Endlight Games has announced that The Forest will leave early access on April 30. Released in May 2014, The Forest will release its version 1.0 patch after more than four years of development. The patch will include performance improvement, increased controller support and new gameplay elements. On top of general performance optimisation, Endlight are implementing full-controller support and a VR mode. New content includes new buidlings and crafting items as well as “new reasons and resources” for exploring caves and hunting down enemies. The Forest is currently available through Steam early access, but Endlight plan to release it for PlayStation 4 in 2018.
Further validation for early access
The Forest is a survival horror game and was one of the first Steam early access games. Where early access projects either fizzle out, like DayZ, or release as lackluster “full” products, like ARK: Survival Horror, The Forest is an interesting case. After 4 years in early access, the game is finally releasing as a “full” product. This is an incredibly long early access time but the commercial success and now official release serve to validate the early access model.
Gamers often condemn early access games for selling players broken or lackluster products for a quick cash grab. There are certainly cases that prove this, such as DayZ, Infestation: Survivor Stories (formerly known as The War Z) and The Stomping Land. These games initial promises and the developers inability to deliver on said promises have lead gamers to condemn early access. The developers release them to the public with no legal or financial obligation to improve the game.
However, Endlight shine as an example of companies improving early access products out of a genuine support for their fanbase. Although it took 4 years, Endlight were able to deliver a version 1.0. There are countless other examples of the early access model allowing for more funding, development time and better games. A similar example is Facepunch Studios’ Rust, which began early access in December 2013 and was release 8 February this year. Other example that had smaller development times include Kerbal Space Program, Don’t Starve and Starbound. Minecraft is the first and best example, which Notch made available for purchase nearly two years before releasing Version 1.0.
While there are cases of developers abusing the early access model, it is refreshing to see a genuine and beneficial use of it. Endlight Games have created a significantly improved version of what they released in 2014, made possible by early access.