The next update, Embrace the Abyss, is coming next week. It would be tempting to say it’s all about the campaign, because there is definitely (again) a strong focus on more progression, and even some new bits of lore. That would be selling it short, though, because there are also some major content additions and important quality of life changes that are not limited to any one game mode.
Besides adding new things, this update aims to make Europa a little more intuitive to get into as a new submariner, and more convenient for the more experienced crews out there too. So, embrace the abyss and… the abyss embraces you back? Something like that.
Even if they aren’t nearly all that the update has to offer, let’s start with those changes that specifically affect the campaign game mode. When you start a new campaign, you will notice that there is some new reading about the world. As you venture out into the world, you may now find side missions, optional objectives that show up on the campaign map and can be completed in addition to the actual mission of the current campaign round: either restore a beacon station to working order (regular map) or clear out monster hunting grounds (in the abyss).
Next time you die in the course of a multiplayer campaign, you will notice you no longer have to wait until the next outpost to respawn. Mid-round campaign respawning is optional, restricted to multiplayer and comes with a cost so as not to make it a farming device.
Provided you didn’t disable it at the start of the campaign, you will also notice a redness creeping up from the left side of the map. This represents radiation from Jupiter, which around the start of the game events has begun to intensify, for a mysterious reason. Keep moving forward to put more water between yourself and the dangerous wavelengths, and hopefully find a new way to survive.
It’s not a race, though, and you should also take the time to strengthen your crew, upgrade your ship and build a reputation for yourself along the way: new areas of the map will only be accessible once you’ve reached certain requirements. Read more about some of the new campaign map features here.
As you move right on the campaign map, you also move deeper into the ocean. However, even in the earliest levels (and in every game mode, not just the campaign) beneath the level “floor” lurks the abyss. It’s easier to access in some of the later biomes that are less enclosed, but it’s always there and can be entered.
Starting with this update, the abyss contains not just crushing depth but also mineral islands and two kinds of very large monsters: the charybdis and the endworm. You can read more about abyss creatures and the abyss itself here.
New hazardous locations are being added also above crush depth: outposts that are in dangerous waters may become abandoned and taken over by wildlife or outlaws. This is also a campaign-related change in that your actions on the campaign map have an effect on location evolution. More importantly though, abandoned outposts bring new missions, and new missions mean greater variety for everyone!
Here’s a short story about what abandoned outpost exploration could be like.
Barotrauma can still be a bit tricky to get into, and there are many things that are a little clumsy. We’ve worked on improving some of those for this update, starting with the new campaign start text that should make things like the encroaching radiation fit in a bit better and help you get to understand the world; at the other end of the spectrum there are things like improved interfaces. Here’s a quick summary:
- Contextual hints: Help messages that pop up when you encounter certain things for the first time during a round. These can be turned off, either individually (“don’t show this message again”), or altogether in the new Gameplay & UI tab in the settings, if you’d rather not see pop-ups.
- Improved info tab menu: Crew, money, mission, reputation, submarine layout and upgrades… all in one place. The info tab now also has its own button on the screen, next to the crew list and command interface buttons, to make it easier to find.
- Submarine previewing: In all places where you can see a thumbnail of the submarine, such as the New Game menu, online lobby or the newly added Submarine section in the info tab, you can click on the thumbnail to get an interactive preview of the submarine. You can pan around as if it were spectator mode and highlight sections of the sub, such as the ballast tanks or the airlocks. This should be a big help in finding your way around a vessel.
- Mission difficulty indicators (skull icons) to help you pick missions that suit you.
- The biggest creatures now have a visible health bar at the top of the screen to help you plan how to go about fighting them.
What else is new
With this update the AI crewmates are beginning to be capable of assisting in extravehicular tasks, such as accompanying you to a wreck or an abandoned outpost and shooting monsters. Give it a try and let us know what works and what doesn’t! This avenue of AI development is still in the early stages, but we’re hoping you’ll find it helpful already.
As always, there are numerous smaller fixes and improvements coming, such as favoriting the server you’re currently in and giving bots multiple orders, and the persistent voice chat crackling issue has also finally been fixed; some details have been shared on our Trello and more will be found in the changelog next week. See you then!