This time on the blog we’re taking a closer look at alien ruins, Barotrauma’s own brand of dungeon.
In the pre-alpha versions of the game, the ruins were vast and nearly empty, save for some items lying on the floor. Now, they take up even more space in the world, but they are divided into several smaller rooms, creating a layout more like a maze than an empty cavern, and there are also things lurking within. As follows, exploring alien ruins now takes more time and resources, but the potential rewards are also much higher.
Aside from artifact salvage missions, entering alien ruins is completely optional, adding a free roaming touch to missions. Should the player choose to, they can gather an “away team” over the course of any mission, leave the (relative) safety of their sub, and see what they find inside some ancient, ruined structures. Usually this will be trinkets of varying quality, alien power sources and materials and, if you’re lucky, working weaponry.
Besides these nice rewards, the ruins are populated by enemies, and the more unlucky explorers will run into Fractal Guardians that have been left to guard the ruins, or into creatures that have made the ruins their home. Exploration is also hindered by traps, machinery and other obstacles that the former occupants have left behind. Expect heavy doors that take some careful maneuvering to open, hatches that seem to have a will of their own and electric coils that draw power from some seemingly infinite source, to name a few things.
Navigating these subsurface dungeons successfully requires a bit of preparation. A diver will often need extra oxygen to make it to the end, unless they can periodically return to the sub for a refill. Plasma cutters are an invaluable tool for cutting through walls when trapped, but they too rely on precious oxygen. Flares will come in handy to provide light and to leave a breadcrumb trail, and emergency medical supplies are a must. Even a broken leg can prove fatal deep inside alien ruins.
We’re pretty happy with how, even now, the ruins offer a break from the sub-steering core of the gameplay and encourage risk taking for higher rewards. We plan to flesh out the role of the ruin environment even more in the future. For example, controlling the flow of water within the ruins to reach remote areas, or needing to power on different sections of the ruins at a certain time to be able to run generators and different machines will make the ruins even more interesting to explore.
We’ll also be making more content for the ruins, both functional and cosmetic. As our alpha testers have no doubt seen, the ruins are currently quite sparsely populated, and the cosmetic side is lacking. Going forward, we’re aiming for ruin exploration that shows the player something new every time.