Don’t Starve was one of my favorite games of 2013, a delightfully ghoulish survival game that on the surface felt very familiar but was just twisted enough to give you something new and unexpected. Then Klei Entertainment kept on upping the ante by continually updating the game with new features and small expansions. Don’t Starve: Reign of Giants is the first update they’ve released that is truly massive in scope.
Reign of Giants is focused on adding detail to the overworld (as opposed to the Caves or Adventure worlds, added in earlier smaller updates,) and they haven’t skimped on content:
- 2 new seasons: Spring and Autumn
- Summer has been expanded and altered
- 2 new biomes: Desert & Deciduous Forest
- A wetness meter
- New monsters, critters and bosses
- More dastardly devious fun
When you add Reign of Giants to your game, the content becomes an option every time you begin a new journey into the world. This is a good thing, because while it adds a whole lot of awesome new stuff, a LOT of that stuff is really dangerous, and the game has gotten significantly harder because of it. Every now and then you may find yourself tempted to retreat back to the (relative) safety of vanilla Don’t Starve.
Just one case in point: Seasons. Veteran players will remember that seasons were already a thing, but now they’re really expanded upon. Instead of just summer and winter, you have all four seasons. A typical game will begin in either spring or autumn. If you’re lucky, it’ll be autumn. I have yet to see the newly extra-dangerous summer because every game I’ve played that began in spring has killed me really quickly.
Autumn is the season that now most resembles the vanilla summer of the original game, except for the pretty colors you’ll find in the forests. Spring is a time of rain. A LOT of rain. You’ll need to chop a LOT of wood to keep fires burning for any length of time. You’ll also spend a lot of time cowering under trees and picking flowers to make pretty parasols (seriously, that’s a thing) to protect yourself from the rain. If you get too wet, you run the risk of freezing to death even when it’s NOT winter.
You’ll also spend a lot of time hoping and praying that the rain is just rain, and not a rain of frogs.
When you’re getting wetter, a new wetness meter helps you keep an eye on things so you can take what measures you can to keep yourself dry.
Keeping dry isn’t so much a problem in summer; instead you’ll have to worry about overheating. Fire is your enemy in summer, so there are new items in the game to help you with that problem. With a bit of time and research, you’ll be able to build endothermic fires and fire pits. They’re like regular fires in that they give off light that will keep you safe at night, but instead of giving off heat, they give off cold. You can also find “mini-glaciers” in winter and spring, which you can mine like rocks to get bits of ice. Eating ice cools you down, and you can learn to build an Ice Cube, a type of hat that cools you off.
Now, the titular giants. The vanilla game’s winter had Deerclops, a figure of strength and terror the thought of which fills many lesser players (like me) with dread. In Reign of Giants, Deerclops is not alone.
Autumn brings you that cute and fuzzy guy right up there, the Bearger. He’s adorable, really. Summer’s giant is the DragonFly, and Spring has the Moose/Goose. So far the Bearger is the only one I’ve been “lucky” enough to encounter; even in vanilla Don’t Starve, I have never seen the Deerclops. They’re all really tough to kill without the proper preparation, and all drop really good stuff if you do manage to kill them.
It’s not ALL about monstrous death-dealing new creatures and mechanics though. Reign of Giants also features two new characters you can tor–er, explore the game with. Wigfrid is available from the get-go, as soon as you begin a Reign of Giants game. The other, Webber, must be unlocked by completing a challenging set of tasks within the game.
Wigfrid is a viking warrior through and through. (Actually she’s a performance artist acting as a viking, but let’s just go with it.) She does excellent damage in combat, and gets stronger with every enemy she slays. This makes her especially powerful against spider nests, which is a very good thing indeed; they will be an important source of food for the player who takes Wigfrid out into the wild. Wigfrid would rather starve than eat food not fit for a warrior, meaning she will not eat vegetables, though she can cook them as part of meat-based recipes with a crock pot. She starts with several pieces of meat in her inventory, a spear, and a viking helmet.
Webber is going to take a lot of effort to unlock, so I’ll just give you a quick overview. He’s a young human child who was attacked by a spider long ago; it tried to eat him, and was only partially successful. Webber now appears to be a humanoid spider, and can grow a beard of silk. Spiders will be neutral to him, and by feeding them, he can befriend groups of spiders to follow him around and fight for him. Because of his grotesque appearance, some mobs like pigmen and bunnymen who are normally friendly to players will attack Webber on sight.
If you’re up for a challenge and you enjoyed the vanilla version of Don’t Starve, Reign of Giants is going to be a great buy for you. It’s available on Steam and (as of this writing) on sale for 20% off for Windows, Mac and Linux for $3.99 USD if you have Don’t Starve, or as a combo with the base game for $18.99 USD. iPad gamers may have hope in the future as well, as rumour has it that Klei is thinking about creating a version of Don’t Starve for iPad.
Have you played Reign of Giants yet? How long have you survived? Have you managed to kill any of the giants? Let us know in the comments!