Fans of laid-back farming simulator Stardew Valley were not expecting the major Version 1.5 content update to drop until sometime in January 2021. However, on Monday, December 21, creator Eric Barone, who goes by the handled "ConcernedApe," announced a holiday surprise for his fans and dropped the update several weeks earlier than expected.
Currently, the 1.5 content update is only available for the PC version of the game, but ConcernedApe has plans to roll it out for the Nintendo Switch and other console versions sometime in 2021.
Version 1.5 adds a major chunk of late-game content in the form of Ginger Island, a new area to explore. Players can help Willy the fisherman repair his boat and journey to this volcanic tropical paradise. Ginger Island brings with it a number of new crops and forage items, including bananas, mangoes, pineapples, taro, and, of course, ginger. There are also new types of fish to catch, new fossils to dig up, a new volcano dungeon to explore, and new NPCs to befriend. One NPC - Leo, a young boy raised by parrots - can even be convinced to move to Pelican Town when his friendship level is raised high enough.
With Ginger Island, ConcernedApe has added a "puzzle" element to the game, with a number of riddles to solve and hidden secrets to discover. Players must hunt around the island for Golden Walnuts, which are used as currency to unlock new areas of Ginger Island to explore. Players can develop the island, adding a farmhouse which they can sleep in and even a resort which other characters can visit.
Ginger Island is not the only piece of new content added in version 1.5. Veteran players can try out a new Beach Farm, or randomize Community Center bundles for a different experience on each playthrough. A "Special Orders" board allows players to take on more advanced requests from villagers who need help. A Community Upgrade adds shortcuts around the valley, while carpenter Robin can add new rooms to the player's house. The Summit, another endgame area, can be unlocked only by players who have obtained 100% completion. And finally, a highly requested feature has at last been added - players can now sit on any of the chairs or benches scattered around the Valley!
Stardew Valley is available for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and mobile via iOS and Android.