This new co-op survival action RPG the developer calls 'Valheim meets Zelda' has my full attention

There are some pretty strong Valheim vibes at the beginning of the trailer for Enshrouded, a new survival action RPG for 1-16 players coming to Steam early access later this year. An adventurer runs around in the woods wearing a pair of burlap pants, hunts with a wooden bow, chops down a tree, and cooks some meat over a campfire as night falls. Feels like a solid, if pretty traditional, opener for a survival game.

But things progress quickly, as we see fully armored characters using magic staves, throwable explosives, and swords and shields as they battle a bunch of creepy monsters including some intimidating, towering boss types. My attention gets fully grabbed when it moves on to fun traversal options, like a grappling hook used to swing through some ruins and a leathery wingsuit to glide through the fog. Eventually we see a timelapse of a massive town being built on a mountaintop. 

Yep. I'm definitely interested. There's a lot going in this game, and most of it looks pretty darn cool.

In the words of Keen Games' co-founder Antony Christoulakis, Enshrouded is "Valheim meets Zelda." There's a big open world to explore, some light survival systems—food takes a page from Valheim, where eating buffs you but you'll never starve to death—and enemies to battle and loot. But unlike Valheim, Enshrouded isn't a procedurally generated world that changes each time you start a new game. The realm of Embervale is a crafted world like you'd find in a game like Breath of the Wild or Skyrim.

As for the story, and why the character in the trailer climbs out of a big clay pot at the beginning: the world of Enshrouded has been consumed by a deadly fog that's escaped from deep underground, and you've been awakened to go out there and fight against it. The only safe areas in the world are mountaintops which rise from the shroud like islands: to explore further into the world you'll need to descend into the lower regions, where players can only survive for a limited amount of time before they need to resurface above the fog. "It's a really toxic environment," says Christoulakis, "and [your] protection only lasts for so long."

Above the fog on safer ground, you can hunt, gather resources, and build yourself a home. "You start with constructing a small base camp at the beginning and then grow it over time, into hopefully an awe-inspiring home or a kingdom for you and your friends." You can build block-by-block, Christoulakis says, or by using premade templates and blueprints. There are NPCs out there waiting to be found, and you can bring them back to your base where they can settle down and teach you long-lost crafting recipes. 

You can also dig caves and caverns through the terrain, and create tunnels and basements under your settlement. "The whole world is made of voxels. All the buildings, all the terrain, is voxel based," Christoulakis says, "so it can be shaped with a lot of creative freedom like Minecraft, basically, but with a more immersive and more grown-up look."

Despite what look like character classes (rogues, warriors, wizards and so on), you're not forced to pick a specific class at the start of the game. You can unlock skills from an open-ended skill tree and specialize in different styles of play. Two skills I glimpsed in the trailer: Ambush, which does more damage attacking an unaware creature and sounds good for stealth, and Blink, which is a teleport-like dodging ability. 

A two-minute trailer isn't a lot to go on, but I'm always up for a big open world, some base-building, and the idea of a co-op PvE adventure where you can head out into a dangerous world or spend a while just tinkering quietly around in your house. There's no specific release date yet, but Enshrouded will enter Steam early access sometime later this year. I'll be waiting.

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.