Dwarf Fortress is a game that over the last two decades has been both misunderstood and perhaps overly understood, a seemingly-impenetrable exercise in crafting, survival and terrible visuals. And next month, a very different Dwarf Fortress will be made available on Steam.
Because this is a chance to rack up a ton of sales, and also for a whole new audience to be able to experience everything the notoriously free-flowing game has to offer, this Steam version will feature not only a proper tutorial (a first), but also some improved art, with ASCII terrain and objects replaced by actual art assets.
Here’s a trailer that helpfully compares the original game to the Steam version:
If you’ve never played the game, here’s a summary of what it’s all about from our review:
Most people play Dwarf Fortress in Fortress Mode, which tasks you with building and defending a fortress for a small group of dwarves. You start out with a few dwarves, though migrants usually show up once a year. You have to build up an economy to make money through trade, and then make your fortress into somewhere beautiful for your dwarves to live and deadly for enemies to get inside. You make it nice by building nice furniture and engraving the walls and floors. The engravings, which appear to the player as text descriptions, are created by the dwarves from the history of the fortress and the wider world. You defend the fortress by building traps, increasing your military, or finding creative uses for magma if you mine into it. It is much, much harder than it looks, and if you’re lucky, it’ll all go entertainingly up in flames.
Dwarf Fortress will be out on Steam on December 6, and while the existing game has always been free, this updated edition will cost $30. And while I know I’ve said the word “Steam” a lot—that trailer is even for the “Steam Edition”—note that it’s also going to be released on itch.io for the same price (and games sold there will get the developers a bigger cut).