It’s finally time to properly introduce the New Frontiers update – that is, the campaign update that’s been teased and talked about for an incredibly long time.
What does a campaign overhaul do, exactly?
Besides adding much-needed new content, the New Frontiers update is a big step forward in creating a better sense of progression in the campaign game mode. We dare say, singleplayer and multiplayer are also beginning to play as proper game modes, each offering different experiences (even with the crew AI continuing to be a work in progress).
Even then, what this update is not is the end of campaign development. It’s more like the part 1 of campaign development, establishing once and for all what we really mean by campaign, and laying the groundwork that we can then start fleshing out further with future updates.
So, what is it made of?
Probably the single biggest change are the new, explorable outposts, which we’ve written about before as well. Outposts become physically explorable locations that replace the old campaign menu as the trading, crew hiring and service buying hub. They feature autonomous AI inhabitants as well as randomly occurring scripted events that drive Barotrauma’s background story and may even directly affect gameplay!
Submarines will become another new key component of campaign progression. From now on, you’ll start your campaign with a modest boat and be able to upgrade its hulls and machinery as you progress in the campaign and earn more funds from doing missions. Better vessels will also become available for purchase later down the line, and those can then be upgraded further, too.
All submarine progression improvements apply to player-made submarines as well, so you’ll be able to experience the campaign as it was intended even if you prefer to ride custom subs.
The in-game economy has been improved in many ways, from allowing you to sell items – no more hoarding! – to balancing prices and item availability at different locations. Want cheap guns? You’d best buy them at a military outpost, then…unless you’ve upset someone at that outpost, because then they may charge you extra, instead. Choose wisely where and how you spend your newly minted marks (credits were really unimaginative and we’re happy not to have them anymore).
Click here if you want to read what we’ve said about sub upgrades and the economy system changes before.
The New Frontiers update also contains a visual overhaul that affects most sprites in the game, improving the look of submarines and everything aboard them in particular. The campaign map has been overhauled too, and the campaign endgame location is finally accessible in this update, with a work-in-progress ending implemented.
The AI crewmates are no longer being randomized between campaign missions, making them more than simple cannon fodder. The bots themselves are also improved with every update, so even though this update hasn’t focused on the crew AI, some rough edges should have been smoothed out again. As a side note, we’ve removed the need to change the batteries in headsets, so that should make bot management a little less micromanagement-y, as well.
We’ve also taken a look at the difficulty, hopefully smoothing out some of the worst spikes, and there are always multiple fixes and optimizations being done; the smaller improvements are way too many to list here, and we can’t wait to post the entire changelog with the update!
When is it coming out?
Next week, Honkmother willing.
Now more than ever, we look forward to hearing back from you: How does it play? Let us know what you think – either drop a line on the Steam forums, join the chat in our Discord, or report a bug in our issue tracker or via this contact form.
After the dust settles, we’re going to head out for some summer holidays. Most of the team will be away for some part of or the entire August to recharge our batteries and then get back to work – the next update is already in the horizon.