Raft: A fun, challenging multiplayer survival game

Shane and I are always on the lookout for new multiplayer games, mostly because when we game, we game together. Even when we get caught up in single-player games, we usually play them together and at the same time!

Lately, Shane’s best friend has been coming around a lot for LAN parties. For a while, we were all caught up in the beta of Baldur’s Gate 3, but since we’ve reached the end of the game until full release, that’s gone on the back burner.

Then, we were going to try and get him back into FFXIV with us, but that turned into a frustrating mess of wrong editions and botched installations so we decided to look for something else.

Then, as we sifted through the Steam store, he suggested Raft.

Shane and I had never heard of it, but just from the details available, it sounded like the kind of game that would appeal to all of us. Crafting, building, and farming for me; puzzles, engines, and combat for Shane; and well, just combat for Greg.

So we splurged the all of $20 to get it because it’s technically still in early access, and off we went.

What Raft is all about

If you’re not familiar with Raft, the main idea is that you’re on, yep, a raft. You’re out to sea with nothing but a hook on a rope and a two-by-two raft to survive, and you need to collect floating debris to expand your raft, build tools and utilities, and even make food and water for yourself.

Oh, and there’s a shark literally always lurking, ready to chomp on either you or parts of your raft.

We named him Jeff, and took great joy in messing him up.

Every now and again, you’ll bump into islands, where you can find all kinds of new resources and even food, too. So it’s not just a constant float.

Even just as a survival mode, the game is pretty fun, and we quickly lost hours just to trying to collect enough debris to make fishing rods, water purifiers, and BBQs. But one of the developing features of the game is a story mode involving specific islands that you have to find, which the devs are slowly adding through patches.

These bits of story are also starting to hint at what led you to be on your raft, so I’m interested to see what the background is!

How Raft’s multiplayer works

We found Raft because we were looking for a game that the three of us could play. But from what I can tell, Raft is designed to be almost an instance-based MMO. Think Minecraft servers; if your Steam friends can see you’re online, they have the option to join your raft.

In fact, according to the game designers, the only limit to the number of players that can join your raft is your computer’s power.

That said, though, I wouldn’t go too far above four. Especially at first, there’s a very limited amount of space on your raft—three almost had us bumping each other into the water, which is totally possible to do.

And then, as we got further into the game, it became tricky to manage hunger and thirst for all of us with the limited resources we were getting at first. We almost died to the elements a few times!

Building up your raft

Obviously, I’m going to be excited about any game that lets me make and build stuff, and that’s exactly what Raft does. It has all kinds of different blocks that you can use to expand your raft and build structures, and even lets you make furniture to decorate.

You unlock all the building features once you get a building hammer, which was one of the first things we built because well, tiny raft. But for furniture, decorations, and functional things for your raft, you have to collect recipes at random from floating barrels, much like Animal Crossing.

So even if you play the same time as someone else, your raft could look totally different just based on what you’ve unlocked.

It does consume materials to build pretty much anything, and though you get some of the materials back if you tear down a structure, you don’t get them all. So I recommend planning out before you go nuts.

There are also some fun rules to building, like that you can’t build floors without something to support them. I’ve figured out that a pillar every two squares works, as long as you have something to support at least one corner of an upper floor square. So that’s important to consider as you build your raft!

A first-person view

The one thing I’m not super sold on with Raft is that there’s no option to get out of first-person view.

It’s very likely that’s just how the game was designed, but I’m the kind of person who likes to see everything, so it gets frustrating when I try to zoom out and just end up sending my cursor flying through my toolbar.

In all, though, Raft is pretty fun, and has quickly become an almost obsessive game for us. I’m excited to see what else gets added through future patches, and keep building up our not-so-little raft!

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