Fallen Earth subscribers are about to see some pretty big changes coming to their game. The team at Icarus Studios has been putting the final touch on the first phase, and Operation Combat Upgrade will arrive on the PTS this week.

While these aren't as flashy as some of the recent cosmetic upgrades, they're going to have a significant impact on overall gameplay. According to the Fallen Earth developers, these upgrades will focus heavily on physical combat values. The changes run the gamut from armor requirements to high-level dodge and armor use combinations to NPC behavior, so you'll notice tweaks throughout the game.

The Fallen Earth team has provided a complete and detailed list of the upcoming changes, so follow along after the cut to take a look, and watch for them on the PTS later this week!
So what are the changes in Phase One of Operation Combat Upgrade?

Armor requirements will be diversified.
All armor previously required Armor Use skill to equip. New armor requirements are based on player level and statistics. This means that a player with low Armor Use skill can use top tier armor if they meet the stat requirements, but they will get less protection out of it than a player who is better trained.

Player level will have less impact in combat equations.
A player with a maximum level weapon skill could never get a critical hit on an opponent one level higher who had maximum Dodge. With the combat changes, now they can! A high-level opponent will still have better armor and weapons, but build type and player skill are more important now, so low-level players stand much more of a chance.

Hit location damage has been rebalanced.
The close-range nature of melee and the large targeting reticle can make it difficult to aim at specific regions. We've lowered the melee head-shot bonus and raised the melee limb-shot bonus, which gives melee players more reliable damage. Since base damage levels have gone up, the ranged head-shot bonus has been lowered slightly.

Dodge and Armor Use have been reduced in effectiveness at high levels (low levels will see little to no change).
The combined bonuses from Dodge and Armor Use skills enabled players to almost ignore standard weapon damage. This made Heal Over Time abilities too powerful and caused an over-reliance on damage types that were intended to be secondary. Armor Use and Dodge still provide good protection, but incoming weapon damage will be too high for regeneration abilities alone to repair. Weapons will once again be the primary source of damage.

Dodge and Armor Use have been differentiated.
Straight percentage mitigation is the hallmark of Armor Use. Dodge now mainly determines critical hit chance, and has only a small impact on base incoming damage.

Reaching the mitigation cap will require buffs.
With all the skill lines in Fallen Earth, it was far too easy to cap mitigation as an individual. We always want to support solo play, but players in groups need to feel that they can enhance their teammates' abilities.

Glancing blows are gone.
We realized critical hits are a lot more fun than arbitrary damage reductions. There won't be any more sniper rifle head-shot damage in the single digits!

NPCs are now treated more like players.
NPCs no longer miss based on a player's dodge. An NPC's chance to miss is determined by its own abilities, such as level, weapon skill, stance, and its target's stance.

Stun Durations are shorter.
Faster combat makes stuns more effective, so their durations have been reduced.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Combat Upgrade phases! Phase Two will revitalize Faction abilities, followed closely by upgrades to Mutations, Skills, and finally Items!

And for those of you playing Fallen Earth right now, here's a little advance tip: You won't need a wheel flip!

The revamped combat system will be hitting the Fallen Earth Public Test Shard this week.

This article was originally published on Massively.