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Stardew Valley is getting a competitive farming tournament

ConcernedApe, the creator of farming sim megahit Stardew Valley, has announced the first Stardew Valley Cup. The competition, created in partnership with prominent Stardew Valley Twitch streamer UnsurpassableZ, will take place at 9 a.m. PT on September 4 and will feature a prize pool of over $40,000. Four teams of four players will compete in a variety of in-game farming challenges to see who will take home the Cup.

The competition comes on the heels of Stardew Valley‘s big multiplayer update, which allows players to build the same farm together, as well as the news that the game will be coming to Xbox Game Pass sometime this fall.

In collaboration with @UnsurpassableZ, I'm pleased to announce the 1st official Stardew Valley Cup! It's a competition of skill, knowledge, and teamwork, with a prize pool of over $40k. See some of Stardew's most dedicated players in their element! Main event is Sept. 4th 9am PST pic.twitter.com/qtDW5e5LvD

— ConcernedApe (@ConcernedApe) August 21, 2021

While ConcernedApe’s video announcing the competition didn’t say exactly what the challenges will be, he mentions that the Cup will test the chosen players’ “skill, knowledge, and teamwork.”

UnsurpassableZ later took to his own YouTube channel to explain the Cup in more detail. He said that the challenges will explore “all parts of Stardew Valley,” and each will be worth a different amount of points based on its difficulty. At the end of the competition, the team with the most points wins. The challenges include a huge variety of tasks like cooking a dish, catching 20 different fish, and reaching level 10 in a skill.

The creation of a competition involving Stardew Valley is an odd choice, as the game is explicitly designed to be relaxing. Like many simulation games, it has an eventual objective, but most of the game involves simply building up your farm the way you see fit, tending to your crops and animals, and befriending the locals. To involve competition in the game seems to run counter to its design philosophy, but that hasn’t stopped many of the streamers and personalities involved in the Cup from attempting world records or perfect runs in the game.

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Emily Morrow
Emily Morrow is a games journalist and narrative designer who has written for a variety of online publications. If she’s…
Stardew Valley 1.6 update: everything you need to know
get clay in stardew valley home

For a game made by a single person, Stardew Valley has an unbelievable amount of content already. Despite that, years after launch, we're all still eagerly anticipating yet another content update coming to the game that will bring it to version 1.6. This update was announced in April 2023 but ConcernedApe has been rather tight-lipped on the full scope of features and additions this update will bring. With so many possibilities and rumors floating around, we've collected only the freshest bits of info you need to know about what you can look forward to.
When is the 1.6 update coming out?
https://twitter.com/ConcernedApe/status/1762192764899627457

The 1.6 Stardew Valley update will be available on March 19 for PC players. As far as console and mobile players are concerned, we don't know when you can get this update just yet as ConcernedApe simply stated that they "will follow as soon as possible."
Everything new in the 1.6 update

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Fae Farm is an approachable Stardew Valley riff lacking in personality
Farming in Fae Farm

I’ve played several farming and life sim games since I fell in love with Stardew Valley in 2017, but nothing has been able to live up to that game. In the past, I’ve attributed these shortcomings to things like slow-paced openings or mechanics that lag behind what Stardew Valley offers. But after playing through the first season in Fae Farm, Dauntless developer Phoenix Labs’ new cozy farming game, I finally recognize the real problem with most of these Stardew Valley clones: a lack of distinct, charming characters full of personality. 
Fae Farm is a game designed for ease of use to a fault. It’s a very approachable farming sim game that recognizes the cozy appeal of living in a virtual town and tending to a farm on a daily basis. And while all of the genre’s mechanical rough edges are smoothed out, so is a lot of the personality. Because of that, I’m left focusing on the fact that this is a genre where games can get too repetitive very fast if you aren’t fully invested.
Characters not different enough
In Fae Farm, players show up on the island of Azoria and start tending to a farm there, completing quests for the townsfolk and eventually diving into dungeons for some light combat and resource gathering. It’s nothing wildly ambitious for the genre, but it feels great to play. Fae Farm will automatically equip whatever tool needs to be used for a situation, which pairs well with the tool improvements that allow players to cover greater swaths of land with their abilities.
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While the early missions of Fae Farm bring players around Azoria to introduce a cast of characters, none of them look or speak in very unique ways. Whereas characters like Abigail and Leah felt distinct from each other the first time I met them in Stardew Valley, few Fae Farm characters feel like anything more than vendors or quest givers. Even if this improves a bit as I play more, the fact that I’m already running into repeated quips from characters and anecdotal lines shared between different people isn’t a good sign.
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Donald Duck walks through a town in Disney Dreamlight Valley,

Thanks to games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, farming and life-simulation games are back in fashion. They've also dominated September, as Disney Dreamlight Valley launched earlier this month and games like Harvestella, Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life, Fae Farm, Rune Factory 3 Special, and a brand new Rune Factory title all got segments in the latest Nintendo Direct. Harvestella even got a demo after the September 13 Nintendo Direct -- one I immediately downloaded to get my farm on early.
Getting into it though, I found that Harvestella already has a problem I've noticed in many titles that are part of the genre boom, including Disney Dreamlight Valley: they don't get to the farming fast enough, damnit!
While that might seem obvious, recent games in the genre have had long-winded opening before the player has any farming tools in hand. As players come to these games for the farming and simulation elements, developers looking to join in on the trend may want to take some pacing cues from games like Stardew Valley by trimming down their front-heavy lore drops and getting players to the fields sooner.
Let's jump into it
Part of the beauty of Stardew Valley is how quickly it immerses the player in the game's core concepts. The indie hit lets players loose to farm or build within 10 minutes before slowly expanding systems outwards and letting players get more invested in the game's world and story. You'll know whether or not you'll like Stardew Valley within 10 minutes of playing, and will already have crops that give you a reason to stick around if you do like it. 
Disney Dreamlight Valley – Gameplay Overview Trailer
In both Harvestella and Disney Dreamlight Valley, it takes at least 30 minutes for any farming elements to be introduced, and even longer before players can get caught up in the gameplay loop of tending to their crops or customizing their home as the game intends. I was eager to try Disney Dreamlight Valley via Xbox Game Pass when it released earlier this month. After getting hit with an immediate exposition dump followed by slowly paced tutorials and a weapon-collecting quest, I got bored with it and dropped out just as it was opening up for me toward the end of the first hour. It didn't entice me and I had other things to do and games to play. 
Shortly after, I checked Harvestella's demo out after it dropped during the September 13 Nintendo Direct. I expect I'll end up playing more when it launches, as I'm intrigued by its world and mix of action RPG and fantasy sim. That said, I found myself trudging through the demo as I had to deal with lots of exposition and simple "walk to" objective gameplay before I could actually get to any farming or RPG elements. While I'm glad I didn't stop playing the demo, I almost did due to the glacial pacing.
I wish Harvestella had more quickly gotten me into its gameplay loop before then dumping its intriguing lore on me. That's not to say the story isn't important in these kinds of games. Some of the most memorable parts of Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are getting to know the residents that you live alongside. The sim elements are what draws the most players in, as well as what will get them into a routine that they can get hooked on.
HARVESTELLA - 2nd Trailer
Devoting over 30 minutes to an hour of extra playtime in a game that can last dozens of hours may seem like arguing over semantics, but the first few moments of the game can make or break an experience. And when you're in a genre with so much competition these days, players can easily move on to something equally as interesting if they aren't immediately hooked. The best simulation experiences cut the fluff, get players right into the action, and save the deeper elements for later. Future farming and life simulations game should take note if they want to potentially take off as Stardew Valley did. 

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