Obsidian’s Grounded Tasks You with Surviving in Your Deadly Back Garden

The latest RPG from storied developer Obsidian scales things down and, in doing so, opens up entirely new horizons for gameplay.
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Grounded is the latest project from The Outer Worlds developer Obsidian. The game was announced during Microsoft’s X019 event, and it is slated for an early access release in spring 2020 on Xbox One and Steam.

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Part Chibi-Robo, part Honey I Shrunk the Kids, part survival game, Grounded is a co-op survival RPG that follows four teenagers who end up shrunk down to bug size. They now must survive and thrive in the vast wilderness known as the back garden.

The focus in Grounded is very, well, grounded. It steps away from Obsidian’s usual sci-fi/fantasy focus — both if which are on prominent display in the excellent The Outer Worlds and equally-good Pillars of Eternity — and emphasizes humans’ relationship with nature and perceptions of everyday objects.

This all takes place across a series of themed biomes you won’t be able to access right away. Instead, gameplay will play out in a sort of Metroidvania fashion, with players looping back and accessing previously inaccessible areas. 

Grounded Director Adam Brennecke told Rock, Paper, Shotgun that the entire team contributed to the game’s concept and development, taking ideas as commonplace as how people view a juice box or how people feel when walking their dog and using their essential components to create a completely new experience. Garbage can be a landmark, for example, gnats can be hats, and something as ordinary as a sprinkler can create a flood that impedes your progress.

Bugs are another central focus in Grounded. Some ignore you, others lead you to food, and still, others will turn you into food if you attract too much of their attention.

Brennecke said Obsidian’s goal was to integrate nature into the game’s survival element as much as possible, but also to streamline those survival aspects and remove their more cumbersome parts, telling RPS:

We’re always looking at, how can we remove some of the annoying friction? …This is annoying, it’s annoying in other survival games, we have an opportunity to fix this so why don’t we?

Though Grounded‘s early access launch is coming up fast, Obsidian told RPS it’s still looking at things to add to the experience, like interacting with bugs on a more intimate, pet-like level, among other things.

Grounded was only just announced, but you can bet we’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the coming months. 

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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Josh Broadwell
Josh Broadwell started gaming in the early '90s. But it wasn't until 2017 he started writing about them, after finishing two history degrees and deciding a career in academia just wasn't the best way forward. You'll usually find him playing RPGs, strategy games, or platformers, but he's up for almost anything that seems interesting.