According to a new post on the Stonehearth website, the game has reached the next milestone in its development: Alpha 4. So what’s new in this update then? To start with, there are three new classes you can upgrade your citizens to. The first is the Footman, a basic fighting unit that will automatically patrol your town to protect it from those pesky invaders. Combat is fairly rough at the moment but will be tuned up greatly in the coming updates. There is also the Weaver, a new crafting unit that makes basic armor for your units as well as decorative type items. And lastly, there is the Trapper which is actually returning after being temporarily removed from early versions while the team was improving it in response to community feedback. The trapper can set up traps and catch animals for hides and meat.
The GUI has been overhauled and now includes management and scoreboard screens for your citizens. There is also the new Building Designer that allows you to create your own custom buildings for the game. The Building Designer is of course still in early development and will improve in future updates. Another new feature is caravan notifications that let you know that a caravan is passing by your settlement. You can trade with caravans for existing or craftable items, and caravans can also bring new citizens to your town.
But what is Stonehearth exactly? Well, as you can see in the screenshot above, the game is voxel-based like Minecraft, but with a bit of SNES fantasy RPG flavor mixed in. In Stonehearth, you get to lead a group of settlers as they make a living for themselves in a hostile world. You must gather various resources and build up the fortifications that will keep you safe. Eventually you can build up a standing army and then head out into the depths of the world where more formidable challenges lurk. The game is also designed to be highly moddable, which is always a great thing.
Stonehearth is scheduled for a full release next month (September 2014). You can pre-order it via the top-right corner of the Stonehearth website and pick one of two pre-order options. The first option is to preorder for $15 without access to the pre-release builds of the game. Alternatively, you can pre-order it for $30 so you can play the alpha releases between now and release and support the developers a little more as well. For additional information about the game, you can check out the game’s own wiki which is accessible right from the Stonehearth website.