did Beasts of Prey do? My first moments in game felt very Rust like. I hit rocks and trees to get materials, but on the unmodded server, it felt faster. While lumber and ore fell to the ground and was at the mercy of the physics engine, I moved from shack to home ownership in barely any time. Part of this may have been because, well, I didn’t drop anything on death. The game disabled this. The game also lacked a hunger meter, rest meter, solo mobs (more on that later), and durability. Death felt less punishing than what I’d expect from WoW. That sounds pretty bad, and it is, except for a few things. For one, going from “hitting people with a rock” to “I’ve got a pistol!” felt faster than Rust without being too easy. You’ll need either your own base or access to one, and this is where BoP mixes things up: coordinates. Yeah, making maps and measuring distances and locations according to rock formations and landmarks sounds cool, but without a map or in-game time to orient you, meeting up with friends (or the rare friendly stranger) becomes an epic quest of it’s own, and if either of you die, that quest becomes even harder. I applaud the people who play together and found each other in these harsh worlds, but here’s the thing: once you build a base and start being a jerk, we’ll know where live.

That sounds small and vaguely like a threat, and but let me tease something out of that. In Rust, when the new kids chased me and the neighbors out of the neighborhood, there wasn’t a good way to organize ourselves. Though strangers, like in my first MMOs, I know we can work together to take people out. However, if we can’t even meet up, it’s not going to happen, and it never did. You need to be able to communicate exactly where to go and how to prepare for things. While the game’s chat deletes text and doesn’t let you scroll up, at the very least, coordinates give you a way to meet up and start to fix that issue. Being able to meet and to know where an enemy is is just what you need to start a good gangwar with your fellow soloers. If the game had allowed for items to drop on death, I’d certainly have had a lot more fun getting revenge on the two guys that didn’t even want to respond to my “hellos” or talk about the game. Without it, the game felt like a theme-park MMO, and there was a raid boss I had to kill: a T-Rex.

While I was exploring the game, I naturally was searching for dinosaurs, especially for a solo player to kill. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to kill the tyrant lizard lords on my own with a gun without explosives or some big perch and glitching. I’d run into one, tried to stab and, it was swiftly killed. The same happened with the other giant dinos I was able to find. I say “able to find” because, honestly, they were rare. I’d go 15 or 20 minutes without finding one, sometimes longer. Yes, there’s only one official server (which I was playing on), but playing late at night on a weeknight meant I had very little competition. I explored ruined bases, broke into others, and used supplies that weren’t exactly mine to build a gun and some ammo to take something out. I checked online to make sure it could be done, and read it would only take a single clip of ammo to kill the hardest dinos. With gun in hand, I found some cool things with the physics, like rocks breaking apart for easier mining. Dead bodies moved, logs rolled down hill, dinos were (mostly) solid objects, and an old mountain climbing bug from the old MMO days was present in the game.

I found out that the game had tides that actually changed the water level. Sound was important because that’s how I’d track where people or dinos were. Building was swift, and I could make cool things like oil rigs, towers with lights, and I’d heard that you could find plans for cars off dinos. It was just hard to find the dinosaurs.

Now, I think my Rex kill played out in a way that shouldn’t happen once the game is complete. I was terrible. I was scared. I wasn’t well hidden, nor near my home. The T-Rex I killed was brightly colored; as if being as big as a tower wasn’t bad enough, the color even in the dark should have attracted murders to me from miles around. The gun I used was super loud, and the single clip of ammo I used wasn’t enough to kill it, so I was running around with this roaring beast trying to eat me did not exactly scream “stealthy actions.” If this were Rust and just a bear, someone would have found and killed me. If anyone saw me during that fight, they probably thought I was going to die, and since I wouldn’t leave anything behind, just moved along. I prevailed though, barely alive and far from home. Again, if death mattered, someone could have come up and killed me and taken my hard earned loot for their own. Since it didn’t, I was free to play with the body and see how it interacted with the terrain (it slipped down the hill a bit when I whacked it with an axe!).  And then… boredom. I looked through my crafting options, thought about killing some more dinos, some different dinos, but the idea of wandering around and killing more of the hardest mobs in the game for no reason (since the game is frequently wiped) didn’t appeal to me at all. This was it, and it felt like the end of my time in the game. If not for this article, I would have just told people not to buy the game and move along because, as I mentioned, I only normally look at games for what they currently offer, not what they might one day add in.

However, I did decide to try the game once again after a few days of “beating it.” There had to be more, buy maybe I had to try a non-official server. The problem was that many of these servers just seemed like more of the same, and didn’t seem nearly as populated as the official one. I did find one with more dinos, including “solo” ones, but they were often bugging in the water. If I waited for these solo mobs to come out, they’d run back in when on low health. Keep in mind that the dinosaurs don’t drown but you do. It’s quite frustrating.


The other issue is that… well, they’re not official. The server I played on had very few rocks to hit, so building was supremely difficult, even when no one was on. I searched high and low for supplies and even waited an in-game day. The land was dry. Thinking it was done this way to encourage PvP, I tried to break down someone’s door but after about ten minutes of whacking away at it, I assumed they had made the doors unbreakable. This all was confusing since after several hours, I barely had the resources for three walls, where as on the official servers, I was swimming in stone. This particular server, while not very populated, also had a lot of objects that used a lot of stone, all in areas where I hadn’t seen stone spawning. Just to check I hopped back on the official server. Yup, stone was easy to find, I could chop down doors in under ten minutes, and no, dinosaurs weren’t common. Someone messed with the controls and most likely had fixed the server so it would mainly be someplace their friends could log in, be powerful, and stomp on strangers. Thanks but no thanks.

While I still feel the game’s building options and PvE are better than Rust, the game just isn’t a survival game yet in my opinion. Without meaningful PvP or even the need to eat, it’s more like an FPS sandbox with dinosaurs. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it wasn’t what I thought I was purchasing. Anyone who wants to try a survival game that’s multiplayer without meaningful PvP could really enjoy BoP. I know the game is in  “alpha,” but when you sell a product and don’t have criteria on who can and can’t test your product (because if it’s alpha or beta, we should be testing), you’ve pretty much made a de facto launch. If a person’s willing to put up with promises of “soon,” that’s fine, but developers can’t dismiss the fact that they can actually generate anti-hype by releasing products that just don’t inspire. I’m not totally writing the game off, but as I said, my experience with the game would have ended much faster if reviewing this game hadn’t been my job. Anyone else that isn’t looking for some side work may wish to avoid this title until it’s in a better state (like “official” release).

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