Slime Rancher 2: Early Access Review, Critique, and Suggestions.


I was a big fan of the first slime rancher, so of course I picked up the sequel as soon as it entered early access. I've enjoyed it a lot, and wanted to collect my thoughts on this first version and my hopes for future development.

Movement and Controls

The speed of walking and sprinting seem increased. This makes sense as the world is much larger; notably the distances between the different sections of the ranch are quite long. The standard walk speed feels nice, but the sprint is off in some way. The game looks worse when you sprint; it feels like you had turned on a speed multiplier in the debug menu.

The inconsistency in the jetpack, sadly, still makes me want to tear my hair out. Sometimes you fly high up into the air, other times the game refuses to give you enough altitude to reach the next ledge and you fall into the ocean. From what I understand, the reason the jetpack functions this way is that the height limit is manually set by the devs location to location. That means hopefully there will be less issues with this as the game progresses, but it still seems like there must be better options for this system.

Level design

The regions of the world seem much larger and easier to get lost in. The individual 'rooms' within the different reigions are less unique than in SL1, making navigation tricky without extensive use of the map. (part of this may be because it's a newly released game and the layout is unfamilar, though)

Except for the first region, to access new areas you have to go through a teleporter, which all now have loading screens. This does feel like kind of a downgrade from the instant (if slightly laggy) teleports of the first game, but in my opinion it's understandable if it's due to resource strain from loading multiple regions at once.

I do much prefer the more connected reigons of the first game; the new regions feel more disconected and thus more like levels due to this system.

My main question is that, if the regions need to be separated into islands for performance reasons, why not use the BOAT parked outside of your ranch instead of these teleporters? I think adding a little bit of Windwaker into the game could be an absolute blast.

Back to the world design though; so far there are three regions to explore in the game, with more to come. I think the full release of the game will need at least 3 more regions of similar size and complexity to feel complete. I'd also like to see the return of some of the "bonus" regions from SL1 (IE the wilds, nimble valley, and slimeulation). Each of these offered what felt like a mini game mode in and of themselves, each testing different skills from the player. If they continue the island structure of the world design, it makes even more sense to have a bunch of these.

Slime science, resources, and upgrades

Slime science is now available from the start, instead of being locked behind the lab's 10k cash paywall. It's also been combined with the upgrade system; you now use the slime science fabriactor to craft upgrades from various resources. I like both of these changes! Because slime sicence is tied to a side section of the ranch in the first game (and the most expensive one at that), it subtly implies that slime science is more of a side system. By providing the lab as part of the core ranch from the start, and tying essential upgrades like the jetpack and tank upgrades to it, it reinforces that slime science is a core mechanic. This also makes crafting the upgrades more rewarding.

Most basic upgrades are availble from the start, but further ones can be found in treasure orbs across the map. This could be an issue if important upgrades end up placed in hard to reach or easily overlooked spot. Most of the orbs I've found so far have been filled with decorations. These unlocks were dissapointing in the first game, and they're still dissapoitning now.

Instead of bulding resource extractors, resources are vacced up from nodes scattered across the map. In theory, I like this! In practice, it can quickly become tedious. A possible idea would be to have a craftable extractor you can place on the nodes to automatically harvest these nodes or to increase the output of the node. I think we'll also have to wait to see how much resources future crafting recipes require. One thing that could be Extra Cool would be to allow you to reprogram the firefly-esque, lore dispensing log drones, allowing them to collect resources for you in a small radius around the location you find them.

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