Ylands, the sandbox survival game from the makers of Arma, goes free and exits Early Access on Steam

Two years after we last looked at Ylands, "a promising sandbox game" and toolkit in development at Arma studio Bohemia Interactive, it's finally exited Early Access and is now in full release on Steam.

The 1.0 release also makes the game free to play (it was previously $15), which Bohemia hopes will help kickstart the community of creators supporting the game. With the transition, the "Explore mode," which challenges players to survive and flourish on islands populated with pirates, bandits, dangerous animals, and worse—akin to Minecraft's Survival Mode, from the sound of it—is now offered as separate DLC. Players who purchased the game while it was in Early Access will get the Exploration Pack DLC automatically.

Bohemia said that it will continue to support Exploration mode, but, also like Minecraft, it's focusing heavily on community creations. Players can share their works through the Ylands Workshop, and optionally monetize them with a "Transaction" game logic available in the editor that enables players to purchase Coyns, the premium currency in Ylands. Creators will receive 70 percent of Coyns purchased in their games, "if that game runs in our protected environment on any Rented dedicated server or Automatic server."

The free-to-play transition isn't going over particularly well with the existing player base, many of whom have expressed frustration with the change in a recent influx of negative user reviews on Steam. But while the change might have been unexpected, I don't think it's entirely surprising: Bohemia's six-year-old military FPS Arma 3 is still thriving in part because it's supported by a robust community of creators, and the studio seems to be looking for similar magic with this game.

"As Ylands is predominantly a creators platform, Bohemia Interactive is planning on supporting it for many years to come," it said in the announcement.

"This version of Ylands is the definitive creativity toolbox, builds on the foundations laid down in Early Access and complements the core gameplay with many new features and additions to bring limitless fun and creativity to old and new players alike."

Ylands is also available on Android and iOS mobile devices. To find out more about what's changed in the release version, hit up ylands.com.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.