First Impressions: Don’t Starve Shipwrecked

don't starve shipwrecked

The lovely folks at Klei Entertainment recently(ish) released Don’t Starve Shipwrecked, a new DLC for my personal favorite indie game, Don’t Starve. Obviously being the Don’t Starve addict that I am (recognition is step one, people), I basically threw my debit card at my computer screen as soon as I had time time to sit down and play it.

For anyone not familiar with Don’t Starve, it is a wilderness survival game in which your only real objective is to not die. If you do die, you have to start over completely from scratch on an entirely new map. You collect resources from the world around you to craft everything from weapons and armor to crock pots and ice boxes, all with the single goal of surviving as many days as possible. The longer you survive, the harder the game becomes, as each season comes with unique obstacles and ways to die. It is also one of the greatest games I have ever played.

If we’re being honest, first impressions might be a bit of an exaggeration. Steam won’t actually tell me how many hours I’ve logged on Shipwrecked, since it is a DLC so it just gets logged under my hours for the game as a whole, but I’d be willing to bet I’m close to hitting 20 hours. (If anyone is interested, I’ve logged 93 hours in Don’t Starve total, plus another 146 hours in Don’t Starve Together.) At the same time, Don’t Starve is also a game that really requires you to log a lot of hours into it in order to get a real feel for it; there is a lot of shit to see and finding it all takes a good chunk of time. I have no doubt that there are probably numerous bits of new content in Shipwrecked that I have yet to stumble on, and as the game is still in early access there is undoubtedly much more coming in the future, but even in early access, Don’t Starve Shipwrecked is already a phenomenal addition to an already fantastic game.

don't starve shipwrecked gameplay

Don’t Starve Shipwrecked takes the traditional Don’t Starve survival mechanics and tosses them into the high seas. You wake up stranded on a beach surrounded presumably by pieces of your destroyed ship. Like the original Don’t Starve, the map is randomly generated, so you never know exactly what you will find. Sometimes you start on a fairly large island with multiple biomes, and sometimes you start on a tiny beach with just enough materials available to craft a raft.

don't starve shipwrecked gameplay

Exploring is quite a bit trickier in Don’t Starve Shipwrecked. Previously the only things you really had to worry about when exploring the map was having enough food on you and making sure you always had enough wood to build a fire at night. Having to travel by sea is a bit more complicated. Waves are great if they happen to be moving in the same direction as you, but often you will find yourself needing to go against the current, meaning you have to dodge the waves and risk your raft taking damage. Additionally, you never know how far away the next island will be, or how long it will take you to reach it, which is problematic for two reasons: your ship’s durability depleting at sea is a one way ticket to a watery grave, and even with a ship in perfect condition the last thing you want is to be caught in the ocean after dark. As a result, exploring the map takes considerably longer, making it more difficult to find a good place to establish your camp. It also makes it that much more important to settle down in a place with as many resources as possible, as traveling for resources is a bit more of an endeavor than in the original version of the game.

don't starve shipwrecked gameplay

Of course this is a Don’t Starve game, so naturally Don’t Starve Shipwrecked introduces new characters, biomes, creatures, and- most importantly- new ways to meet your doom.

The only new character to be introduced so far is Walani “the relaxed.” She  gets hungry hella quickly, but has 200 sanity and health points and dries off more quickly than the other characters. She also starts with a surfboard, which is a definite plus. There are a few more characters being added in future updates, represented currently by black character slots on the selection screen, and personally I cannot wait for them to get added.

Biomes exclusive to Don’t Starve Shipwrecked include beaches, coral reefs, and mangrove forests, and volcanic quarries. I know there are a number of biome types I’ve not yet discovered, but those are what I have stumbled upon so far. Mangrove forests are particularly important, as that is where you can find water beefalo. If you thought they were hard to track down in the original version just wait until you’re sailing all over the map looking for them; so far I’ve only found them once. I’m also fairly certain that the volcanic biomes are going to be a bigger deal in future updates, but I have yet to come across an active volcano as of yet!

Discovering the new creatures has been one of my favorite parts of playing Don’t Starve Shipwrecked. I am not overly fond of the snakes, which come crawling out of bloody everything (seriously I am TERRIFIED of snakes in absolutely any form, so that was not a great discovery, but we’re good now…mostly…they just come out of nowhere and are a tad bit startling.) I think my favorite new creature so far is the monkeys, just because they are hilarious. I wouldn’t recommend setting up camp too close to their huts, though, because they’ll steal all your shit.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Don’t Starve DLC without a slew of knew ways to die. So far I’ve only died three times, and once was a suicide so I could unlock Walani. Of the three, only one death has been exclusive to Shipwrecked- a rather large wave demolished my raft and I drowned. I was, however, lucky enough to be poisoned on my very first playthrough, and let me tell you that is a bitch to fix when you don’t know it’s coming and aren’t prepared for it.

don't starve shipwrecked gameplay

Don’t Starve Shipwrecked also introduces a new set of seasons, all with entirely new obstacles to overcome. So far I have only made it into the second season, so even I’m not entirely sure what comes next, though I admit I’ve seen a few spoilers on the Wiki on accident. This part I don’t want to ruin for you, since I think part of the fun of playing a new Don’t Starve game is not really knowing what is coming for you on Day 21, but I will tell you this much: freezing to death is not your biggest problem anymore.

If you are a fan of Don’t Starve, I have no doubt that you will absolutely love Don’t Starve Shipwrecked, and at only $4.99 on Steam the game is a steal. Again, it is in early access, so go into it expecting there to be numerous updates in the future, but there is already plenty to keep you busy in the mean time.

This goes without saying, but if you aren’t already playing Don’t Starve, you are absolutely missing out. Love yourself. It will be one of the best $20 you’ll ever spend.