So, here we go. Crayta launched this morning on Google Stadia and I was surprised to find that it had launched when I logged into the service at around 8AM. Usually “launches” take place around 1PM EDT, so this was getting off on a good foot.

In order to access Crayta, you need to either be a Stadia Pro subscriber, or you can buy the entry level app for $39.99 USD. For this price you can get the app and 500 premium credits. Credits allow you to purchase in-game cosmetics and access seasonal content for the remainder of 2020. There’s also a Deluxe edition for $59.99 USD (or $24.99 USD if you are a Pro subscriber and want to upgrade) which gives some additional cosmetics, a permanent XP boost, and an extra 500 credits if you buy the full pack at $59.99 — you get no extra credits if you upgrade for $24.99.

It bodes well that the in-game credits are for cosmetics only, but we’ll get to that later.

Getting to Know Me

The very first thing Crayta has you do is generate your avatar. Unit 2 Games has opted to tag along with Fortnite in many, many ways — which immediately elucidates who their target audience is, natch — so we’ve got a rather narrow selection of fit, athleisure-clad models to choose from. Genders offered are male and female, and can be changed in the “Body” section.

I won’t bore you with all of the screenshots of the character creation options, except to say that options are pretty limited across the board when it comes to hairstyles (head, and face for males) and colors, so don’t expect a slider-based experience when creating your character.

To save your design, click anywhere else on the top-level nav…such as the “Home” tab.

The Dashboard

The Home tab provides you with a quick overview of what you can do. Here you can see your XP, the option to find a world to play in, a list of friends, and a news feed from Crayta HQ.

Selecting a Game World

If you choose the “Play a Game” panel or click the “Play” tab at the top, you get a selection of featured worlds as well as “active” games, and “games you’ve played recently”. Featured games are currently all made by Unit 2 or partners and I assume are to be curated by them in the future in order to spotlight popular or newsworthy worlds. I’m not sure how “active” games are selected, as right now they are the same as the “featured” games. Recently played is a nice addition, in case you have games you want to go back to over and over.

As you “do stuff” you’ll get XP and earn achievements. Every now and then you’ll be rewarded with stuff for your avatar, such as this “spray” I earned after playing my first world.

I haven’t earned enough XP to level up, so I’m not sure what happens when you gain a level.

For my first game I chose “Tumbleweed Ridge” because I heard it was a farming-esque sim world which sounded very low-pressure for a getting-my-feet-wet experience.

Playing a Game

Each world is different, and can have a different UI in order to support the gameplay. In the case of Tumbleweed Ridge, we have an “equipped” slot and a money slot. You also have access to an Inventory by pressing “R” as indicated in the UI tooltip above the active item slot in the lower left corner.

Here, we have a world of four different “farms”, a central “town” featuring a seed store, a furniture store, and a tool store. There are a variety of trees around the periphery which produce fruit (I saw apples and bananas) that can be collected and sold, and at least two mines which you can enter so long as you have a pickaxe, and in which you can mine ore for sale.

Each farm has seed plots, so when you buy seeds from the shop, you can plant them, wait for them to grow, harvest them, and sell them. You then turn around and buy tools and furniture to furnish your house.

That’s basically about it. As a “game” there’s not a heck of a lot to go on here, but as a social space, it’s…nice. Not overly ambitious or particularly interesting, but as I am personally interested in how these worlds are built, I was looking at things from a “how did they do that?” perspective.

The Lobby

Once you’re done with the world you can press ESC and get back to the Lobby.

Although we entered the game though the dashboard, the Lobby looks to be a social space and another way to access featured worlds. When you drop in here you’ll be surrounded by other users who are standing around just as you are, probably in menus or maybe in the bathroom IRL. Who knows; no one was interacting as far as I could see, and come to think of it, I didn’t see any way to interact with others except that Crayta asks to access your mic when you load in. I’m not sure if there’s a text entry mode, but you can use emotes assigned to your numpad (if you have one). I didn’t hear anyone speak, and no one was emoting, so as an open space the Lobby succeeds, but as a social space, the jury is still out.

Phase 001 Complete

That’s about as much as I have to showcase for the first steps in Crayta. So far it’s exactly as I had expected: dashboard-centric with a tiered presentation level for surfacing worlds you might want to try. The creations themselves seem fairly simple in nature, lack depth, and are geared towards the Fortnite generation of quick drop-in, action-oriented gamers who like to shoot stuff (not featured in this post, but most of the games were about shooting stuff).

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