I’ve been craving a new multiplayer survival game to help me get through lockdown. I don’t like to think how many hours I’ve spent preparing meals, gathering resources, and grinding through daily life while trying to stay safe – let alone all the survival games I played. My 120-hours in Valheim included a trip through Deep Rock Galactic’s spider-infested mines and completing the oppressive, grueling challenge of Don’t Starve Together. These were all great experiences that can sometimes be quite difficult. Now, Icarus, the latest survival game by DayZ creator Dean Hall, is right around the corner.
Icarus is a PvE survival game that uses session-based PvE. Its basic idea is that humans have failed to terraform the planet named after them, making it inhospitable. This climate causes weather changes to be sudden and dangerous. Prospectors will now need to hang around the planet, and make trips down to find resources.
Here is the “session” part of Icarus. Your crew must drop down at Icarus every time you do so. If you fail to return to Icarus, your character will be lost forever. This sounds hectic, particularly coming from Valheim where I could happily spend nearly a whole week building a grand hall or making lox meat pie. Sessions in Icarus are not always a sprint. They can go for weeks or days.
Dean Hall is on hand to guide me through the preview build, which is handy as I’m generally the mace-wielding bouncer when I play co-op survival games, not the strategist. The small drop pod landing on Icarus makes an unusually cinematic entrance. A sonic boom sounds around the planet and is said to sound even cooler under water. The pod opens into an idyllic, Edenic forest. As deer rush between the branches and leaves, the wind whispers through the trees. The distant mountains are high and snowy, rising in succession to the sun setting. For now it’s quite peaceful.
You may not be able to see what your next steps are. While the key resources have been highlighted, you will still need to look through the leaves to locate what you are looking for and make basic tools such as a pickaxe. To get started you will need to have berries, sticks and stones. All three of these items are readily available near the landing area. You can see more survival game staples at the bottom your HUD. There you will find oxygen, water and food meters. These are easy to maintain, but can quickly deplete, so it’s important to be vigilant to ensure you don’t keel.
It should feel just like Skyrim. You have real control over what you do with your character.
Exposure isn’t necessarily fatal. If your oxygen levels drop or you are injured by an animal, a friend can help you get back to health. Icarus isn’t easy to kill. You will lose your prospector along with all their equipment if the pod departs without you. Some fates can be worse than death. As if that weren’t enough, you also don’t have a minimap to locate you if you get separated or stray from the ship. Those Don’t Starve nightmares flood back.
This is all to help you consider the potential risks involved in any expedition. Hall questions, “Do you fly too near the sun?” Hall asks. “Icarus is about knowing the risks and making an assessment.” I believe Hall just finished dropping the difficulty truth bombs. But then the wind picks up and I can hear Hall’s genuine panic.
Icarus’ main enemy is actually the planet. Its vicious and sporadic storms can threaten your homes and life. Hall quickly builds a wooden shelter for us, which we can use to survive the storm. Once inside, keep an eye out to repair any damage caused by the wind. You have a variety of building materials and tiers that will help you weather Icarus’s unpredictable weather conditions, but you won’t be using them for the first drop.
You are the enemy of the planet and its vicious storms can threaten your homes and life.
Building mechanics can be a bit fiddly. I have accidentally dropped a beam a few feet from where it was meant to go. This is an impressive building system, which Hall has managed to put together. It just takes some practice to master. If you don’t like building or aren’t interested in it, you can upgrade your character using a wide range of specialisations, from farming to combat. Hall says that unlocking talents points is a big part of character development. We wanted it to feel similar to Skyrim. You had some control over how your character was enhanced.
Skyrim is not the only source of inspiration. Hall said that Ark was a great game, but that you can also see the flaws in it. It was definitely something I enjoyed, when it first came out. It was a great experience to go in and build stuff with friends… Valheim put a nice bow on that idea of working together.
Icarus may be PvE but Hall is a DayZ PvP veteran and well-versed in the advantages of this type of play. PvP survival game Fortnite and PUBG really excel at pacing. Hall states that we want to learn more about this topic.
Building enthusiasts may not be happy to hear that structures aren’t permanent. Hall states, “When I think of Valheim we would always have built with purpose.” We may have needed something on the plains or were trying to build a small house we could rebuild in Bonemass. While we wanted to provide reasons for you to build in Icarus and encourage you to do so, most things should have a limited time. This is a great way to push you to solve new problems and build new stuff.
Icarus has a lot of information. Hall reminds me, however, that co-op survival is as much about having fun with the chaos and ignoring your goal as it is about making a living in hostile environments. So we set fire to the forest so it could swallow our little settlement. I was knocked to the ground by a wolf just as another storm came through and leveled our small settlement. Icarus seems like it will be difficult, but I am looking forward to trying to navigate my way.
Publiated at Mon, 2 Aug 2021 12:46:31 +0000