Perhaps it's time to look at early access releases another way. Don't become frustrated by games which aren't yet what we hope they'll be, find games which right now are something we want. DayZ was once a brisk countryside hike. Star Citizen is still a gorgeous spaceship museum to visit, fleeting perfection for someone who wants nothing more than to gaze at spaceships. And The Forest, well, it's now on Steam Early Access but has yet to fully round out the survival stuff, so perhaps it's as close as it'll ever be to the woodland stroll I crave on a Friday evening.
If anything, it has too many survival elements right now. Chopping down trees, building a base, cooking food, crafting weapons--no, I can do without those, thank you. And why ever would I want to murder a society of mutants? I'd rather talk to the creatures, perhaps even make friends with them.
There's more survival to come too. Developers Endnight Games intend to work over the Early Access period on extra enemies, improved AI, more things to craft and build, and all that jazz. I suppose that's fine for people who want survival from an open-world horror survival game.
Thankfully Endnight do have an eye on we forest enthusiasts too. They plan to add an option to play without enemies, though they bafflingly refer to it as a "cheat mode." Also on the list are co-op multiplayer, new areas, and extra wildlife, which would all make for a splendid stroll. I could tolerate a little survivalism to wander through shady groves and admire fauna with a friend.
I'm being puckish here--churlish, even--but also quite earnest. I do want to explore The Forest peacefully with a friend far more than I want to scrape out an existence in another hostile open world. I do think we might have better early access experiences if we see games as they are rather than dreaming of their future potential, not only because of cautionary tales like The War Z (now Infestation: Survivor Stories). Let's also celebrate the transitory nature of an early access release, the many different games it'll be on its path to becoming a singular finished game.
And I would really like to talk to those creatures, even form alliances. Now, that would be interesting.
The Forest is on Steam now for £10.99. Isn't this a pretty forest?