Name two things you’re surprised haven’t gone together yet? If you’re thinking of “Lego” and “No Mans Sky”, then you’re in the right place. Trailmakers is essentially that – but not in so many words. In this game, you have a few modes, the ones I played most being the racing mode and the exploration mode. Both of them see you create vehicles, but the latter mode is the one that really curves towards No Mans Sky, as you’re dumped on a planet and you have to try to collect enough parts to build more vehicles, from cars to rocket ships. Sounds fun, right?
I’ll get this out of the way early – building things is not my forté. So with that in mind, I’ll start with the building mechanics in the game, as that is where you’ll spend a good percentage of time. As you play through the exploration mode, you’re always unlocking new items, so you’ll want to tweak your vehicle or build a completely new and never before seen method of transport and it is made extremely simple. You are pretty much free to build whatever you want, even some absolute game-breaking and mildly cheating machinery that I definitely used to access areas I wasn’t supposed to yet. Or, maybe I was, and I just hadn’t figured out how. Either way, you can create basically whatever you want and drive over the world as you see fit.
The other modes are basically challenge modes where you have to build a certain thing and then compete against others. You can also nick things from the Steam workshop and use those, but where’s the fun in that? This is definitely where those people who are dab hands at constructing speedy cars can really excel and while it wasn’t so much for me, I could tell that a lot of people were having fun with it and some of the machines that could be built are truly amazing.
After a while, I got a little bored of Trailmakers. Kart racers don’t really interest me so much, especially as I’m crap at building, and driving around a barren world looking to collect garbage got quite tedious. The environments were interesting to a point, but I do feel like it could have used a bit more to look a bit nicer. After you’ve collected a fair few new items from the rubbish, you start struggling to figure out where to go next. If you’re anything like me, you’ll also struggle with how to build better crafts in order to get you to the next part. Occasionally, the game will prompt you and say “you can build this now”, but you only ever get really pants vehicles out of that. All of the workshop items – although incredibly well crafted – all tend to use blocks that I have no clue where they are. It just feels like there is a good beginning when you’re regularly finding things, and a good ending when you can build whatever your heart desires. It’s just the gaping hole where the middle should be that concerns me.
The only other concern I had was that initially, I thought it would be better to use a controller for this game, but I was so incredibly wrong. Using a mouse and keyboard to build your cars is extremely simple – drag and drop and you’re done – but with a controller, it’s awful. It’s so clunky and horrendous. Every time you try to move an object a small amount, it ends up nowhere near your vehicle and on the floor. It became immensely frustrating that after the first hour of building, I was close to just dropping the game entirely.
The Final Word
Overall, Trailmakers is quite fun. I would imagine it’d definitely be better for more creative people than myself, however there is still some fun to be had even if you aren’t creatively minded. As long as you’re happy to spend long periods tinkering with vehicles to enhance their aerodynamics or make them look nicer, then you’re going to have a lot of fun in this. Even if not, you’ll still be able to download some cool cars and explore, which is always fun.