On paper, Craftopia promises the ultimate sandbox video game fantasy. This ambitious open-world crafting RPG blatantly rips the most iconic mechanics from beloved titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Pokémon, Harvest Moon, and even Minecraft. As an enormous fan of every single of these franchises, I was morbidly curious to try this Frankenstein fusion for myself.
Admittedly, after watching some gameplay segments following Craftopia's early access release on Steam last year, my expectations going into my first session on Xbox Series X were remarkably low. A few close friends and I ironically jumped into an online world together, fully assuming we'd shut the game down pretty quickly. However, after about 30 minutes of playing together, it became clear that none of us had any intentions of stopping.
Craftopia isn't shy about where it pulls its inspirations, and ultimately, that's part of this quirky title's charm. With familiar elements from arguably some of the most popular games of all time, many players will immediately be comfortable with the game's core systems. Craftopia honestly doesn't do much to deliver inherently new ideas, but it goes a long way in bringing some quintessential Nintendo character to Xbox.
What exactly is Craftopia?
Craftopia is a multiplayer open-world survival RPG with elements of crafting, fishing, farming, dungeon-crawling, and creature-collecting. The vivid cell-shaded art style, world design, and core gameplay unabashedly borrow from Breath of the Wild, along with a longer laundry list of similarities. From wall-climbing with a stamina meter to specific sword animations and even the ability to launch yourself on a glider via the updraft caused by a fire, the parallels are absolutely impossible to ignore. With Breath of the Wild standing firmly as one of the best sandbox titles of the last decade, these parallels certainly aren't detrimental.
When it comes to the crafting mechanics of Craftopia, comparisons to Minecraft and Ark: Survival Evolved are also quite fair. As is survival game tradition, players spawn on a starter island in nothing but their underwear. Your first objectives are to clobber trees and rocks with your bare fists to gather essential resources. Players will then turn these chunks of wood and stone into pickaxes, weapons, and other necessary tools. These primitive instruments are then used to harvest new resources, which can, in turn, be converted into upgraded tools. And the cycle continues.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I have a concerningly sizeable soft spot for Pokémon, so the creature-collecting components of Craftopia are easily what intrigued me the most. Much like Nintendo's iconic franchise, players can capture the various wild animals and enemies they find out in the world. To add a beast to your collection, you must first weaken it by attacking it and then trap it in a Pokéball — I mean Monster Prism. The developers even introduced their own take infamous Pokéball wiggle animation. As a long-time Pokémon fan, I'm excited to invest more skill points into Taming tree and see how deep this creature-collecting and battling rabbit hole goes.
While comparisons to titles like Minecraft, Breath of the Wild, and Pokémon are a bit more obvious, what if I told you Craftopia manages to sprinkle in some Age of Empires as well? Now before folks get too excited, there are no RTS military elements in Craftopia. Instead, this open-world survival game utilizes Age of Empire's iconic age-progression system. In order to progress through the various ages of Craftopia, which unlock new craftable items and tools, players must collect the necessary resources and offer them to an Altar of Civilization. In my adventures so far, I've only managed to make my way to the third or fourth age in the game, but I've already seen an almost overwhelming number of things to craft.
Should you play Craftopia on Xbox?
Craftopia recently released through Game Preview on Xbox Game Pass for PC and console. For subscribers of the service, it's effortless to give the game a try for yourself. You can also simply check out the two-hour trial free of charge. Suppose you're a fan of open-world RPGs, survival games, Minecraft, Breath of the Wild, Pokémon, Age of Empires, and Ark: Survival Evolved. In that case, you will unquestionably find a great deal to love in Craftopia.
The developers aren't necessarily trying to do anything bold or revolutionary. Instead, they aim to offer a package crammed full of the best elements of their favorite games. Certain critics might find it reductive or lazy to use direct game comparisons when describing their thoughts on a specific title. In the case of Craftopia, it seems not only fair but ultimately the preferred way to inform players of what to expect from this aggregated survival game.
My friends and I have only scratched the surface of what Craftopia offers. However, I'm already feeling this game sink its cell-shaded hooks into me. If you have a squad of players excited about the possibilities of a new open-world survival game and don't mind some uncanny similarities to other big titles, jump in and explore the bonkers world of Craftopia. And if this doesn't sound like something for you, be sure to check out our list of the best games on Xbox Game Pass.
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Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.