It is easily the deepest – and perhaps the most harsh – simulation out there.
Dwarf Fortress is the most incredible and impressive video game you have never played. During continuous development since 2003 (!!!) by Tarn Adams, with the help of his brother Zach, everyone who has had games like Rimworld, Factorio and Prison Architect has experienced some of the video game's DNA that Dwarf Fortress pioneered and has been refining in over 1
Let me explain. No, it's too much. Let me summarize: The processive world generation of the dwarf fortress is the most sophisticated and complex that exists, simulating thousands of years of geology, history, myths and gods, songs, civilizations, wildlife and everything else. Then you will build a dwarf fortress in this world, which can match a level of fanatic attention-to-detail. This detail extends to the smallest minutiae. Body parts can be soaked or worn out completely in battle. Dwarves can vomit or pass out on the bloodstream, or perhaps all cities, the cats will have alcohol poisoning from drinking beer. the level of the simulation feels endless. But these details also extend up to the highest levels of macro simulation as well. War can be provoked or prevented. The world economies can be moved.
All this detail comes at a price. As you might expect, the Dwarf Fortress is notoriously dense and unfriendly for newcomers. Although this complexity can work – I've been playing and enjoying the game for over a decade, both in its original ASCII graphics and with mods (see below) – at first glance, DF looks like you're looking at the code
And that's why the message that the dwarf fortress is finally done emerges from its semitermic status and enters the spotlight, via a paid release on Steam, so exciting. Quality-of-life features, including a brand new graphic tile, new music and easier modding through the Steam Workshop integration, should help make the game more accessible and friendly to newcomers. This will not be a magical bullet – even as a big fan, the Dwarf Fortress UI and nested menus …. something else – but that's a start.
For a small window in how this very complex simulation actually plays out, in a real game, I chronicled the journey of my (spoilers) ill-fated fortress Helmedstabs. It starts with my dwarfs who realize that they forgot to bring their shoulders to the new world, and things just get worse from there …
You can see their story in slide show format (above) or read the full article below.
When I created a new world, I found an enormously dwarfed mountain area – the dominant tooth. I found a place that had a river, deep metals, flux, works.
I started with excavating tools, many barrels of wine and rum, seeds and ostrich meat for some reason.
There is a HUGE goblin civ in my nearest east, and the introductory screen warns of saltwater crocodile attacks, but it's probably just for taste.
I immediately struck the earth, dug into the side of the hill and then dug (where else?) Down several levels, began to work on a modest central fortress staircase. I moved my food underground to temporary storage while I started planning a more permanent solution.
Priority 1: Food (and spirits), via an agricultural farm. In the dwarf fortress, water + stone makes clay and cultivable plates. There are great ways to do this, via pumps and mechanized floodgates.
Instead, I dug a large pit under a muddy pond and then drained dust into the pit.
When it is established food, it shows up on me, I have zero axes and zero ways to make shoulders. It means no cut trees, no wood (except what I took with me), and thus very few beds. Dwarves get crazy without bed. I hope to stay long enough to shop for shoulders. Migrants already come.
I immediately built some workshops (outside! Unfortunately, dwarves – desperate times require desperate action) to start making rock artifacts to hopefully shop for some shoulders in the fall. I also started digging out a huge food production complex under my farms and started digging out a large, semi-impractical 52-bedroom dormitory far deeper underground. It will look good when all the stones are even and engraved.
The dwarf festival's # 1 rule is everything you do must be huge and semi-practical. I chose to check in on a dwarf personally and …
I might not do it again. I also started digging up a really large, semi-impractical (see above) dining room during my food production facility. Traders arrived, but they had no shoulders. I acted to step over and asked for shoulders (and a lot of cheese) if we live for a year when they return. A craftsdwarf was struck by a strange mood, took over a workshop and screamed for metal bars. I have no.
The dwarf went CRAZY without metal to finish his project. He B-LINED into the home and literally knocked a child's head with his pickaxe before I could militarize some dwarfs to take him out. They killed him.
Blood is everywhere. I've started coffin production.
An immortal ham (medium-sized lizard) has appeared. Wereskinken killed two wrestlers and hit another outside my fort before they were overcome. There are pools of blood, bones and mutilated corps just outside my fort.
New immigrants immediately came from the mountain towns in the West and exploded my population to 56, including 22 children. They had to go through the heaps of fresh viscose to enter.
My dwarfs cannot care about the wounded because I have no buckets and no wood to do more. An additional piece of bad news: the dwarves at the wereskinken became creatures on the next full moon.
They tore through my fort and killed several before they were suppressed. There are remnants of 10 dead dwarfs in the dining room, mixed with blood and vomiting. The living dwarfs are usually scared to work. I took one million screenshots of what followed and was supposed to give you a play-by-play, but I cut directly to the hunt – more and more dwarfs became guardians and eventually 50 + dwarfs were killed.
Only 9 adults are left alive. In the following days, the situation becomes more difficult – I present three vignettes from my underground dead maze:
An unattended baby dwarf crawling through blood powder.
A visiting man bard had his head "pounded" and neck open.
I ran out of coffins and started chopping bodies outside. It took so long that a thick smell filled the fortress.
But then, MIRAKULOUSLY, the fortress begins to stabilize.
Monster hunter asked to move in. With their help, all undead dwarfs were killed and no longer turned.
Even the fortress is haunted as a shit now.
It took weeks to make enough coffins to dazzle everyone. All bodies are in a dull narrow grave, but at least it puts a stop to the ghosts.
I finally traded for shoulders and finally have wood to deal with! The fortress life is mostly found. I dig out the deluxe bedroom deep underground for my worthless dwarf members, built a huge expansion to the dorms and finally managed to clear the stone in the dining room. Children continue to make elaborate animal leg crafts.
I now have 105! It is difficult to adhere to their requirements for spirits and goods. But fortunately now that I have managers and bookkeepers, I can create large work orders to keep things under control. I dig deeper looking for magma and work on an outer wall / moat.
A goblin "siege" appeared, but there were only a few strays and some beak dogs. They will return in greater numbers next year. 10 Dwarves are now dedicated military, fitted in leather and training with crossbows and hand-to-hand. Unrelated, while trying to create a clean stone wall penetration to my fort, I accidentally shaved a huge overhang. It collapsed, killed several, and (more importantly) destroyed several masterpieces.
When I dug out my moat, I planned it wrong, and when I dug out the last block the water's twist swept up my dwarf and struck him into the lush wall. He went out into deep water. He survived but was "very annoyed" by it all.
Next year went fast. I'm looking for and (finally) found magma and started preparing a melt / metal production operation. I began to secure my outer fort with some walls and constructed upper levels. I finished the sumptuous neighborhoods and the sumptuous tombs of my worthless noblemen.
The following ours returned the hives. My heart fell. It is a great siege force. 20 + beak dogs and 35+ bills, and it is before 9 trolls rolled on the screen. Brutal for year 3. I mobilized my little battle force and placed them at an entry point.
The military dwarfs are quickly exceeded. I have no more defense. In a few moments, the tapestries flush blood in the dormitory.
The fight goes bad, but I enjoy some small wins. A dwarf blocked a goblin with his teeth and tore his head away.
The dwarves struggle bravely, but they have not been sufficiently prepared for this. While the last few adult fighters play kids games and tell stories in the deeper bedrooms. I won't lie – this made me a little emotional.
Almost everyone is dead. A visiting human diplomat lets me know that he is leaving. Thank you guy. Only three dwarfs left: two adults and Sodel Fencedrills – an 11-year-old. It is he who avoids the burst in the bottom center:
I give in and give in to the invasion. This save game – and the whole world within it – is removed at defeat.
Although unlikely to be nearly impossible, I think that the final living Axedwarf and Marksdwarf found Sodel
For three years, the fortress Helmedstab scratched a perhaps radiant, perhaps incurable existence on a distant mountain side before they were discovered and sniffed by evil forces.
It's Dwarf Fortress.
Dwarf Fortress does not yet have an estimated release date on Steam. But if the above story about the dwarf's violence and supervisor incompetence made you want to give the game a shot, you don't have to wait. Dwarf Fortress is (for all reasons) totally free to download and play. Graphic packages to help the game look very close to what it looks like in Steam screenshots are very easy to handle and install, even for beginners. If you give the game a shot, do it past the learning curve, and stop putting 500+ hours, Adams Brothers retains a patreon to allow fans to their appreciation.
Justin Davis is an editorial at IGN. He first fell in love with Dwarf Fortress before it had a Z-axis. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErrorJustin