Enshrouded Preview

The base building mechanics pack in a lot of options for players to express their creativity and create something that is their own.

Survival action RPG Enshrouded is the latest project from Portal Knights developer Keen Games. It sees players awaken as the last hopes of an ancient cilivisation, giving up to sixteen friends the chance to join forces and explore the open world of Embervale. RPGamer was given the opportunity to get a hands-off look at some of the early portions of the game, guided by Creative Director Antony Christoulakis, ahead of its planned Steam Early Access release later this year.

The world of Embervale has been ravaged after the realm was covered in a corrupting fog known as the Shroud. Players awaken in this world and are tasked with building up their base as they explore the world and take on a variety of bosses and enemy factions. The game will see players venturing into the dangerous Shroud as part of their quest to save the land, with a wide variety of crafting and building options helping them attain the resources needed to do so.

Players start with nothing, but will quickly be able to establish themselves and a base of operations.

One of the first things Keen Games addressed was that its take on the survival elements is designed to reward players rather than punish them for not staying on top of everything, with Keen Games citing Valheim as being similar in its approach. There aren’t any hunger meters or the like that players to keep sustained, instead eating and resting will provide temporary buffs. As opposed to previous title Portal Knights, which offered fixed classes, Enshrouded will let players freely build up their own character through a large skill and upgrade tree. Different sections of the tree are aligned with different specialisations towards warrior, mage, and ranged. Players will also be able to respec if they wish to build their character in a different way.

Building and crafting will be key elements of the game and Keen Games is hoping to encourage player creativity in how they build up their base. The game’s world and building utilise voxels, which have been utilised in a manner to look more natural and give players lots of freedom in manipulating them for building designs. For example, players can readily adjust walls, placing and resizing windows or other openings. This building is important for creating workshops for NPCs that players recruit for their base, such as a blacksmith. Players can choose where to put their further bases, as well as expand the buildable area within them.

There are a lot of ways for players to readily manipulate the world and collect resources. For example, players can break through existing walls with a pickaxe, and if players want to they can dig out their own underground cave system and build there. Although most regular items are affected normally by gravity, the voxels that build up the world will not be, so it is possible for players to build their own floating keeps if they wish. Other elements include being able to stamp terrain blocks, including placing down different types of soil to grow certain plants or create farms. The development team has elected to focus on the creative side of base building, so players won’t need to worry about the base coming under attack, though it didn’t rule out adding some sort of base defense element as development progresses.

The game world’s use of voxels allows for lots of freedom in how players manipulate it and design their own buildings.

Though there is a main quest, the game is designed to allow players to explore as they wish in more of a sandbox manner, with a variety of hand-crafted locations scattered around the world. Players are able to keep track of various things like quests, lore, craftspeople, etc. in their journal. The game does have its own map that fills out as players explore and which highlights important and quest-related locations. Although they start in a region that lies above the fog, players will need to enter the fog to get to other places, though they will have ways of getting around more easily, such as being able to glide. The fog acts as a toxic environment, meaning players can only stay within for the fog for a certain period of time. There are ways to refresh the time spent in the fog as well as expend the amount of time players can spend in it. To alleviate frustration from having to backtrack, players are able to freely fast-travel between any bases they have built.

The game’s action combat appears to be fairly straightforward with players able to move around, lock onto enemies, parry or dodge attacks, and sneak around behind bushes and surprise foes. The game includes its own day-night cycle so players will also need to consider potential light sources. Upon dying, players are able to respawn at their last respawn point — which includes beacons as well as bases — with some of the items in their possession including their current gear, but will need to return to where they died to get everything back. Most drops from enemies are randomised, with players able to obtain magical weapons that cannot be crafted easily and come with additional bonuses and effects. Magical weapons also have additional perks that be unlocked using a resource obtained form unneeded magical weapons.

Combat lets players use melee and ranged attacks, as well as sneak around and take foes by surprise.

The game is fully playable with offline single player. For multiplayer, the game will allow hosting on a local player’s side, as well as dedicated servers that can remain up for everyone without needing a hosting player to be online. The game’s challenge progression is fixed throughout the world, but it will scale based on how many players are in the immediate area of that fight. The scaling is not linear, so the more players that are helping, the easier that fight will likely be. The game is currently co-op only, but Keen Games open to considering PvP elements depending on community feedback. The world outside of bases will refresh after a certain amount of time so that players who come into a multiplayer game later will not find it permanently changed.

Enshrouded looks like it has plenty going for it as it heads into Early Access later this year. A quick tour of some of the game’s world showed that there will be plenty of different areas across the world for players to explore. Meanwhile, the base building mechanics pack in a lot of options for players to express their creativity and create something that is their own, and it will be interesting to see how players are able to team up and make full use of the tools at their disposal.



Alex Fuller

Alex joined RPGamer in 2011 as a Previewer before moving onto Reviews, News Director, and Managing Editor. Became Acting Editor-in-Chief in 2018.

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