For fans of the survival genre, Endnight Games’ 2018 title The Forest was an absolutely unmissable experience, so it’s no surprise that there’s no shortage of excitement surrounding the launch of its sequel, Sons of the Forest. With the promise of significant gameplay refinements, an even greater emphasis on horror, and uncompromising survival mechanics, it seems to be shaping up to be a worthy sequel to its excellent predecessor. Due out for PC in February 2023, there’s still plenty that we don’t yet know about Sons of the Forest, and to learn more about the game and the level of improvements it’ll bring to the table, we recently reached out to its developers with a few of our questions. You can read our interview below.
"We have drastically more plant, bush, tree, and flower types, making the world feel more unique in each area."
It looks like Sons of the Forest will put a much greater emphasis on story than its predecessor. Can you tell us anything about that, and what your approach to storytelling has been for this game?
Like The Forest, we’ve approached storytelling in a minimalist way. As a player you try and piece together the world and what happened there from the different fragments you uncover. We’re not fans of big long cutscenes, so the ones we do have are short, visual and straight to the point.
What can you tell us about Sons of the Forest’s world, and what players can expect from it in terms of size and variety?
The world is roughly 4x the size of The Forest and although still set in a pacific northwest type environment, we have drastically more plant, bush, tree, and flower types, making the world feel more unique in each area. Underground there is a whole other world to explore.
Crafting, building, and gathering resources are presumably going to continue being core elements of the game, but what are the biggest ways that you have refined and improved things in that area as compared to The Forest?
Building and crafting are now a lot more grounded in reality and more immersive. When you put a skull on a stick to make a club, you see the player actually shove a skull onto a stick. When you make a spear, you see your character sharpen the wood.
Building has also been re-worked with a heavy emphasis on reality and immersion. If you want to make a fire, just snap a few sticks in half and light them. Want a new window in your cabin? Just take your axe out and chop one out, similar to what you would do in the real world.
"With horror and fear, we hope early on when the player is struggling the game is a lot scarier, and then over time as the player gets better weapons, covers themselves with bone armor, and becomes stronger the sense of fear will fade away at least temporarily until they meet some of the more distorted enemies."
The idea of a world that changes with the seasons and forces you to adapt to those changes is an intriguing one. How is that implemented in gameplay terms? Will the changing seasons be dynamic, or is it something that’s tied to locations?
Changing seasons is completely dynamic and occurs over time. In summer salmon are plentiful and can be easily plucked out of streams. In winter all food is more sparse, berry bushes are bare, lakes are mostly frozen over and so storing food for winter is important. If you haven’t prepared, turning to cannibalism might become your only option.
Coming to the combat, how does Sons of the Forest build upon its predecessor’s foundations? How are you balancing the combat to ensure that it doesn’t take away from the game’s horror elements and its sense of atmosphere?
We’ve reworked the combat compared to The Forest, and created a much smarter A.I. that reacts to what you do. For example, if outnumbered, you can chop an enemies head off, and shake it at other assailants to scare them off instead of having to fight.
With horror and fear, we hope early on when the player is struggling the game is a lot scarier, and then over time as the player gets better weapons, covers themselves with bone armor, and becomes stronger the sense of fear will fade away at least temporarily until they meet some of the more distorted enemies.
Unlike the first game, the enemies have their own ecosystem. Kill off lots of regular enemies and the creepies (the more heavily distorted mutants) will be more plentiful and more likely to leave the safety of caves. Conversely, kill more creepies by clearing out caves and other underground locations and the cannibals above ground will be more abundant.
How much variety will the game offer with the weapons that players will be able to use and the enemies they’ll be using them against?
We have slingshots, pistols, a variety of axes, clubs, taser weapons, and loads more. For enemy types, similar to The Forest there is a wide range of cannibals, from our weakest ‘muddies’ who stalk you through bushes and stay low to the ground, all the way to the massive 10-foot-tall distorted mutants who walk like caterpillars.
"We would love to come to console in the future, but are currently focused on delivering the best experience possible to PC players."
With Sons of the Forest supporting co-op gameplay, would you say that’s what it’s been designed around, or is it an equally viable experience when played solo? How significantly does the game change across those two experiences?
The game is almost the same experience in single-player versus multiplayer. There are some small differences, such as what happens when you die in each mode, and overall the game can be a lot scarier when playing alone versus with a group of friends.
Roughly how long will an average playthrough of Sons of the Forest be?
Like The Forest, it depends on how long people spend playing the story versus building and surviving in the world. Everyone we have seen playtest the game has a different experience and focuses on different aspects of the game. Some players will be through in 10 hours, others in a few hundred.
Do you have any plan to bring the game to consoles at some point in the future?
We would love to come to console in the future, but are currently focused on delivering the best experience possible to PC players.