| Tags: Reviews
| Author Paul Goño
Timberborn Review: Update 4 Adds New Craters Map, Performance Upgrade
Timberborn's 4th update adds more polish to an already charming city-builder; find out more in our Timberborn review!
The fall of mankind as we know it has passed, and amidst the crumbling relics of their once-powerful empire, an unlikely species emerges to adorably tame the land: Beavers!
Timberborn is a city-builder sim developed by Mechanistry wherein you manage a population of beavers in a post-apocalyptic setting. Throughout the game, you manage important resources like crops and water, survive perilous droughts and re-shape the landscape as you expand your civilization. Additionally, you also discover more advanced structures as your cute little rodents get wiser in-game.
Timberborn's latest experiemental patch offers exciting new additions to the game, including automated distribution, removed district limits and a unique food line for the industrious Iron Teeth beaver faction! Moreover, the creators added a new medium-difficulty map to the “Lumberpunk” simulator as well as several quality-of-life boosts. With all that in mind, will Update 4 improve the game for new and old Timberborn players? Here's our full review for Timberborn.
In the beginning you play as the Folktails, an easygoing but diligent faction in Timberborn that focuses on tilling the land and reaping the benefits. Unique to this faction are the beehives that improve farming and irrigation towers that helps you grow crops further inland. Once you reach an average happiness level of 15 with your Folktails, you'll be able to play as the Iron Teeth, a faction of highly-efficient beavers that are bent on efficient progress, be that at the cost of nature. Their focus on metallurgy and improved housing gives you access to unique buildings that add to the Timberborn experience.
When you start playing Timberborn, the game walks you through the basic mechanics, which are simple enough: gather early resources for building materials and food; use materials wisely to construct buildings that do most of the work for you; and finally, prioritize construction efforts to avoid spreading yourself too thin.
Regardless of which difficulty you play on, you will also encounter droughts during your playthrough. These seasonal events wither your crops over time by drying up your main water source and the land around it. How you manage your water stores and where you build dams will ultimately determine how well you fare during the Timberborn's driest days.
A fresh batch of Update 4 fixes is now live on the experimental branch, including an improved District Crossing UI and a change to how fences cluster. 🛠
— Timberborn Early Access – now with Update 3! 📦 (@Timberborn) May 17, 2023
As you spend your days unlocking more buildings using your Science resource, you slowly get more tools to resist the droughts. Such tools include dams, levees and floodgates that trap, hold and redirect water. How efficiently you control your stream will help you withstand longer droughts and give you the power to transform a barren landscape.
Certain buildings can be stacked upon each other, giving Timberborn's constructs a nice feeling of verticality. These constructs include houses, storage rooms and regular ol' platforms you can place just about anywhere. Structure stability isn't an issue in Timberborn, so you can potentially build to tall heights using platforms and stairs, and this can be especially useful when you build on flooded areas post-drought. Furthermore, Timberborn's monuments give separate playthroughs between factions a more distinct feel.
Learning the ropes had me cycle between 2 playstyles: When the weather was good, I prioritized filling my water stores and creating dams and levees (Dams were incredibly important for my first go at Timberborn since you could also grow food and trees even in submerged areas). Then when the dry spells came, I built structures with the wood and metal that I had, and turned my pumps off to conserve water for my wood farms and food crops. This back-and-forth remained at the core of my gameplay, but things got more complicated when I started managing multiple districts.
It's a Beaver's World
One of the newer buildings in the game is the “District Crossing” which helps you “equalize” resources between two districts. Timberborn lets you do this by giving you full control over how much you import and export while also considering your current stores. All things considered, the design of these new features gave me the impression that I'd be better off constructing “satellite” districts that fed certain goods into my home base instead of establishing more central colonies. In my experience, I succeeded more in doing the former than I did in the latter.
Timberborn's latest patch refines upon its automated distribution. This means that resources that aren't being used for construction are now brought directly to either a warehouse or a factory. On top of that, a new “Supply” option lets you transfer resources from one storage unit to another. This process isn't factored in when you're importing the same good however. Besides that district limits are now removed in Update 4 (much to the joy of the fanbase), allowing for more streamlined expansion.
If it's your first time getting into a city-builder like Timberborn, some features can seem overwhelming. Timberborn is (nearly) a fully-fledged city-builder after all. You'll have to do a bit of studying before you fully realize the value of having a ton of sliders, but these options make a world of difference if you're the type to micromanage your cities and balance economies.
7/10 Dam Good Fun
Watching your colony grow in Timberborn is a charming experience that delights with its simplistic art style and gameplay while also inspiring creativity in its players to overcome its far-reaching hurdles. Despite not taking any risks in its core design, seeing your city grow succeeds in giving you that satisfying sense of pride that can only be found in great city-building games.
Despite the resource management's intimidating UI, Timberborn cuts its greener players some slack by making the majority of its import system something that can happen in the background. The game doesn't do much in the forefront to innovate, but it does its job well. And with little to no bugs that significantly impacted my playthrough, I'd say that Timberborn Update 4 puts a lot of heart and polish into an already familiar genre, and manages to do it well.
Timberborn is available on Early Access for PC, with its 4th update released on April 12, 2023.
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