Survival game Sons of the Forest shows off co-op base-building, fleshy nightmares

Survival game Sons of the Forest launches into early access on February 23, and as you explore, craft, build, and fight against a horrifying cannibalistic tribe on a mysterious island, take some small comfort in the fact that you won't have to do it alone.

Even if you're tackling Sons of the Forest in singleplayer you'll be joined by an AI-controlled companion, Kelvin, who can perform tasks like chopping wood, gathering rocks and sticks, and catching fish. But you can also play Sons of the Forest in co-op with up to eight players (and yes, Kelvin will still be along for the ride in multiplayer). IGN has a new trailer showing a bit of co-op play, including exploring, building, combat, and of course the inevitable chopping of trees.

Though the trailer is a short one there's a lot of fun little details to absorb, including more glimpses of the loyal Kelvin. Since he was injured in the crash and can no longer hear or speak, he has to be given directions by a player who selects words on a notepad and holds them up for him to read. We can see that happening 25 seconds into the trailer, followed by Kelvin tilting his head and leaning forward a bit to read them. 

A moment later we see Kelvin pick a tree branch off the ground and stick it under his arm, and then carry a log to the players' base. He even helpfully points at a charging cannibal as the combat portion of the trailer begins. Thanks, Kelvin! I'm pretty sure I saw the half-naked madman charging out of the woods at me, but I appreciate the assist.

The building in Sons of the Forest, whether you're doing it alone or with friends, looks great and way more freeform than in the original game, The Forest, where you'd place a ghostly 3D blueprint on the ground and then fill it in with resources like logs and branches. Here we see individual logs being stacked up to create walls and being split down the middle to place flooring. There's some base expansion shown, too, as a support log standing at a 45-degree angle is raised horizontally and propped up with another log, which looks like it will become a new roof. Pretty neat!

And having other players with you will come in handy when the locals start invading your base. Like Kelvin, the enemies are pretty interesting to watch: at 55 seconds you can (very briefly) see one dive, land on its stomach, and then slide across the wet grass like it's body-surfing into the fight. A few are hit with some sort of stun baton and flop over with their limbs frozen and hands twitching, taser-style. One crawls away in fear, a few charge on all fours like wolves, and then there's a freaky, 10-foot long flesh-nightmare that attacks end-over-end like a… I dunno what to compare it to, but it's disturbing. 

It also looks like enemies can take multiple arrows to the body and keep on going, but a single headshot will kill them. If you're not accurate with a bow and arrow, you might want to bring along some friends who are. And you'd better round them up quickly: Sons of the Forest is out in Steam Early Access this Thursday. 

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.