I think it's safe to say I'm a massive fan of Stardew Valley. I have over 500 hours in the game, a number that is worryingly large to some and hilariously small to the really dedicated folks out there. It was one of my favorite games to review here at TechRaptor, and I was quite keen on checking out what new things popped up in the Stardew Valley 1.4 content update.
For quite some time, the Stardew Valley 1.4 update has effectively had a release date of "when it's done". Developer ConcernedApe trickled out content teasers, but they paled in comparison to what we ultimately got.
I've spent roughly 60 hours playing this newest batch of content over the last few weeks in both single-player and multiplayer. From what I've seen so far, ConcernedApe has made a great game even better.
What's New, Pussycat?
As the patch notes indicate, an astonishing number of improvements have made their way into the game with the Stardew Valley 1.4 update. It's difficult to single out any one particular thing, but there's a lot that's worth exploring.
One of the biggest concepts pushed in this patch is the idea of "more". You can now upgrade the shed to get more space. There are more cats, more dogs, more clothes, more rewards for quests — it's just a basketful of more.
The new Four Corners map is a particularly interesting addition for multiplayer. My multiplayer group had set it to four cabins in a spread-out formation, and each cabin has pretty much ended up in the ideal spot. The fields were pretty empty at first, but we soon made it to summer and planted an absolutely massive blueberry harvest that's sure to bring in a ton of cash. (Coordinating the schedules of four adults is a challenge, to say the least.)
The fish pond was one of my favorite parts of Harvest Moon: Back to Nature, and its absence has now been rectified in Stardew Valley. This is one of the few features that Back to Nature had and Stardew Valley didn't, and it's nice to see the spiritual successor finally catch up with the original in this respect. As an added bonus, some of the rarer fish will give you items other than eggs, making this an especially versatile addition to your farm.
Many of the additions in the Stardew Valley 1.4 content update are "quality of life" fixes. These include all sorts of small but significant changes like:
- You can now reread received letters.
- Animals move out of the way when placing buildings.
- Craftable items like kegs, lightning rods, etc. can now be stacked.
- Queen of Sauce re-runs will prioritize past recipes that the player doesn't know, saving you from having to wait two in-game years.
- You can now see the gifts that NPCs do and do not like by clicking on their names on the heart screen.
- Nearly all events can now be skipped.
These changes, although small, took care of many of the problems that only really emerged once you had a few dozen hours in Stardew Valley. You're not going to worry about the ability to stack kegs when you have one or two, but building 50 of the things at once in the mid-game really highlights how that might not have been the best design decision.
Some of the new additions also solved niggling problems that never particularly bothered me but were an occasional annoyance at the minimum. One example comes from the Blacksmith — you're now informed when your tools are finished upgrading so you don't forget to go pick them up. This is especially helpful in multiplayer games when you can have four or more complete sets of tools to upgrade.
Strangely, there are other situations that are sometimes difficult to track where this would be just as useful. As an example, I wish there was an option to be informed when Robin has completed the construction of a building.
That aside, this new Blacksmith addition is significant due to the arrival of another quality of life upgrade: the ability to improve your inventory trash can. Previously, you would simply destroy an item and lose it forever with no compensation. Now, you can recover as much as 60% of an item's value while on the go — more than a fair trade when you can't put down a chest to store something away. With yet another tool for players to upgrade, the automated reminder that a tool is finished is very useful.
As silly as it may seem, the upgrades to character customization are a welcome improvement in my eyes. For some previous context, you were basically stuck with whatever clothes you decided to use on character creation unless you befriended the Wizard and spend 500G at the Shrine of Illusions. The only things you could easily change were your hat and your boots.
Now, there are literally hundreds of new clothing items that you can make in-game. Even the clothes you begin with can be taken off and put away for later, also giving players the hilarious option to run around the game in a t-shirt and boxer shorts. Want to wear a nice tux or dress for your wedding? You can do that. Want to have a different outfit for mining? You can do that, too. It adds a nice layer of immersion.
This is further extended by the addition of three new kinds of pants. That might not seem like much, but Stardew Valley pretty much only had full-length pants as an option. Now, shorts, skirts, and full-sized dresses are available. A selection of 24 new hairstyles rounds out these new additions rather nicely indeed.
Scratching The Surface of Stardew Valley 1.4
As much as I may be extolling the virtues of the Stardew Valley 1.4 update, I've only barely scratched the surface. I'm not even talking about what I've discussed here, mind — I'm talking about what I've personally experienced in the game.
I've only just begun my second year in single-player and there's still so much more to see. A new movie theater. A redone Junimo Kart. New 14-heart events for every eligible bachelor and bachelorette. I'm surely forgetting some stuff, and I can't wait to be surprised to find yet another new thing actually in the game.
TechRaptor played Stardew Valley 1.4 on PC via Steam with a copy purchased by the reviewer. It's also available on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.