I have spent over a hundred hours in ConcernedApe’s charming cosy farm simulator Stardew Valley. It was one of the games that helped me stay somewhat sane through the pandemic while we were all in lockdown because while the game sees you having to till the land, harvest crops and mine minerals, a major focus was also placed on building relationships with the villagers of the titular town. In a time when we could not go out and socialise, this was the best option I had. Especially since I had not built my gaming PC yet and all I had was a Microsoft Surface, which was only able to run Stardew Valley and Fallout 2.
Over the last few years, I have generally gravitated towards indie games as I feel that they have a lot more charm to them. Indie developers are generally more passionate about their games and some are even willing to take into account feedback from the community via social media or Discord.
The same goes for Eric Barone a.k.a. ConcernedApe, who clearly loves Stardew Valley and the community it has built. While he is working on a new game called the Haunted Chocolatier, he recently announced that he is about to release Update 1.6 for his farming sim. However, this means Barone will be taking a short break from working on his new game just to finish this update.
The previous Update 1.5 was released two years ago and was a full-on expansion with a new island filled with new characters, a new volcano dungeon with new enemies, a new beach farm layout and a whole lot more. Barone has not released full patch notes but he did mention on Twitter that there will be new content, however, the main focus of the update was to make it easier and more powerful to mod.
This is of course no bad thing as modders help prolong the longevity of the game. On Nexus Mods, Stardew Valley has over 11,000 mods, with the latest ones being uploaded today. Mod authors are just as dedicated and mods that were released in 2016 are still receiving updates. Some of these mods are incredibly impressive and serve as an unofficial expansion. Take for example the aptly named Stardew Valley Expanded which was released in 2019, and adds 27 new NPCs, 50 locations, 50 character events and even questlines.
Of course, modding mainly benefits those who play the game on PC, but the extra content might also entice those who own the game on consoles to jump back into the game. So this could also mean that my wife and I might have a reason to boot up our Nintendo Switches and tend to our neglected farm.