Die Hard Fans
“In England, we have a saying for a situation such as this … which is that it’s difficult difficult lemon difficult.”
— Simon Foster, In the Loop
One thing we know our community has been looking for is a new challenge. You’ve spent all this time mastering the game, and you want somewhere to go to truly test your skills.
State of Decay: Breakdown is designed to bring on that challenge. As you progress through each iteration of the game, the scenario gets tougher and tougher. The game is daring you to try and survive, and is ramping up the difficulty each time you do.
But what, exactly, are we doing to make it harder?
The first mark of great skill is how well you avoid mistakes. Thus, one of the best ways to test your skill is to ramp up the consequences of those mistakes. As difficulty rises in Breakdown, the damage you receive from zombie attacks increases. It is up to you to stay out of their clutches.
The zombies’ great advantage in State of Decay is their tirelessness. You experience fatigue. They don’t. As difficulty rises, it takes a little more effort to bring down each zombie, which requires you to manage your stamina more carefully.
In a typical horde, you have a large pack of lumbering slow zombies, and a small handful of fast-moving crazy dudes. If you want to flee, all you have to do is kill the crazy dudes, and you can outpace the ones that fall behind. But now, as difficulty rises, the number of fast zombies in the population will get higher and higher…until it gets kind of ridiculous.
Do you ever get that feeling that you haven’t seen a Feral in over four hours of play? As you progress through Breakdown, that feeling will very quickly disappear. (At one point, I did a brief test where I made one out of every six zombies a Bloater. It was a very different game. Don’t worry, I scaled them back…a bit.)
When we update the game to support Breakdown, everyone will get our updated resource system, which is designed to make scavenging fairer and more consistent across every player’s experience. As an added bonus, when you play Breakdown, the new system allows us to slowly drain out some of the Resources and items as difficulty increases.
We’re putting some limits on this, though — scavenging an empty house isn’t all that fun, and we never want the world to feel like a desert. So the resource drain will hit a floor and stop, while the zombies keep on getting tougher.
Remember all the sneaking around you did during the tutorial? Remember how little of that you did after you got your first car? Cars are super-powerful in State of Decay, and they’re everywhere. Smash one up ramming it into a horde, and you can simply trade it in for another.
But now, as difficulty rises, the number of available vehicles drops like a rock. Suddenly, cars become a rare resource that you have to use wisely or not at all, and you’re no longer as inclined to make a suicide run straight into a Juggernaut just for kicks. Sneaking around on foot, using your car as a last resort, becomes one of the best strategies.
And you should probably try to keep your Tools Expert alive.
Keeping Up With You
When I told Sanya about my plans for the difficulty ramp, she immediately told me to take my plans, and double them. Add more difficulty levels, ramp the challenge level higher and harder, because that’s what our players are searching for. So I’ve made it my goal to create a version of the game that gets so hard by the end, I can barely play it, and then let you folks show me how it’s done. Are you ready?