It’s been a whole year since my Early Access review of Sons of the Forest, in which I found a deeply creepy – and deeply compelling – survival game that improved on its predecessor in just about every way. Having put around 10 hours into the now final version since its 1.0 launch this week, I’ve found that it’s mostly the same game so far. A lot of the new stuff is located in the back of this unsettling story, which I have yet to get to as of this writing, but I’ve definitely seen a welcome armload of touch-ups and optimizations already.

The thing I noticed immediately is how much more polished Sons of the Forest has become on the technical side. The animations that hide the loading times between the exterior world and caves, which could previously hitch for several seconds, now feel completely seamless. The pop-in with ground clutter is significantly less distracting. My frame rates, across the board, are much better. In fact, I reviewed the Early Access version on a 1080p monitor. I’m now playing at 4K on my same, trusty RTX 3080, and the only setting I needed to change was bumping DLSS down from “Quality” to “Balanced.” This has allowed me to maintain a very comfortable 30+ fps in the outdoor world, and much higher in caves.

There’s also quite a bit more richness and context to the story, even in the early portions I’ve finished. More characters have voice acting now, there are additional documents to be found explaining what’s going on with the island, and I’ve even come across a couple new surprises that weren’t there before. One of my primary criticisms of the Early Access version was that the ending felt rushed and unfinished (which it was, to be fair), so I’m excited to see what they’ve done with that, too. I haven’t played through any of the late game story stuff that was added in a parade of patches between its Early Access launch and now, so I can go in mostly unspoiled. These little teases seem promising.

I’ve also noticed some improvements to the spawning and behavior of cannibals. They’re more dangerous than before on default difficulty settings, with more intelligent combat tactics and better teamwork. They also started appearing in larger groups much earlier in my playthrough than I had come to expect. It feels like defensive walls and traps are actually a necessity now if you want to have a successful base, whereas in Early Access I felt like they were mostly optional.

Kelvin is… still Kelvin. But for all his tendencies to sleep through a base raid or scare the shit out of me by popping up in my peripheral vision when we’re out hiking through the woods at night, it’s now easier to issue him commands. And there are more of them, too, which makes him even more helpful in keeping up with day-to-day base chores.

Aside from that, almost everything I said in the Early Access review holds up. Check back throughout the next week, as I’ll be giving further updates on my progress and assigning a final score at the end!



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