Most survival crafting games I’ve played seem to always have something missing. Subnautica is incredible, but I wish it had multiplayer. Sons of the Forest is fun, but the building isn’t great. Ark Survival Ascended is thrilling, but the in-game timer is too unforgiving.
Enshrouded isn’t without flaws, but it’s the best survival crafting game I’ve played in a while. What I like most about Enshrouded is it cleverly creates a satisfying gameplay loop out of bouncing players between building and questing, it features a beautiful blend of hand-combed survival crafting tropes and RPG mechanics, and the open world is a massive playground riddled with Shrouds, secrets, and scenic views. As cliché as it is, it’s also true — Enshrouded is a survival RPG with something for everyone.
What is Enshrouded?
Enshrouded is an Early Access third-person action RPG survival crafting game where you play as a Flameborn destined to rekindle the flames of a world overrun by the Shroud. You can enjoy it solo or play with up to 16 friends on one server. The world isn’t procedurally generated which makes its unfathomable size even more impressive. There are RPG mechanics in the form of a skill tree and linear quests. Truthfully, the best way I can describe Enshrouded is Valheim meets Elden Ring. Any questions? Good, because I have more answers (and opinions).
Before jumping into the nitty gritty, I need to share one example of why Enshrouded is special. I’ve come to realize that I don’t like building in video games. It’s not what I enjoy doing. But, all my friends still return to Minecraft because they find joy in building. With Enshrouded, everyone in my friend group gets what they want. I get to play an action RPG in a rich, rewarding open world and my friends get to engage with the dynamic building system to create whatever they can dream up. Best of all, both gameplay loops spill into each other, so not only does everyone get to enjoy individual aspects of the game, but they also get to help one another along the way. It’s great!
Born to build – The building
As much as I claim to not be a builder in video games, I can spot a good building mechanic when I see it. And Enshrouded has extraordinary building. Enshrouded boasts voxel building mechanics, which means you can manipulate all parts of the world. You can dig into a mountainside to make a dwarven home, flatten the earth to create a level ground for your dream city, and chop off the mountaintop to make space for your latest lookout tower. It’s a bit tricky to learn at first, but that learning curve’s tail is short.
Related: How to build a house in Enshrouded
I’m no expert builder, but I found the building here to be even bigger and better than Valheim and more creatively freeing than Ark Survival Ascended. The building UI in Enshrouded is clear, your options are easily navigable, and getting everything to look how you want is doable with practice, which is part of the fun. It is a bummer that there isn’t a Creative Mode, at least not yet (Enshrouded is still in early access, so there is hope). Since you can’t fly in the standard mode of Enshrouded, I like how they gamify building things above your reach by making you build and then use scaffolding to continue building higher. In no time, you’ll be creating huts, towns, caves, mines, skykeeps — you name it. That is until you need to venture back into the open world for more resources and to unlock more building and crafting recipes.
The fog is lifted – The open world
The open world of Enshrouded feels like one of the first crafted experiences truly inspired by Elden Ring’s open world, both in visuals and utility. By that, I mean the visuals within Shrouds look like something straight out of Caelid (but blue) and there are numerous unmarked and marked locations on the map that encourage and reward player-led exploration. Often, I’d round a hill, see a cave in the distance, and plunder through it, or peep a rooftop in the distance, glide over, and loot the insides because it benefited my building efforts, often yielded better gear, and was a fun excursion from my main quest.
Each venture out into the unknown feels self-motivated thanks to the overwhelmingly diverse environmental features and the potential for better resources, spells, armor, and/or weapons. Compared to Elden Ring, it’s not as thoughtful — you won’t find a one-of-a-kind weapon in every dilapidated hovel — and not as challenging (I’ll get to combat and enemy variety later) but Enshrouded’s open world does feel like an Elden Ring-lite. A stunning accomplishment.
Have I mentioned how massive Enshrouded’s open world is? Seriously, it’s easily the size of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s map, but twice as dense with sights to see and ransack. Speaking of Zelda, the first region you explore in Enshrouded from the beginning of the game up until your first Ancient Spire makes for an excellent tutorial area. If the entire game was just the densely populated tutorial region, I would be happy. Instead, Enshrouded offers hours upon hours of exploration and quests that may get dull playing solo but is a constant thrill with friends.
Stealth, sword, and spells – The RPG
Enshrouded developers Keen Games GmbH could’ve created a huge open world to explore, rock solid building gameplay, and then stopped there. Instead, they decided to set Enshrouded apart by making it an RPG. In Enshrouded, you’ll encounter a Skyrim-inspired branching skill tree: One path is Rogue, one path is Warrior, and one path is Wizard (green, red, blue, respectively, of course).
As you’d expect, you earn XP as you gather resources and fell foes which unlocks Skill Points that you use to upgrade your stats and unlock unique moves and abilities. It’s nothing new, and it’s not complicated, but its simplicity is the perfect enhancer to make Enshrouded special. In general, if you’re looking to Enshrouded to satisfy your RPG itch, I’d say keep looking. The RPG mechanics are a great added layer that creates even more incentive to keep playing, but it shouldn’t be the main reason you become Flameborn.
Ready for an adventure? – The quests
Questing is impressive in Enshrouded. During the tutorial region, which took me around five hours to work through, you spend time completing quests given to you through your Flame Altar. Of course, there are plenty of bandit camps and undead sanctums to explore that aren’t tied to quests – all of which are equally exhilarating – but the main and side quests offer the core “building to RPG and back” gameplay loop of Enshrouded. Early on, you unlock other Flameborn vendors like the Blacksmith and Carpenter who give you specific quests that unlock more recipes — it’s a snowball effect where you’re out exploring the open world to complete more and more quests to unlock more and more rewards with your vendors.
Many quests take you into Shroud areas. As a pillar of Enshrouded’s identity, Shrouds are large areas that are scary to navigate because of the constant lack of visibility, the influx of dangerous enemies, and the timer. In Shrouds, you have five minutes (which can be upgraded and enhanced) to do everything you need to do. If the timer hits zero, you die and need to return to your body if you want your resources. It’s a great addition to this already brilliant survival crafting RPG that ups the risk/reward factor.
Down, down to goblin town – The combat and enemy variety
When it comes to combat, Enshrouded is sturdy. There’s nothing too flashy or complex. You have block and parry mechanics and the ability to roll, attack, and use a ranged attack. The types of weapons change how you attack and the ranged bow or staff allow you to add your own RPG flair to combat. Plus, as you spend more Skill Points on the skill tree, you can obtain more combat moves. Like with the RPG elements as a whole, combat here isn’t the reason to play Enshrouded but it is good enough to keep the game interesting for those looking for something to supplement or offset the building.
The enemies reflect this simplicity — nothing provides a true technical challenge. One of the only challenges you’ll face in Enshrouded is if you explore higher-level regions faster than you can level up (which happened to me. The leveling system is a bit too slow for my tastes). Every area is level-locked in Enshrouded which means the enemies and items you encounter in one area remain at the same level instead of meeting you at yours. The only other combat challenge I’ve discovered so far is the bosses. Some quests require you to defeat bosses, which is fun because it’s there that you need to utilize effective strategies to win. Determining what attacks are strongest against it and using potions and food to make yourself stronger are essential to surviving these confrontations.
The chink in the armor – The flaws
Besides adding more content like mounts, a Creative Mode, and more crafting and building items, to me, Enshrouded only has a couple of noticeable flaws: graphical fidelity and frame rate. Throughout my time spent with Enshrouded, I randomly but consistently experienced either big drops in graphical quality or alarming dips in the frame rate. My PC greatly exceeds the recommended system requirements listed on Steam, and yet I still experience many visual disappointments while playing. Luckily, Enshrouded is in Early Access and can only get better from here.
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Is Enshrouded good? – The verdict
For being in Early Access, Enshrouded is already phenomenal. It’s a chameleon of a game that does a lot and does it all well. Some of the features, like the RPG system and the combat, are brilliantly generic which isn’t a knock. It’s a smart move to keep Enshrouded welcoming to all players, survival crafting and action-adventure lovers alike.
Enshrouded isn’t great because of revolutionary ideas, action-packed challenges, or engaging stories. What makes Enshrouded great is its refined building system, its well-oiled “building to RPG and back” gameplay loop, and its curiosity-tinged open world. You’ll enjoy your time and find what you’re looking for in Enshrouded, especially with friends.