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Of Bile And Building: Salem

Is anyone interested in watching an hour and a half of Salem's developers playing an early version for an hour and a half while answering viewers’ questions? Salem isn’t the easiest game in the world to describe, being a crafting-based MMO set in 17th Century New England, with permadeath, alchemy, farming and beasties. That’s why it’s so impressive that I just described it, even if I may have told you nothing you don’t already know. Thankfully, you'll find out lots you don't know in the video. The audio is more informative than the actual game footage, with combat in particular looking a bit of a chore at the moment, but there’s a lot of detail on how things will actually work. The first fourteen minutes of the video is dead air, as this was originally a livestream that started too soon.

I probably missed some important things here because I was skipping through, trying to pick out the most salient points. Share any intriguing details below. In the meantime, what have I learned?

Griefing, which lots of people are worried about, will be controlled. But only to an extent. If you commit crimes against other players, it will become easier for people to track you and take vengeance. However, Paradox want stronger characters to have power over weaker ones, so when you become stronger you can dominate other players.

As for actually becoming stronger, you won’t actually level up. The closest mechanic to levelling is a “Gluttony System”. As survival is a large part of the game, having enough food, water and shelter, one of the goals is to have characters to be content, with full bellies. Food, unlike in previous game Haven, is the only way to gain new skills.

When full, a character can choose to eat again and depending on the ingredients of the item consumed and the skill of the crafting, there will be different skills available to gain, with different potencies. At least that’s how I understood it. It sounds quite complicated at this time in the morning but it also seems to the kind of system that doesn’t need to be fully understood while actually playing the game.

There’s lots and lots about the alchemy system, which includes lots of talk about bile. That’s good. More games should have bile as a resource. There is also simple terraforming, flattening of hills to create new space to build on, and a strong denial of any bestiality options. That’s good. “Animals will not even have sex when they procreate.”

The last couple of minutes contain song. Beautiful, terrible song.

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About the Author

Adam Smith

Former Deputy Editor

Adam wrote for Rock Paper Shotgun between 2011-2018, rising through the ranks to become its Deputy Editor. He now works at Larian Studios on Baldur's Gate 3.