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Len’s Island: Uncharted Waters Preview – An Ocean Of New Content

Not to be confused with Pen Island

Reading the tin for Len’s Island describes almost the perfect game for me. It’s a chilled out, open-world, survival, crafting, and exploration game developed right here in Australia. It’s no surprise then, that when I played the demo during the Steam Next Fest way back in June 2021, I was pretty impressed and excited by the bones on display, even if they were a little bit bare. I have to admit though, that when developers Flow Studio released the game into early access in October of the same year, it got lost in the noise for me and completely passed me by.

“Soon may the Wellerman come, to bring us sugar and tea and rum…”

I have a very strange relationship with early access titles in that I want to play them as soon as I can, support their development and experience the excitement of new things being added as it progresses. That being said, I do often find myself wanting to wait until they are feature complete and polished before investing a lot of time in them, since losing progress and lack of content can be frustrating. I like to think that I’ve struck a balance by jumping in on the ground floor of an early access title, playing until I have a good feel for how it’s going to go and then only visiting it periodically when developers release significant improvements. The massive new Uncharted Waters update for Len’s Island is one such time and it honestly feels more like a complete overhaul with the amount of awesome new features it includes. If you read the list of all the additions and changes to the game or watch the trailer that Flow Studios dropped to announce Uncharted Waters it’s pretty clear to see why they themselves have said that the game has essentially been rebuilt from the ground up. Not only that, despite the amount of work that has clearly gone into this update, it’s free for everyone who already owns Len’s Island.

Although everything in the patch notes is impressive, there were a few big ticket items that caught my attention and that were on display almost immediately upon firing up the game. The biggest change for me (no pun intended) is the new procedurally generated world to make your own, with rich new biomes and weather systems, a vast traversable ocean with scattered islands to build on and even deeper, darker dungeons to spelunk. According to the devs, it’s around 50 times the size of the original, which already makes this update worth exploring. On top of that, when your Len first wakes up, you’ll be near a derelict town that you can help repair and repopulate with merchants and villagers, encouraging you to not only survive on this island, but THRIVE.

He’s no Tom Nook, but he’ll help you rebuild this place

A sense of progression is important in games like this, and the Uncharted Waters update adds systems that make Len’s Island feel like a unique mix of Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing. As I mentioned before, alongside building your own abode, you’ll need to help repair and upgrade the town, which in turn allows you to build houses (the same way you build your own) and assign them to a villager, which will open options for trade. This means that you can spend time farming and gathering resources to build a fancy mansion for your favourite merchant and cobble together a depressing shack for the one that won’t give you a good deal. In order to get those resources, you’ll of course need to scour the massive new world, but you’ll also need to find and unlock doors to underground dungeons, teeming with rare materials and all new enemies. Not to worry though, the update also includes a new XP and levelling system with an extensive skill tree, giving you access to essential character upgrades and special skills like increased damage or a boost to HP, to aid you on your arse-kicking/collection sprees.

If you’ve spent some time with Len’s Island before, you’ll also notice that this update brings some big improvements and new additions to other things like resource and tool storage, crafting recipes for weapons, equipment and home décor, farming systems and even a new alchemy table to brew some powerful potions. On the more technical side of things, Flow Studio has also mentioned “thousands of bug fixes, performance improvements, UI and accessibility improvements and overall tweaks and polish to the game.” I highly recommend reading the whole features and changes list for the update if you have the time or failing that, just download it and jump back in to see just how much has been added and reworked!

Pictured: Me, delving deeper in to the patch notes for all this content

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Having seen the potential in Len’s Island way back when, coming back to it with the sizeable Uncharted Waters update has been fantastic, stoking the fires of excitement for the future. I really enjoyed getting familiar with all the new features and systems, and just sailing the open ocean to look for new materials to build my dream home with. When WellPlayed spoke to Flow Studio co-founder Julian last year, he said that he considers the current state of the game to be about half complete. If that is truly the case, I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for us, and I’ll definitely be channelling my inner Jack Shepard when I decide to go back to the island.

Previewed on PC // Preview code supplied by publisher

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Written By Edward Darling

If they had waterproof controllers in the 80s, Edward would probably have been gaming in the womb. He'll play anything with a pixel and would rather make console love, not console wars. PSN / XBL: CptLovebone

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