Sneak peek: Respawning changes and new campaign difficulty settings

Hello everyone!

The next update is now only a few weeks away, and it’s time to return to some upcoming changes we’ve already written a little bit about: respawning and difficulty settings.

These changes are being made with customizability in mind. Over the years, we’ve seen different players have strongly contrasted views on the same questions: some are annoyed that oxygen tanks and fuel rods become depleted so easily, for instance, while others feel they’re trivial to manage and wish these common items figured more strongly into the overall difficulty of the game.

Rather than try to find a one-size-fits-all solution, we’re adding a number of new options to both respawning and overall gameplay difficulty, in the form of presets as well as complete adjustability of various things. We hope you will enjoy these changes once you get to play around with them, in a few weeks’ time!

Respawning changes & update on the permadeath mode

As we wrote in January, we are discontinuing Reaper’s Tax and replacing it with additional, customizable respawning skill loss. Starting with the next update, you can find two sliders in the server settings related to respawning skill loss: one for mid-round respawning and one for end-of-round respawning. Skill loss upon respawning can be disabled entirely in the server settings by setting each slider to 0%.

Barotrauma new respawning settings

We’ve also been working on two new high-difficulty options for multiplayer which have to do with respawning, or rather, lack thereof: the Permadeath and Ironman modes. Unfortunately, these will not be included in the next update. Following the poll we did about these game modes, we realized we needed to expand the scope and they would take longer to develop than we had anticipated… but let’s have a quick look at them anyway to give you an update about where we’re going with them.


When your character dies, they stay dead, along with their xp and talents. You will have to acquire a new character to respawn and continue playing. The permadeath mode is optional and intended for crews who want a bit more challenge in multiplayer.

Thank you everyone who took our poll about the permadeath mode in January and joined the discussion on Discord and Steam! The feedback was pretty overwhelmingly in favor of the permadeath design which allows you to take control of a bot following your character’s death, so that’s the one we went with. We also read the discussions closely for things we needed to improve about our design, and we hope you will like how this feature turned out.


Where permadeath stands for permanent character death, this is basically the permanent player death mode where once you die, you cannot respawn, only spectate. Thank you again everyone who answered the poll and gave feedback about this one – we saw an unexpected lot of interest in this respawning mode, so we decided to add it as another option.

While we’re sorry these features couldn’t be included in the update, don’t worry: our goal is to have them in the Unstable version around the time of the update or soon after. That way you’ll still get to try them out soon, and we’ll release them to the public version in the update after the next one!

Once we’re ready to release the Permadeath mode, we’ll also release this new “death screen”.

New campaign difficulty settings

The new difficulty settings are the “meat” of this post, so let’s dig in. As more and more players are getting very familiar with our in-game systems, some find that much of the initial challenge disappears. We love a challenge, of course, but we didn’t want to make the base difficulty any steeper, because that could easily be too much for new players. Instead, we’ve been working on allowing certain systems to be made harder or easier to suit individual playstyles and preferences.

To this end, we’ve added a bunch of new difficulty parameters, such as the duration of commonly-used items, world hostility and character vitality. You can adjust these freely by choosing the “custom” difficulty setting… or use one of the pre-balanced settings, ranging from “Easy” to “Abyssal”. Abyssal is a new preset, above hard in difficulty.

Let’s take a look at some of the new difficulty parameters:

  • The oxygen tank and reactor fuel parameters affect the consumption rates of these items. These can be used to increase or decrease difficulty in terms of how closely you have to manage your oxygen supply or the sub’s reactor.
  • The vitality multiplier determines the health of characters and can be set separately for the submarine crew and non-crew characters (NPCs encountered in the world). This allows you to make characters more robust if that’s what you want… or make everyone extra vulnerable for added chaos.
  • We also have separate parameters for how likely you are to get searched by security, or how badly a failed repair is going to hurt.
Barotrauma new campaign difficulty settings

World hostility is not a new parameter: it used to be known simply as “difficulty”, but we’ve renamed it for clarity, and wanted to write a bit about it for those players who are not yet familiar with it. It’s used to create higher or lower difficulties through monster spawns and level layouts. For example, the Cold Caverns biome normally has a difficulty ranging from 0 (on the left edge where you start) to 15 (on the right edge where you enter the next biome). Added hostility will increase the difficulty on the left side, so the range gets closer to 10–15. In other words, the difficulty cap of the biome doesn’t increase, but you will encounter more dangerous monsters and more difficult level layouts earlier on.

World hostility also makes the game’s “event manager” allow more intensity. Intensity determines which, or how many, monsters can spawn on top of the ones that are already there: usually if an event has already spawned monsters, the next events are delayed to give you some breathing room. By upping the intensity limit with hostility set to high, more monsters and various dangers can be active simultaneously.

What’s new about world hostility is that we’ve tied it to certain afflictions to allow cases like untreated wounds getting infected over time, when hostility is set to high. We’ve added only a handful of these hazards for now, but we can use this system to add more and more challenging mechanics to this setting in the future. Modders can also easily add their own mechanics and tie them to world hostility to create new high difficulty mods!

Server lobby UI improvements

Finally, as we’re adding a lot of new customization options to the multiplayer settings, we’ve adjusted the server lobby layout to make all the different settings easier to find. Here’s what the new lobby looks like, what do you think?

Barotrauma new server lobby layout

We’ve got one more sneak peek coming your way before the update – stay tuned for new content and small but handy improvements to come. Until then!


  • April 6, 2024
    Terry Irby

    How will Permadeath affect the traits that involve death for things like Assistant? Because his entire Grayshirt tree, is based around how disposable they can be. Like An Apple A Day making it so no Respawn Penalties affect you, which while you could choose Insurance Policy but it’d defeat the purpose of the tree. Along with other skills such as Family and Camaraderie for Captain revolve around “The death of Assistants do not count” which would seem like the best choice in a difficulty setting where while realistically people can die, no one should.
    Will there be a thing for Assistants where An Apple A Day or Revenge Squad will give you a 1-Time Resurrection, or will they do something else, or will they be null and void?

    Also, what will this do to saves made for Hellish Difficulty that were created before the update’s addition? Or will it just fit into “World Hostility”.

  • April 17, 2024
    Captain Dickärd

    Very excited for permadeath. I’ve been running a permadeath server for years and have to manually remove the talents and xp of dead players between rounds.

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