Enshrouded (Early Access)

Posted:  Feb 07, 2024
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Review

Enshrouded was provided by Keen Games for review. Thank you!

This game was tested with a Steam Deck LCD. OLED testing is coming soon.

Enshrouded is a curious game. It seemed to launch into Early Access with a bang, and yet I had somehow never heard of the game before it launched and was suddenly being mentioned everywhere. The privilege fell to me to try and get this sudden sensation running well on the Steam Deck, and I couldn't wait to see it for myself.

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Enshrouded takes place in a vast open-world

At first glance, Enshrouded seems like a more visually detailed version of Valheim, and in some ways, it is. It takes place in a very large open world, with the ability to construct bases out of various materials and building parts you scavenge, go exploring, craft furniture, weapons, and armor, and defeat various enemies throughout the many biomes.

I like the building system. You can choose from only a few building blocks for each material type, but you can also choose what size you want. This allows you to create structures with more intricate details in them. The structures also snap together well and can alter appearance slightly depending on what structure pieces are placed next to them, making it all fit together.

The combat is another plus point and is probably the most fleshed-out part of the game so far. The combat leans more towards the tougher side, and when you're at a low level, most enemies will kill you in 2-3 hits. This means learning to dodge and parry attacks is essential. The movement system allows you to maneuver fluidly while engaged, feeling similar to soulslike combat.

You have a variety of weapons you can use, from melee to ranged, and although it's frustrating when you die to an enemy and respawn at your base, the penalties applied aren't harsh.

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The game's combat can be harsh, but at the same time, fair.

Enshrouded is still in Early Access, and it's fairly obvious to see why. Although the open world is vast and sometimes beautiful, the world is quite empty. There are specific places you are guided to when on a quest, but a lot of the world feels barren currently. While playing, I didn't encounter any friendly NPCs besides ones that can work on your base. It feels like a shame that there aren't friendly villages/towns you can encounter, and I hope something like that is planned for the future.

Another thing that frustrated me is that digging with a pickaxe, for example, can alter terrain by mining. I thought, "Wow, what an awesome feature," but when I quit the game and reloaded my save, all the terrain editing and rocks had returned to their previous state. I understand this might be done to create infinite resources for players, maybe even to prevent grief, but having the feature present and not permanent makes me think they might as well not have had it present.

This is a bit of a common theme, sadly. Whenever you log off and back on, all the enemy and neutral animal spawns restart. Enemies always appear to spawn in the same locations, meaning there's no sense of surprise. You KNOW a wolf will spawn over by those trees, that a group of enemies will be by that ruin. It would make sense if this was a single-player RPG, perhaps, but on a game designed to be played on a dedicated server for 16 players, it feels very strange at how "scripted" and static it can feel.

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You can dig holes through rocks like this, but upon saving and reloading the game, it will return to its natural state.

Enshrouded is an Early Access title, and features can change. From a fairly empty open world to some curious design choices, the game has its issues. But does it have potential? Given that the developers have created a game engine from the ground up to make this game, they're in it for the long haul, and Enshrouded could become a fantastic title once it gets fleshed out with more content and polish, a game to watch for sure!

Enshrouded - Steam Deck Performance

Enshrouded gets the basics right for the Steam Deck, it has full controller support for both menus and gameplay, and it supports 16:10 resolutions, including 1280x800 which is the Deck's native resolution.

However, things start to fall apart a little when we get to performance. The developers have stated that optimization is one of their key concerns right now, as even players using GPUs such as the RTX 3080 have reported difficulties playing the game at decent graphical settings. Unfortunately, that means, for now, at least, Steam Deck users need to make heavy compromises to make Enshrouded "Playable."

Recommended Settings - 30 FPS

Start by setting a 30 FPS lock in your SteamOS settings, and removing any TDP limit, we'll need all the power we can get.

In the in-game display settings, set your resolution to 1280x800 (Native), adjust the Resolution Scale to 65% (520p), and then select the "Max Performance" Quality Preset to set all other settings to their lowest. Ensure FSR2 is your selected Anti-Aliasing method and FSR2 Quality is set to Performance.

Because we're able to run at 800p and just use the resolution scale, we get to keep a crisp UI with readable text, only the gameplay is reduced in resolution. Performance is mostly steady, often holding 30 FPS, with occasional dips into the high 20s, usually in combat or heavily forested areas, with some minor stuttering.

Battery drain depends on where you are. It can be anywhere from 20-24W but tends to lean towards the higher end of that range. As such, I wouldn't expect more than 90 minutes of battery life while playing Enshrouded. Temperatures tended to stay around 75-80C, so it runs a little on the hot side, but that's to be expected given that this game pushes both the CPU and GPU.

Whether this represents a "playable" experience is up for debate. As you can see from the images, the low-resolution scale makes for a very soft image. I would use the Deck as a "secondary" device, where I can log on and do some quick resource gathering or base building but not take on major quest lines or serious combat, as a sudden drop in performance could easily lead to unnecessary death and frustration.

Accessibility:

Enshrouded doesn't offer too much in the way of accessibility. There are a few options in the accessibility menu. Most of these are related to how the camera moves, such as removing camera swaying and shaking. There's also an option to add symbols to item rarity, so the rarity isn't just defined by a color, which would be helpful for those with color blindness.

Conclusion:

Enshrouded is a bit rough around the edges as of writing this review, but it has the potential to be one of the best survival sandbox games out there. Given the effort the developers have put in to lay the groundwork and the positive reception they've already received, I'm hoping they'll stick by this game and keep improving it until it's a great experience. The combat and base building are pretty much there, but exploring the world feels a little unrewarding right now, and some elements of the game feel very static when a more dynamic approach would have been appropriate.

As for how it runs on the Steam Deck, I'm undecided as to whether or not this is a "playable" game. Before this review was written, Valve declared the game as "Unsupported" on the Deck due to performance issues. Perhaps the game receiving this grading will encourage the developers even more to optimize the game. With a little optimization here and there, we could easily achieve a solid 30 FPS experience and maybe up that resolution, scaling a notch or two.

This game is one to watch, but I'd skip it now if you want to play primarily on the Deck.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Enshrouded has some rough edges right now, but the potential is there for greatness, compromises have to be made on Steam Deck, however.

Content

Gameplay: 
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Graphics: 
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Story: 
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Sound: 
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Fun Factor: 
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Build Score

Performance: 
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VISUALS: 
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Stability: 
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Controls: 
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Battery: 
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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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