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New Player - Essentials Missing, Frustrating Experience


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So, Ive played a whole 12 hours of VS so far, and Ive just gotten a copper anvil, all the copper tools, and ingots. Its generally decent so far, and a survival game with potential. I get that its Early Access, BUT I cannot find a lot of essential information that makes the whole experience questionable, and rather painful and frustrating, especially for new players.

Ive read a few posts in here, but Im not trolling through every post to make sure that this stuff hasnt been addressed already. Also, I like finding mechanics and ways of playing organically, and HATE having to read wikis and reddit all the time to work out how to play. Im sure that Ive probably missed some information/steps that might make some of these easier, but that's also an indictment on how terrible the documentation is, given that you have to use it to be able to play the game.

I know that I could find very little information ANYWHERE about this extremely important stuff:

1) Food and DEATH: What is the impact other than dropping your gear? What else is lost? There is no XP so AFAIK there is no other impact to dying (durability?). There is NOTHING in the handbook, wiki, or reddit about what exactly is the cost of death. SO, this means that the whole food / starvation mechanic is pointless! Which makes foraging and hunting pointless too! As long as I die near my spawn point then I just pick everything back up and keep going with very little interruption other than annoying dying noises. I even set up a farm with a heap of stuff, but I haven't bothered with eating after the first few hours. It seems to be autumn, and after reading one random post about less food in winter, I was initially worried, but now I don't care. I made preserve jars, etc, but whats the point? They are still empty. If I find some food, its a bonus cause I live a little longer before getting half my health back.

2) Spawn point: Im guessing this cannot be changed via any in game mechanic such as a bed. I have a hay/straw bed, but I still respawn at the same place on the map. Lucky I started base building near it, because the first time I died I had already done a bunch of stuff, and I would have been frustrated if I was a long way away. Nothing is mentioned in the usual places (Im not going to keep listing all the obvious info sources).

3) Finding copper: What an effing pain in the arse. This has caused me sooo much GRINDING. I can run around and forage for it, but thats very hit an miss. I can pan for it, but the drop rate is so damn painful, Im pretty sure thats where at least 75% of my play time has been! I tried digging for it like other games, but no chance of that once you hit stone of course. In the end it was back to panning. Then I got the pickaxe and foraging tool, but that was effing useless. I found some copper deposits and got some nuggets, but I cannot smelt them. WTF?! So I have to make an anvil and chisel to break down the nuggets. Again most of this info was gleaned from 3rd party information. Oh, you need 900 F$#@ing units?! More GRINDING with the pan. Maybe Ive missed something here that makes this process easier? Oh, also, why isnt there a copper knife?!

4) Using anything, esp the damn anvil: It seems really strange that a character in a game world can make all the necessary items out of clay and copper in order to start metalworking, but that same character can have no idea on HOW to use those items. This was the final straw for making this post - I had made ingots of copper, anvil, a hammer, and figured that would be how I need to make the chisel. But, I could not find proper instructions or work out how the damn things are supposed to work. The prompts are awful. Turns out apparently I needed to have "heated ingots" to work them, which makes sense, but mine had cooled after pouring. No matter what I tried, I cold not work out how to heat the friggin things back up. Putting them in a coal fire does not heat them one degree. I did think of putting them back in the molds and putting that in the fire, but at this point I think I don't really care, I'm too annoyed at all the wasted and dull time. I searched all the info sources and couldn't find anything beyond very vague instructions that do not relate to actual steps in the game with the items required, or there was a f%$#ing 30 minute video on smithing. I really CBF'd searching through that to learn one simple mechanic.

5) Bows: I have no idea on these, how to make them, where, etc. The only reason I even know they exist is because there are arrowheads. What else am I missing that could save all of this frustration?

6) Character: I didnt even know there was armor for awhile, or the character screen. There is no indication of how to improve the character in any way - more HP, less hunger, etc other than eating a mixed diet.

On a technical level the game runs pretty well (i7 RTX 3070), and other than a few issues like the volume controls not working properly, some lag/loading moments, and other minor UI issues, it seems fairly stable. The graphics are quite nice too.

I really enjoy exploration survival games, but I have done very little exploring in this one, or had much fun. And thats not because of travel limits with ignoring food. Its because I have to keep panning so much damn gravel to get the copper I need to progress the game in any way. And I think Im done already :(


Edited by Byron1c
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I think I can help with a few of these, I've put about 200 hours into the game. 

#1 - When you die, in addition to dropping your gear you also lose nutrition, which is directly correlated to the number of hit points you have. So dying often means you have less health, often significantly less. For example, I have about 23 health with 4 of the 5 bars mostly full, versus 15 when you spawn in. 

#2 - You can respawn, but it isn't as easy as a bed. You need to find a temporal gear ( a blue, spinning gear ) with a very small chance to drop from drifters. As the tier of drifter increases there's a higher chance of dropping one of these gears, however I wouldn't recommend fighting anything other than surface drifters unless you have armor or a lot of healing. Once you have one of these gears, you have to hold it and click-hold on a block.

#3 - The rarity of copper is part of the game, just wait until you have to look for surface tin 😉. In all seriousness, I turn my tin and copper rates up slightly when I make my worlds because I spent so much time wandering around looking for it. That being said I still have played in a number of worlds with the normal copper rates and done just fine. Just like everything in this game, it just takes time! The more you play, the better you will get at spotting them.  
Sidenote: To spend as little time as possible searching for surface copper, spend your first 200 units of copper on a pickaxe and a hammer. A pick to mine the surface copper deposits just below where you find it on the surface, and a hammer to extract the nuggets. 

#4 - You need a forge to heat the ingots back up, which is made with cobblestone in a U pattern ( if memory serves ). You can add up to 4 ingots at a time, and a single piece of charcoal/lignite/black coal is enough to heat the ingots up to a workable temperature. You will need tongs in your off hand to handle anything that is hot. I am gonna have to call you on their being "no information" on how to do this though, there's tons of older threads on the forums on this, lots of YouTube videos, and I remember the handbook giving decent instructions. 

#5 - Bows are better left, in my opinion, until a little later in the game, since it takes a lot of time to make a complete bow ( bowstaves take time to dry). There are several different tiers of bows that all have a base damage value. For example, the longbow has a base damage of 3.75. You've likely been finding flint and copper arrowheads. Depending on the quality of the arrow ( tier of arrowhead ) the arrow does extra damage and a lower chance of breaking on impact. A flint arrow has a damage value of -0.5, which means that if it's shot from a longbow, that arrow will do 3.75 - 0.5 = 3.25 damage. A copper arrow has neither a positive or negative boost, and any arrow made of a higher tier than copper add damage to the bow. 

#6 - There is armor, and lots of it. I don't bother with it until the iron age, since the lower tiers don't offer the protection I want. That being said, crude ( log? ) armor in the beginning will absolutely save you from a wolf bite and gambeson once you have the linen is awesome. Health is increased per the method I mentioned in #1, and hunger only increases in the cold or when you're healing, otherwise it's constant. 

My recommendation to you is that you start a new world with an exploration focus ( makes the game less survival focused ), turn up your copper and tin rates to uncommon and rare respectively, turn off drop items on death, and run south. One big thing I LOVE about this game is the complexity, the grind, how punishing it can be. It makes what you do build/accomplish so much more rewarding, but it's certainly not for everyone ( I have tried to get my friends to play for years, to no avail 😂 )

One last suggestion. There's a great Youtuber who records a guide series of this game who's not only entertaining but also has an insane amount of knowledge on this game. There name is Kurazarr, I highly recommend giving their series a shot, it might help!

Best of luck to you, and I hope you do give the game another chance!

Edited by small_fern
Tired and forgot to add some information
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, small_fern said:

I think I can help with a few of these, I've put about 200 hours into the game. 

Best of luck to you, and I hope you do give the game another chance!

Thanks for the reply and info small_fern :)

I have everything left as default re settings. I should have been clear on my intent with some of the points, and that its feedback from a new but generally experienced player of survival games. Mostly Im commenting on the need for more / better documentation, need for a bit of a welcome tour of the main interface components (minimap was another one) or even just a text dump in the handbook, and some review of the early game tech tree, and mechanics / balancing the default experience.

Death: I start with the full bars of 15 health each time, and half my hunger/stamina bar full. Its completely immersion breaking, but very easy to ignore having to find food, store it, cook it, etc. Basically, I thought there would have been an extra cost to death like in most other games, to make death less attractive as a strategy. Usually in other games its durability reduction, lost/broken items, or something like that. As it stands based on what you have said, I would still end up just focusing on tech development and ignore food for the small improvement in most of the early-mid game. When my tech is high enough then I would bother to hunt etc when its less trouble and time consuming. And Im guessing that is what a fair number of other players would end up doing (people often go for the easiest option).

Copper: I did a quick test, and in 6 minutes I panned 12 blocks of Gravel, and got 16 nuggets of copper, which is a bit higher than it has been in general. And that was without having to move at all, and its fairly easy to set it up at the side of a pond, and use the flow of the water to keep the zombies away at night. From what I remember of fossicking, it wasnt that efficient. Once in awhile I go off and collect a heap more blocks and dump them... rinse and repeat, A LOT... Doing this Ive made every copper tool and weapon I can, and have made all of the clay molds for all copper items (10?). The only one I havent used is for the scale armor. Ive made at least 3 pickaxes, 3 shovels, and 2 axes too. Ive collected HEAPS of copper by panning (2300 units - about 460 nuggets by my rough calcs), and while its efficient, its very boring. I also had a look at the forge, and I have no way of making the bricks to make it, so it seems that I have literally "bricked" 300 copper that I can no longer use until I get a lot of improvements. I would have thought a coal fire would be enough to heat up the metal (like they always seem to show with old blacksmiths). Again, I might have missed something, but it means that I cant use the anvil for much except when I first make an ingot (I hope - I havent tried yet). I cant even make the metal bits for storage containers.

Exploration: Ive traveled a fair way in each cardinal direction, but havent reached many different biomes (grassland, sandy/gravel, water/swampy). Ive only gone in 2 caves, and they were pretty small. But given how quickly I died, I realised I needed better defense (which is why I realised I should look at armor, which made me realise there must be a character screen too, as dumb as that was of me). I was generally dying easily to drifters etc, so I was given the impression that I was not meant to be exploring too far yet. Not being able to do anything with the mined larger copper chunks was really frustrating and also made me feel like I shouldnt even bother exploring yet, hence going the tech route.

Im all for punishing survival games, and like the idea of the more realistic challenge, but I feel like Im being punished for not knowing how to do so many things in the game. I also am happy to learn new and unique mechanics (I really like the knapping and clay building, and found that intuitive and fun), but I really hate having to constantly switch between a browser and the game every time I run into a quirk, and wonder if its a bug, something Ive overlooked, something I cant do yet, or whatever. I get it with an Early Access game sometimes, but researching online shouldnt be a requirement for most of the game, but its an easy out more and more big and small developers seem to use ("just search online").

Ive tried to imagine the player has been dumped in the middle of nowhere with their handbook, and left to survive on their own. But, having to look things up all the time gives me visions of the entitled player with their mobile phone in their hand and googling everything they need to learn, when the phone could just be used to rescue themselves.

I think Ill wait awhile for some more improvements, and see how its going then. Ive just installed Kingdom Come Deliverance which I can hopefully sink a few 100 hours into in a survival style game, and revisit VS afterwards.

Edited by Byron1c
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17 hours ago, Byron1c said:

I also had a look at the forge, and I have no way of making the bricks to make it,

Bricks? The forge is made out of 7 blocks of any kind of cobblestone; 32 stones separated into stacks of 4 in a box shape with 4 clay in the middle will yield 8 cobblestone blocks. And you definitely should have those materials from all that panning you said you did.

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