Enshrouded Early Access Preview – A Spark for a Roaring Fire

Enshrouded Early Access Preview - A Spark for a Roaring Fire

Survival games need a special something to stand out. Sometimes it’s a gimmick, sometimes it’s a je ne sais quoi; an unknown something that gives it people’s attention. A great example of the “unknown something” can be seen in Valheim. When you first set out on the water, or when you see the light coming through the trees. Hell, even when you get downed by your first tree, thinking you were safe chopping one down.

Enshrouded is about to enter Early Access, and I wonder what makes it stand out. The glider is interesting and a cool way to get across the map, even if it doesn’t become truly useful until mid-to-end game. The Shroud areas are scary the first time, but then you realise that it’s just a foggy area with a time limit that you can’t build in, and it loses some of its lustre. I think maybe the world will be the draw here and maybe the cooperative aspect, with up to 16 players allowed in a single session.

I’ll be honest, I love playing survival games solo. I like playing with my friends too, but there’s something different about surviving an unforgiving place alone, where you can’t make mistakes and be raised back up from the dead during combat and people won’t take enmity on enemies or heal you. You have to be on top of your game. I never tried the multiplayer here, I’m interested to see how it scales, how it affects bosses, and what that means for the game. I found the bosses hard as molasses, personally. They might be nerfed or adjusted for EA launch, but the boss of the second area had me in a rage state after multiple, multiple, multiple deaths until I finally beat it. The third area boss was no slouch either, causing me to scale up my defences and strategies. They’re also mandatory to progress, so there’s no skipping them.

There are two things I need in a survival game, above all others. I think Enshrouded nails at least one, and I can appreciate the craft in the other; world-building and base-building. Bases are interesting in the way that you can place flame altars down (something that increases over time) to create a buildable area, in which the terrain manipulation sticks and you can respawn at them. By endgame, I had 8 of these blighters, but I mostly used them as teleportation points as the 5 NPCs in your town can’t be duplicated and the areas you can build in are limited, so unless you wanted to create extremely lavish spaces for one person (which you could do), you end up lumping all the NPCs together in a usable structure just for efficiencies sake. I did appreciate the toggle for snapping of building pieces together, and the sheer amount of materials you can unlock during the game to build with. I think people will make some incredibly fun builds and I can’t wait to see this game in more people’s hands, the talented and creative sods.

The world itself is a rather interesting thing. It’s spread out across six biomes, including the aforementioned Shroud. I like some biomes more than others. The first 2 biomes are great, and for me, they fall off a bit after that. It feels like a terrain generator has been used and then touched up by a person. It’s a method I use for TTRPG maps so I’m all for it. It doesn’t have the signs of fractal noise but making something this size, and it’s a huge map already, sounds incredibly tedious. Cool map though!

Each biome is unique in its drops, both flora and fauna, but enemies don’t feel super varied. Generally speaking, each “species” has 1-3 variations and some have a boss version. It’s usually a light, a heavy, and a ranged. There are some exceptions to this but this is the norm. It’s not a huge deal, but it does make combat a bit repetitive after some time. There’s so little punishment for death too that often you can just mill your way through big enemy spawns if you’ve got a close respawn point.

Moving between Shroud areas requires you to increase your flame, which is done by collecting a lot of important materials in your current area. It’s a great way to encourage people to explore the biome, but I did have issues mining some items. Amber in particular took me hours to find, but I’m sure they’ll work out a more natural way to handle it.

Enshrouded is interesting. It doesn’t stand at the pantheon of amazing survival games to me, but there’s something here, below the surface which I think will shine during the early access period. The devs have shown even during pre-early access that they’re serious about patches and adding content, with several major fixes coming in, and some areas being adjusted to make them more interesting. I think this is a really interesting game that will be made better over time. I do have some pensiveness about the devs using a custom engine and its effect on modding, but time will tell.

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