The survival hit Sons of the Forest provides you with companions with individual AIs. We explain what roles Kelvin, Virginia & Co play in the survival scenario, and how useful they prove to be in single and multiplayer mode.
Companions with a mind of their own? Few survival games make as many waves in advance as Sons of the Forest. On the one hand, this is due to the successful predecessor The Forest, of course, but interesting new features also whet the appetite for the ungentle cannibal show.
One of them, the promised idiosyncratic companions, was already included in the initial early access version. This aspect of the game particularly stands out because it holds the potential to change the survival genre a bit. But what can companions like soldier Kelvin or mutant Virginia actually do in detail? Do AI stranded people in Sons of the Forest really have their own personalities, and if so, how exactly do they express themselves?
With these questions in mind, we started both a single-player and a multiplayer game of Sons of the Forest and were able to find out a lot about the companion component. For example, companions have their very own talents and are thus supposed to fulfill appropriately cemented roles. This article shows how that works in practice.
Companion in Sons of the Forest: Kelvin, The Quite Minion
How many companions will cross your path in the course of the optional story is not yet set in stone. However, two helpers will definitely be at your side; one of them practically right at the beginning of the game: Kelvin. You’ll already get to know the apparently always good-humored infantryman during the intro sequence. In the helicopter, the likeable grinning man sits opposite you on the right.
But that’s not quite the Kelvin you’ll meet after the helicopter crash. Because as a result of the rough landing, your brother in arms suffers a head trauma that not only makes him permanently deaf and quiet, but also moderately stupid. In short: Kelvin seems like a goofy idiot and apparently has fun with that. Still, the good man is far more than one of the most ingenious pause clowns on the video game landscape. He’s also the most useful sidekick you’ll ever meet on a deserted island.
And that’s because Kelvin takes seven basic commands from you. You communicate these to the deaf nut by means of a notepad. One of them, “Get”, can even be linked to another command. The following overview shows which commands are possible in detail.
- Shelter (again: remove)
- = Calvin builds a makeshift tent from a tarp and a stick
- 5 meters
- 10 meters
- 20 meters
- = Calvin removes obstacles such as trees and bushes
- Stay here
- at shelter
- hide (ducks, but does not actively seek cover)
- Follow me
- give me
- follow me
- Take a break
- Take item (nearest or from inventory)
What’s also great about the eager Mr. Deaf and Dumb is the speed and reliability with which he completes all tasks. For example, if you order Kelvin to cut down trees and bring them to you (the command here would be: “Get logs and give them to me”), within a short time you’ll be surrounded by a whole arsenal of logs. Provided there are enough trees around, that is.
Not a fighter: In combat situations, on the other hand, it quickly becomes apparent that your soldierly companion is meant for other things. The command “Stay here – hidden” is not written in your notepad without reason. In case of an attack by cannibals or worse, Kelvin may run away after taking major damage. And do it properly.
Kelvin’s needs and “free will”
Although your new buddy always pays attention to you when you approach him, he’s not a mindless puppet with no needs of his own. So if you haven’t given Kelvin a command, he will go on a short foray through the pampas, for example to drink or to pick berries. When he finds food, he usually eats it immediately, so Kelvin is quite capable of taking care of himself. However, this also means that you can’t use him as a forager.
As well as the companion AI seems to work in the current early access build, it doesn’t have too much to offer aside from the things described above. Yes: If you don’t tell Mr. K to take a break, he will eventually do it on his own so as not to collapse. However, his “free will” does not go so far that he would do things irrelevant for survival. Observing his general behavior is therefore only of limited interest.
Use in single and multiplayer mode
Kelvin’s usefulness is very high in both single and multiplayer modes. Because not only does he entertain lone wolves excellently with his idiotic nature, no, he also makes himself almost indispensable with his practical abilities. Not to mention that it’s simply fun to clear forests and build shelters with the potent help of this AI companion. In multiplayer mode, human players sometimes take over Kelvin’s part, but that doesn’t make his help superfluous. On the contrary, it leaves more time for the player faction to focus on other important things.
Virginia the Lolling Gun Maid
Suddenly a mutant: Virginia Puffton is the missing daughter of the billionaire Edward Puffton, who has also disappeared, and you have been entrusted with tracking her down. It is particularly strange that Virginia is now running around the island in the shape of a three-armed and three-legged half-mutant. How the womb of the wealthy Puffcorp boss got the extra limbs remains in the dark for now.
Initially, the encounters with the half-naked lolling expert are very fleeting in nature. Mostly she lets her female charms play unasked, leaning against a tree or a rock, only to disappear again shortly after in the thicket of the forest. Why? Because the most peculiar blonde doesn’t trust you yet. What exactly you have to do to win Virginia’s trust is explained in this guide.
No, you can’t give Mrs. Puffton the slightest order. So if an escort in Sons of the Forest has a will of her own, it’s probably the satirically permissive billionaire’s daughter. There is, however, a reason why you meet Virginia in your predicament. In addition to debauched pose-limbo in the countryside, she has another preference: weapons.
Her use is therefore, and this makes her the exact opposite of Kelvin, in armed combat. So you can hand her a shooting club and she will use it skillfully against all attackers. On the other hand, the mutant survivor doesn’t think much of melee weapons, but who cares when she’s just bursting cannibal chests.
Virginia’s needs and free will
The fact that Virginia doesn’t let you order her around doesn’t matter, at least insofar as she usually hangs around you (provided you trust her enough) or stays close to you. If you have a permanent place to stay, she’ll be happy to make herself comfortable in it.
Just like her dear colleague Kelvin, she is not exempt from the natural needs of halfway human bodies. Miss Puffton also has to eat now and then, but she can also be called a self-supporter. What makes her different from the grinning solo entertainer is that she sometimes gives you berries or useful herbs. She won’t take over your nutrition, but her gifts are always good for the small hunger in between.
Apart from heated black powder fights and small presents, Virginia’s behavior is limited to the familiar. She is also completely silent, going to the river to drink, for example, looking around the area, or picking and eating nutritious plants and fruits. Preemptive, armed trips to the nearest cannibal camp? Alas, no such thing. As a fighter, however, she is by no means behind Kelvin in her usefulness. Once you’ve experienced her helping finger on the trigger of a weapon, you won’t want to do without it in the future.
Use in single and multiplayer mode
The enemies in Sons of the Forest are considerably strong to begin with; some of them are quite capable of knocking you out of existence with a single blow. Therefore, Virginia is especially useful in single-player mode, since she can save your skin with her marksmanship. Compared to Kelvin, her usefulness shrinks in multiplayer mode. On the other hand, the advantages of having an additional rifle are obvious.
If more AI cronies are added during the early access phase of Sons of the Forest, we will update this article accordingly.
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This was a fun read, nice article!