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Charlypizza

Is late game forgotten, trivial and unrewarding?

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What is the reward for surviving long periods of time when most of the content is focused on surviving the first months?

 

Get weapons, get food set up a base and start growing food this is easy for veteran players but after that what is the challenge?

 

Weapons can be farmed from zombies, even katanas will be quite common that I don’t even bother to keep collecting them at high populations settings, drive 5 minutes and get the military backpack, drive another 15 and get 2 more. 

 

The most important event is on day 7, helicopter and then random gunshots.

 

Wiring cars is on the first levels on mechanics and electrical easy to get in a few days once you have the books. Then you can level up mechanics skill, but why torture your self, just get another car.

 

Winter is just a visual experience, crops keep growing and trapping works enough just to sporadically touch the can food, clothes have a high insulation above real concepts that wearing all the layers will melt your character.

 

Dissemble dozens of TVs and Radios to move a stove and washing machine?

 

Grinding metal work to built metal walls requires so much work on learning the skill and gather the materials, that benefit from having doesn’t match the effort.

 

So what can be done to improve late game experience that is challenging and equally rewarding?

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There is no reward actually but surviving. I agree with the lack of difficulty, with some  irealistic mecanics of the games. Still a pleasure to play with friends till this particular moment where it is obvious we dont have a true goal after having gather what we need for survive a create some warm place to stand. It is even more obvious in mp as we start a new server with my friends (we are french and under horrible lock down) after just few hours. This game need some kind of scenarios, some kind of special house with survivor and missions. Maybe like extra special peace of map with missions, character, separate from the main map, dont know. Unfortunatly Dev are very slow working people. Maybe in 2025. "When it's ready"

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Let me start by saying that I do like the idea of longer-term possibilities, perhaps when NPCs return some goals along the lines of recreating civilization. That's very long term though. 

 

In terms of developer time, though, there's limits on what can be done. Do we have any stats on the average lifespan of a survivor? I hear you that you personally regularly do well enough that you can live for years with your current settings, but if most people don't make it more than a few months, it's a hard sell to say that more content needs to be made for the 10% of players that can go indefinitely. Perhaps to make your own gameplay more interesting, make it more difficult? More zombies? Smarter, stronger?

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I would like that over time zombies mutate so get stronger or faster or something like that. Not all of them but over time more and more should come. Or some event that comes from time to time that makes zombies go crazy. But all that should be optional as it could mess up the game for some people. But the devolipers did say no special infected so I don't think zombies will be main threat for end game

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21 hours ago, MrHrulgin said:

Let me start by saying that I do like the idea of longer-term possibilities, perhaps when NPCs return some goals along the lines of recreating civilization. That's very long term though. 

 

In terms of developer time, though, there's limits on what can be done. Do we have any stats on the average lifespan of a survivor? I hear you that you personally regularly do well enough that you can live for years with your current settings, but if most people don't make it more than a few months, it's a hard sell to say that more content needs to be made for the 10% of players that can go indefinitely. Perhaps to make your own gameplay more interesting, make it more difficult? More zombies? Smarter, stronger?

Its no only about the difficulty but a more progressive gameplay, thats why i will try to propose with a series of suggestions to improve construction, zombie evolution, crafting, map exploration in a way that there will be still things to do even if u live several months and its not only a farming simulator and basic base management.

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49 minutes ago, LegionDiablo said:

I would like that over time zombies mutate so get stronger or faster or something like that. Not all of them but over time more and more should come. Or some event that comes from time to time that makes zombies go crazy. But all that should be optional as it could mess up the game for some people. But the devolipers did say no special infected so I don't think zombies will be main threat for end game

Yep i don't think special zombies fit pz but migration of hordes around the map is a natural thing and the game lacks currently u clear and area to build a base and then zombies will be very rare to be a real treat to overrun it. Also zombies are quite predictable maybe after 6 month they could have variations on the speed so kitting a horde is more difficult a slow walker could suddenly have little rush and be faster (not sprinter).

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10 hours ago, sprkng said:

I wrote a similar post a while ago. No proposed solution, just some discussion in case you're interested in what was said then.

Pretty much i feel the same with the post u made. Im trying to work on suggestions that could extend gameplay to late game, if u are interested i could share some ideas to see if they are good.

Edited by Charlypizza

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I guess a good starting point for end game content is to figure out what the "goal" of the game is. 
A lot of Sandbox games have a goal and the end game is kinda based around those. Like in Rimworld you gotta get off the Rim, in Minecraft you defeat the End Dragon. 
Just something so you can "wrap up" when you've finished doing everything you want to do and maybe move on. 

Sticking with the current Lore theme, I guess the first thing that comes to mind is to try and find a cure for the infection or escape Kentucky containment?  
Maybe the secret government base has an underground facility that contains a key to the cure of the infection that you have to find and get out, 
but there's hundreds of zombies in close quarters and you need to use everything in your arsenal (bombs, noise makers, guns) to fight through the horde and get the cure and get out of Kentucky safely.  

If you base the end game around that, then you can start adding more end game weapons, tools, armor based around how players will complete the game.   

Of course, this endgame goal will be purely optional and just something for players to pursue if they want a challenge in the end.

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13 hours ago, Snowyjoe said:

I guess a good starting point for end game content is to figure out what the "goal" of the game is. 
A lot of Sandbox games have a goal and the end game is kinda based around those. Like in Rimworld you gotta get off the Rim, in Minecraft you defeat the End Dragon. 
Just something so you can "wrap up" when you've finished doing everything you want to do and maybe move on. 

Sticking with the current Lore theme, I guess the first thing that comes to mind is to try and find a cure for the infection or escape Kentucky containment?  
Maybe the secret government base has an underground facility that contains a key to the cure of the infection that you have to find and get out, 
but there's hundreds of zombies in close quarters and you need to use everything in your arsenal (bombs, noise makers, guns) to fight through the horde and get the cure and get out of Kentucky safely.  

If you base the end game around that, then you can start adding more end game weapons, tools, armor based around how players will complete the game.   

Of course, this endgame goal will be purely optional and just something for players to pursue if they want a challenge in the end.

The game will never have a cure, and by late game im trying to say more things to do after surviving for 6 months or more, some of the skills need a reason to be level up, also challenges don't scale with the player skills to kill zombies once u know the ropes. The goal is death just like every intro says "this is how u die" but having a worthy life before dying is what keep trying one more time.

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On 11/2/2020 at 8:10 PM, Charlypizza said:

Pretty much i feel the same with the post u made. Im trying to work on suggestions that could extend gameplay to late game, if u are interested i could share some ideas to see if they are good.

Share away! :) I like talking about game design and theorycrafting

 

And since you mentioned game progression in another comment, I might mention that I've written a suggestion regarding that too

 

On 11/3/2020 at 6:39 AM, Snowyjoe said:

I guess a good starting point for end game content is to figure out what the "goal" of the game is. 

Pretty sure the devs have said that when everything else is done they're going to add stories (i.e. mini campaigns) that you play through, similar to how the first demos were. Of course things may change, but I don't think sandbox mode is meant to be the main game mode for PZ.

Edited by sprkng

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Late game wise I guess I'm hoping NPCs,   and keeping idiots alive,   will create some of that late game content.        Though some optional zombie twist would be welcome.   Either mutating or turning buildings into "nests" over time which would make areas more dangerous in some way.  (SOD).        Anything that adds to the danger over time would be welcome.

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The issue currently, is that probably only 20% of the playerbase is surviving until the "late game." The other 80% are dying in the "early game" or winter at latest. It is more important to fill the early and mid game with content atm, since that is most people's experience with the game. Early game and Day 1 are also player's first impression so that is a huge priority. The devs are caught in a place where they have to make the late game more full by creating systems that carry from the early game onward, and can be expanded infinitely  with a branching progression tree. This way, they can create a lot of content for the casual majority, but also create fulfilling systems and mechanics for hardcore fans. They've laid the groundwork for a lot of these, but haven't made a lot of them as complex as they could be. This is currently the PZ meta as of current IWBUMS:

 

Day One) Trying to find weapons and food, looking for a bag. Clearing out campsites. Moving furniture. Watching lots of TV.

Early Game) Decent loadout and good gear. Semi-permanent base with relatively good security. Scouting out buildings for better base. One vehicle, probably crap. Reading Beginner Skill Books. Disassembling things. Crafting basic items. Scaving food from urban areas. Preparing for winter.

Mid Game) Most likely decked out survivor survived through the winter with relative ease. Permanent base with good defenses. One good vehicle, and a few part/fixer-upper cars. Might have a generator. Working on chosen skills. Basic farming, foraging, and fishing. Rarely needs to go on food runs. Securing huge area for future base expansion.

Late Game) Best gear in the game. High level combat/agility/fitness/strength skills. Building your own base either completely from the ground up, or walling off cleared out prefab areas. High level security and almost no chance for hordes to get you. Multiple good vehicles, generators, and lots of fuel. Maxed out in chosen skills. Self-sufficient/surplus farm with a few traps and no need to scav food. No real incentive to leave your safe haven or do anything further other than watch the days rack up.

End Game) ???

 

Imo, the game is really fun, but there is no real purpose to your playthrough other than RP. There isn't a goal other than indefinite security. The interesting thing about this game, and the pull for me, is that the actual goal is death. It's the only game in the world where you are meant to DIE. That's the only way to end the game. The fun for the player comes from trying to die in the most prolonged, epic, badass, awesome way they can. Will you die on Day 2, cowering in your shack with a spoon in your hand as one zombie takes you out? Or will you die in the mall, blasting hundreds of undead with a shotgun knowing you've done everything else you can. That's the appeal to most of us, I think. This doesn't, however, exclude the game from having an end-game. We just need to get creative. The end-game of Project Zomboid should be to essentially confirm the extinction of humanity. To ensure that, no matter what you do in this game, everyone and everything will die. The goal of the game should be to fight against death for just long enough to strengthen the last bastion of humanity, and watch it get wiped out. Maybe you can survive from there, but you would be alone. The last human hoping for just a few more days or years. The current update schedule seems to aim at furthering the game in this direction. Build 42 will bring in animals. Hopefully this means companion dogs, livestock farming, hunting game, and even feral animal enemies. This update alone would add so much variety to the game that it would extend playthrough lifespans by a lot. These features will definitely fill in more of the tailoring, farming, combat, base building, and survivalist aspects too. Mostly, this will just be adding more fun content and laying the groundwork for more advanced AI, without really addressing the late game problem. B43-45 will supposedly bring NPC survivors back with quests, stories, events, groups, and factions. This is the real meat and potatos of this topic. Suddenly, you have stories and events to diversify gameplay. You have your group to help you survive and develop relationships with. You have raiders and feral animals to attack your base. They could have different strategies than zeds so you would need to prepare for all different kinds of defensive situations. Ally and enemy factions could even give you a reason to build different bases. To secure certain resources or buildings, or to have a more strategic position against an enemy or trade partner. If quests are done right, they would be the perfect middle ground between the bigbrain goals you set, and the micromanagement survival stuff you do on a regular basis. Quests could be little things like making 10 spiked bats or collecting 50 logs or finding a 6 pack of root beer for someone. Small things like this would give players a break from the day to day monotony and the intimidating lofty goals they set for each playthrough. This would essentially pose the game as so:

 

Day One) Trying to find weapons and food, looking for a bag. Clearing out campsites. Moving furniture. Watching lots of TV. Maybe finding an animal or human friend if they're around.

Early Game) Decent loadout and good gear. Semi-permanent base with relatively good security. Scouting out buildings for other survivors. Building up a small, tight-knit group. A decent mount or one crap vehicle. Scaving food from urban areas or hunting and foraging from rural areas. Maybe working on some skills and crafting. Preparing for winter.

Mid Game) Good survivor loadout and gear, decent group loadout and gear. Difficulty finding enough for for everyone through winter. Permanent base with good defenses. One good vehicle and/or mount. Maybe a few part/fixer-upper cars or some pack animals. Might have a generator. Reading beginner books, disassembling things, and basic crafting. Basic farming, foraging, and fishing. Regular food and supply runs to keep up with higher demand from bigger group. Securing huge area for future base expansion. Might have a specialist in group. Defending from zombies and raiders as more people means more noise.

Late Game) Decked out PC. Probably a few decked out NPCs and some lame redshirts too. Several specialists in group (doctor, mechanic, soldier). High level combat/agility/fitness/strength skills. Building your own base either completely from the ground up, or walling off cleared out prefab areas. High level security and almost no chance for hordes to get you. However, strong raiders and enemy factions provide a way larger threat. Multiple good vehicles, generators, and lots of fuel. Multiple good mounts and pack animals. Working on chosen skills. Good food industry from farming/fishing/trapping/hunting, but still need occasional supply runs. NPCs automate a lot of monotonous work. PCs can focus on bigger picture goals and special ops. Bitten NPCs can turn and kill everyone in group if not careful, so no one is ever safe.

End Game) PC has best items in game. Lots of high level, decked out NPCs in group. Network of outposts and bases all under one faction. Multiple vehicles, mounts, and pack animals all supporting trade and travel between settlements. Massive walls and traps and defenses protecting humans from zombies and animals. Opposing factions diminished in strength as to no longer pose a threat. Maxed out in all chosen skills. Massive network of industry and agriculture completely handsoff for players. Self-sufficient society means no need for scavenging. Only threat is a group member getting infected and spreading the disease, but this will not be a restart if there are multiple base locations. No real point to continue on other than to push civilization to its absolute limits.

 

At this point, we have extended and expanded the game a lot. Although, we still have the issue of no real conclusion point. No moment you can say, "I WON!" My dream "win condition" that fits the lore and themes of Zomboid is this: The Megahorde. The Megahorde will be the ace up the sleeve of the Sadistic AI Director. If you managed to survive all the hordes, surprise bathroom zombies, feral animals, raiders, faction wars, internal infections, the winter, and all the other survival threats; you would be granted one final challenge. This event could not occur until some threshold like population, faction dominance, time limit, or some combination of the 3. Essentially, once you hit that point it would just be up to RNGesus. It might be the next day, it might be a whole year, but it will come. The Megahorde would be a wave spawning horde of zombies that would keep coming until you were dead. Think Last Stand Mode built into Survival. You could probably get yourself to total safety with some cheeky ingenuity, but there's just no way to save everyone. You would have to watch as everything you've built and everyone you know would be destroyed. No point in adding special infected when you can literally have zombies decked out in the awesome gear you gave them. At this point, you would essentially have a New Game+ where veteran players would see how long they can survive in the Megahorde. It might even develop a cool meta of building up your settlements strategically so you can survive longer after the Megahorde. Eventually, the waves will become super intense meaning there would be a hard cap on how long you could push it. This would essentially be the Ender Dragon of Project Zomboid. The place everyone wants to get to, and then start a new game after.

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On 10/30/2020 at 5:33 AM, Charlypizza said:

Winter is just a visual experience, crops keep growing and trapping works enough just to sporadically touch the can food, clothes have a high insulation above real concepts that wearing all the layers will melt your character.

 

 

Try cryogenic winter mod, it makes winter really, really cold, so you have to pay an attention for it (collecting very warm clothes, staying inside during winter storm and constantly gathering sources to heat yourself)

 

Edited by Caturday

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On 11/21/2020 at 5:51 AM, TrailerParkThor said:

It is more important to fill the early and mid game with content atm

Personally I think early game is fine as it is, just trying to survive while looting for basic items is a full time job already. I agree with your reasoning that early game is important since it's the first impression for new gamers. But there's no downtime where the game gets boring during the first couple of days, so I don't think this part needs that much more content. For me this is the most fun part of the game

 

I also think NPCs will bring more towards endgame content, not just from the rebuilding society perspective, but as in having built your zombie-proof base and filled it with loot, you might attract gangs of looters etc. which would provide more powerful opponents.

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22 hours ago, sprkng said:

I also think NPCs will bring more towards endgame content, not just from the rebuilding society perspective, but as in having built your zombie-proof base and filled it with loot, you might attract gangs of looters etc. which would provide more powerful opponents.

This. The NPCs and wildlife are the late game. If you've made it to the late game, I suggest playing around with goofy mods and sandbox options until these are released (though multiplayer, when it returns, is a nice tide-over: playing with friends who suck and trying to keep them alive lol)

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I think late game in singleplayer can become boring fast once you have a safe base, but this will change in the future when NPCs are added.

Im currently waiting for multiplayer to be reintroduced, Im hyped since a year to play with friends again and online, too.

But I can only speak for myself, there are many other players which already survive over a year in SP and still have fun.

In my best game I had a nice cozy place, it was really safe, thing is Im not interested in building a really big base yet, this doesnt make sense to me when I play alone.

Also I really get carefree at this point and die.

But, this is just my opinion on the standard apocalypse mode.

 

The last thing I did was the winter challenge, that was a really hard, you dont even would think about endgame if you need food.^^

You are happy If you find a peaceful place to rest.

Edited by Lornsteyn

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On 10/29/2020 at 7:33 PM, Charlypizza said:

So what can be done to improve late game experience that is challenging and equally rewarding?

 

I think two things could help.

 

First, and this is the big one: NPC's.  Having to manage a group and keep it together and keep everyone alive, dealing with people dying in their sleep and turning, trying to go from a scrappy group of survivors trying to scavenge to a town (instead of just building a base for yourself and calling it a day).  Especially if there are things like wildlife (hunting and hostile wildlife like packs of wolves) and raiders.

 

Second, more infrastructure-style buildings.  The power and water failure should be more than just an on/off switch for the whole world.  There should be power plants and distribution stations near the towns, water pumping and purifying centers, etc.  Stuff that would be too much for a single person to fix up by themselves, but for a big group of survivors (player + NPC's or MP groups) with fully leveled skills could be good endgame goals: fixing up, maintaining, and controlling things like power, water, rail systems, etc.

 

If they go that route, they can also expand out the construction / metalworking skill with foundries and machine shops / fabrication shops that you can clear out and control (to make stuff like replacement parts when stuff breaks - either to use themselves or sell to groups that control the infrastructure).

Edited by lysergic

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when it comes to things getting boring, that's where Sandbox mode comes in to try new ways to challenge yourself. have you tried playing with a very high pop of sprinter zombies, all loot extremely rare and never staying in one house/base longer than a week using ALL and ONLY bad traits? that's a fun challenge.

i good-naturedly dare you to survive even 3 months.

if you accept, record yourself for proof that you can do it and share the link.

Edited by cocoayoc

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I know it's a dead subject because I know it's been discussed ad nausea and understand that it's in the works, etc., but any stagnancy one experiences after being alive for as long as we're thinking is where NPCs would be beneficial. Even just generic NPCs or even just animals you can hunt. From what I remember reading, I think that's the next big thing expected to be worked on. Fingers crossed. :)

 

But yeah, otherwise, the goal is to simply see how long you can stay alive. I think that's always been the overall endgame. But if you try to liken this game to what one might experience in a situation like this zombie apocalypse, you'd be looking at a world where you'd see an entire collapse of government and social structures... So in an ideal scenario, once the zombies begin to show signs of extreme atrophy and die-or-kill-off, you'd likely begin to see the things we watched in "The Walking Dead" where marauders and various factions of social groups begin to move in to establish their own territories or raid existing people and factions to further secure their own holdings. I think that's probably the world that existed before humanity began to evolve into some semblance of civilized society, so I think you'd expect the same only in regression. These scenarios would pose more difficulty as you'd be combating and competing against a more intelligence opposition, but it would be great to see if this might come up when the game development one day gets to that kind of development. It'd probably be very difficult to add but if it could be done, it'd be awesome.

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Endgame can kinda only be accomplished in a handful of ways, e.g.:

  1. An actual ending (turn the game off, you beat it, roll credits).
  2. An extreme variety of existing optional gameplay mechanics that let you build and solve your own problems (maybe NPC factions would cover this)
  3. A brand new set of gameplay mechanics (some people have suggested mutations, this would fall under this, but this will still get repetitive over time and is developmentally costly. Terraria achieves it's endgame this way, effectively trying to make you sick of playing it because there is just so much content)
  4. A wide variety of collectables that in order to get all of them would take hundreds of hours to complete, and once collected give you little perks/buffs/bragging rights/ skins (this is how multiplayer games achieve longevity)


Number 4 I think is the best option for the devs and this type of game. Collectables like the Spiffo Suit. Rare weapon attachments (like suppressors, maybe divided by weapon type). Possibly pieces of experimental military tech found in outposts (like night vision or thermal optics, or a shotgun/ shotgun suppressor). Rare albino animals that give special pelts and trophy heads. A very rich person's RV lol. You get the idea, things that most people through an average playthrough are unlikely to ever encounter.

 

Number 2 could include things like plant genetics and animal taming (Rust recently added this and it's added a lot of depth for some players). It also includes things like extremely complex and rewarding crafting recipes, in addition to new content like new metal building structures and such.

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In the long dark the world runs out of manufactured resources which means you end up having to use bows, hand forged knives/axes, you have to hunt your own food and survive wildlife encounters with wolves, bears, and moose without access to flare guns, rifles, or revolvers. You have to render fish oil in order to use a storm lantern after you exhaust all the jerry cans. You would have to handload your own ammunition, or start using black powder guns which you can very easily cast your own lead for and use gunpowder for. 

 

As for zombies;

  • They would starve and die off over time, the fit ones would cannibalize other zombies and they would become more fit for survival. The parasite in their heads would make their hosts more fit for survival rather. I would expect zombies to start using tactics used by animals like foraging for food, stealing from traps, depleting your reserves of food. I would expect them to be able to run, or make vocalizations to draw many more zombies to them. They would not increase in population however in prolonged periods.
  • The ones that starve and die en masse would end up poisoning the air and you would need a respirator to live in those areas. Corpse disposal is not important enough in game. You would need to get a full face respirator along with in date filters for it to not die of severe infection entering areas littered with corpses. 40mm nato filters CAN be improvised if you have charcoal and fine enough cotton to put together a filter. Activated charcoal is commonly used in the medical industry, and it is used in gas mask filters. 
    • Wearing a gasmask increases exertion, decreases your perception radius, and most masks don't allow you to drink, only the military masks really have standardized drinking tubes.  
  • Due to the zombies becoming more adaptive, melee would be absolute suicide, melee shouldn't be as effective as it is with weapons that don't allow you to reach a human skull outside an arms reach. Late game when zombies are faster and smarter, and potentially capable grabbing your weapon, ranged weapons need to be learned.
    • Clearing them by having them walk into a campfire won't work as they've learned that hot stuff burns. 

Wildlife;

  • Wild boars would make you miserable. They would destroy your crops, steal from your traps, forage from your forests, and draw zombies to themselves and thus, to your supplies. They would fight with zombies and I would guess be immune, or they could eat/bite/impale zombies and become carriers so if they impale/bite you, you risk zombification. They could also try to drink from your water collectors and damage them. Wild boars would make the apocalypse worse than zombies ever could once you are living off the land. If you can hunt them effectively, you've a renewable supply of BACON! People hunt wild hogs in the south with 50 round drums and thermal scopes from trucks because they are such a massive problem ravaging farms with herds in the dozens. 
    • They could eat zombies which means tainted boars could not be safely eaten or used as bait for traps, plus they would infect you. Urban boar populations would be magnitudes worse than zombies given they can charge and you won't be killing them by bashing their skulls. You'd have to hunt boars out in the sticks to get usable carcasses. These boars would move in to feast on the rotting zombies.
    • Rotting food in containers would attract them and they would begin using buildings as shelters.
  • Sasquatch easter egg

Resources;

  • You'd need to make your own pine pitch glue
  • You would need to pick up a bow/crossbow, along with learn how to make arrows (the walking dead doesn't portray them well, you WON'T be getting those arrows back intact very often, especially crafted ones) 
  • You will end up using lower end renewable weapons that are able to shoot ball bearings like wrist brace slingshots, atlatls, hardwood longbows. 
  • Some items would simply never run out, like plastic, or ball bearings, or sheet metal, or possibly ammunition. There are trillions of rounds in existence in the US. There are many plants and handloading tools. There are many places to source powder, and one person could never possibly use it all. You could expect to have to travel a long way to a very densely zombified area to get access to it though. 

TL;DR, a zombie apocalypse would never be a never ending horde of World War Z zombies long term. It would also be a zombie aftermath apocalypse where you have to deal with thousands and thousands of rotting corpses poisoning air. You would have to deal with animals that you would otherwise eat stealing your supplies and feasting on zombies and become inedible/unusable for bait. Zombies that don't die would be too scary to want to take on with melee weapons because they learn to grab, block, or they grow tumorous scar tissue that works like armor. 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, Auklin said:

Number 4 I think is the best option for the devs and this type of game. Collectables like the Spiffo Suit. Rare weapon attachments (like suppressors, maybe divided by weapon type). Possibly pieces of experimental military tech found in outposts (like night vision or thermal optics, or a shotgun/ shotgun suppressor). Rare albino animals that give special pelts and trophy heads. A very rich person's RV lol. You get the idea, things that most people through an average playthrough are unlikely to ever encounter.

 

Number 2 could include things like plant genetics and animal taming (Rust recently added this and it's added a lot of depth for some players). It also includes things like extremely complex and rewarding crafting recipes, in addition to new content like new metal building structures and such.

 

I agree some combination of numbers 2 and 4 would fit PZ the best. Lots of Number 2ish things are already announced. Animals, NPCs, and Louisville should all fit this category. Currently, you can play as a hardcore combat survivor in a small town, or a farmer in the woods. There is plenty in between, but this is a fairly narrow spectrum.

 

Adding Louisville alone should allow for a new range of playstyle from urban to suburban to rural. It has been mentioned zombie spawns will be fixed when map is completed so that you don't have hordes unrealistically spawning at the Pony Roam-O anymore. This will allow for the range of low loot, low zed areas and high loot, high zed areas to be more extreme. NPCs will definitely create a meta of lone wolf vs trained combat team vs big society, which will all have pros and cons. We don't know how far they will go with animals, but we do know some things are confirmed. Companion animals, hunting, and feral predators. If you remember your first time playing Fallout 3, you know how much value a pet dog can add to a playthrough. Hunting should make it more viable to live a wilderness lifestyle. Wolves and bears would definitely add to the overall threat, but also potentially be a great source of food or protection. Hopefully, we will also see animal husbandry, mounts, and pack animals. These could totally change how players travel and farm, and could open up the world of advanced trading and moving.

 

These announced features alone would push the creativity and replayability to new levels. There's even a cheeky enemy progression mixed in there too. Zombies < Animals < Raiders < Enemy Factions < US Army. I imagine with these systems in place, players would be free to loosely plan out a playthrough beforehand. You could choose to start a game and be a lone Farmer growing potatos and getting milk and beef from cows, hoping to gain supplies by trading with friendly groups. You could be a member of a group of Veterans that want to train and raid gun stores while building up enough firepower to take on the Army and get their elite weapons. You could be a crazy homeless guy with a pack of stray dogs that protect you while you trap pigeons on the roof of a skyscraper for food. Maybe you could just be a mechanic in a small settlement.

 

Number 4 stuff would just be the icing on top in this situation. The Mod, Spiffomon, does a good job of fulfilling this need with fun Spiffo plushies to collect. I've seen others suggest that each town should have a unique item as well. I would suggest maybe a unique machine in each major township. For example, a Sewing Machine in Riverside for making homemade clothes, a Metal Press in West Point to make armored doors and windows, or a Coal Generator in Muldraugh for making electricity. These would not only fulfill more of those Number 2 needs for more gameplay systems to solve problems, but also create a need to plan an op to each urban center so you can collect all these great devices. Since these are the greatest areas of danger, it's fun to kinda force players back into the heat even if they choose rural areas to base up. This could also provide a fun resource for factions to battle and trade over since there would only be one of each on the map. Maybe they could even be randomly generated in different towns so each playthrough is different. I also think adding a collectible cosmetic for each major POI would be nice too. Like a Top Hat and Monocle at the Country Club, Cowboy Boots from the Pony Roam-O, or a Pirate Costume at the Docks. There's a lot they could do here, but it would be fun to have to find the clothes you want to wear. As an alternative, since clothes are kinda important to survival, devs could always add Backpatches, Decals, Posters, and Sculptures to serve as collectibles too.

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