The videogame landscape is littered with dystopian worlds, but none quite like We Happy Few’s drug-addled reimagining of 1960s Britain. It’s like walking around inside an episode of The Prisoner. The streets of the game’s small town are filled with dazed, happy people, hopped up on a drug called Joy. You’re one of the ‘wastrels’, people who have stopped taking the drug and are out to bring down this strange society.
At first glance, We Happy Few looks like BioShock, but the core gameplay is actually rather different. While there is a story to work through, this is a survival game at its core – a genre popularised by games like Don’t Starve, DayZ, and Rust. That means you’ll have to brush up on your skills to discover more about the grim world of We Happy Few, learning where to look for the best loot and how to keep yourself healthy in this dangerous world.
With that in mind, here are seven tips you should know before getting stuck into We Happy Few, especially if you’re new to survival games.
Be a conformist
You have to fit in to survive in We Happy Few’s twisted society. This means that, in different situations, you’re expected to present yourself in different ways, lest you incur the wrath of your dangerous peers. When you first arrive in town you learn that the residents will be thrown into a violent rage if they see you wearing ‘nice’ clothes. A bit of an overreaction, sure, but in We Happy Few appearance is everything. Gather materials like cloth at any given opportunity because you never know what kind of outfit you might have to craft next.
Manage your time
We Happy Few strives to truly immerse you in the mindset of its protagonists and part of that includes the everyday choices of how you manage your time. There’s an in-game clock that constantly ticks away and with each hour that passes you’ll get increasingly fatigued. Finding safe spots with beds that you can retreat to and rest in is essential, especially given the fact that the violent bobbies patrol the roads at night, imposing a curfew on citizens.
Getting on the wrong side of the bobbies is something that should be avoided at all costs, especially on higher difficulties and in early parts of the game. However, there are times when you will want to stay up past curfew and use the cover of darkness to explore.
Be a scavenger or a thief
While looking to the past for inspiration, We Happy Few is also a convincing simulation of what Britain could be like post-Brexit. In order to survive, you must scavenge like you’ve never scavenged before, checking every last nook and cranny for medicines, food, and crafting materials. The first material you should get stocked up on is bobby pins as they can be fashioned into lockpicks.
Lockpicks are required throughout We Happy Few’s campaign so make sure you always have some in your inventory. If you’ve ever played BioShock on the higher difficulties, We Happy Few’s scavenging mechanics will be nothing new to you. Investigate every container, box and barrel – basically just keep mashing E. You can also craft new weapons that can be used lethally or non-lethally. Houses in villages often contain useful items, but just like in real life, you must be prepared for the residents to get understandably irate if you begin looting their homes.
When you arrive in a new area, your first port of call should be the area’s hatch. Instead of Lost’s unkempt Scottish man pushing a mystery button every 108 minutes, each hatch in We Happy Few contains useful amenities such as beds, crafting desks, and first aid kits. Even more useful is the fact that these hatches double as fast-travel points that connect via a network of underground tunnels.
Be a hoarder
You never know when a piece of rusty metal will come in handy, so be sure to make regular stops at your nearest hatch to deposit any materials you don’t immediately need in your pneumatic stash. You can access them from anywhere on the map so there’s no need to worry about unloading your stash. Your inventory will fill up quickly, and managing items will soon become a chore if you don’t make good use of this function.
Be a pacifist
You’ll find it much easier to survive We Happy Few if you avoid combat where possible. Dressing in enemy clothes, hiding in yellow grass bushes, and silently knocking out enemies are the keys to a peaceful life. Hold CTRL to enter stealth mode and you’ll be able to see enemies as they walk around the environment. Work out their patrol routes and manoeuvre around them for the best results. Or, set the difficulty to Birdwatcher and go nuclear with the cricket bat.
Look behind the mask
In many games, collectables don’t add much to the experience, but in We Happy Few there’s a real incentive to discover the golden masks hidden throughout the world. Each one you collect will reveal a flashback to Arthur’s past, revealing more of his backstory and motivations. The story is by far the most engaging aspect of the game, and the flashbacks are some of the best glimpses into the history of this gloriously messed-up setting.