Bethesda are certainly giving us plenty of reasons to step back into the Commonwealth this year. With Automatron
and Wasteland Workshop
already launched, and Far Harbor
-- as well as mod support
-- on the way, you'd think that would be enough.
Enter Survival Mode.
The product of an internal game jam, Survival Mode changes the experience significantly, and is designed around four tenets to "force you to make interesting choices":
Strategy: Intensify decisions involving when to get into combat versus when to avoid it, and also make you think more about what gear to take into combat. Then back up those decisions with faster, more brutal fights.
Exploration: Slow down the pace of the game and encourage players to explore the nooks and crannies of the world.
Resource Management: Balance out items in the world that may be too easy to acquire or horde, giving players more to consider when planning their current loadout.
Role Playing: Increase the realism of the world and the issues one might face there.
What does that translate into? Firstly, you can only save when you sleep (apart from a few, presumably story-related quick-save moments). You also won't be able to fast travel, which means you'll be forced to make your own way everywhere -- which I imagine should make settlement management quite gruelling. You and your enemies will be more powerful, which the developers are hoping will bring more strategy and skill to the experience -- particularly in melee, where blocking and parrying become essential.
Threats will not appear on the compass (unless you get a Recon Scope) and you're considerably more short-sighted when it comes to points of interest as well.
And then there's Adrenaline, a new perk which improves your damage output:
Every five kills increases your Adrenaline rank, adding 5% bonus damage for up to an extra 50% damage at the max rank of 10. That extra damage is alluring. Adrenaline motivates the types of stupid decisions that always lead to the best water cooler stories. (Sleeping removes anywhere from 2 to all 10 ranks of Adrenaline, depending on the time you've slept.)
Hunger, Thirst and Fatigue now also have gauges and negatively impact your stats and immunity, and eventually start physically damaging you. So you'll just have to eat more, right? Sure, except a lot of products out there now have negative effects to counter the positive. You'd think there had been a nuclear apocalypse or something.
Not enough complexity for you? How about the fact that types of beds
will impact how long you can sleep in them? Perhaps more illnesses, and the antibiotics to cure them, will satisfy you? Immunodeficiency from RadAway? Weight for ammo and Stimpaks? Encumbrance that will eventually cripple your legs
if you don't offload something? What more do you people want?
A favourite tweak of mine is the fact that companions will now go home if you abandon them crippled in the street after a fight, rather than shrugging it off and following you endlessly. You'll also find that locations do not repopulate as quickly with loot and enemies, so you will have to venture further out if you need resources or XP.
Survival Mode doesn't come with any achievements, but as part of Patch 1.5, it does
bring with it a number of fixes:
-- Third person camera movement improvements when player is close up against walls and other objects
-- General stability and performance improvements
-- Fixed rare crash related to reloading a save that relies on Automatron
-- Fixed issue with the robot workbench camera not moving properly immediately after canceling out of the menu
-- Fixed issue with perks being repeatedly added when reloading a saved game while in robot workbench
-- Fixed issue with Ada not properly traveling to an assigned settlement
-- Robots can now be assigned as settlement vendors
-- Fixed issue with "Appropriation" where blueprints would not appear properly if the container had already been looted prior to getting the quest
-- In "The Nuclear Option," entering the Institute using the targeting helmet on Power Armor no longer inadvertently causes the player to go into combat, and become stuck in the Institute
-- Fixed distance check with Robotics Expert perk
-- While in Workshop mode, if the Jump button is remapped, the Y or Triangle button can still be used to jump
-- Fixed issue with "Defend the Castle" where speaking to Ronnie Shaw would not properly complete the quest
-- During "The Nuclear Option," fast traveling away from the Institute immediately after inserting the relay targeting sequence holotape will no longer block progression
-- Fixed issue where Workshop placed light bulbs would occasionally not light properly
-- Fixed occasional flashing issue with entering and exiting Power Armor
-- Fixed issue where terminals would not work properly after downloading and initializing an Add-On from the Add-Ons menu
All in all, it seems like a very good time to get back into the game and test your mettle as a true Sole Survivor, ahead of the "Far Harbor" DLC release on May 19th.