In addition to the site's official info and any press releases we get, I wanted to reach beyond that to a recent interview with Lead Designer Lee Hammock on the LifeNet podcast. Lee talked candidly about the changes that arrived with patch 1.3 on Wednesday, as well as more specifics on what's to come. So I'll dissect that interview for this week's edition of Wasteland Diaries.
Bugs need squashed; it's just a fact of nature for MMOs, but this patch is said to fix "hundreds" of bugs. The major mentionables here include:
- Vehicles are no longer allowed into instances. Before, if you left a mount in an instance and reset it afterwards, you could say bye-bye to that mount forever.
- Melee defense penalty is gone for pistol users. It didn't make much sense before because there's a skill called Pistol Whip that encourages you to get up close and personal with the enemies.
- Grenades have been adjusted to do more than make pretty flashes. Let's face it, they were pretty useless before, but Lee says that's been fixed now.
- Higher-end items have been removed from merchants to promote crafting of those items by players.
Revamped Starter towns
Lee talked about the fact that their internal research shows when players leave the game it's most-often done between hours two and four. Complaints most-often claim that these areas are too easy and offer no incentive to group. So to improve this, they're beginning a starter town revamp. In patch 1.3, the focus is on the Westreach area, including Clinton Farm, Odenville, Boneclaw and Midway. Next will be Depot 66, Zanesville, Terance and Oilville, while Embry Crossroads, North and South Burb and Mumford will be later.
One notable addition that was discussed is the Simsonville fortress near Odenville. This area is about the size of Junk Fortress, but it's all exterior locations. You'll need a group of about four players to take on more bosses and more challenges than we saw previously.
All mounts are now categorized more clearly into four main categories: combat, cargo, alternative fuel and high efficiency. Horses are the excpetion to this rule, as they are only either cargo or combat.
- Combat: These are the mounts that allow you to fire from them. If you plan to do a lot of mounted combat, this is what you need.
- Cargo: These vehicles have the most storage capacity.
- Alternative Fuels: These run on biodiesel or electric motors, which are considerably less expensive to maintain.
- High Efficiency: These vehicles are the most efficient of any mounts.
The changes to mounts only happened to ones created after the patch (including keys that haven't been used yet). All vehicles created before the patch will keep their current stats, essentially making them collector's items in the game. While these older vehicles might not have the specialized benefits of the newer ones, they are better as a generalized vehicle. For example, you may have previously trained the highest-capacity horse with the most storage which will still allow you to fire your rifle while mounted. You won't get that anymore with a new horse you'll train.
The Interceptor and the dune buggies also received more hit points over all, as well as better fuel efficiency. The basic horse was bumped up to level five to become the combat equivalent of the previous level 5 horse (which is now the cargo version).
Mountable vehicle guns are also in the works, as Lee tells us that it's mostly a matter of getting the art assets set up.
Increased level cap
The level cap just went up one level -- from 45 to 46. While you might be scratching your head as to why they would do this, Lee explains it very well on this podcast. Would you rather wait another few months for 5 levels at once, or get your one now and the other four later?
With this new level cap comes a higher skill point cap, currently at 166. While there are no new AP quests yet, there are between 50 and 60 new missions added to the level 45-46 experience. Most of this is in Deadfall Point, which I'll discuss in a minute.
Of course the armor and weapons have expanded for this extra level, including nine new craftable items. Lee says that the next patch (1.4) will be the big focus on more top-end tradeable and faction armor sets, which should make many players very happy.
This is the area in which you'll most-likely level your character from 45 to 46. There are between 50 and 60 new quests, new creatures -- including ones with "veteran" and "hazard" status -- new instances and a fun new storyline.
You know the Graham clones that you encounter throughout various LifeNet facilities in the game? In Deadfall Point, you'll be helping the Grahams clean up the irradiated zones through special terraforming towers that were already in the game before. Cleaning up the radiation will expand the explorable map for everyone. Although you'd think the Vistas would rejoice the most about this, all factions will be working together on the clean-up.
So there you have the meat of the patch. I highly recommend listening to the LifeNet podcast interview with Lee if you'd like to hear more about this patch and plans for the future. And if that's not enough, you can check out our own podcast interview with Lee on other aspects of the game's projected future plans.