Quick Look: The Forest

I was originally going to write a quick look article about a game I recently picked up called “Subsistence“, which I will soon, but I’ve been side tracked by this amazing game called “The Forest”.

The Forest isn’t a new game, it’s another “early access” title that’s been out for a while, and one that I had followed the progress on for a while, but have long stop paying attention to it, until recently.

Like most Early Access titles anymore, The Forest is an open world sandbox survival game, but instead of the usual threat of zombies, it has tribes of cannibals called “Bestiary”, which are human like, but not really. Who will randomly spy on you, and even attack.

Oh no, the bestiary found my base, one watching me.

Unlike most Sand Box Survival games, The Forest has a story, which still isn’t complete, but eventually you’ll be able to complete the story and which then also completes the game. I’m not too caught up on the story since, I don’t really care about that, but from what I picked up from other players is the story is your plane crashed on a remote random island, everyone is dead but you, and you’re looking for a boy named Timmy. You’ll find clues from pictures and his drawling along the way such as in caves and other areas. It seems that the story isn’t complete yet, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.

I care more about the survival aspects of this genre, and I’ve been forever hoping and awaiting a game that does it right, such as keeping it realistic, with alot of depth, and not make loot and supply gathering such a grind fest. I’m not sure how you can remove the grindy aspect of these games, but the game I was going to write about — Subsistence has it way wrong, basically running around open randomly spawning boxes, and smacking trees over and over again for a small amount of loot, which is a very boring method. I’d rather have missions I can go on to get loot, AI that I can steal from, and other things. The Forest does a very good job at loot gathering. Basically nearly everything you need can be found in the wild, such as from plants, and also you can find rarer items in caves, and also items in suitcases that have falling off the original plane crash. Gathering wood is also more satisfying than simply smacking a tree over and over, since the actual tree visually gets chopped down. It’s actually bit relaxing to chop down the trees, ha.

Satisfying Visual feedback of cutting down trees.

Also surviving in The Forest isn’t as annoying as in many other games such as DayZ Standalone, where you are annoyingly and unrealistically constantly thirsty, sick, and hungry. The Forest does require you to stay well hydrated, and fed, but it allows you to that realistically by hunting for food, and catching fresh rain water. Your energy levels stay up, unless you run around and work alot.

Also harvesting wood by cutting down trees creates a feeling of progress because after a while you’re in open clear field where once a thick forest existed, which is satisfying, but slowly over time I think these forest regenerates, and not by plunking down a big fully grown tree. I haven’t played enough to know for sure, but trees seem to be regrowing, which start off as a little shrub, then a stick tree.

**Update – Turns out trees to not normally regrow, but there is a “regrow mode” that you can activate, which you can read about here: http://theforest.gamepedia.com/Regrowmode

Forest Regeneration
Hanging Cannibal legs, ready to be roasted

Food is easy to find. You can find blueberries, but also you can hunt and trap animals such as rabbits, squirrels, deer, birds, fish, etc. But what I prefer to do is just to eat the cannibals, yes that’s right, You can cut off their arms, legs, heads, and cook them in a camp fire, and consume them. I’m not sure if this too makes you a cannibal, I’m not too sure that they’re human, but its a great way to get food, and an arm will satisfy you for a day.

You can catch fresh drinking water from rain by harvesting the shells from large sea turtles that swim and climb onto the beach.

Working hard as a team to gather wood and build a base before night fall.

Crafting is really great. There are some premade templates, but you can also custom build. You can craft weapons, armor, etc. You can even craft log sleds, which help you carry like 10 logs instead of 2, which really helps out. There is a survival handbook that you spawn with which gives you tips on which wild plants to consume, which are dangerous, and recipes for crafting things, but its not very in depth, and it doesn’t tell you how to craft weapons, and many other things.

Basebuilding is pretty simple as well. Everything you build you first layout in a blueprint or whatever that shows as white translucent parts, which then tells you how much wood, string, etc, that you need. Works well.

One of the pages from the in game Survival handbook
Basebuilding – Parts show up as white until you place the wood and other parts.

One thing I don’t like is the inventory system. The inventory screen is basally all your gear/loot laid out on a sheet. It seems the only way to dispose of something is to equip and drop it, which is time consuming, especially when you want to get rid of many bones that  you accidentally picked up from a camp fire when trying to cook and eat food. I could be doing it wrong though, but if I am, its not very intuitive.

Also its very annoying to switch between tools and weapons. You can’t simply cycle between them, you have to go into the inventory screen, and select the weapon, which is stupid and deadly. There have been many times where I’m cutting down trees, and a group of cannibals sneak up behind me and start attacking. I have to push “i” to go into the inventory to select my sword. This is stupid, and wastes time. I thought maybe I was pushing the wrong buttons that usual games use to cycle weapons (1,2,3 keys, or mouse scroll wheel), but did a quick search on the forums, and this is a problem that people have been complaining about for years, and the devs seem to want it to stay the stupid way it is for whatever reason.

Not so great inventory system

The atmosphere in the game is amazing. The graphics are beautiful (for some reason they dont translate well to the screenshots, but in game they are wonderful), and the sounds are great as well. Combining them really immerse you into the world. Sometimes a wind storm can hit while you run through a forest, and the trees are blowing around, and the sound of the wind cutting between them is awesome.

The Forest has daytime/nighttime and weather cycles. There doesn’t seem to be a larger threat from the cannibals during the nighttime, other than being hard to see, which I do like. The weather system is nice, and sometimes can get intense, and also every time it rains, you’re able to collect fresh water for drinking.

Encountering a Bestiary at night time in the forest cant be very scary.

I’ve actually been very impressed by the AI in this game. While the cannibals aren’t human, they still seem to show emotion, and I keep getting surprised by new AI types and behaviors. Many times the AI will just stalk and watch you, other times it’ll attack. If  you hurt one of the cannibals, another will sometimes try to drag the injured away. I encountered a group of cannibals which then attacked me, and one of the females actually became very scared and was crouched down crying, which made me actually feel bad for her, and I was going to let her run off, but one of the guys I was playing with came up and cut her head off, which is bests since she’d only of came back and attacked and possibly killed me or one of my friends. I haven’t had that happen again in the game, just that once.

Many times,  you can scare one of the cannibals off and they’ll come back later usually with many others.

Scared crying female cannibal

All the cannibals seem to be adults, so you don’t have to deal with little cannibals running around. I kinda hope they add this in the future for feels.

I’ve spent about 10+ hours in the game now, and I thought I knew all the AI types, but nope. A new type just showed up that started throwing Molotov cocktails at me, catching me on fire.

There are also several boss types, I don’t know the names, but I assumed they stayed in the caves, but one with many arms recently visited by base. Which I ran from, and it seems saving and reloading the game removes them. I don’t like how the boss types can free roam and come attack your base, it makes more sense for them to stay in the caves so add some more intensity to the cave exploration.

Cave Exploration – one of the lighter areas. Friend using walkie talkie.

I actually hate exploring the caves. All you get is a lousy bic lighter to light your way, and i dunno, its just not fun for me. Maybe this intensifies the danger, I don’t know. I think the caves weren’t meant to be enjoyed so it makes sense.

I’m not 100% aware of how deaths work in the game. I try to not die, which is the point. But I’m not even sure if you can die. It seems most of the time when the cannibals kill you, they really just knock you out and take you to cave, and hang you until they are able to eat you, which im not even sure ever happens. You simply just have to cut yourself down and escape. But I think you actually die in online co-op mode. Which still isn’t a huge problem because your body stays for a while and you can go back and gather your gear.

Update: Turns out the first time you die, you wake up in the cave. Second time is an actual death.

Online play could be improved. There aren’t any servers, but instead a player can host a 2-8 player game, which can be made public where anyone can join, or made private invite only. This seems to work okay, and there is a co-op game browser, but this system isn’t ideal. For example, if the host leaves, crashes, or gets disconnected, the game is over, since the save was hosted on their machine. But, It does work, and I’ve had alot of fun with it.

Co-op game browser

One thing I like about the co-op is the built in voice system, which is activated by pressing Q, and visually shows the players holding a walkie talkie to their faces. Seems to work very well, and adds to the immersion.

Over all, this game is simply incredibly, really fun and immersive. I haven’t had this much fun in a game since I first discovered DayZmod, and I’d say The Forest is even more fun since there is much more to do.

I just started playing it yesterday, and already got my moneys worth, (the game is only $14.90, on sale right ow for $10.09).

My first real game was a co-op game which I joined up with two guys I met on The Forest’s Steam forums, and 8 hours passed before we knew it, we were having so much fun.

The developers seem to be constantly updating and adding to the game, with regular updates. They also seem to listen to the community.

Like I said, the game is only $10.09 right now during the Steam winter sale, but its well worth the normal $15 price tag, heck I’ve had more fun out of this game than I have with the $130 I spent on Battlefield 1.

This game will surely keep me busy til Survive The Nights is out 🙂

Steam Page: https://store.steampowered.com/app/242760/

Official Website: https://survivetheforest.com/