stardew valley

Stardew Valley Co-op is a Wonderful Excuse to Return to Pelican Town

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Ever since Stardew Valley captured our hearts two years ago, fans have been clamoring for one new feature above all others: multiplayer.

But the pixelated farming sim was never designed as a multiplayer game. It took a dedicated team from indie publisher Chucklefish over a year to build the networking code, but the results are stunning.

Currently multiplayer is only available on the PC version of Stardew Valley in a beta stage. Enabling the beta is incredibly simple thanks to Steam and GOG Galaxy’s built-in beta features. Publisher Chucklefish has outlined the specific steps for hosting and joining games.

Once the beta patch is applied, it’s a simple as one player hosting a co-op match and the others joining. You can continue your same games and build cabins for joining players, or simply start a a fresh farm with those cabins already built.

Joining a co-op game feels a bit like being a sidekick in another person’s story. The host player gets the house while joining players are regulated to smaller cabins away from the mailbox and roads (although the inside of the house and cabin are about the same).

Everyone gets their own starting tools, energy bar, and freedom to tackle whatever they wish. Having multiple farmers running around tackling different projects opens up a whole new world of speedy efficiency.

One player can explore deep into the mines, upgrading their pickaxe and returning with artifacts and ore. Another can make loads of money improving their fishing skills, while one person keeps track of crop rotation and watering needs.

Share the Wealth

Players still have to work together for one crucial reason: everyone shares the same chunk of money. If someone upgrades their pickaxe, you may not have enough cash to buy seeds at the start of the next month. One player may be gathering wood to buy a chicken coop, but another grabs 300 wood from the storage chest to repair the bridge at the beach.

Coordination between players becomes key. An unruly player could easily tank the entire farm, much the same way they can destroy your hard-earned work in Minecraft or Terraria. That being said, the community around Stardew Valley seems genuinely sweet and earnest.

If playing with friends and family and those who have a shared goal of success, Stardew Valley is absolutely magical. Sharing money becomes a wonderful exercise in mutual responsibility and future planning. Can we splurge on a new fishing pole right now? Do we have enough cash to get all our crops started next month? Are you going to spend all day fishing again? Yes, yes I am.

stardew valley

The shared money pool also acts as an interesting teaching tool for shared bank accounts with couples. Just as in real life, couples need to maintain an open, honest dialogue when it comes to spending and saving money. Making big purchases without consulting your co-op partners could result in hurt feelings, unfinished projects, and a disastrous experience.

Having multiplayer characters with a shared money pool also provides an interesting quirk to the game’s balance. Previously the game was balanced by having tons of stuff to do each day, but with a limited pool of time and energy. Time remains a factor but multiple players means multiple energy bars worth of tasks that can be accomplished per day. This seems like a huge advantage until you realize you also have that many more tools to upgrade in the early game.

Although still technically in beta, I’ve found multiplayer to be extremely stable, with only a few minor hiccups and stutters. The biggest issue is that one-time rewards, like the chests every five levels of the mines, are only given to the person who opens them. Already Chucklefish has responded, and they’re fixing it so everyone gets a chance at the unique loot.

When Stardew Valley first launched my spouse and I sunk dozens of hours into it. We played our own separate games but loved updating each other on how we were building our farms, and any neat little tips and tricks we found. It’s one of the few games she has logged more hours that I did, and I practically play games for a living.

The 1.3 multiplayer update has rekindled our mutual enjoyment of the charming indie game. I cannot thank the designers enough for pledging to add a highly requested yet significantly challenging feature, and following through so successfully.

Stardew Valley’s multiplayer is available via beta on PC. The 1.3 update is coming next to Switch, followed by PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

darwin project

Play the Final Darwin Project Open Beta Test this Weekend

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The Hunger Games-like Darwin Project is hosting its second, and final, open beta this weekend on PC. To jump in simply download the game from Steam. The beta ends Monday, February 26 at 9 am Pacific/12 pm Eastern.

Over 80,000 beta testers played the first open beta earlier this year, including me. Canadian developer Scavengers Studio has been implementing feedback with their latest 1.7 patch. Highlights include Twitch spectator interactions, password-protected private matches, and a number of changes and improvements to the Show Director role.

In Darwin Project, 10 players compete in a free-for-all match in a dangerous arena. It’s mini-Battle Royale, with the last player alive crowned the winner. An eleventh player takes on the role of the Show Director, with the ability to spawn useful items, bestow helpful buffs, and rain down terror on the competing players.

New 1.7 changes include a rating system that directly affects the Show Director’s powers to help curb abusive Show Directors or those who show too much favoritism to friends.

The game has been a big hit thanks to its user interaction with streaming. The Twitch Spectator Interactions are a new feature, previously only available on Mixer. A livestreaming Show Director can allow their viewers to vote on what to do, and whom to do it to. It’s the Hunger Games, but with less revolution and romance.

Darwin Project is due to hit Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview within the coming months. The final open beta ends Monday, February 26 at 9 am Pacific/12 pm Eastern.

monster hunter: world

Second Monster Hunter: World PS4 Beta Runs This Weekend

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In case you missed the first Monster Hunter: World beta, or don’t have PlayStation Plus, you can jump into the second beta, which takes place this weekend. Beta #2 starts Friday, December 22 9 am Pacific/12 pm Eastern on PlayStation 4. It ends December 26. Monster Hunter: World releases on January 26, 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and later on PC.

Content wise this beta features the exact same three hunts of scaling difficulty: Great Jagras, Barroth, and Anjanath, and the two zones of Ancient Forest and Wildspire Waste. It includes a few preset characters and palicos as well as the training area and a sampling of all 14 weapon types. The beta features both single player and up to four player multiplayer.

The second beta is opening up to a much wider audience beyond just those with PlayStation Plus. Like the first beta, it’s designed to test the server loads in anticipation of the game’s release next month. It’s not clear if you still need PS Plus to play multiplayer, however.

If you still have Monster Hunter: World installed, no additional download will be necessary. Otherwise you can begin pre-loading the beta today for when the beta starts on Friday.

Like the first beta, participating nets you some rewards if you play the full game on the same account. Completing any of the quests will earn one unique Face Paint customization. Completing each quest will net a small trove of useful items such as potions and traps, for use in the full game.

The Monster Hunter: World beta runs from December 22-26. Monster Hunter: World launches January 26, 2018.