The monsters lurking within Sons Of The Forest may have been delayed, but they're still very much coming to get you. We're creeping ever closer to the hit survival sequel's February 23rd release date, but IGN have lead the foray with a hands-on preview that reveals a little more about what to expect. Expect mutants with improved AI and individual tastes, better building, and companions you can boss around.
We've already glimpsed most of the new monsters in trailers, but this is the first time we've learned about their personalities. Developers Endnight Games told IGN that there's a whole system at play, where some enemies "have leadership qualities that can influence the decisions of others and even promote ideas in their ranks, such as religion". The mutants apparently all have "their own tastes, desires and proclivities", though IGN reporter Dale Driver was very much told that rather than shown it. Who knows how meaningful or noticeable it will be in practice.
Driver does say the AI feels much improved over the last game, with the sense that they were creating plans and reacting to him rather than mindlessly charging about. The original Forest's mutants would sometimes stare and lurk rather than just attack, so it's neat to hear they're leaning into more menacing behaviour. Driver says they'd attack his buildings when he wasn't watching them, and retreat once he'd dispatched some of their raiding party.
Companions are the other major headline. You start off with Kelvin, a soldier with head trauma who you can command to gather building materials. There's also a clip where he wordlessly points at an approaching gang of mutants sneaking up behind the player, which is charmingly eery. If you treat him poorly he'll get upset and become less productive, though there's a three-limbed mutant you can recruit later on if he gets too surly.
Giving you an AI you can assign busy work to is a neat idea, and works great in Deep Rock Galactic. It's nonetheless funny that we're hailing reduced engagement with a core part of a game as a genre innovation.
IGN's preview has more details I haven't gone into, so give it a watch. It mentions mutant wars, a map that's four times as big as the original, and an overhauled building system that lets you place every plank.
The original Forest is still very much worth venturing into. It's available for £16/$20/€17 on Steam.