Casually Don’t Starve Together in 2022, How to Start a Canadian Commune
March 2022, Elden Ring is out and I have no money to buy it with. So, I went ahead and gave Don’t Starve Together a boot, the closest game I have to a punishing map scouring game with nasty monsters, unbecoming magic, and cooperative play. These games could not be more different I’m just coping at this point. Hopefully, that might stem my craving for the next 5 years until I catch it during some firesale event.
9 Years of Hunger
Don’t Starve Together is the 2017 sequel to the Single Player game Don’t Starve released in 2013, at the beginning Don’t Starve Together was basically the same game but overhauled to enable online multiplayer but over the years of support and expansion has become an exceptional experience. The character roster has expanded to support a wide range of player skill levels and playstyles. I’m glad to say it is very much not the Dark Souls of survival games, it is its own delightful beast that bears an identity of its own.
Don’t Starve Together is developed and published by Klei Entertainment, an indie studio based in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. That’s the better half of North America, no shade at Mexico (I jest, I jest). Despite that Canada imports much of our fresh produce like fruits and vegetables because we are indeed at times drier than plaster ceiling tiles, cold as 5-year-old frozen thanksgiving, or as wetter than Florida, the key feature being we can experience all of those climates at different hours of the same day. In that spirit, the entire fantasy world of Don’t Starve takes place within a 1:1 recreation of the normal wilderness of Canada, with no creative input at all. A few of the many creatures featured are Beefalo, DragonFly. Walrus Hunters, and normal-sized geese.
Don’t Starve Together Essentials
Don’t Starve Together is crafted around the single survival mechanic of hunger but also health and sanity, but mostly hunger. Hunger can be satiated through foraging but once you ravage all the land can provide what remains is the labor of horticulture or hunting is the remaining source of nutrition. Not only that but food preparation also changes the available stats recovered. Health is self-explanatory. Sanity changes the way the world appears and losing too much causes nightmares to hunt you to death, it’s brought on by monster encounters and darkness.
There’s a slew of other things that will kill the player like fire, darkness itself, and many aggressively territorial apex species. It’s a survival game through and through. What I didn’t expect coming back to the game years later was the amount of gameplay variety with each player contributing to each other’s experience. It used to be an issue where players would get to the second tier of crafting and playing the bulk of the game with that and focused mainly on maintaining food infrastructure. This was very much a plateau where learning players would get stuck and struggle to do anything to prepare for any of the other world explorations or find the limited resources they will need. That’s where the current state of Don’t Starve Together greatly improves.
Apes Together Strong
The general principle of combat in Don’t Starve Together is to hit it with a stick, don’t get hit, and if that doesn’t work get a bigger stick and put something durable between your soft body and the enemy. That works well enough for most enemies but when you face the Giants introduced in the Reign of Giants expansion well they have a pretty big reach and hit harder than your average koalafant. Well, it’s simple, if the quality isn’t enough why not quality and quantity? Say up to 8 friends to join in each with their own big pointy sticks and assortment of DIY body armor. Tends to do the trick.
Even more exciting than cooperative boss raids is the cooperative base building, not only is each player in Don’t Starve Together able to multiply the amount of area scavenged they also bring their own civil designs for organizing storage and utilities. Unless you join a server that allows player killing you aren’t in much danger of griefing aside from fire and gear stealing which the player base has long outlasted. There’s not really a reason not to cooperate with players unless they are inexperienced and during a fight, even still an extra hand collecting resources leaves other players to focus on more difficult tasks which in the end means rare resources and safety in the group. An expert player can eventually complete the game on their own but any number of competent players can survive the skill check that is the first grueling winter.
I was surprised with not how communicative players were rather how much pride they put into contributing to the whole. Players excelling in combat or agriculture would bring back bounties to keep the group fed. It wasn’t about getting personal achievements it was about seeing the whole group well and healthy. No contract or expressed agreement was needed, people were almost always dedicated to this mutual exchange of goods. There’s an understanding that food is only as good as its shelf life so no exceptional player would reasonably spend so much time accumulating more food than they can consume, additionally by taking care of other players’ hunger or equipment they now have the time they can dedicate to excursions to precarious biomes and bring back essential supplies for further upgrading the base and building advanced gear for future challenges and seasonal hazards.
There is very little bartering in Don’t Starve Together, if someone is missing some essential materials it’s likely one player has a surplus they aren’t needing, and as stated above, preparing other players only means giving them more opportunity to bring back more spoils for everyone. The character abilities truly shine here. Each one has stats or conditions that gives them an affinity for certain skills. Wolfgang, WX, Woodie, and Wigfrid are exceptional fighters but require upkeep to tier up their combat prowess. Wendy, Webber, and Maxwell are frail but can utilize familiars that can sweep away mobs of enemies while tentative against giant bosses. Meanwhile, Wilson, Winona, and Wormwood have special crafting and base-building abilities that keep the team armed and defenses prepared for any nightmare. There are even more characters and affinities I haven’t mentioned but it’s hard to find a character that anyone would describe as useless, well maybe WX when they eat all the gears and then disconnect, no one likes them.
If you’d like to experience this fantastical commune without currency Don’t Starve Together is also one of the best deals for video games out there. The game emplores you to share a copy with a friend as every base game on Steam comes with a free gift copy for any peers you want to suffer with, find it here.
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