Gameplay Tuning Suggestions

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.

Match Pacing
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.

Player Sounds
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!

I hope you realize the whole point of the Red Zone progression is to be against the player. You have to sprint in the hatched zones and you don't get damaged at all. I spent a minute looting buildings by sprinting non stop and just grabbing and going while taking zero radiation damage. The whole point of the "pre red" zone is to give you time to make it out of the zone before it becomes a perma radiation zone.

The pacing is screwed up right now because as of late, we've only had 30-70 people playing. Once the playerbase shows up, they'll open up the matches back to 20 and 40 slots to make games even more exciting. I know last night I went on a 6 game spree (name is Timpar3) with the same people in game. Pretty sure they got tired of seeing my name pop up.

Ah, yes absolutely - I think I may have experienced a bug where the hatched zone overlay didn't appear on the map - so I was taking rad damage without the clarity of why (not sprinting in a hatched area).

From what I've seen, if you are in the area of an Adrenal infection you will get the pop up on the screen. Gives you a little warning of when to expect it. Probably a few glitches bound to happen with the map like that.

I had one happen to me, I was way out of the zone on my map but I was getting radiation damage ticked on me. I was so worried about the helicopter I didn't even notice I was down to 50 before I inched forward. Apparently the entire arrow cursor of your character needs to be in front of the red. I wasn't getting that screen grain effect from being in a radiated zone.

Just had that happen actually (being on the fringe of a hatched red zone or solid red zone and continuing to receive rad damage.) Edit: Actually I was receiving damage after leaving a rad zone, right near next to the helicopter - this was / is likely a bug.

I still stand by the original post that the progression of zones need better clarity visually on the map & some way for the player to understand it better.

Currently the flash notifications/alerts at 90 and 60 seconds... to improve clarity there needs to be a more direct and clear threshold. The current mechanics aren't letting the player feel like they failed at playing well and instead they're making the player feel like they couldn't do anything to change the outcome.

An extreme solution for this would be to show an actual zone radiation countdown timer on the player's screen.

Less drastic recommendations:

Original recommendation is to flash the hatched red zone visual over the map as a warning during the countdown phase.

Another could be to actually creep the hatched red zone into the area slowly from the edge inwards.
(This seems like a server intensive solution.)

Make the Geiger counter change pace / tempo much more as the timer runs out in a hatched red zone. Maybe even turn it into a low solid tone when the player is receiving damage.

Leave everything as it is and provide more give and take with applying meds / healing while in a hatched zone (or on the fringe of one). Right now it's incredibly punishing if the player is not literally sprinting the entire time. (This gets much more difficult with the # of anomalies that may appear & terrain that is rough to navigate.. aka not a straight shot.)

last edited by CaliGoldRush

Bravo on the new item / loot tuning and additional locations across the map.
It feels much better.

Player sounds & gun play is significantly better as well, however these could be pushed even a bit further depending on the weather type. (IE: dry / desert could make footstep and gunshots travel farther, fog could mute / obscure locations, rain overshadow / drown out... as it already seems to do)

I still believe the adrenaline rush / radiation stage of red zones could be better clarified / reinforced visually rather than a huge announcement notification across the screen - this UI element is abruptly removing the player from the amazing environment and gameplay you guys have worked so hard on creating.

Weather Voting / Mayhem
The current voting system creates for some hectic weather variations. While this is initially exciting, the current frequency of change makes the gameplay affects unique to each weather type (and the weather visual effects themselves) less meaningful.

Not being able to move as quickly for 3-5 minutes doesn't meaningfully impact my ability to play over the duration of the match.

I believe you can create much more unique feeling match-to-match gameplay if the weather didn't change as drastically from a raging downpour to desert heat within the space of a few minutes.

Suggested Change:
Create a longer cool down or transition period between drastic weather types. One of the most memorable moments for me was when a raging storm was slowing down and coming to an end.

Possible Ways to Do This:
Require a % or "majority" of the available votes to change the weather type.
Display the total # of current votes / required votes on each weather type.
Ex: "2 more votes needed" or "3/5 votes" etc

If no weather type gets enough votes the weather doesn't change (this is an implied penalty for voters not voting.)

Reducing the # of weather options available to vote on.
This could be an easy way to create longer transition periods between extreme weather types.
Desert Heat simply isn't an option to vote on if the current weather is downpour. Voters must vote to change to a daytime weather type first, before the desert heat or downpour option becomes available to vote upon.

Lastly, I realize that the weather changes are part of what make the game unique, but they aren't as impactful or meaningful as they could be.

last edited by CaliGoldRush