A forest is a forest, right? Even one packed with cannibals and mutants. Well, not quite. With Sons of the Forest now wandering the wilds of early access, it’s worth taking a look at just how much things have changed from the original. If you’re wondering how the sequel shakes things up, we’ve rounded up the key differences and different features between Sons of the Forest and The Forest.
The story and setup
The core concept hasn’t seen much change with Sons of the Forest – you’ll still be trying to survive in a hostile landscape with aggressive locals and terrifying underground lairs. Harvest materials, craft a base, make weapons, and explore further. The story setup, however, is a little different this time around. In Sons of the Forest, you’re brought to the island to specifically to search for a missing millionaire and his family. It’s a simple overarching impetus, but you’ll still be starting from nothing after an unfortunate incident occurs.
Improved visuals (and heftier requirements)
The Forest was already a good looking game, but Sons of the Forest adds a glut of extra detail. Woodland floors are now lush with smaller flora, and water flows and bubbles far more impressively. There's deviation too. You’ll encounter different tree types in regions across the island, making the whole map feel far more like a living, inhabited space.
Unfortunately, that visual finesse comes at the expense of PC performance. Sons of the Forest is far more taxing on computers than The Forest. We’re hopeful, however, that its PC-only early access run will optimize the game better for weaker systems before its full release.
A larger map with dynamic seasons
One of the literally biggest Sons of the Forest differences is its map size. Developer Endnight games has estimated that the new island is roughly four times the size of The Forest’s world. That’s an awfully large place to get lost in, but also leaves room for many different environmental biomes to explore. And that's just in terms of surface area too. The island is littered with subterranean regions to delve into, provided you're brave enough.
Sons of the Forest also introduces dynamic seasons that will change the weather and what sources of food are available as you play. Prepare to adapt your strategies, or stock up in advance to ensure you have everything you need when the colder months arrive.
Another major change from the original is the addition of NPC allies in Sons of the Forest. You’ll start the game with help from the lovable base-destroyer Kelvin, but you’ll also have the chance to partner up with other AI companions like the firendly mutant Virginia. It’s likely that more NPC companions will be added as the game progresses from early access to full release. They’re pretty simple for the time being, but they’ll help you out in a fight, keep you company, even scurry off to collect resources if you request it. Ideal for those going in solo.
Expanded craftings, AI, and equipment
The bulk of changes in Sons of the Forest lie in the little things. There are new enemies to face – both cannibals and mutants – and the AI for them has been expanded to support new behaviors and factions that will appear in different areas and even fight one another. Crafting has also been added to. There are more tools, buildings and weapons to work towards. And when you need a break from all the stress of cannibal attacks? You can now craft a sled to go for rides down the mountain's snowy slopes.
Some of these adjustments are for the purpose of realism. Construction blueprints are no longer visible in the world, adding more immersion as you actually split and place logs to construct walls and floors. There’s more flexibility and freedom to construction than ever before, so it’s up to you to figure out what’s possible with the tools offered.
Refinement, not revolution
Overall, Sons of the Forest is more of an evolution than full transformation. But that’s not exactly a bad thing. Refinement in almost every aspect has made this an ideal pick up both for those who loved the first game but tired of its setting, and anyone wanting to jump into the series for the first time. Bear in mind, though, that the game is very much an early access release right now. There are limitations and bugs present, so if you want the full experience from the get go, you're better off waiting for more content to arrive.