This early access survival game just climbed over Starfield to become the most-wishlisted game on Steam

Person holding severed head up to scare cannibals
(Image credit: Endnight Games)

We're always keeping our eye on the ever-shifting fortunes of Steam's most-wishlisted games, and there have been some interesting developments lately. A few weeks ago there was the whole The Day Before debacle, where one of the most-wishlisted games on Steam abruptly vanished due to a trademark dispute, a story that managed to only get weirder from there.

And this week horror survival sandbox Sons of the Forest took over the top wishlist spot from Starfield, Bethesda's intensely-anticipated RPG. It looks like more Steam users are now interested in exploring a single creepy island than they are in visiting 1,000 planets in outer space.

'Course, there are few explanations for why an indie survival game just trumped Bethesda's next RPG on players' shopping lists. Starfield is coming to PC Game Pass at launch, so I'm sure tons of Steam users won't even be playing it on Steam. And despite loads of speculation, Starfield still doesn't have a gott-dang release date yet. Also… why even bother wishlisting Starfield? It's not like you'll need an email reminder from Valve when it finally launches. You'll hear about it from every streamer, YouTuber, and gaming site in the world.

But it's still a pretty amazing feat for a game about chopping down trees and hacking up cannibals in the woods, especially considering developer Endnight Games announced only two weeks ago that Sons of the Forest will launch into early access on February 23, rather than as a full release. The words "early access survival game" typically doesn't strike confidence into the hearts of gamers.

Cool, cool. But what the heck is Sons of the Forest?

If you're not familiar with Sons of the Forest, it's the sequel to another survival game, The Forest, which hit early access in 2014 (back when Steam Greenlight was still a thing). Marooned on an island, you had to build a shelter, craft weapons and tools, gather food and water, and deal with the island's scary-as-hell inhabitants, a tribe of vicious cannibals.

The Forest had a pretty shaky start, as unfinished games often do, but it also showed tons of potential with striking visuals, horrifying enemies, and memorable survival and combat systems (you could use a severed leg as a melee weapon). Over the next several years the developers patched it repeatedly, added new features like co-op and even VR support, and eventually drew a crowd. More importantly, the crowd stayed: there are still thousands of people playing The Forest every day, and its peak consecutive player count of over 76,000 happened only a few months ago.

So, The Forest became a sort of cult hit, and the sequel has some fun goodies planned. This time you're visiting an island to locate a missing billionaire, and you're not alone. Not only can you play Sons of the Forest in co-op, but you'll have a companion to help you out, too. As revealed by IGN last month, an AI-controlled survivor named Kelvin will pick up the slack by chopping wood, stockpiling resources, and handling other mundane chores while you focus on building or exploring. There are apparently other companions you can recruit later in the game, including a three-legged mutant. That's definitely intriguing enough for me to put it on my own wishlist.

According to its Steam page, Sons of the Forest plans to remain in early access for 6-8 months, though that could change depending on player feedback. It's set to launch on Feb 23. 

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.