I’ll start this off with a warning. If this is the first time you’re reading my thoughts on Forever Skies, I highly recommend that you first read the write-up of my initial thoughts when I played the preview build back in September. In that article, I go into detail about the setting, gameplay loop and standout features of Forever Skies. Go ahead, I’ll wait!
Now that you’re all caught up, you may be wondering why I’m talking about the “Subnautica in the Sky” game again. Well, that’s because after developers Far From Home decided to delay their initial Early Access launch (due to an overwhelmingly positive response to the game), it’s finally time to once again strap into your airship laboratory and explore the ruined world of Forever Skies. In this article, I’m going to be talking mostly about what has been added, and what’s changed since the original preview build, so this is your last chance to catch up if you haven’t already!
As the game grows, so too does my airship
First things first, if you’ve played any of the previous versions of the game during beta testing, or if you’ve just been following along with the development cycle, you’ll be happy to know that Forever Skies is still the game you know and love, with exploration, survival and crafting elements at its core. The sky is no longer the limit as you’ll be spending the majority of your time soaring through the wide blue yonder to find ruined communication towers, derelict wind farms and overgrown greenhouses, packed to the gills with things for you to collect and turn into other, more useful things. It’s clear that the development team are of a certain pedigree when it comes to filling out this world (including folks from games like Dying Light, Dead Island, Chernobylite, League of Legends and Divinity: Original Sin) as there is always another tower blinking on the horizon, just begging to be plundered.
Without the imposed time limit on my playthrough, I was able to fully explore all of the new areas and features that have been added in this new Early Access build. The opening act is essentially the same, but it felt a bit more streamlined and clear, which meant that I was taking to the skies in no time. From there, it’s really up to you what happens next. Do you follow the objectives given to you by your AI assistant, chasing down story beats as you attempt to understand the devastated world, or do you simply fly around the dust-covered sky, finding remnants of humanity and using them to build up your airship? Whatever you decide, you’ll begin unlocking all new crafting recipes (which I won’t spoil since discovery is half the fun) that have been added to the game, to increase your chances of surviving the many dangers of this world and pimp out your blimp.
A whole lotta wind, not alotta farm
Although exploration will be a big part of the game’s final design, the team are still working on adding diversity and unique locations, with more of both being added as development progresses. This is also true of the story elements, as currently there are only a few hours’ worth of narrative to experience (not including all of the collectable text-based story elements). That being said, there are plenty of new things to explore, including a tower that allows you to visit the surface for the first time. Exploring under the heavy layer of dust blanketing the sky is essential to research the virus that caused Earth’s downfall, but it is as claustrophobic and hostile as it is thrilling. As you encounter different viruses from things like food, water and creatures around the world, you’ll now be tasked with analysing them to create cures and mutations that will aid you on your travels.
For those not familiar with Early Access development cycles, adding in big features like this is fairly common, with titles like Green Hell, Raft and, of course, Subnautica, all doing similar things very successfully.
In addition to this, Far From Home has also stated that it intends to listen closely to player feedback during this time and shape the game according to our experiences. It’s also confirmed the following content will be added to Forever Skies as it grows:
- Co-op up to 4 players
- Additional story chapters (the final chapter will be added at the end of Early Access)
- Gardening on your airship
- New locations and location variants with unique resources and blueprints
- More airship construction modules and equipment
- More artefacts and decorative elements
- Hazards for your airship while flying and dangers waiting for the player at various the locations
- Hostiles will be added to surface locations under the layer of dust
The team have also stated that they intend to bring Forever Skies to next-gen consoles at the end of Early Access.
I’d like to go back to my airship now, thanks!
With the caveat that this is very much an Early Access title, I recommend getting in at ground level with Forever Skies (pun intended). Not only will you have an awesome high-flying adventure as it grows, but you may also have a chance to shape how the final product looks, which is far more satisfying than cobbling together a stone pickaxe. If you temper your expectations and practise a bit of patience, you’ll love the time you spend in your big ol’ balloon.
Previewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher