Publisher Atari is hell-bent on reviving its necrotizing franchises in any way shape or form. For Asteroids: Outpost, it means turning the arcade blaster into a sandbox survival game, though one in an incredibly rough state. This isn’t new for the company. For instance, when the brand Atari saved shooter Minimum from Prey developer, Human Head Studios, it was quick to cash in on the hype of a “lost” title, chucking it on Early Access within weeks of acquiring it.
An announcement and release for Asteroids: Outpost follows a similar pattern, not even two months apart. Its result shows. Asteroids: Outpost stinks. It’s not ready, not even for Steam’s fledgling Early Access program and certainly not for the advisory price of €30. Generously “reducing” the price to about €20 doesn’t make up for it either. Who sets these prices anyway? Asking any amount for what’s there right now continues a trend of hoarding easy survival game funds, without anything to back it up.
To play Asteroids: Outpost, you’ll need to register an account outside of Steam. You’ll be prompted with a key for it. You’ll then be prompted with that key a dozen more times, despite tacking the box to make it go away. This code also needs to be put in manually, even though it appears on Steam. Immediately after download, an update system, also outside of Steam, will try to download more data as slow as possible. Then, the real nightmare starts of trying to get into the settings, which revert every session. Just getting into the first game took a little more than twenty minutes of going over, not one, but several Terms of Service agreements, fighting with options and hoping for the best.
Worst of all, as shown in our gameplay commentary below, this effort isn’t necessarily rewarded. At a random point, Asteroids: Outpost decides to wipe out progress, so right now you’re playing just for the concept of the thing. And no, it doesn’t get a pass for being in development, because those are some rather irredeemable issues. There are launchers that come preset with stable options menus, this title has no excuse.
And yet, as much as it would be great to torpedo another survival sandbox failure, doing so would be treating it too harshly as well. When things finally work, after some self-taught trial and error, Asteroids: Outpost does show some potential, whatever it is. Its survival model includes mining for resources by shooting down asteroids raining from space. Taking down rocks also prevents the home base from getting crushed.
Once out on the surface, players only have limited air supplies, so mining has to get done quickly and with more projectiles hurling to the ground as well. While there is no traditional threat in the game yet, just this limited scope does raise a certain animosity in otherwise more drab mining mechanisms. After collecting ores, the headquarters can be further fitted with helpful constructions or minerals can be traded for cash that can unlock player enhancements.
Make sure to see the problem-riddled gameplay commentary below to find out if you should keep Asteroids: Outpost on your radar for later: