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Some veterans thoughts on Alpha17


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Me, my wife and my friends (we're a handful of people) have been playing 7DTD since alpha 8/9 and have enjoyed it throughout all it's incarnations. We run it ona personal server and play co-op mainly.For us the joy of a new huge patch is to try out the new balance and the new content. 7DTD is the game we always return to and take great joy at, whetever else we play otherwise (rpgs/fps/mmos/4X etc). We have a few years under our belts as gamers and nerds as we're not exactly juniors. Usually we don't voice our opinions in here, as we know things will change over time anyway. This time we decided to make an exception.


We've been playing A17 for five days now and enjoyed it as usually. There's been a few new bugs (like crashing on death and not being able to log in again without crashing which is annoying) of course, and the return of a few old ones (POI's that "fall" and crumble to debris, but now with repsawning sleeper zombies hovering midair) but all in all it's performed pretty well for an experimental playtest build. None of us have experienced any performance issues really and we have systems ranging from mid to highend. Personally I find it performing better than ever.


The new gameplay is intriguing and we can't wait to see it fine tuned and balanced. That said we really hope some issues and problems will be focused on as soon as possible, as they are sadly gamebreaking as far as we are concerned.


* The new skillsystem is a great improvement, but as so many others have pointed out it's illogically gated right now. Some skills and attribute levels can only be used at character levels when they are obsolete in practice. Others put unfair timesinks in place. When I can buy the highest level in cardio I've more or less lost the need to raise that skill that high. And being able to create a forge is gated way too late in the game compared to the higher challenges the game now offer. So lower or remove gating altogether. Let us play the way we want, why else did you give us a skill tree if you want to railroad us? And please do print out on every skill and recipe what requirements they have. It's annoying not to have easy access to that information. Should be a quite obvious QoL thing after all.


* The sleeper system is still quite broken (take note of my mention of hovering sleepers above). There's so many issues with this system I don't know where to begin with. While it's a nice addition of course - and it works great for suspense and challenge in the new POI's (Damn it's intense sometimes) as it makes exploring really fun - it's also a source of great annoyance when sleepers respawn just because you took one step outside a small invisible border you didn't know where it was. This problem is more obvious with some POI's than others, but it's a real drag having to clean the same camp 3-4 times before they stop respawning. Also, the way we play we feel a system where a house should be considered "clean" after sleepers have been slain and not really respawn. Our suggestion is that a sleeper cell should only awaken once, no matter how many times you walk into it or out of it. There should also be added a variable controlling their respawn that can be set in the server config settings, that way we can ourselves decide how we want them to work and how we play the game (ie. 0=no sleepers, X=number of days before they respawn). Give some choice back to us hosting our own servers.


* The new zombie AI is intriguing to say the least. It's offering quite some fun and frustrating challenges, and overall it's a good addition. It's cool how wandering hordes now slow, stop and start to disperse, cluttering an area, and don't always just pass on by. But we have some issues with the new AI as it's tuned atm and the main one is that the zombies often act too smart for actually being zombies. We understand that TFP want it to be challenging, but challenge shouldn't always be on the cost of immersion. Zombies should still be zombies, most of them dumb like hell. At BM now they are rather zerging and begving in that tacky World War Z way. It's plainly not fun, because it's also extremely predictive in a way that they always go for the weakest point or the quickest path. Gets tiresome quick we've found out. It was fun the first two ingame weeks, but now it's getting really old. Rather use this AI to create more diversity among your zombies, like create weaker "smart zombies" that act this way and lead others zombies to act like this, but if taken out the other zombies goes back to normal erratic agression. The screamers could be a good candidate for such behaviour. BM nights this kind of behavior should at least be limited.


* The next topic is a severe and critical one. Fix block damage balance. As it is now is insane. INSANE. We've looked at the Items.xml and seriously... no seriously, WTF!? A normal zombie does 20 base hand dmg on a block but only 10 on a player/entity? That's base damage. Doesn't take feral, irradiated or difficulty modifiers in calculation (we usually play on higher diff as we like a challenge, but we had to lower to normal this time as it was unplayable). Also, many zombie types use personal stats for their block damage and for example cops and hawaiian shirts do 250 block damage per attack (!!!). Running around hunting in the woods you sometimes hear and see a tree fall behind you because you aggroed a zombie some ten, fifteen seconds ago and the tree got in it's way to you. It's silly. Had they been demons not zombies maybe I'd find that plausible. Biggest issue here is that this of course make BM nights a living hell as the zombies suddenly cut through your defenses like as if the walls were of mere cardboard. Together with the new AI system discussed above this is actually game breaking and it makes any basebuilding almost futile unless you build on heigth. And even then your base is just a big destruction derby. Even using Land Claim Blocks (something we usually didn't as playing co-op we've always felt that was a bit of a soft cheat) doesn't matter much. While it's understandable TFP wants to make base building more dangerous than it's been this is not the right way. All it does is force us players to act reactively to the new behaviour and railroad us to certain actions. In the end all 7DTD are forced, together with the gated skills, to play the game in a very certain way. It makes the game less fun for many of us, as it's eliminating playstyles and variation.


* As we see it the way TFP needs to go is to consider the new systems and how to make the new challenges more fun for their players. Find ways to add diversity and don't limit the players. Give us choices, not rails. 7DTD is such a great game, and Alpha17 has so many interesting and fun new prospects but at the moments it's potential feel hampered by some bad design decisions. There's nothign we're looking forward more to than to see this version evolve into the greatest 7DTD experience to date. But it certainly needs some tuning, because it's extremely rough at the edges at the moment.

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