The Pond Update is Grounded's biggest content update yet, with a massive list of new features and changes

Grounded Pond Update Koi
Grounded Pond Update Koi (Image credit: Obsidian Entertainment)

What you need to know

  • Grounded is an exciting open world survival title from Obsidian Entertainment, and is currently in early access.
  • The game gets regular updates, and has just announced the biggest update Grounded has had so far.
  • The Pond Update will dramatically overhaul the pond biome with new insects, creatures, areas, crafting, and more.
  • Because of the size of the update, it needs a little bit more time to finish, but a public insider test is starting right now.

It's finally happening! After speculating on Grounded's next update for months with rumors, leaks, and a recent tease straight from the horsefly's mouth, the Pond Update for Grounded is official and it's almost upon us. As expected, the Pond Update is absolutely massive, and it's going to add a ton of new features and content to the game that players have been expectantly waiting on for ages.

Because this is the biggest update Grounded's early access has seen so far, it does need a little bit of extra time in the oven. We'll slide the official changelog into the rest of our Grounded changelogs and keep you posted on exactly when you can expect the Pond Update to land in November, but until then dedicated fans can check out the earlier builds with a public insider test starting today.

If you want the quickest possible rundown, the Pond Update for Grounded will completely overhaul the pond area, adding a Koi Fish, three brand-new creatures and updates to an existing one, tons of new areas to explore and discover, lots of new crafting recipes, and more.

Now, let's take a closer look at everything coming to Grounded in November.

Our Grounded Pond Update interview

Before you head over to the extensive list of announcements and cool stuff we have to show you about Grounded's next big update, be sure to check out our Grounded Pond Update interview with Adam Brenneke, Grounded's Game Director, for some extra behind-the-scenes info on Grounded. We discuss the Pond Update, future plans, accessibility, and a whole lot more.

Xbox Series X and S enhancements

Grounded Pond Update Quarter

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)

Our first stop today is some additional information on something we were already aware of: next-gen visual and performance enhancements for Grounded. On November 10, Grounded will be getting some sweet upgrades to help it run and look better on the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, and now we know exactly what we're looking at for both consoles.

Grounded's next-gen update will include:

  • Smart Delivery support. As expected, Grounded will fully support Xbox's Smart Delivery, which means you'll get the best possible version of the game for your device with no additional costs or effort.
  • Performance targets for both consoles. Grounded will deliver to the max on the Xbox Series X at a sharp 4K resolution and 60fps, as we already knew, but now we also know the Xbox Series S will deliver the same smooth 60fps, but at a lower 1080p resolution.
  • Improved draw distance. Grounded looks great, but things tend to fade into the distance a little quicker than expected. Next-gen consoles will dramatically improve this.
  • Improved shadow quality. Again thanks to next-gen improvements, Grounded will also feature higher quality shadows.
  • Reduced load times. The standard and lightning fast SSD included in both of the new Xbox's means loading into Grounded will be faster than ever.
  • A performance boost on all platforms. Grounded's next-gen enhancements don't just affect the Xbox Series X and S. Expect some increased performance on every device, including the aging OG Xbox One and One S.
  • HDR support. If you have a compatible TV, Grounded will look better with HDR on, featuring better contrast, brighter colors, and more vibrancy in general.

Finally, we now know that Grounded has been keeping something very sneaky hidden from us. Thanks to its early access status, Grounded has been built from day one on Xbox's new GDK, making it one of the very first games to be built entirely using Xbox's latest development kit. This won't really affect players with the end result, but it's still very cool!

The Pond Update

Grounded Pond Update Diver

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)

Alright, now that we've gotten such tiny details out of the way, like how Grounded is supporting the next generation of powerful Xbox consoles day one with a massive update improving graphics and performance, we can move on to the really big news of the day. I'm speaking, of course, about the Pond Update, otherwise known as the November Content Update, which will mark the third content update that Grounded has received in its early access state. While both of Grounded's first two content updates were relatively modest in scale, the Pond Update steps things up in every way.

We have a lot to cover here so let's get started:

General overview

Grounded Pond Update Tadpole

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)
  • The pond is now the Koi Pond. As the name surmises, this update focuses on the pond already present in Grounded, completely overhauling it and filling it with all kinds of content, making it an entirely new area for players to explore. out for the fish.
  • Adds a ton of content. The Pond Update adds underwater mechanics, three new creatures and a major change to an existing creature, new equipment like weapons and armor, new base building options, and a ton of reasons to go and take a swim around.
  • No update in October. Because of the sheer size of the Pond Update, it needs a little bit more work. This means there will be no content update in October. Instead, interested players can join a public insider test of the Pond Update starting today, with the full update heading to Grounded's early access sometime in November.

Main features

Grounded Pond Update Flea

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)
  • A pagoda and other new landmarks. There will be new landmarks to mark your place in the world, and also possibly marking points of interest to explore (no spoilers).
  • New research labs to discover. You'll also be able to find new research labs to scan resources and materials and... maybe something under the water?
  • Underwater lab. Okay there's an underwater lab. It'll be tough to find your way into the lab, hidden deep underneath the murky surface of the pond.
  • Labs are more like dungeons. Grounded is adding new challenge to labs, making them akin to dungeons, offering a different experience from going into a wolf spider den or ant hill.
  • Your backpack floats! So this new feature isn't as dramatically large as the other changes being made, but it is nice when the whole update focuses on swimming around a massive pond. When (I mean if, sort of) you die in the pond, your inventory will bob on the surface instead of sinking to the bottom.
  • A lot more... There's a ton you still haven't seen about this update, and there's also a ton you won't see in this article. The very talented team at Obsidian Entertainment have hidden other new additions, changes, and features in the Pond Update that players will need to discover for themselves.

Creatures and insects

Grounded Pond Update Koi

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)
  • Koi Fish. One of the biggest additions (I mean that literally, in terms of physical size) is the koi fish, the king of the pond. This battle-scarred and aging fish doesn't put up with any nonsense, and will happily enjoy a nice human snack if one starts pestering them. The koi fish may drop some awesome materials you can use for crafting, but definitely don't pick a fight. You won't win.
  • Diving Bell Spiders. I don't think anyone was asking for this, but Grounded is adding an all-new species of very aggressive and very dangerous spider known as the Diving Bell Spider. Yes, this spider can swim. No, I won't go with you into the pond. The Diving Bell Spider carries oxygen below the surface into little air sacs woven out of its web, giving you a way to catch your breath underwater. Careful, though, as these spiders are just as dangerous as their land-loving cousins.
  • Tadpoles. There are now tadpoles swimming around the pond, and they're absolutely adorable! But if you don't think they're that adorable, you can also hunt their slimy selves. Turns out tadpoles are very delicious, and make for a great snack!
  • Water Boatmen. These intriguing insects are thankfully quite friendly, but they're not a fan of your attentions and will flee from you. They're also very fast, capable of swimming with a lot of momentum. If you're able to catch up to one, however, water boatmen offer new crafting ingredients that, yes indeed, can be turned around and used on new crafting recipes.
  • Water Fleas. Wait, didn't we already see the water flea in Grounded? Yes, the water flea was added in the September Content Update last month, but it's not at all the same insect players met in the updated Hedge area. Now, the water flea is very much hostile, so don't approach one unless you're prepared for a fight.
  • A bonus for underwater victories. If you successfully slay that brutal Diving Bell Spider or pesky Water Flea, you'll be granted a small bonus supply of Oxygen, helping you survive just a little bit longer after you tempted fate the first time around.

Crafting recipes

Grounded Pond Update Tadpole

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)
  • Koi Scale Armor. If you want the ultimate underwater protection available, you'll need to carefully scavenge the pond's dangerous depths for discarded scales from the koi fish. I assure you, there's no chance of nabbing scales directly off the fish, so you're much better off salvaging.
  • Flippers. If your current method of fleeing from Diving Bell Spiders and the Koi Fish isn't working out to your advantage, you may want to craft some flippers. Equip these elongated swimming shoes, and you'll be able to flee to your heart's content! Or be able to explore the pond more effectively, whichever you prefer.
  • Rebreather. Believe it or not, players aren't able to hold their breath underwater indefinitely. If you find you don't have enough breath to last (the pond is a big place, after all), you can craft a rebreather to give you a few more seconds of air time when there's no air to be found.
  • Diving mask. If you're greedy for oxygen, and the rebreather still isn't enough, you can take it a step forward with the innovative diving mask, allowing you to hold your breath for even longer periods of time. Inhuman amounts of time, in fact.
  • Underwater lantern. Two things to know about underwater life: one, it's very dark, so it's hard to see and; two, fire and water don't mix very well. To solve both of these problems, you'll want to craft an underwater lantern, giving you a light source that won't perish when wet.
  • Pebblet dagger. Grounded is adding daggers in the Pond Update, which immediately wins the award for "smallest deadly weapon." The newfound "dagger" category of weapons is small, fast and agile, and still deadly underwater.
  • Bone trident. If you want the absolute best in underwater mayhem, you'll want the hard-to-craft bone trident, which joins the newly created "spear" category of weapons. This weapon has a lot of reach, and is incredibly dangerous, especially when underwater.
  • Daggers and spears are best. You might've caught the hint above, that daggers and spears get special bonuses which make them more effective when used underwater. It's probably best not to try and bludgeon a huge spider with a hammer while you're submerged in pond water.
  • And more... There are a lot more crafting recipes than I've listed here, and I'm not just saying "And more..." because I don't know what they are. You'll have to explore and discover for yourself everything there is to craft in the Pond Update.

Building improvements

Grounded Pond Update Bubble

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)
  • Floating foundations. If you really like the Pond Update, and I mean really like it, then floating foundations are exactly the thing you've been looking for but didn't realize it. With floating foundations, you'll be able to build a base directly on the surface of the water, which is going to lead to some incredible-looking bases that will make me very jealous.
  • Buoy. Underwater lanterns are great, but they do more-or-less require that you're actively holding them. For lighting up your floating fortress and the surrounding pond, you'll want to use buoys!
  • And more... Just like with the crafting recipes, this may not be every new addition to base building in the Pond Update. Once again, you'll have to play and discover for yourself how many other ways you can make your base far superior to mine.

When does the Pond Update release?

Grounded Pond Update Koi

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)

So when does Grounded's biggest update actually arrive? Well, I'll outline the release information for everything in this article very quickly:

  • Xbox Series X and S enhancements. Grounded's next-gen upgrades will arrive on launch day for the new Xbox's, meaning November 10, 2020.
  • The Pond Update. The Pond Update doesn't have a definitive release date yet, but it is in November, 2020.
  • The Pond Update public insider test. If you don't mind a much rougher experience, anyone can sign-up to test the Pond Update in a public insider test, which begins today, October 26, 2020.

Grounded's future plans

Grounded Pond Update Bubble

Source: Obsidian Entertainment (Image credit: Source: Obsidian Entertainment)

When the team at Obsidian Entertainment offered to give us a sneak peek at the Pond Update (I didn't tell you that) they also shared with us some of the future plans that are in store for Grounded, and the future is looking pretty great. We wrote down some of the best tidbits, so you have something to look forward to after you've explored everything the Pond Update has to offer. But that'll take you a while, right?

  • Improvements and iterations. Obsidian Entertainment doesn't want to constantly add new features and content without ensuring that existing content is fantastic and polished, so expect a lot of gradual improvements and iterations on things we've already seen before launch. Take, for instance, the Water Flea.
  • Improve Act One of the story. Grounded's story is divided into chapters, with only one being available in early access right now. Obsidian Entertainment wants to improve and even overhaul parts of Act One's story, and add more story content to existing labs in the world.
  • Improvements to Haze, Sandbox, and more. The Hedge and the Koi Pond are both decently fleshed out areas of the map now, but Grounded won't stop there. The plan is to add these kinds of improvements to other biomes, including the deadly Haze area, and the Sandbox. It's clear Grounded is very ambitious about the density and diversity it wants to achieve in its world.
  • Flying creatures. We've actually talked about flying creatures being added to Grounded before, as part of rumors and speculations we've seen in the past. Personally, I've seen mosquitos, bees, wasps, fireflies, and dragonflies all be listed as possible additions to Grounded. At the very least, we know that Grounded is planning on adding flying creatures to the game, beyond the very annoying gnat.
  • A new level of base building. Grounded wants to take base building to the next level, likely with improved structures, more advanced furniture and utilities, and other additions. Is there a chance we could get powered buildings, automation, and more? I think so.
  • Pets. I'm going to end on what's probably the most important thing Grounded could ever add: the ability to tame insects and other creatures as pets. I want nothing more than every aphid that ever existed to constantly follow me around the map, so I'm very much looking forward to pets coming to Grounded.



Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.