Opinion: Renewing Joy with the Stardew Valley 1.6 Update

In the video game Stardew Valley, a farmer named Saucelyn, played by the author, Ann Arbor sophomore Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal, stands in their Meadowlands farm with their chickens. The Meadowlands farm is one of many additions to the game that came with the Stardew Valley 1.6 update on March 19 (Photo illustration by Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal).

As someone constantly riddled with stress and anxiety, spending time planting cauliflower seeds is an important part of my day. I enjoy relaxing by petting chickens, mining for emeralds and flirting with the locals.

Where, you ask? In “Stardew Valley,” my favorite video game, of course! 

“Stardew Valley’s” premise is that the player is an amateur farmer who’s just inherited and moved onto their grandfather’s old farm. Gameplay includes planting and harvesting crops, creating and selling artisan goods, fishing, mining, combat and befriending the local villagers. 

“Stardew Valley” was first released in 2016 by its developer ConcernedApe, who has since released a few updates to the game that add content and make things run smoother. On April 16 last year at 12:31 p.m., ConcernedApe announced on X that he was working on the next update.

According to the tweet, update 1.6 would add some new content to the game, but not much. Mostly, it would make it easier for fans to modify the game. He amended that statement in another X post on Sept. 27 at 6:07 p.m., revealing that the new update would actually add a ton of new content, including new crops, festivals and villager dialogue. 

Finding Solace in Cozy Gaming

The cozy country-life simulator has become an important part of my life in the last few years, especially as a stressed out, introverted college student. I’ve figured out that I need time every day to relax by myself, or I’ll mentally short-circuit. In video game terms, I need to keep my health and energy bars full. 

Most days, I use my self-mandated chill time to play “Stardew Valley.”

I love that the game has so many different things you can do and quests you can complete without having strict timelines or deadlines. I can do what I want to do at my own pace without feeling rushed. Even the movement of the water as my character stands in place, waiting for a fish to bite, calms me. 

“Stardew Valley” is beautifully animated with vibrant colors and cozy aesthetics. There’s a definite escapist element to the game as well; the player character leaves the monotonous, industrious drone of life in the city to start a new life in a small town on the beautiful countryside. 

The player, in turn, gets to leave their own reality for a while for this utopia of cranberries and brown cows. 

What’s New With the Update

The 1.6 update finally came out on March 19, and I’m a big fan so far. 

I started a new playthrough to experience all the new content, including the new Meadowlands farm option, which allows you to start the game with two chickens. So far, I’ve only seen the new content that’s available in spring of year one – the first season in the game – but I’ve liked everything I’ve seen. 

The Meadowlands Farm and Animals

Playing with the Meadowlands farm has been great; it’s definitely an advantage to start the game with a coop and two chickens and have eggs almost immediately. A coop costs 4,000g – the game’s currency – to build and each chicken is 800g, so usually the player needs to have been farming for a while to be able to afford them. The supposed disadvantage is that it’s harder to grow crops, but it hasn’t been a problem for me yet. 

After starting in the Meadowlands farm, I noticed there was a new section in the player’s menu that lists all the animals they

Farmer Saucelyn stands next to their cat, Miso, at her water bowl. The new update provides players with five different cat designs to choose from (Photo illustration by Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal).

have, how many hearts you have with them and whether or not you’ve pet them today. 

I love this feature; I love raising animals in “Stardew Valley” and it’s great to have a place where I can read all their names and check up on them. 

When my new cat Miso arrived on the farm – an adorable little black cat, because you can have a black cat now – she appeared in the animals tab as well. 

New Seeds

After venturing off of my farm to explore the valley, I happened upon some carrot seeds. 

I’ve always thought it was weird that carrots weren’t a crop in the game, and I’m glad that’s been amended. I think it’s fun that you have to forage to find them – after all, it is one of my favorite parts of the game – but I also wonder if they’ll eventually be available to buy from the general store. 

NPC Dialogue 

Another one of my favorite parts of “Stardew Valley” – I have several – is interacting with the 20-plus non-player character (NPC) villagers around town. The player can “talk” to them all once a day, and they all have unique dialogue. 

ConcernedApe has added hundreds of new lines of dialogue with the 1.6 update, which I’m really excited for. I think it will further flesh out the characters and make conversations less predictable for experienced players. 

Another way to interact with the villagers is by giving them gifts; they all have their own likes and dislikes. I’ve been enjoying the more specific responses that the NPCs give now when you gift them certain items – although I’m sure some people will be sad that Abigail doesn’t eat amethysts anymore – if you know, you know.  

Revitalizing Joy

As a long-time “Stardew Valley” enjoyer, playing with the 1.6 update is like falling in love with the game all over again. Finding new crops, dialogue and other secrets has filled my little farmer heart with joy. 

Besides enjoying the new content, the update is a good excuse to start a new save and make different choices than in your previous playthroughs. I now have four saved games, all with their own uniquely named farmers: Bosselyn, Mosselyn, Tosselyn and Saucelyn. 

The “Stardew Valley” update breathes new life into a game that was already pretty perfect to begin with. It added a bunch of things that are exciting for old and new players alike without changing the cozy vibe, anti-capitalist plot or familiar gameplay. 

Alright, enough talk – time to get back to the game!

About Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal 7 Articles
Jocelyn Kincaid-Beal is a sophomore from Ann Arbor, Michigan. They are an English major who's interested in all types of writing, and are exploring their options through being an editor of the Albion Review and a volunteer writer on the Pleiad. Contact Jocelyn via email at JAK17@albion.edu.

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