First, congratulations on getting to the early access stage - the team has always given me a great experience with their previous games; the gun-play, environment ambiance, and unique take on shooters is inspiring.
I am excited to be part of the early access opportunity and happy to support the development team because I already know how talented they all are. Bravo on the latest patch release, the game is already leaps better by directly addressing the communities real problems. (Matchmaking, match size / map size etc.)
Below are some initial observations / opinions on how things could change for hopefully the better.
Items & Loot Pacing
Rarity isn't the issue currently, it's the density. Even with today's patch release - there is little to discover or find in most buildings. Currently it is difficult to quickly understand which weapon may or may not be better than another.
Other games succeed in doing this because of the the rarity that these higher quality items appear in the world when compared to the quantity and plethora of lower level items.
More stims / low level meds and loot that the player must sort through / choose to carry are needed. Particularly in areas of the map that are not designated towns, but the really cool one-off locations that are discovered when traveling. (The car grave yard / swamps / radio towers should reward the player who is willing to move between locations.)
Giving players more choice in what they elect to carry in their limited inventory is important, and will allow for more personalized gameplay styles to emerge.
More items also allow players to boost / buff and balance their inventory more often, providing more to do when traveling between areas or after skirmishes, and a higher reward opportunity when killing enemy's & grabbing their loot.
There is too much downtime / not enough for the player to do while running from point A to point B. Small settlements and towns could use a higher variance in the number of buildings or cover they provide.
This, combined with an overwhelming amount of fog & not being able to see airships / drop packages creates unclear minute to minute game-play goals.
Hatched Red Zone Progression
Clarify the red zone progression.
The hatched red zone areas are currently difficult to read / predict on the map and push players out too quickly due to the fact that you receive radiation before the area actually turns to a hatched red zone.
Changing this to only apply radiation damage when players are in an active red hatched zone would provide greater gameplay clarity. This combined with additional boost / stim availability would provide players the choice to remain and search for better loot, or cut and run - depending on their current inventory.
The current actual red-red zone gameplay is fun and engaging with the ability to drop inventory and equip items to survive. As the hatched-red gameplay currently exists however, the red-zone gameplay isn't generally worth the risk.
Possible stages of radiation / red zone creep:
- Anomalies and other NPC enemies become more plentiful in the minutes before a zone becomes initially radiated. Potentially flash the zone on the map to clarify that the area is / will be radiated.
- Redzone becomes hatched and radiated - players receive radiation and must choose to remain and search or exit the area.
*Redzone becomes fully radiated.
I'm sure this will be a point of contention and personal preference, however player sounds, interactions, and gunfire should travel significantly farther then they currently do.
Being able to precisely locate an enemy isn't necessary, but understanding the compass direction and approximate distance away is important. This can help make the world feel more alive in the sense of player threats, and trigger fight or flight instincts in the player more often.
The ambiance and weather changes already add wonderful sense of atmosphere, but could and should also effect how far and how accurately sound travels.
Cheers to the production team - keep up the solid work!