We Happy Few Gets Big Early Access Update

We Happy Few [official site] is in Early Access at the moment. It’s the dystopian survival game set in a drug-addled English city in the sixties. The trailers and concept art makes it look like something in the vein of The Prisoner, but from what various RPS-ers have played it really doesn’t make good on that promise yet.

But, for those of you who did pick it up, this week the development team at Compulsion Games are deploying an update to the game which takes into account a bit of the Early Access feedback. There’s stuff like bringing down the difficulty of the survival element so you go a bit longer between naps, snacks and slurps and some waypoint/map alterations. There are also combat changes, looting tweaks and the all-important assurance that “Basic rubber duck is now throwable”.

I think I’ll wait until the bugs are fixed and it gets deployed into the main work-in-progress game so I can see how it’s looking. When I tried We Happy Few last year it felt like so many other survival games and I was waiting for the thing that made it click for me. That thing never came and, reading Alec’s far more recent experiences it sounds like it has still not quite figured itself out even though more things have been added and worked on:

“My overriding sense as I play is that this is a game I want to like, a game which feels as though it has been constructed out of my own pop-cultural interests to such an extent that it surely, surely will please me. I keep playing, waiting for the penny to drop. Waiting to see if there will come a time when every excursion to a new part of town or to find a key component to get over the bridge is not characterised by drip-feed maintenance of basic needs.”

I guess the thing that concerns me about We Happy Few is that it’s a game proposal which a lot of people are excited by – a dystopian sixties psychedelic sci-fi British thing – and the marketing gets me excited every time, but from what I’ve seen and played and spoken to colleagues about I just have no idea if the team can make *that* game. I think my experience with their previous game, Contrast, is also playing into that concern here – it looked so interesting in trailers and then it was this clunky, buggy thing that never really came together.

The update won’t change the default game yet as there are some bugs to be worked out, but if you did buy into Early Access you can see the updated version by switching to the beta environment on Steam and GOG. (For Steam you right click the game in your library then go Properties -> Betas tab -> select preview from the drop down list. For GOG, open the game card in GOG Galaxy, select Settings from the [MORE] dropdown the toggle the Beta Channels setting to on then change the DEFAULT to this new one.)

The full update listing with all the game changes is here. There’s a LOT there.

It’s Early Access so ALL OF THE CAVEATS ALL OF THE TIME and costs £22.99 / $29.99 / €27.99 on Steam and GOG


  1. BlazeHedgehog says:

    A lot of my excitement for this game deflated the moment I heard it was a procedurally generated open world survival game.

    We have an awful lot of those right now and no matter how cool your skin looks, it’s still another one. I was hoping for something a little more structured, with a little more narrative, with encounters that were a little more “intentionally designed” as opposed to… the opposite of that.

    It just really feels like the developers are trying to find a less expensive alternative to get more mileage out of their set dressing because this way they have “theoretically endless” content already built in, it’s just a matter of adding variables to the generator.

    And… meh.

    • Sam says:

      I recently watched someone play through the current Early Access version, and it is surprisingly authored.

      Your progression is mainly through a great number of core and side quests, which are as authored as anything in Skyrim. Unique NPCs with spoken lines directing you to unique authored locations to pick up a doohicky or unlock a thingabob in return for them giving you some item and/or teaching you a crafting recipe.

      I believe where those locations and NPCs are placed in the world is somewhat random. But that feels slightly pointless to me. There’s few interesting interactions between where things are placed, it’s mostly just a grid of a random selection of authored buildings which would provide the same experience regardless of where they are. The fact that the spooky cultist house is next to the water fountain instead of a park doesn’t change anything.

      “Social stealth” is the most interesting mechanical aspect. But you start off in semi-derelict areas where the deranged inhabitants behave like a standard neutral NPC in any other game. After a few hours you gain access to the creepy civilized areas, which are far more interesting both for your interactions with the people and the aesthetics. I worry that’s too long to keep slogging through the fairly samey looking grey streets of the first areas.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        So as procedurally generated as Diablo. Or perhaps the old Xcom games then. Randomised placement of actors, loot and premade map chunks made to stick together according to some rules to just keep you on your toes in consecutive playthroughs (or Hardcore/Ironman runs).

        Replay value is a Plus in my purchase algorithm.

    • UncleBAZINGA says:

      This. Also accounts for No Man’s Sky. I just don’t get all the fuzz about procedurally generated worlds. They try to make us believe that this generates unlimited playtime, fun and things to discover while in reality (at least for me) procedurally generated game content every single time was that thing that bored me to death the fastest. Total avoidance is the result.

  2. Kitty says:

    Wait, the Early Access version has an opt-in beta version?? Then what’s the point of Early Access if it’s not to test what might potentially be unfinished and unstable?

    • epmode says:

      Some developers use the last stable build for the public Early Access version and reserve a more frequently updated version for the opt-in beta. Nightly builds or whatever. Unknown Worlds does something similar with Subnautica.

  3. Jay Load says:

    I was kinda crushed when I heard it was a bog-standard survival experience. And kinda angry when I realised none of the marketing so far even hints at this. I’d happily play the game in the trailers – I’m not sure I’m ever going to touch the game that’s being released.

    • w0bbl3r says:

      Agreed. I was so impressed and intrigued by what they showed in the trailers that I did something I never usually do; bought it based almost solely on the trailers.
      As soon as I played the intro I was thrilled, thinking it’s going to be awesome. And since the price was going to rise after early access I was thinking I could buy it now while it’s a bit cheaper, try it and then wait until it’s pretty much finished to play the whole story and get the full experience.
      Once I got past that intro, and found myself in the “sir, you are being hunted” map with the monsters from the forest (but with white painted faces) stalking me, and mostly mechanics from the long dark gameplay, my heart sank.
      Haven’t been so disappointed in an early access game in a very long time. Not that I buy many early access games anymore, but still.
      It’s not going to be a good game unless they change it around completely.

    • fearandloathing says:

      word. or as we say in the dune universe “truth®” the bene gesserit™ way. just reading it, and boy, what a lowly book that is. well considering it is the best selling sf book (what a sf really), it should not be a surprise with the general baseness of the masses. geez I’d prefer any ramblings of pkd, vonnegut or huxley over that right-winger youngadult power fantasy.

    • rgbarton says:

      I’m not sure that “No marketing even hints at it ” since most of the marketing except for the e3 trailer focused on the core of the game which is social stealth

  4. w0bbl3r says:

    So they changed hunger from 20 to 30 minutes.
    That would be far better, if not for the fact that they changed day length from 20 to 30 minutes. So you still starve in a day, exactly the same.
    They changed how often you need to sleep, which would be great if you didn’t need literally 50% MORE sleep to actually fully recharge.

    This isn’t changing based on feedback, it’s pretending to change based on feedback. Anyone who doesn’t see what they did here is blind and has been tricked exactly how they wanted to.

    • fearandloathing says:


  5. theapeofnaples says:

    Who’d have thought a game so obviously in debt to and derivative of other sources of ‘inspiration’ would turn out to be shoddy and half-baked?!!!

  6. unraveler says:

    I really hope this game will get end-game goals. this kind of aimlessly playing until you get bored, isn’t my cup of tea.