By Fraser Brown
It can be hard to make friends in a survival game
Last year, I found myself trapped in an oversized garden in Obsidian's Honey I Shrunk the Kids homage, Grounded, and quickly became a killer of ants. Much bug blood was spilled in those early days, but then came the guilt (opens in new tab), especially when I discovered that, like many of Grounded's beasties, the ants aren't naturally hostile.
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I've tried to make amends, and over the last six months I haven't so much as bopped an ant with my tiny fist. We're not quite friends yet, but we're definitely cordial neighbours. Well, most of the time. It's not been without its challenges, however, because these ants can sometimes be massive pricks.
After the initial revelation that I'd been needlessly slaughtering peaceful bugs, we still had some awkward run-ins. All of Grounded's many garden critters have distinct behaviours that go beyond just being chill or aggressive. A shrieking, skittering wolf spider will try to end you the moment it spots you, but isn't beyond bravely running away if you prove to be a bit too tough to handle. Goofy gnats, meanwhile, like to hover around and give you the occasional bop, but they won't instigate any fights. Of the lot, however, the ants are the most unpredictable.
When I started building my first base, back in June, the ants quickly started to become a nuisance. They're an inquisitive and slightly greedy bunch, so every day I'd have to chase them away from my little storage area, where they'd inevitably be rooting around for food. I became exasperated, because it wasn't like I was rolling in resources. I really needed that stuff. I could have died without it. Look, that's my defence and I'm sticking to it. The ants had to die.
After that spat, things got rough between us. Instead of just a few of them coming to rummage around in my vulnerable wicker baskets, wee armies started to appear. And when I fought them off, they came back with not just more ants, but bigger ants. These beefcake soldier ants can really kick the crap out of a miniaturized kid. They even started trashing my base, knocking down walls and entire buildings. Granted, these buildings were made out of grass, but grass is pretty thick when you're really tiny.
The relationship became untenable. I'd completely forgotten about the nightmarish spiders or my mission to embiggen myself, with this ant war taking up all my time. There were just too many of them, and they kept coming. I realised I'd probably need to move the base, but what if they followed me? Had I just picked a fight with one hive, or did all ants have it in for me? It might be a suburban garden, but Grounded's ecosystem still feels like an alien one that needs to be learned and studied.
I didn't end up moving. Instead, I started again, this time with a co-op bud in tow. This new beginning allowed me to avoid the mistakes I'd made with the old ants and try to be a better neighbour, or at least a less bloodthirsty one. My co-op partner and I were on the same page, which made it easier, and we worked together to find peaceful solutions whenever we bumped into some bugs. Shooing ants away and trying to block them with our bodies has just become part of our routine. And while it doesn't help, we do try to verbally plead with them to find some other spot to investigate.
On more than one occasion we've returned to our base to find a line of ants scarpering with our supplies. They clutch their ill-gotten gains in their pincers, shamelessly displaying what they've stolen, giving them a sort of roguish charm, and it's hard not to laugh as they leg it back into the grass forest with their bounty of stolen gnat meat. Sometimes we try to chase them, but once they've got their pincers around the goods there's not a whole lot we can do without fighting. Nature sometimes wins.
Burglaries have become less of a problem since we started placing all of our precious stuff high up, safely tucked away in buildings on stilts. The ants still visit frequently, but there are fewer opportunities for them to cause mischief. That hasn't stopped them from trying to bring chaos back into our base, though. Recently, I returned after an extended stay in a new waterside outpost we'd just established, and discovered that the ants has turned our old base into some kind of weevil murder pit.
Weevils are among Grounded's most friendly creatures. They don't fight, they don't cause any mischief, and they taste pretty good. They're probably more deserving of my friendship than the ants, so it's a shame that they're one of my main sources of nourishment. The ants like snacking on them too, which I guess explains why I found a huge herd of them being systematically slaughtered in my base. The ants had even managed to corral them into one of Grounded's giant landmarks, the Mysterious Device. It has a hollow interior, so the ants had chased the weevils inside it, leaving them hopelessly trapped. The noise… it left a mark on my soul. Unrelated, I was also very hungry, and that's the only reason I ducked into the Mysterious Device to grab the weevil remains the ants hadn't already snatched. No point letting it go to waste!
AI animals hunting each other has become a bit of a shortcut to creating a world that seems alive. It's incredibly effective, too. It's entirely conventional these days, but seeing the world react and change without my input still makes me believe in it more. That effectiveness possibly explains why most games stop at things like making animals hunt. Rockstar went to ridiculous lengths to make Red Dead Redemption 2 feel like a tangible world, down to the infamous shrinking horse balls, but while its critters still have behavioural patterns, ultimately everything still boils down to hunter and prey. That's why I keep coming back to Grounded, even though I was sure I was too exhausted for any more survival games. It's unpredictable.
That it's slowly unfurling through early access has unexpectedly enhanced its capacity to surprise. I'd generally much rather play fully-formed games, but Grounded is a big mystery—from its narrative to how its critters will react to you—and benefits from being revealed over months. You start getting used to things, and then suddenly there's a massive bird that's the size of a bloody skyscraper looming over your base, dropping feathers everywhere. Like a real ecosystem, a few tweaks can have a big impact. And because it's still growing, I don't feel the need to devour it all at once; I'm exploring it slowly, with some big gaps, and then returning to find a whole new set of mysteries waiting for me.
All survival games task you with expanding your knowledge and learning to master your environment, but Grounded's the first I've played in a long time where I'm actually excited to discover new things instead of just relieved that I'll have one less thing to worry about. When you've built a hut in the woods a thousand times, that doesn't hold many surprises, but Grounded's exotic world means that every construction project has a weird quirk and every expedition holds the promise of a long and meandering adventure into the unknown.
At first glance, it doesn't seem anything like Obsidian's RPGs, but the emergent narratives it creates would absolutely feel at home in any number of them. I've been stuck between warring factions of bugs, journeyed into the dark heart of an evil thicket with eight-legged monsters hounding my every step, and fumbled blindly deep below the earth in search of enlightenment—or as the game calls it, Raw Science. It's almost enough to make me forget all about bullshit like hunger and thirst meters.
Through all those trials and adventures, though, I haven't beaten up a single ant. Not since I started fresh. Not even the soldier ants that I occasionally come across, who are automatically hostile. I've gotten so used to it now that it might as well be a rule etched in stone: Leave Ants Alone. I didn't even seek out retribution when, after devouring that herd of weevils, they got over excited and completely trashed my moisture farm. I'm just trying to be a good guy here, but they're kinda being dicks. I won't stoop to their level.
If you want to get in a weird passive-aggressive relationship with your neighbours who also happen to be ants, Grounded is the game for you. It's also just shaping up to be a really inventive survival romp that isn't full of busywork, or at least does a great job of hiding the busywork behind myriad novelties and clever twists. It's received notable updates every month aside from October, and you can see what's been finished and what's in the works over on the Grounded feature board (opens in new tab). It's due to hit 1.0 this year, if early access isn't your thing, but you can also take it for a spin via Xbox Game Pass.
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Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.
What does it mean when red ants are annoyed by you Grounded? ›
Bugs will take the fight back to your base when they get tired of you intruding on their territory or killing their kind. The more you annoy a particular species, the more likely they will come knocking at your door.How do you fight Grounded soldier ants? ›
The best weapon to use pre-Ant Club, and to kill Soldier Ants, is the weaker Spiky Sprig. The Spiky Sprig, a good starter weapon. The only tricky-ish component needed to craft the Spiky Sprig club is Thistle Needles, as Sprigs and Plant Fibres (for Woven Fibres) you find on the floor everywhere.What are all the ants in Grounded? ›
Currently, three species of ants exist in the game with their respective hills, being Black Ants, Red Ants and Fire Ants.Can you take an ant in Grounded? ›
The overall technique required to tame bugs in Grounded is a fairly simple one. Find a bug, and feed it Slurries. For the most part, 2 or 3 slurries should be enough to take yourself a bug, but every once in a while, it may take a few extra. So it's always safe to be prepared.Why do I react so badly to ant bites? ›
Ants release a chemical called formic acid onto your skin when they bite. The release of this acid, along with the pinch from their mandibles, causes symptoms of an ant bite. Some people are allergic to formic acid, which can cause a reaction in your body beyond the site of the ant bite.What color are ants sensitive to? ›
invicta workers do have color vision and have a preference for green, orange and red and least prefer blue. “Many people would not consider studying if ants have color vision because ants generally rely on chemicals instead of vision when exploring their environments,” Carbaugh said.What does soldier ant hate? ›
Distilled White Vinegar
A white vinegar and water solution is a common method to wipe out ants for good. Ants don't like the smell of vinegar. It not only repels them; it can also kill them.
|Black Ant Legplates||6 Black Ant Part 2 Silk Rope 4 Bee Fuzz||Workbench|
It's a good thing Moths are neutral in Grounded, because they're easily the toughest flying enemy in the game. They're fast as mosquitoes, and it's hard to predict their flight patterns so players are forced to attack in small windows (if they're melee).What is the strongest bug in Grounded? ›
- Wolf Spider. 69.6%
- Stinkbug. 8.8%
- Ladybug. 18.1%
- Other (tell us who!) 3.5%
What is the hardest enemy in Grounded? ›
The Broodmother is a spider boss, and it's one of the strongest enemies in Grounded. You gain many useful components by defeating it, but you need to have very powerful equipment before attempting to fight it.
What Ant Eggs Do. One of the first things to know about ant eggs is they have a use-by date, so players must ensure they use them before the timer runs out, and they hatch into ants, which is a fun surprise to return home to.Do ant eggs Respawn in Grounded? ›
theres a way to force spawn them, its a bit of a pain but its doable. Step 1: Go to the ant hills, kill every ant in there. Step 2: when your done killing everything, look at the time. Ant hill respawn every 48hrs(2days ingame).What is Red Soldier Ant weak to? ›
Strategy. A lone Red Soldier Ant can easily be tackled with a tier 1 weapon and any armor, though a large swarm such as the ones found in the Red Anthill should be tackled with a tier 2 weapon such as the Red Ant Club or Stinger Spear. But for a new player, a Pebblet Spear will quickly kill the Red Soldier Ant.Why do ants curl up when they bite you? ›
They have the potential to deliver many painful stings as they provide protection for their colony. When a fire ant stings, they must first grab the skin with their jaw for leverage, then curl their abdomen to insert the stinger.Can you build a tolerance to ant bites? ›
Stokes found out that people who know they're allergic to fire ants often don't get treatment to avoid those risks. He tracked 71 people in San Antonio who had systemic allergic reactions to fire ant stings, and were told they should get immunotherapy. That builds up a person's tolerance to the allergen over time.Why do ants bite without being provoked? ›
Ants bite and sting for two reasons: they are either protecting their nest and nest-mates or they are biting and stinging other animals they consume as prey. Fire ants, as well as other aggressive ants, will also sting pets.What smell scares ants? ›
Peppermint is a natural insect repellent that may effectively deter ants and other bugs, such as mosquitoes. To use peppermint essential oil as an ant deterrent, complete the following steps: Mix 10 to 20 drops peppermint essential oil with 2 cups water in a clean plastic spray bottle.
Cayenne pepper or black pepper
Create a wall of pepper around the area where ants are entering. Much like vinegar and cinnamon, the insects can't stand the strong smell. Alternatively, you can also try mixing pepper with water and creating your own homemade cost-effective spray.
Both cayenne and black pepper repel ants. Ants hate cayenne pepper. Black pepper will work just as well too. Locate the source of the ant infestation problem, sprinkle some pepper around that area and if possible, create a wall that will stop the ants from accessing your household.
What can I sprinkle on the ground to get rid of ants? ›
- Essential oils.
- Cayenne pepper / Black pepper.
- White vinegar.
- Lemon juice.
- Chili powder.
- Citrus peels.
- Ant-repelling plants to grow in your garden.
- Keep Your House Clean. Ants feed on sugar, protein, and just about anything else they can find. ...
- Eliminate Damp Spots and Rotted Wood. ...
- Set Ant Baits. ...
- Stay Away From Sprays. ...
- Make the Outdoors Appealing.
Similar to cornmeal, you can use cornstarch to kill ants. Simply sprinkle cornstarch liberally around any spots you notice ant activity. Once the ants start to pick up the cornstarch, lightly mist them with water. The combination of water and cornstarch will make a cement-like material that will quickly kill the ants.Who is the ants greatest enemy? ›
Spiders, such as black widow spiders and jumping spiders. Snails and other hard-shelled organisms. Snakes. Fish and lizards.Can soldier ants be female? ›
Soldier ants are large sterile females. They characteristically have big mandibles and a bulkier body. They protect the colony from predators and clear a pathway for smaller worker ants to reach food. Drones are the only males in a colony.Is sleek or bulky better Grounded? ›
The "Bulky" upgrade path provides a large boost to defense and durability. The "Sleek" upgrade path, while providing lower defense and durability increases, will imbue the armor piece with unique bonus skills.What ant has the strongest armor? ›
The Fire Ant Armor is the third addition to the Ant Armor sets, which also includes normal and Black Ant Armor. The Fire Ant Armor, however, is the best of them all. To get this tier 3, 15-point armor, you'll have to kill no other than fire ants.What is the best Tier 2 armor in Grounded? ›
- 8 Termite Armor.
- 7 Antlion Armor Set.
- 6 Fire Ant Armor Set.
- 5 Moth Armor Set.
- 4 Roly Poly Armor Set.
- 3 Black Ox Armor Set.
- 2 Assassin's Armor Set.
- 1 Widow Armor Set.
- 8 Spiderlings.
- 7 Orb Weaver Jr.
- 6 Diving Bell Spider.
- 5 Orb Weaver.
- 4 Wolf Spider.
- 3 Infected Wolf Spider.
- 2 Black Widow.
- 1 The Hedge Broodmother.
Infected Wolf Spiders are very deadly and it is recommended to have tier 3 armor and weapons to face them. A Mint Mace or mint-imbued weapon can also be useful to do extra damage. Mastering perfect blocks for Wolf Spiders is recommended to avoid the fatal fungal explosions, as they can be near fatal if triggered.
Are black widows in Grounded? ›
There are an array of Spiders you'll encounter in the backyard of Grounded, but the most deadly is the Black Widow. Once you reach the upper part of the backyard, you'll be able to find them in a few locations.What is the most overpowered insect? ›
Scientists in the SBCS have found that a species of horned dung beetle is the world's strongest insect. After months of gruelling tests, the Onthophagus tauru was found to be able to pull 1,141 times its own body weight, which is the equivalent of a human lifting six full double-decker buses.Who is the final boss of Grounded? ›
Director Schmector is a optional secret boss enemy found below Castle Moldorc in the Mysterious Lab. It is the final boss of the game, and one of the hardest non repeatable bosses. Killing it is required to unlock the good ending and save Dr. Wendell Tully from his raisining.What is the best Tier 3 weapon in Grounded? ›
The Antlion Greatsword is a Tier III melee weapon that offers a great mix between damage and speed. It requires a Workbench to craft and primarily requires defeating Antlions around the yard and collecting their parts, as well as collecting some Silk Rope.Is there Tier 3 in Grounded? ›
The Tier 3 Termite Axe is an essential tool for resource gathering in Grounded. Here's how to get your hands on it. In Grounded, the Tier 3 Termite Axe is a desirable and essential tool to craft as an upgrade on the Tier 2 Insect Axe.Does Grounded ever end? ›
Grounded also has two separate endings. One is considered the 'bad' or 'quick' ending. The other ending is considered to be the 'good' or true end to the game. The issue is that there isn't a prompt to encourage players to seek the true ending in Grounded, but there is one for the bad ending.How long do ants live without a queen? ›
Unfortunately for the ants' colony, when the queen dies, the worker ants can only survive for a few months. The colony dies off rather quickly because the workers cannot reproduce. When there's no queen to lay eggs, the workers die off, and there are no new ones hatched to replace them.How long does a queen ant live? ›
Queen ants can live for decades, males for a week
niger queens have lived for nearly 30 years. Workers live for about a year, males little more than a week (although their sperm live longer).
Ant colonies can be long-lived. The queens can live for up to 30 years, and workers live from 1 to 3 years. Males, however, are more transitory, being quite short-lived and surviving for only a few weeks. Ant queens are estimated to live 100 times as long as solitary insects of a similar size.What does the ant head totem do in Grounded? ›
The Ant Head Totem is a simple Décor item that can be placed anywhere in the Backyard. Despite its description hinting it might have an effect on Red Soldier Ants, it is purely decorative.
What does ant armor do in Grounded? ›
Red Ant Armor is a Tier 1 armor set crafted from red ant parts. Each piece of the set provides extra Hauling Strength, allowing players to haul an additional large item, like Grass Planks or Weed Stems. Its sleek effect also helps with this, increasing the players harvesting speed of grass-like nodes.What does the queen army ant do? ›
As with other ants in the colony, the queen ant has a role to serve. She's the egg layer of the colony. Other ants provide for the colony by taking on different roles. In an ant colony, there are multiple castes – most are female worker ants, which forage for food, clean the colony or tend to the queen.Which ant is stronger red or black? ›
While the red ant is clearly more destructive to the humans and prey that it is around, black ants are generally more bothersome than harmful to people.What is the biggest army ant? ›
Dinoponera contains one of the largest species of ants in the world, with female Dinoponera gigantea specimens measuring 3–4 cm (1.2–1.6 in) in length.What triggers revenge in Grounded? ›
Throw your pile of collected bug parts from downed creatures into the machine and watch as the blend wafts throughout the yard. This will cause the correlating bugs to become enraged and want to exact revenge on you.Why are ants attacking my base Grounded? ›
They will attack if you are around too long in their territory trespassing and if you continue to kill them. It will give you a warning that they are aware of you.What are red ants scared of? ›
Ground black or red pepper
Black or red (cayenne) pepper is a natural ant deterrent, as the insects appear to find the smell irritating. To use this method, sprinkle pepper around baseboards and behind appliances. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is a safe way to help keep ants at bay.
Fire ants are aggressive, venomous insects that sting. They cause painful, intensely itchy welts that turn into blisters. Though rare, fire ant venom can cause a life-threatening reaction. Seek immediate medical attention if you have any systemic symptoms.What is the scariest thing in Grounded? ›
Black Widows in Grounded certainly live up to their reputation in real life. They're often categorized by many players as the toughest hostile non-boss creature in the game. They employ a special type of poison that will stack with each attack.What is the strongest creature in Grounded? ›
As one might expect, Black Widows are the deadliest and hardest-to-kill angry creatures in Grounded that aren't official bosses. Immune to poison and resistant to all elemental and weapon types, Black Widow Spiders have no vulnerability whatsoever.
Are there queen ants in Grounded? ›
The Ant Queen is a new creature planned to be added in the game in a future update. It has not yet been confirmed whether or not the creature will be hostile or neutral.Do soldier ants Respawn in Grounded? ›
Step 2: when your done killing everything, look at the time. Ant hill respawn every 48hrs(2days ingame).What smell do ants hate the most? ›
Ants hate the smell of strong citrus fruits. Save your orange, lemon and grapefruit peels and scatter them around entry points. It's a natural way to deter ants without harming them.What ants hate the most? ›
Both cayenne and black pepper repel ants. Ants hate cayenne pepper. Black pepper will work just as well too. Locate the source of the ant infestation problem, sprinkle some pepper around that area and if possible, create a wall that will stop the ants from accessing your household.Do ants hate the smell of vinegar? ›
Ants hate Vinegar. The smell of Vinegar will cause them to stay away from it or permanently leave the house. Ants crawl in a straight line, marching towards the food sources. The Vinegar solution will interfere with these pheromones, and the ants will get lost.Do ants feel pain? ›
Over 15 years ago, researchers found that insects, and fruit flies in particular, feel something akin to acute pain called “nociception.” When they encounter extreme heat, cold or physically harmful stimuli, they react, much in the same way humans react to pain.Does toothpaste help ant bites? ›
Toothpaste. Much like baking soda, toothpaste can help to reduce the burning and itching that often comes along with ant bites. Simply squeeze a small amount of toothpaste onto your finger and apply it to the bite area. Baking soda-based toothpaste tends to work the best in this regard.Is it OK to pop red ant bites? ›
Should you pop an ant bite? It can be very tempting to pop the blister created by an ant bite, but don't pop it! Popping a blister could lead to an infection because it creates an open wound that allows bacteria and germs to enter your body.