Stardew Valley could have very well been a finished game years ago, and yet the newest update, 1.5, just launched. While the game has been considered nearly perfect by newcomers and veterans of the farming simulator genre, developer concerned ape (Eric Barone) has always proved to go above and beyond. This update is a large step in the direction of the developer’s goal to create a farming simulator that can be played however the player wants. Each update seems to bring the gift of more than a few new features to the game that’s already a wealth of player options. 1.5 is the most significant update the game has seen yet.
I’ll try to keep this article spoiler-free, instead talking about the broad details of what you can expect from the game and the quality of life improvements without spoiling character stories and the finer details of added quests.
What’s new? Put simply, way too much to talk about in one sitting. When developer Eric Barone said this was the most extensive update the game had seen, he was very serious. A brief scroll through the patch notes shows hundreds of new items, crafting recipes, NPCs, and much more. I’ll try and do a quick overview, so people know what to expect when they undoubtedly reboot their farms and return to Stardew Valley.
Zones People and Dungeons
The commitment to making the game larger and more varied for the player is absolutely seen in this update. With all updates to Stardew Valley come the typical added dialogues and fleshing out of town events and quests, and 1.5, while adding a plethora of new activities, also expands upon the characters that everyone already loves.
Balance changes are here to make an already smooth game feel all the more so. As well as an advanced feature menu so that players that wish to adjust these balances can experience Stardew Valley in their preferred way.
1.5 doesn’t just add new characters and features befitting of an entire DLC but also upwards of hundreds of quality of life changes that are too numerable to count in this article. One I would like to focus on is the ability to repaint the trim roof and siding of every building on your farm. I’ve already seen some of the images with these custom buildings, and it’s absurd the level of detail and customizability this feature alone adds. This, along with the fact that every single interactable object and furniture piece can be moved, means that players really can just build about anything their heart desires.
The largest and most eagerly accepted portion of the update is Ginger Island, an entirely new region of the game that adds secondary and primary NPCs, a continually changing volcanic dungeon with new enemies, and extra quests puzzles and secrets. Ginger island’s addition is on par with an update that’s perfect for fishing players and beachgoers.
Players can now start right on the beach with the beach farm layout. This was the first thing I ran to test, and immediately the design of this farm became my instant favorite. For me, there was always something lacking in the way that the river farm broke up the layout, and I think the beach farm hits it out of the park. I’m excited to see the designs the community builds around it, especially now that players can repaint and move (nearly) every object on their farm.
Late Game Quests and Weapon Enchanting
Though I’ve sunk easily upwards of 40 hours into one of my farms, I would still consider myself a ways away from the late game. The thing that continues to impress me about Stardew Valley is not just how well implemented the updates always are, but just how much larger they make the game. By now, other developers could have, and more than likely would have stopped and offered these mechanics and changes in a sequel, but Stardew Valley continues to be the best $15 I’ve spent on a game ever.
The changelog, which you can view the full extent of here, also mentions weapon enchanting. And special orders, a type of multi-part late-game quest in which the players can help villagers finish their personal projects for unique rewards and game changes.
Stardew in 2021
Once again, I have to reiterate that there’s just too much to talk about in a single article in this update. Stardew Valley is already a game with a wealth of content, so if you enjoyed your experience before, now is the perfect time to return to your farms or try out a new one on some remixed settings. I really can’t suggest a better game to start the new year off with.
The extraordinary thing about the game is that it’s a game for everyone, not just fans of the farming simulator genre but newcomers as well. The game doesn’t tell you to play one way and doesn’t pressure you into a grind fest of making as much money as you possibly can in an allotted time. Playing at your own pace and playing your way is an offer often heard but seldom realized. None realize it more than Barone’s vision of a classic with all the modern RPG amenities.
Also, apparently, he’s still not done making content for the game. I’m confident I’ll be at my keyboard clacking away like the fangirl I am about whatever new gems this game offers me, all the while still trying to finish the content of the last update. Stardew Valley is a great game, and it keeps getting better.