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Icarus has a mighty skill tree with over 250 talents to pick from

Though not one lets you hug a bear

As someone that's constantly stalking survival games, I’ve been keeping an eye on Icarus. Through some bushes. While covered in mud. Dean "DayZ" Hall’s return to the survival genre is a speed-dating version of traditional survival games, dropping players into shorter sessions (lasting hours and days rather than months) where you make planetfall, set-up a base, grab resources, then sell them post-mission. To keep players interested in the long run, there's a lot of character progression, with over 250 talents to unlock. Here's a small look at them.

Cover image for YouTube videoIcarus: First Cohort - Action Gameplay Trailer

A recent Steam update delved into them. The talent menu has three categories: survival, combat, and construction. Each category has a number of sub selections, and those diverge even further. The update only covered survival and combat, and only briefly.

Survival has a fairly broad range of talents: resource gathering, exploring, hunting, and cooking. You can see the roots of the genre snaking through the resource section, letting you increase your resource yield and picking up a sklill that highlights exotic deposits on the planet.

Things get a bit more interesting outside of rock whacking. I’m an explorer at heart, and in Icarus that tree has some wild branches, letting you boost your swimming speed, revive others, and detect storms. I get the feeling that there are some spaces that won’t quite have enough talents to make an entire tree out of, so they’ll fit in where they can.

The survival menu in Icarus' skill tree

The hunting tree is a lot more specific. According to the post: “Talents like ‘On the Trail’ make you a master tracker, highlighting animal footprints to give you an advantage while hunting.” You can add buffs for when you’re crouching and aiming, and when you’re breaking down a beast for it’s gooey parts. But there’s the first glimpse at a talent that expands on the basics a little: “Running with the Wolves makes you neutral to wolves so they won't bother you unless provoked with an attack.”

Over in the combat category, it’s more about specific, weapon-based buffs. You’ll be adding percentage-based increases in speed while drawing a bow, or you can tweak your projectiles to make targets bleed out faster. Spears can have boosts applied to improve your stamina, and the knife tree has stealth in mind, making you nearly undetectable when crouched.

It’s quite a broad system of mix and match skills, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Will there be teams with deeply researched specialists, or are people going to broadly spec themselves out just in case they run into a wolf while hunting down Oxite? I’m pretty sure the wolf talent will be worth having no matter what way you play.

Having recently returned to The Forest, where all the resources are largely thrown into a base, I did miss building a character’s biceps and brains a little. Though Ed has beaten me to it in his Icarus preview, I won’t have too long to wait to poke around, either. Early access for Icarus begins on August 12th.

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Dean Hall

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Craig Pearson avatar

Craig Pearson


I love square sausage, cats, and climbing pretend rocks.