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RimWorld's huge Wanderlust update is world-changing

Around and round we go

I'd quite happily write and read about Dwarf Fortress and RimWorld [official site] all day long. There might even be time to play them every now and again as well, though I've become accustomed to enjoying them vicariously, reading about other peoples' virtual lives and escapades. A new RimWorld update arrived today and it's a big one, changing the way that worlds are built and operate at a fundamental level. Simply put (and nothing about RimWorld is actually simple), worlds are now modeled as spheres, and you can travel across them, nomad style. Or warband style. Your call.

Cover image for YouTube video

A word of warning from the update notes before I begin:

"Your game will update automatically. Because of huge structural changes to the game, this update will break save games. If you want to continue an old save just change to the 'alpha15' beta branch on Steam. To do so, go to Steam library, right-click RimWorld, click Properties, click the Betas tab, and use the drop-down to select the branch you want. You can, of course, switch back to the 'default' branch whenever you want."

The move to spherical worlds will bring all kinds of changes, but it hasn't just been thrust into the game half-baked. There's a reason the update is called Wanderlust: these new worlds are designed to serve the travelers among us, and RimWorld now allows your colonists to exist on several maps at the same time. So your homesteads can tick over with activity continuing while you're handling a trading caravan or raiding party on the other side of the planet. And planets now come with timezones and time of day varies depending on your current position and how sunlight is hitting the surface.

Here's a full list of how all this stuff works:

Spherical planet

  • World map is now modeled as a sphere covered with hexagons (and a few pentagons).
  • New map generation to make nicer mountain ranges, hill clusters, and continents.
  • Nice backdrop with stars and sun.
  • Time of day is modeled on the planet view; local time of day corresponds to how the sunlight hits the planet.
  • Time zones are now modeled, out of necessity.
  • New planet generation parameter: temperature. You can make worlds that are overall hotter or overall colder.
  • New planet generation parameter: rainfall. You can make worlds where there is overall more or less precipitation.
  • New biome: sea ice.
  • Factions can now have many bases; non-player factions generate with lots of bases.

Multiple simultaneous maps

  • There can now be multiple local maps active at once. For example, you can have your colony running as well, as a group of soldiers attacking an enemy base, at the same time.
  • The character bar at the top of the screen shows all of your colonists and allows you to change which map you're looking at. It groups characters together by the map they're on.
  • You can settle multiple colonies at once. However, for balance and performance reasons, the default limit is one colony at a time. This can be increased in the options menu if you want to experiment, but we don't recommend it.

The other major addition, which I've already alluded to above, is the creation of caravans. Essentially, a new dialog option allows you to bunch a load of people and goods together and send them off a-wandering. They'll have encounters en route and can be attacked by people or hungry critters, and when they reach their destination they can trade or try to take over settlements through force. And then you could have multiple colonies, or you could form a caravan at your first colony and move EVERYONE to the new one.

There are transport pods as well, that let you travel large distances quickly. Oh, there's so much more than that as well - go and have a read of it all.

A new victory condition even lets you find a ship that a friendly NPC points you toward, somewhere distant on the world map. Reach it and you can escape the planet and complete the game. It's a way of combining existing victory conditions with the new Wanderlust features and, with that, I've just realised that it's entirely possible that RimWorld will let me conquer an entire planet and then build a ship to set off into space and conquer another one. That seems like a very real possibility right now.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. For now, we have wonderful (wanderful?) new worlds to explore and inhabit. And, most importantly:

  • Added proper chick peeping sounds.

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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.