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Entropia Universe

Entropia Universe is a virtual universe MMO with a micropayment system that gives items and property in the game real currency value. Hunt monsters, mine, level skills, buy deeds, and forge a corporate empire across six planets.

Publisher: MindArk
Playerbase: Medium
Type: MMO Virtual Universe
Release Date: January 30, 2003
Pros: +Huge, expansive world. +Robust economy. +In-depth creation system.
Cons: -Extensive tutorial. -Steep learning curve. -Numerous pay-to-play elements.

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Overview

Entropia Universe Overview

Entropia Universe is an MMO simulation that aspires to mimic reality in a science fiction setting. Using a micropayment system, players can trade real money for in-game currency called Project Entropia Dollars (PED), at an exchange rate of 10 PED to one US dollar. The payment system means that items in Entropia Universe have a real cash value and the game can be played with the objective of making money. To enter the universe, players design their character using an in-depth creation system and pick their planet to start. Socialize, explore, harness mobs, harvest resources, hunt, craft, and mine are just a few activities available to players. Just like in reality, every undertaking requires resources that cost money. To be part of Entropia Universe’s extensive universe, you must work to make a living.

Entropia Universe Key Features:

  • Payment System – property and items have a real cash value at a 10 PED to $1 exchange rate.
  • Huge, Expansive Game Universe with six sprawling planets to explore.
  • Robust In-Game Economy – run entirely by players.
  • Various Ways to Play including hunting, mining, trading, property management, etc.
  • In-Depth Character Creation – no two characters look alike.

Entropia Universe Screenshots

Entropia Universe Featured Video

Full Review

Entropia Universe Review

By Sean Sullivan

Entropia Universe is an MMO virtual world designed by Swedish Software company MindArk. While the game and all of its planets can be accessed for free—following account registration—players are incentivized to spend money on in-game currency to unlock additional options: purchasing skills, items, deeds, shares, and services. Most activities in the game requires resources that must be purchased, from firing weapons to mining for minerals. New players can increase their bank accounts by completing simple tasks.

When you start the game, it prompts you to select between one of several planets as your starting point such as Calypso, ROCKtropia, and Arkadia. The game does not give you any guidance as to which one to choose and your choice determines what opportunities are available to you as well as how noob friendly your experience is going to be. Choosing the correct planet can make or break your experience. Right from the beginning it’s evident that the game doesn't hold your hand.

Designer Hero

The character creator is highly advanced, complete with sliders for every aspect of your avatar's face and body. While I typically elect to make the most heinous creature imaginable, I chose to explore my feminine side in Entropia Universe. Able to change height, muscle tone, cheek depth, and calf muscle I felt like Dr. Frankenstein creating the Yin to my Yang in Ian M. Banks’ The Culture Series. Or I was just trying to seduce fellow players for free items. Regardless, I became “Wana Voltaire Fanta,” aspiring entrepreneur hellbent on owning this world.

I started on some interplanetary starship where every NPC is a plastic doll. No animations present. The first one I saw acting stood silently but an audio file for a whistle kicked in and I guess it was alive—inasmuch a child voice acting for his polyurethane action figures brings it to life. No NPCs feel very alive in this game. Then again, NPCs are not the highlight of Entropia Universe and serve as filler for starting off. It is further in the game where interactions between players forge the story.

Mission One. Start!

I took a dropship down to Planet Arkadia and proceeded to complete a series of “Run here, talk to this guy” quests. It was a bit of a drag but its purpose was clear. The long-winded tutorial shows off the enormous scale and possibilities of the planet. CryEngine 2 is great at rendering landscapes pockmarked by palm trees and human settlements. Nevertheless, it all felt rather stale, paralleling the barbie-doll NPCs. Elder Scrolls Online suffered from the same problem when it was first released. The world doesn't feel alive. Although it is huge, I don’t feel compelled to explore it, as every area I witnessed at first looks largely the same. But I was determined to complete the tutorial missions and try my luck at making it in this alternate Capitalist society.

How To Make It In Entropia Universe

Surviving Entropia Universe means making money, creating or selling something of value that other players want. Without injecting real currency into the game, your options as a new player are limited. If you’re interested in the world then exploration is an easy enough way to collect some items scattered on the ground. However, you cannot run across verdant plains and expect to find rocks, fruit, or dong. No, no, no. You have to walk by pressing "Q." Items will not render on your screen when your character is running. Walking across the field reveals fruit, rocks, and dung nestled in the dirt that can be picked up and sold on the Auction House for players too good to explore. I soon grew bored of such a weary exercise and desired to study Planet Arkadia’s wildlife.

Sweating

You don’t have to kill mobs in Entropia but you do have to collect their sweat. Collecting “Vibrant Sweat” from live animals is one of the few activities that can be done without spending real money. It is a monotonous and mind-numbing profession. “Sweat is combined with Force Nexus using an Energy Refiner to create Mind Essence which is used to fuel Mindforce,” making it as desirable as melange from Dune. But getting sweat is simple. Just get close enough to an animal without being mauled, right click and select “Gather Sweat.” You’ll know you’re finished when a green mist emanates from your greasy hands. If only I could collect hair from my dog to sell on the streets in reality. So I wanted to try out collecting some sweat. I saw a cute seal who looked just like Dewgong. He barked in a high pitched voice and I thought “Awww.” Before I realized it he was wrecking me. I tried to turn but this seal was fueled by bloodlust. I died—”Teleporting you to the nearest location.”

Mining

So then I tried mining. I got decimated by these merciless seals once again. Nevertheless, I was persistent and determined to find some rocks. Keep in mind that mining does have a start-up cost but the game’s tutorial gives you a small amount of the expendable item—”Survey probe” which is used to mine along with two other items. The two remaining are the “Terramaster Trainer” and the “Rock Ripper Trainer.” You start by using the Terramaster to scan the environment for a minable region, which utilizes the survey probe to scan. If you find a node, a spinning, hovering claim marker indicates the position of the resource. Navigating over to it, you activate the Rock Ripper to tear apart the terrain and harvest precious resources for yourself. Its a unique spin on mining compared to the usual right-click, "Mine" but the entire process is rather unexciting and quickly became arduous. At least I was gaining skills while I mined.

Skills

Gaining skills in Entropia Universe is straightforward and requires no cognizant input from players. You earn skills in a particular area by performing a corresponding action. If I use heavy melee weapons on a Seal then my proficiency in “heavy melee weapons” is going to increase. As a skill increases it ranks up as well. New players start as a “Newbie” in all skill levels and can rise through the ranks to “Great Ultimate Master.” Looking at the number of points needed to pass through all of the levels it’s clear that maxing out any one skill will take a ludicrous amount of game time or money.

Please Teach Me

To encourage new players not to uninstall as they become frustrated the developers instituted a Mentor program. Veteran players are encouraged to take a new player under their guidance like padawans in Star Wars The Old Republic. Mentors must have an account for at least 6 months so as a disciple you are privy to advanced game aspects such as space travel. Even if your mentor is as unhelpful as a blind birdwatcher, new players will receive a reward upon graduation in the form of a complete armor set. I found one such mentor but his inability to speak proper English reminded me of a programming professor I had in college. I silently walked away just as I did back then and proceeded to alleviate some frustration through combat.

Is It Dead Yet?

Combat is unexciting and presents itself as an afterthought. Running up to a tiger swinging my futuristic machete I failed to make contact with the animal once. My blade glided over his hair like I was giving him a haircut as he clawed at my muscle-encapsulated ribs. When I finally got a rifle, it was a let down. The sound effect for the Herman Law Trainer Rifle is hilarious. Pew Pew—it sounds like a child playing Cops and Robbers. Shooting from the third-person perspective is nearly impossible; your crosshair is nonexistent. So you must zoom in to first-person using the mousewheel. When you finally shoot at a creature, it’s a matter of Pew, Pew, Pew until it's dead, or you’re dead. It’s not exciting and even big game hunting follows the same formula with the addition of another player healing. Keep in mind that items degrade. So sometimes the loot dropped by a creature won't even cover the cost it took to kill it.

PvP is exactly the same. Substitute creatures for human players and you have Entropia Universe player versus player interactions. There are designated PvP zones so you don’t have to worry about getting lasered in the back while scavenging for dung.

Laissez Faire Economics

Entropia Universe claims to be a free-to-play game, but it’s reliance on PED disputes any claims of verisimilitude. The reliance on the cash currency is rampant. Unless you don’t mind monotonous tasks such as “Sweating” and walking to gather fruits, etc. you will be forced to inject cash into the game. There are innumerable tutorials purporting the perfect method for earning PED. But each once is steeped in the aforementioned gathering games. There is no quick trick to success. You start at the bottom and if you’re committed you may reach the Middle Class but it takes time.

Final Verdict - Good

Entropia Universe is an experiment in world building—in creating virtual worlds for people to inhabit like Second Life. It is undoubtedly interesting. Centuries from now games like Second Life and Entropia Universe may be hailed as visionaries for pushing the boundaries of technology and exploring the meaning of “reality.” It’s a polarizing experience; either you love it or hate it. But for now, its entertaining at a distance. Unless you’re part of its niche audience it is not a game that will appeal to you.

Screenshots

Entropia Universe Screenshots

Videos

Entropia Universe Videos

System Requirements

Entropia Universe Requirements

Minimum Requirements:

Operating System: Windows XP or higher
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.8g hz or AMD Athlon 64 Series or better
RAM: 2 GB RAM
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 7800 Series or better / ATI Radeon 1900 series or better
Hard Disk Space: 10 GB of free space

Recommended Requirements:

Operating System: Windows XP or higher
CPU: Intel I7 / AMD Phenom II
RAM: 4 GB RAM
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 285 / ATI Radeon 4870 or better
Hard Disk Space: 10 GB of free space

Music

Entropia Universe Music

Coming Soon!

Additional Info

Entropia Universe Additional Information

Developer(s): MindArk
Publisher(s): MindArk

Designer(s): Jan Welter Timkrans, Benny Iggland

Release Date: January 30, 2003
Open Beta: May 20, 2002

Development History / Background:

Entropia Universe (formerly known as Project Entropia) is designed by Swedish software company MindArk, based in Gothenburg. Development was initially started by two separate groups in 1995—in Sweden lead by Jan Welter Timkrans and in Switzerland headed by Benny Iggland. Entropia Universe ran on the Netimmerse 4 game engine and took place on one planet, Calypso. The game was upgraded to CryEngine 2 from Crytek in August 2009, along with the release of Version 10.0. Entropia Universe is in the Guinness World Records Book in both 2004 and 2008 for most expensive virtual objects sold. A virtual space station sold for $330,000 in 2009. The following year a virtual resort on Planet Calypso was sold for $635,000.