On the PC, there are plenty of survival games with a plethora of settings. Lots of the games are also available via Steam Early Access, as many developers are still coming to grips with how to develop survival games that balance realism and enjoyment. We don't have too many cooperative survival games, as they tend to be solo experiences, with a few exceptions like ARK: Survival Evolved or Don't Starve Together. The Wild Eight strives to be another in a slowly growing lineup of cooperative survival games, and from what we're seeing so far, it is intriguing.
The setup is pretty simple, as you and seven other people have survived a plane crash in the Alaskan Wilderness. For the most part, you adhere to the basic tenets of survival games: gather resources, get food, and stay alive. You automatically get a tent, but you can also gather resources to build campfires to stay warm and cook food or workshops, so you can make things like torches and axes to mine stuff and keep the circular flow of gathering and using resources to get even more of them going.
There are only three meters to take care of, though only two actually deplete on their own. There's hunger, which is satisfied by eating more food, whether it's meat from hunted animals or mushrooms, both of which are much better cooked. There's also warmth, which depletes naturally due to your environment, with things getting much colder during the night and blizzards. In both cases, having any of them run out not only slows down your movement speed but also saps away at your health until you get those other meters up.
Cooperative play is a big thing and is the way to play if you want a chance at surviving for more than a few minutes. What really helps is that you start with one of eight different characters, all of which sport different buffs, like increased resistance to cold or more potent medicine production. Having a diverse group with you is key in making sure that you can get the most out of every element you find.
Aside from having characters with different stats, one of the more interesting aspects of The Wild Eight is the presence of quests. Most survival games have you figure out what you're supposed to do, but those who want some guidance are left in the dark. Here, the quests start off as a tutorial for basic survival, but they evolve into something more intriguing, as you find out that the mountain is hiding something unexpected. In its current state, it is difficult to find out what that is, but here's hoping that future development uncovers something spectacular.
For the most part, the game handles some of the basic tenets of survival well, and the addition of co-op makes it enjoyable. However, one of the big things that currently plagues the game is balance. Play the game on normal difficulty, and the meters drain very rapidly, even in the calmest of situations. When compared to other survival games in Early Access, this is pretty harsh and makes it way too difficult to make any headway unless you like dying quickly and making very slow progress. Playing on easy makes the meters much more manageable, so here's hoping for more balance tweaks to make the game playable without having players feel like they're taking the easy way out.
Presentation-wise, the game is pretty good so far. The isometric viewpoint and fairly low-polygonal characters make way for a lighting system that gives it an eerie beauty. The audio is the bigger highlight, with some of the environmental sounds, like howling wind and animal cries, creating a subtle soundtrack that is calm even in the roughest of situations. It works well enough that it might not need much else to be impressive when the final version hits.
The Wild Eight is still in the very early stages, so it can be difficult to have a good idea of how this will all pan out. So far, it has a good start, and there's a hint that the story will have a big reveal. The online community is healthy at the moment, and the game is very playable if you prefer to go solo instead. It still needs to balance things out more, as playing on normal difficulty is fruitless unless you've got a crew with loads of items on hand to help you out. It'll be worth keeping tabs on this title to see how things progress as it approaches its eventual release date.
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