Jumping into the world of Enshrouded reminds me a lot of the first time I played Valheim back in 2021. Innovative building mechanics! A seemingly endless well of gear and items to craft! Exciting biomes to explore! Unique bosses that require hours of preparation to beat! The world was your oyster.
Since its early access release, though, Valheim’s slew of post-launch updates have slowed to a crawl, and I find myself looking for the next big survival/crafting RPG to jump to. Enter Enshrouded, which seems to promise everything I’ve ever wanted in a game like this. And for the most part, it delivers.
I don’t mean to spend every minute comparing both games, but to illustrate where I’m coming from, I must first explain that my issue with Valheim was that it could often feel too cryptic. In addition to that, it’s a challenging game with a difficulty curve that seems to spike once you hit the first boss. Enshrouded, on the other hand, feels a lot more welcoming. Keen Games wants to offer more guidance, and for folks jumping in for the first time, this makes a huge difference.
Enshrouded doesn’t waste much time. The first 30 minutes are spent teaching you the basics of combat, the dangers of the Shroud, and of course, base-building. I’m an absolute sucker for games with base-building elements. Minecraft got me, LEGO Fortnite got me, Valheim got me especially good, and it didn’t take much for me to get sucked into Enshrouded either.
The building mechanics in Enshrouded are very simple. You’ll farm materials like stone and wood to start, and eventually you’ll find more advanced and aesthetically pleasing ores like flintstone. These can be converted into building blocks, which can then be used to build whatever structures you please. One important distinction to be made here is that Enshrouded aims to be as accessible as possible, and there are no foundational considerations to take note of, like in Valheim.
This makes building feel wonderfully frictionless, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t completely ignore the main quest for a good five hours just so I could get started on my base. There are some weird hiccups with this feature, though, such as the fact that building your roof is ridiculously tedious.
For whatever reason, the roof blocks are about four times smaller than the regular building blocks, which means that laying out a roof is extremely time-consuming. When I came to this realization, I gave up on building my roof pretty quickly and took it as a sign to continue with the main quest.
Enshrouded offers up a decent quest journal that guides you towards what to do next. Over the course of the game, you’ll recruit Survivors, who are basically NPCs that give you access to new crafting stations so you can build more stuff. You can then place these Survivors around your base… or build a new base and take them with you and place them again with a Summoning Staff.
The game also leans heavily into the RPG side of things with levels and an experience bar that fills up as you mine, farm, and kill enemies. With each level, you’ll gain a skill point that can be put towards a whole host of things, including improvements to your physical strength, magical ability, or stealth. And as you collect more materials and defeat bosses, these things can be used to upgrade your Flame Altar, which in turn increases your base-building space and also strengthens your character by making you more resistant to the Shroud.
Speaking of the Shroud, this is Enshrouded’s unique mechanic that aims to make exploration just a little bit trickier for the player. As you’re exploring the open-world, you’ll inevitable come across foggy, Shrouded areas that you can’t fast travel out of. After five minutes in the Shroud, your health slowly ticks down. More enemies spawn in these areas too, making them especially dangerous. These areas are usually home to valuable materials and other treasures, though, so there is incentive to wander in every now and then.
Really, everything about Enshrouded feels frictionless. From the building mechanics to being able to place NPCs anywhere you want with no cost, to the ability to craft a Glider near the start of the game so you can fly around freely. There’s a Grappling Hook that makes traversal easier, and you can rest assured knowing that nothing you do in this game is permanent. Everything can be reset and adjusted, and this lack of friction really allows one’s creative freedom to shine.
There’s just one problem, as you’ve probably already inferred from the title of this article. Enshrouded crashes a lot. Like, a whole lot. As my base got increasingly elaborate, the framerate began to chug. Things get worse when you enter a Shrouded area and try to do too much in one go. It’s as if the game can’t handle all the fog, and when I got to my first boss fight in the Shroud, the game crashed repeatedly each time I ran back to that same area.
While my rig isn’t exactly new anymore, it’s certainly more than capable of handling Enshrouded’s recommended specs, and these crashes were disappointing to say the least. I’ve heard that demo players experienced similar issues late last year, and it’s a shame to see that some of these issues still persist in the early access build.
That being said, it is still in early access, which means there’s plenty of room for improvement, and time for fixes to be implemented. Crashes aside, Enshrouded is the new kid on the survival RPG block you’ll want to watch out for. Valheim diehards will likely scoff at the amount of hand-holding in this game, but for the rest of us who much prefer the joys of building freely, Enshrouded might just tick all of your boxes.
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