Early Access launches February 23
With the recent news that Sons of the Forest will, after many delays, finally releasing later this month, (as an Early Access title rather than a finished product), players can rest assured that the content currently planned for inclusion in the initial release is only the beginning. The development team over at Endnight have referred to Sons of the Forest as:
“the biggest most complex game we have ever made.”
While there is a ton of content planned to roll out over time, as part of the new Early Access introduction, Endnight has been quick to clarify that the foundation has already been well established, and that the Early Access period is specifically intended as a means to incorporate community feedback in fine-tuning the game, and to allow them to create new additional content beyond the original intended scope. With that in mind, it’s worth recapping at least a few things we currently know will be part of the experience from day one.
Raising the stakes for survival…
The survival mechanics that lay at the heart of The Forest have always provided a reasonable degree of challenge for even an organized team of players. Sons of the Forest intends to raise the bar further by forcing the player to confront not only what else may populate the environment, but also the elements themselves. With certain sources of food, water, medicine, and other supplies being specifically tied to certain seasons, players will have to carefully prepare for each presumably-long season ahead of time. The processes for storing and preserving food in the original game were fairly rudimentary, with the player being able to build a simple drying rack. However, the developers have intimated that Sons of the Forest will offer far more extensive mechanics regarding the preparation and long-term storage of food and other necessities.
Trailer footage has previously shown the player manually erecting a lean-to tent using what appears to be a plastic sheet and a few sticks, as well as lighting a fire. A lot of emphasis has been placed on the dedicated animations associated with each action. Immersion has always been a strong element driving the gameplay, and the developers seem firmly intent on doubling down on what the first game experimented with.
Hostile enemy spotted…
The Forest was praised for its complex approach to the AI behavior tree utilized by the NPC cannibals and mutants the player would come across in-game. The general principle underlying this was that, as the player becomes better-equipped and more aggressive throughout the world, the AI itself would retaliate by increasing the number of patrols sent out to the player’s general area. This would escalate to the point where mutants, (aka especially powerful monsters) would begin stalking the general area, making a beeline for the player upon making initial visible contact.
Sons of the Forest aims to feature an all-new cast of mutants for the player to encounter. It is not presently known for certain whether any old faces will be among the roster. Certain NPC types, such as the new cannibal variants, do bear obvious physical resemblances to those seen in The Forest, but the exact details of those inferred connections presently remain unclear.
The post-credits scene at the end of The Forest strongly implied that the creatures we see now in Sons of The Forest were the direct result of extensive human bioweapon experimentation, just as those before. While the full capabilities of the new cannibals, and more importantly the new mutants, remain deliberately murky, there is more than enough reason already to keep your distance. The sight alone of some of these monstrosities is more than enough reason to run away at the soonest opportunity.
The right tools for the job…
Weapons were something that may have been in scarce supply in the original game, but Sons of the Forest seems set on ensuring that you’ll always have access to some kind of military-gear weaponry when you need it. Previous trailers have shown the player wielding shotguns, pistols, and other weaponry. This presents an interesting dilemma to the core gameplay experience.
Previously, players would need to make quick and calculated decisions as to when it would be best to engage in combat directly, and when it would be best to run or sneak away instead. Playing aggressively might be satisfying for those seeking adventure, but it will quickly drain your supplies. Even a player who is decent at blocking incoming blows can easily find themselves overwhelmed by sheer numbers, or by the presence of a single mutant. The addition of such weaponry indicates that the enemies present in the game, particularly the mutants, will likely prove far more intelligent, and likely far stronger, than those previously seen in The Forest.
However, there will be more in the player’s inventory than just merely weapons. Shoveling seems to be one notable new chore. As if becoming the world’s most proficient lumberjack and spelunker wasn’t enough for you, it seems like now you’ll need to literally dig for the truth that lies at the center of this island’s mysteries. The game’s second trailer shows footage of the player uncovering what appears to be a secret underground bunker, buried underneath several feet of dirt. There is also evidence to believe that the player will now have access to some kind of tracking device, which will potentially also function similarly to the map and compass from the first game, allowing them to more readily investigate certain areas of the map and mark them for future visits. However, this could also double as a device by which the player can advance the story.
Piecing together the story…
The Forest more or less adopted a lean and mean attitude toward storytelling, preferring to leave most of it as optional bits of environmental evidence, or taking the form of certain collectables, such as video cassette tapes containing short clips. However, promotional footage shown to date indicates that traditional cutscenes will play a slightly greater role here than they had before, so if you aren’t able to find every single piece of background lore, fear not, Sons of the Forest probably has you covered.
The story here will likely follow similar, but not identical, narrative beats as its predecessor. The player will crash-land on an abandoned island, and attempt to make sense of what’s happening around them, as they scavenge for resources and attempt to stay out of the clutches of some particularly hostile experimental specimens.
The game’s most recent trailer strongly implies that the player will take the role of Timmy, the now-adult son of the original game’s protagonist. While the player was able to revive Timmy from death after he was taken from the plane crash to be experimented on by the same researchers who created the monstrosities that populate the island, Timmy was later shown to have developed some form of supernatural powers himself, which he struggles to control. How this will translate into the actual gameplay seen here currently remains uncertain.
With Sons of the Forest fast approaching its Early Access launch, players won’t have to wait long to begin venturing through the island’s forests, and discover the horrors that lurk within.