Grounded is a whole new world for Obsidian Entertainment. The developer known for story-rich RPGs is taking a wide leap into new territory with this open-world cooperative survival game that pits shrunken children against the wonders and dangers of a world dominated by an insect ecosystem. There’s a lot we want to know about Grounded, and fortunately at PAX East 2020, we got a big new look at Grounded. The Obsidian team hosted a panel with Xbox’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb. Game Director (and Shacker “Jabby”) Adam Brennecke, Environmental Artist Sean Dunny, and Senior Programmer Roby Atadero were on deck to share a whole bunch of new details about Grounded, how players will interact with its world and what we can expect when the game becomes available. You can check out the panel just below, as well as the biggest reveals and announcements of Grounded at PAX East 2020.
Grounded is coming to Xbox Preview on console and early access on Steam
Grounded isn’t just coming to Xbox and the Xbox Insider Preview program. Players on Steam will also be able to join in the early action as Obsidian looks to the community to help push the game in the direction they want it to go. To that end, Grounded is coming to Early Access on Steam. Adam and company weren’t ready to deliver a date on when we can expect to see Early Access go live, but they promise details will be available soon on how to get involved and start playing the game.
Grounded is intended to have crossplay on Day 1 of launch
As Grounded is expected to come to both PC and Xbox so far, it was bound to come up whether or not players will be able to engage with each other across the platforms. Fortunately, Obsidian says that will be the case. In fact, the team is going for crossplay between PC and Xbox users on Day 1 of Grounded’s launch. It is unknown at this time whether that will extend into early access of the game, but the important thing is that it’s definitely one of Obsidian’s priorities in development. So, if your pal is hanging out on Xbox and you’re on PC, expect to be able to team up to tame your little corner of the micro world in Grounded.
Grounded will have a story mode
Anyone who knows Obsidian Entertainment knows their pedigree in telling stories. Though Grounded is a very different venture for Obsidian as a multiplayer survival game, that doesn’t mean story is taking a backseat. According to the developers, Grounded will feature a full-fledged story. These aren’t just going to be kids randomly shrunk down to be contextless avatars. Grounded will have a narrative, quests, and a progressing and expanding world based on your advancement of that narrative. It’s still going to be quite an open-world to explore, but the devs mentioned it might be considered similar to Metroidvania games, where it’s nearly impossible to access certain areas until you finish parts of the story and collect crucial items to travel through otherwise impassable territory.
Grounded can be played in first or third-person, and is changeable on the fly
We all have preferences about the perspective from which we play games. Some folks want the immersion of being behind the eyes of their character. Others want to see their character as they grow, get more equipment, and transform over the course of the game. Obsidian is supplying for both and they’re making it easy to change your perspective on a whim. Grounded can be played from both first-person and third-person perspective and, according to Obsidian Entertainment, there will be a button to toggle this option as you wish in case you change your mind. It sounds great for a game where there’s quite a lot going on and ways to make yourself look more interesting as you gather goods from the world, or if you just want to be in your character’s body all the time.
Grounded will feature an “arachnophobia mode” to make it less scary
Spiders and other such creatures are scary as heck up close. And they’re especially scary when they’re two-and-a-half times your size and see you as a source of food. Obsidian not only knows this, but is doing extensive study into the nature of arachnophobia in order to develop a visual mode that will make it less frightening to people that legitimately cannot deal with creepy crawlies. Arachnophobia mode is a client-side option. One person turning it on won’t affect another player’s experience, but turning it on will change your perspective insects like spiders a bit to make them less frightening (based on actual scientific studies of arachnophobia triggers no less) and hopefully give players that suffer from such phobias the comfort they need in order to play and enjoy the game like everyone else. It’s an interesting and awesome inclusion on Obsidian’s part that should help a lot of people out when they engage with the otherwise bright and vibrant fun of Grounded.
The children in Grounded are scaled down to about 10mm
If you were curious about just how much thought the team at Obsidian Entertainment put into the scientific scale of characters in the game, the answer is a lot. Specifically, the Obsidian team mentioned that they very carefully considered the size of the kids in Grounded so as to make the game scale enjoyable and rewarding. Ultimately, they decided that 10 millimeters should be the size of the children. According to the team, it’s enough to make ants look like small dogs and still make spiders looking like daunting and terrifyingly large threats. But nearly everything is to scale in order to create that scope of what it would be like to view the world as a 10mm creature. Grass towers over your head, water has a viscosity when you touch it, and so much more.
Any object you can hold in your hand, you can throw, including weapons, pebbles, and gear
Interactivity is the core of any good survival game. Being able to engage with objects in the environment in a variety of ways makes exploration and experimentation in those environments fun and rewarding. To that end, Obsidian promises that if you can pick up an object (of which you can pick up nearly anything that can fit into your little hands), you can throw it around to both supportive and combative effects. The team spoke to two examples. If you need to help out a teammate, you can throw them some fiber to build a piece of gear they need or even throw them a completed piece of gear that they can then pick up and use with ease. Just the same, you can also throw objects to hurt foes as well. If you throw a pebble at an enemy, it will hurt them. If you throw…say… a spear at an enemy, it will hurt them a heck of a lot more. It would seem that carrying and throwing objects is going to come heavily into play in the ongoing interactivity of Grounded’s active world.
Some creatures will only come out at day or night
As should be expected of any open-world survival game, Grounded’s many different creatures have equally diverse routines about them. Perhaps one of the foremost aspects is that some creatures come out during the day, while others are nocturnal. Ants and ladybugs can be found scurrying about busily throughout the daytime, but other creatures will join the ecosystem only at night. For instance, wolf spiders hunt at night and will sleep in their burrows during the day. Not only does this mean you’d better be on your guard if you’re wandering around outside your own walls in the night, but during the day, you can discover them asleep in their burrows if you’re adventurous enough. Safe to say, if you’re looking to throw down with a terrifyingly large wolf spider, you’d probably like to catch it in its own home when you can surround and gang up on it in its slumber with friends.
Insects can be hostile or hostile, and can possibly even be tamed later
As mentioned previously, all insects have routines. Sometimes it’s territorial, sometimes docile, and sometimes it’s outright hostile. That said, if you learn the routines of creatures in Grounded, you can absolutely use them to your advantage. Obsidian told us one example during their panel. Weevils are a bottom dwelling insect that likes mushrooms, so if you’re low on food and you spot a nearby weevil, you might not attack it. Instead, watching it scavenging about might lead you to a mushroom patch for which you can stock up on food for yourself and your base.
Just as well, Obsidian also mentioned that as you get stronger and interact with the world, insect populations’ view of you may change. If you frequently attack ants, they will regard you as a threat, and if you threaten them too much, they may call out the soldier ants. These bad bugs are bigger than their scout and gatherer brethren with large pincers to gnash you up. It’s worth being aware that what you do in the world will cause it to appropriately react to you in ways such as this. Even so, Obsidian is playing with the idea of giving players more ways to engage with insects and possible even tame them for causes such as making a weevil farm… or even an ant rodeo.
Killing a population of creatures could create food for another type who becomes stronger
The world of Grounded is an ongoing balance of strength, survival, and ecosystems benefitting or harming different creatures based upon how things go. That is to say that if you go around annihilating a population of bugs, it can have a large effect on the balance of the world around you. For instance, if go in and make corpses of a large group of ants without any need to use them, you might be making food for spiders and other creatures that feed on ants. Just like you, other insects get stronger, so if you give them easy food to work with, Obsidian claims they can become a more daunting obstacle or threat to your adventures. Just as well, if you wipe out a population in the area entirely and there’s none left, its predator won’t have anything to eat and might venture elsewhere is search of food. It’s a give and take that makes the ongoing world of Grounded that much more interesting as you adventure and interact with it.
All bugs feature special resources and you can make unique gear from bug parts
As should be expected from a survival game, killing things or harvesting resources means you’ll have what you need to create fresh gear. That said, it sounds like Obsidian is going all out with how this works in Grounded. In this game, bugs all have various resources that can be harvested when you kill them to make better things. An ant mandible could be used to make a wrench that can better fix or build items in your base, or it could be made into a deadlier, more durable axe. Some even have very special abilities that can be accessed via equipment from certain bug parts. Obsidian stated, for instance, that if you kill a weevil and take its facial part, you could make a mask that protects you from toxic air, which comes in handy in a certain region of the world. As you play through the game, you’ll discover or learn various blueprints for base building or personal gear made from bug parts and other resources in the world, and some of those items, once built, can have incredible utility.
Weather is not in the game, but is being considered for future updates
Near the end of the panel, a question was asked about weather in Grounded. Will we see rainstorms, sun-baked days of drought, and other such threats? Obsidian answered that unfortunately no, that’s not in the game just yet, but the team does want to try to implement it in the future at some point. Water is already such an odd resource in the game in the way that even just dew drops look like 40-gallon water balloons, so it’s probably tough imagining a rainfall of even larger droplets crashing down on your base. Even so, it’s something that Obsidian wants to address and try to include in the game sometime in the future.
This covers everything of significance we learned from Grounded’s PAX East 2020 panel. If you want to learn more, be sure to follow the game on Twitter or join its Discord or stay tuned here to Shacknews as we await further details on early access and full launch dates for the game. Right now, the game is expected to be a part of the 2020 gaming calendar on Xbox One and PC.