By now, we’ve all exterminated our fair share of creepy crawlies in Grounded, from hordes of aggravated soldier ants to the horrendous wolf spider, which no one truly wants to face more than once. We’re well-versed in these critters and the landscapes they inhabit, which begs the question – what if we could design and build our own critter habitat, create new ways to fight them off, or even build new game experiences entirely?
This is precisely what the Grounded Make It And Break It Update allows you to do. With the brand-new Playgrounds mode, you can craft your own levels from the ground up, with a suite of design tools at your disposal. Using either the pre-existing backyard or an empty sandbox as a starting point, you can craft buildings, place obstacles, furniture, and even creature spawners that’ll drop enemies whenever you’d like them to be.
Create puzzles, mini-games, battle arenas – whatever you can dream up. It’s a brilliant new addition that will revitalize the backyard, and we were fortunate enough to get a sneak peek of the tools and chat with the Grounded team about how this lovely creative suite came to be.
Grounded Game Director Adam Brennecke tells me that adding Playgrounds was a long time coming. Inspired by the modding community, the team wanted to give players the tools to craft their own unique Grounded experience, and the ability to share and try out others’ creations as well.
“This feature has been on the backlog for a very long time,” Brennecke says. “Giving people the opportunity to extend the lifetime of the games they enjoy is always really cool, which was very important to us. We’ve always wanted to see what the community can make with these tools.”
The Grounded development team itself is comparatively small and, as Brennecke highlights, has limited resources when it comes to creating new content. For the last year, they’ve honed in on making the core Grounded experience the best it can possibly be. With that in mind, a creative suite comprised primarily of assets that already exist felt like the perfect way to give players something (and indeed many possible things) new.
“We focused on creating a cool narrative experience for 1.0, and continued to add quality of life updates, more variety, and cool features,” Brennecke says. “We got to a point where the [backyard] felt really fleshed out, we were happy with all of the content in-game, and this felt like the next thing to do.”
And so we get into the meat of the Make It and Break It update – the building tools. Here, you’ll find almost every object included in the yard; all of the foliage, laboratory pieces, creatures great and small – everything you place is moveable, down to individual blades of grass. The update also brings a new suite dubbed “Gadgets and Gizmos,” and these are the tools that’ll let you build out mechanics for your custom spaces.
The Grounded QA team has already put the tools to work to create some incredible levels. During our preview, we were shown a hand-crafted Colosseum with waves upon waves of enemies to battle, and a sound-based puzzle game where players have to identify critters by the sounds that they make. It’s absolutely amazing stuff, and with plenty to mess around with and no limit to the number of objects you can place, Brennecke and his team are giving players a personal invitation to cause chaos.
“The name of the update is fitting because part of the fun is being able to try things out, break it, and see what works,” Brennecke says. “Our development mentality with Grounded is to not put any fences around the player. We want people to showcase their creativity.”
Brennecke has a background in programming and is enamoured with the art of making things work. He shares memories of making Quake mods in his early days, which he remembers fondly. He hopes that this suite of building tools will enable players to similarly build a whole manner of wild and wacky things. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s likely that the community will deliver.
“That’s the power of mods, you never know what’s going to happen,” Brennecke says. “We’re going to provide the tools, and someone’s going to make something magical, that others might get attached to, and we have no idea what that might be. It could even be better than our own Grounded experience!”
This update also introduces some other tweaks to existing aspects of Grounded. The team went back to the drawing board with the Burgle quests, which now come with additional challenges. These changes will also draw attention to some early game systems that new players can easily miss.
There are also new set pieces for avid base builders, combat adjustments, and a fix to a particular pain point for players – your dandelion glider no longer takes up a trinket slot!
Make It And Break It will come as quite the surprise to Grounded players – there has been speculation among the community, but Obsidian has managed to keep its teasers ambiguous enough. All that’s left is to get stuck into the brand-new tools and let your imagination run wild.
“I don’t think this update is something that players would expect,” Brennecke says. “I think people just want more Grounded, and we’re definitely providing that… in a different way, and we’re excited to see where it goes.”
Xbox Game Studios