Ever stood in a landscape in a game and seen some vast monolith in the distance and wanted to get to it only to find out that it was just a piece a scenery in a sky box? The oldest example of this is the volcano in Battlezone. For the uninitiated that particular game was a vector graphics tank sim from 1980. In the background there is a mountainous volcanic landscape that the player could never get to - believe me I tried!
So what does any of this have to do with Dual Universe? Well, the vast landscapes that the player sees in Dual Universe and the monoliths in the distance that can be seen within them can all be explored and lived in. The monoliths can not only be visited but scaled, blown up and even built upon by the player themselves.
Dual Universe is more than just vast landscapes, it is also an entire universe that mirrors our own (hence the name) to the point where planets orbit suns and moons orbit planets. Not only that, but vast space stations that again are constructed by the player-base also orbit these virtual celestial bodies.
Dual Universe is a world-creating game. The resources are gathered and refined by them, they are traded by them and the economy is run by them as well. All Dual Universe provides is the tools with which the players can mine, refine, build, occupy, conquer and destroy.
The developers are aiming not to intervene with how the universe evolves, in a similar vein to Eve Online. This could be the making of Dual Universe or its undoing - that all depends on the how the players use the tools they are provided with.
Similar games have attempted this, with Star Wars Galaxies being one of the most famous as it had a player-run economy that left new players at the mercy of those who mined resources and did everything they could to prevent others from doing so. Similar dynamics will appear in Dual Universe and it will be up the players to police themselves rather than the developer enact edicts and restrictions.
There is, however, some conceit to Dual Universe that is present via a core unit element. This allows objects to be constructed, including vehicles that can be land-, water- or even space-traversing machines. During the demonstration I was given, a ship was constructed out of a kit of predefined parts that - provided it had certain components such as engines, a hull, cockpit and landing gear - could fly.
It was taken to various constructs throughout the solar system the demo was set in and it was demonstrated to me how utterly vast the universe in Dual Universe actually is.
Visually Dual Universe is extremely impressive. Even in the pre-alpha state I saw it at PAX West 2016, the rendering engine and lighting effects are a sight to behold. The possibilities of this game are boundless as they are stupefying. The developers are aiming to raise funds for the game via Kickstarter and I sincerely hope that they are successful in their endeavours.
If you're interested, you have four days left to back it. It's nearly there!