End Game Content

Hello all.

So I have run into a couple of problems in my cataclysm runs. I have passed the rogue singularity and actually become good at the game. Good of course means that I am actually able to find a balance and not die, unless I do something stupid. The second problem comes from the fact that even though my character is a shaolin master in power armor that punches Hulks in the face, has cleared out dozens of bases and labs, and has run over entire nations of squirrels… He doesn’t have much else to do.

Cata is a great game, but it reaches a certain point when your character is able to do anything in the game without too much of a problem. I think this encourages making a new character rather than continuing the story of the character you are playing on.

My idea is to bring more specialized end game content to the game. Scenarios that would require even the most veteran zombie hunter a few tries and a whole lot of ammo. These would appear outside of the visible map, a year or two after you first started the game. This would require actually getting to the scenario, which would be the first challenge. Taking you away from your home base and requiring you to lengthen your supply lines a bit.

And what are these scenarios you ask? Well…

  1. The Factory.

Before the zombie/tree people/fungusamongus/slime/Lovecraftian apocalypse, this factory was one of the many across the United States that supplied weapons, armor and ammo to the runaway, bloated military budget of the government. After the fall though, it has a newer purpose. Now the former alive workers of the factory move side by side with the unblinking mechanical eye of robots. And even darker rumors exist that in the deep bowels of this run away monster, the zombie workers still work…

Here, the challenge of fighting through the factory would be a double sided one. Under attack from zombie hordes while being fired on by robots and turrets make for a new kind of dynamic in the game. After butchering your way lower and lower in the factory you finally come across the artificial intelligence running things. Maybe a boss fight or just a very deadly inner fight.

The prize? The Factory’s president’s bunker at the lower levels. Perhaps with some sort of inventory teleportation device that would bring you here from anywhere in the world. Modeled after the LMOE shelters but larger, more high tech. Along with certain advantages like turning steel into firearms and ammo.

So, your character has eaten the heart of the factory and another year passes. Suddenly, you hear about something else.

  1. The Stadium.

During the Fall, people reacted accordingly to the end of the world. They ran, they fought, they hid. They went to the places they thought they could be safe. Military bases, shelters, churches, and even the local sports stadium. Yes, your favorite team from [LOCAL TOWN], The [ANIMAL/HISTORIC FIGURE/LEGEND]s! The stadium used to be able to hold 70,000 screaming fans. And after the fall, they say it held just about as many screaming refugees. Though they were screaming for different reasons. The military held up decently well outside. Strong concrete walls and nice choke points made for a defense even a first year officer could handle. But then, the spores began to fall from the sky…

Now, the stadium is a nightmare. The corpses of all those refugees and soldiers either risen again or used to feed the enormous fungal tower that grows in the middle of the sports field. Now what was defensible is a danger to fight through. Chokepoints and narrow passage ways allow the fungus to use numbers against you. And getting out to the field is just the beginning of your problems.

This would be a test of the most important of all zombie hunting strategies, the choke point. Caught in long hallways could be useful, until they start coming up behind you. The use of fire will be essential, especially during the final battle against the super fungal tower and its defenses. Turning the field of play into a hellstorm of fire might help, but it could doom you too if you don’t know what you are doing.

So now your character has burned down your local stadium, the one your dad took you too as a kid… nice job there, and looks for a reward. Well, why not the card from your local sports hero? It will be like a artifact, but with more benefits and less downsides. Just held in your inventory will give you some type of easy going benefit.

So, you’ve stopped the robot zombie armies of the factory. And you still get weird, pyromaniac dreams about the stadium… Another year passes.

  1. The Mall.

What zombie apocalypse is complete without a shopping mall? Smash your way through the zombie hordes of the ground floor in a manner that would make Frank West jealous. But this is just the opening fight, underneath the mall is where the real danger lies.

The underground is a mass of zombies almost uncountable. The second floor can be cleared, and actually makes a pretty good home to stock your gear in. And you’re gonna need it, because from floor three down… zombies spawn constantly. The deeper you go, the more spawn. But the deeper you go, the better the gear. And what gear?

Unique weapons. Salvini’s revolver, Michonne’s katana. Bub’s pistol. Kenneth’s shotgun. You get the drift. Legendary zombie hunting weapons lost deep in the mall where survivors made their final stands. A bit better than your average weapon, the real point would be collecting them. What veteran zombie hunter wouldn’t want all of these in their armory? Maybe even after collecting them all, giving the player the ability to make your favorite weapon into something legendary.

So, you are guarded by robots. You can still see the glow of the fire on the horizon from the stadium. And your rifle has killed so many zombies that even the undead seem to be wary of it. Another year passes…

  1. Meet the Devs!

Ala’ Cafe of broken dreams. More fun than difficult, though the benefits still could be quite good for the player. Good loot, meet all the people that helped out in Cata as they survive in their underground bunker. Maybe a few repeatable quests.

  1. The Station.

A train station! A difficult fight, but the main point would be to fuel the generators and power up the train. Getting on it will take you to an entirely new map. Beginning a new adventure in an entirely new area that is no way connected to your original world. Getting on the train station there will take you back home, but there will be no other way back home.

I think you get the idea. The rotation of a year or so between these encounters would give end game players something to be working towards. And give them a set of random factors, such as meeting the devs coming first then the mall, then the factory. Making the second time around be much more difficult. Etc. Sorry to make it quick here at the end, but I need to get from classes to work. I might toss in some more ideas if more run around my brain and there’s a general conversation about it. I’ve seen the rare other thread on end game ideas, but they’ve never really gone anywhere.

I really love all of these. :3
I especially like the idea of a fungal spire in the middle of a playing field, repeatable quests stand out to me as well.

A stadium with 70,000 zombies?

Do want

I’m not big on an end game kinda thing but I like the idea of vast quests like these that require the player to leave their base and head far away. That stadium does sound like a ton of fun.

I tried to hit on a lot of things that seem to draw people to this game and games in particular. Achievements, gathering certain objects, doing certain more epic things. With the problems of NPCs, it’s hard to do that in the quest arena.

I would say having larger quests though are end game content one way or another. If you’re good enough to roast an entire stadium, trekking through a lab isn’t going to be a problem. The whole of the idea came from playing through cata again, and using a prison as a home base. It was more the build up to that move, than the actual move. I had to do the normal things, get food, water. Then guns, ammo. Once I had an SKS and a good amount of ammo and skill with it, it was clearing out the prison.

But even after I did that, it continued. I needed to cut up the bodies now, dispose of them. I needed to move all my gear. Even something as simple as that stretched out the game nicely. What had started as a simple move in a game turned into a four hour affair that turned my character into a bad ass with a bad ass home.

I’ve been thinking on something for the triffids too. I think a giant impenetrable swamp is needed for something like that.

My concern with these scenarios is how the player will come to learn of them. Will he have to listen to a radio all the time, or will he just stumble onto it somewhere when the time is right? Will they be forced on the player? Is there going to be a penalty for not doing them the year they show up?

That said, I do like the idea of events occurring on a year by year basis, as it gives a player a change in pace, especially once you conquer the need for food, water, shelter and protection. Personally I think there ought to be Megamalls in the larger cities anyway, which could be a source of a lot of good stuff, but be flooded with zombies and other nasty creatures. Also, I imagine a crazy artificial intelligence would be very plausible in this future world, as well. Heck, maybe that artificial intelligence sends robot armies to cities to exterminate any survivors that made it through the cataclysm, and from one you can get a some kind of transponder that you can use with a radio or whatever to pinpoint the factory where the orders are being sent from. Destroying the AI would prevent the robots from being dynamically spawned, as well as give the player the opportunity to find some good loot if he’s been having bad luck in that department.

The ideas I’ve been mulling over in the department of end game content are slightly…well, evil.

One of these thoughts is in regards to the stability of the fabric of reality. Going by what the shelter NPC says, I assume the apocalypse is recent. What if it’s only the beginning, and it only gets worse? Perhaps as the years (or in-game days) go by, more and more rifts in the fabric of space and time begin to appear, along with the abominations and horrors that follow them? Perhaps the otherworldly creatures begin to mutate and adapt to the reality they’ve been thrust in? Maybe that zombie isn’t really a zombie at all, but a shadow that is mimicking the appearance of one, or perhaps a cougar, or a bear, the difference being it’s stronger and when ‘killed’ it melts into a blob.

It wouldn’t be fair if the player couldn’t do anything about this, so perhaps there’s a way to reverse it. However, it would not be a global fix, it would only affect the local area. Perhaps the lab computers on the bottommost floors would contain the answer, and would affect an area equivalent of that is revealed by the surface map data downloaded from a computer. This would create a local area of stability, but outside of that, things would continue to get worse, so if a player wants to go somewhere else and stop the degradation in that place, he has to stabilize things there, too. And if there isn’t a lab nearby? Oh well. Can’t save the entire world, can we? That’s one idea.

Another idea I’ve had is that as the years pass, the territory the giant creatures and plants occupy grows. Giant ants make giant breeders which make their migratory flight to create new giant anthills and queens all over. New beehives are generated. Triffid groves expand into new territory, new fungal spires, etc. There might even be internecine warfare between some of the creatures, like maybe giant bees attack and kill Fungaloids for their pollen, which they use in their honey and royal jelly. Maybe ants and triffids just don’t get along. Either way, they’ll all produce in large numbers in their territories, leading to the player getting swamped with hundreds of thousands of whatever if he stays in one place too long and just ignores the threat. If he doesn’t want to bother killing the sources of these creatures to stop their spread, he can always just toss his things in a car, pack up and move out. Could also go with vehicular manslaughter, but when giant ants or Fungaloids start filling entire screens, there’s only so much roadkill a car can deal with before something breaks. Ah well. I think a giant bee/Fungaloid battle would be interesting to see, even if it would ultimately not lead anywhere because the real sources of these creatures are in their respective lairs. I think it would keep a player on his or her toes, though.

That’s about all I have for now. The way the game is at the moment, the cataclysm doesn’t particularly develop in any way past day 1, but I’m sure as the game is developed more and fleshed out, that will change. I’m interested to see what kinds of things we’ll see that challenge entrenched and established survivors.

Edit: Also, I think a lot of the issues with lack of challenge are likely due to how incredibly powerful the skills become as you level them up. A master of archery could clear out most of a city with a slingshot, pebbles, and a crossbow for the occasional brute (I’ve done it, it’s quite funny riling up a horde, holding down f and watching swaths of zombies die from tiny rocks). When those types of issues get cleared up, we might see a more defined kind of end game for the survivor over the hump, one that actually justifies using those fancy fusion guns and charge rifles, or some of those sweet mutations and bionics. As it is though skill > everything at the moment.

My over all plan would not have them be forced in any way. But be forced in the delivering of the ‘scenario’. Whether it be through a radio, or perhaps some sort of flyer that happens to blow by at the right time declaring the evacuation point of the stadium or the mall. Not doing the scenario would just allow them to build up in other places, outside of the map you’ve already explored so you could just stay away from them with your character.

Now this is an entirely cool idea. Evolve the game right beside the player so the apocalypse is a giant sliding slope of random numbers screwing you over, as what makes a rogue like so dangerous to play. Maybe make genetic factors of creatures just like the mutations we already have, then over time begin to randomly blend those mutations higher or lower. This would make each game delightfully unique.

So while the giant bees and fungaloids start out as they are, over time the Giant bees become Bee-monster people with sharks teeth that ride giant lizards while the fungaloids ‘devolve’ into slime blobs with tentacles and fleet footedness that chase you down and absorb you.

Love the ideas, and love the general idea of higher end challenges for end game characters. The stadium especially…the sheer numbers of Zs would require completely different strategy. And really give uses for items like power armour or oodles of zombie pheromone.

Something about the baseball card reward I love as well. Maybe just gives +5 morale or something minor, but otherwise unattainable and “personal” to the character otherwise.

The Mi-Go etc are prime for high end boss monsters. The resonance cascade event in the lab finale could really be used as a good trigger for some of this stuff. Fight the giant monster while portals bring in subprime monsters, destroy the crystals healing it…plenty of fodder here for a boss fight and rewards.

The idea of being able to start on a new map with a train full of equipment I really would like, even if not a massive quest as just an option. I sometimes just drive out in a vehicle to start again, this seems like a cooler way of doing that.

The Meet The Dev’s is a bit too meta for me, and the general idea could be done better with NPC Factions.

I want there to be a location where my screen can literally be filled with zombies with a few specials/hulks mixed in.

It’s time to put my deathmobile to the test.

It’s a big problem with open ended games, no matter how much content/harder enemies you put in, eventually the player just becomes too strong/gathers sufficient resources for the game to become too repetitive.
I feel the way around this (as well as your awesome suggestions) is a near impossible quest to complete. A very, very nearly impossible one, which would only be possible with an incredible amount of luck and skill.

Obviously, making this fun/something that people would want to attempt would be an even bigger challenge, but it would be something that could be worked towards for players that want to continue with their characters.

For instance (and I’m not feeling overly creative right now), perhaps each one of those factories contains a part and you need to collect 50 or so of them to kill all zombies/spaceship/whatever. Obviously this is an overly simplistic quest, and I’m sure something better could be thought up which isn’t so grindy, but having an overall ‘epic’ end quest could be interesting.

So, after skimming through a few of these, Have you guys never seen a mega store before? Like, big 3x3 building with craploads of zombies? No? At least in 0.4 i think there were.

Also, how about this for an endgame quest.
You have to go through a 1 space wide tunnel with very sharp turns so no vehicles could make it through, Invincible enemies come and steal things like Jhammers or molotovs, and then it takes you through a walk so long you are hungry and very thirsty, and you find a giant swamp with bee hives all around, with slime pits fungel towers and triffid groves, and anthills, and you have to collect items from each area so when you secape you can craft them into one mega item that destroys the whole thing, an sends quite a few mosquitos and ants and other monsters out into the open, where as if you didn’t do tht they would all spawn everywhere at an astounding rate.

Chalenging enough?

In my mind, endgame should be when you’ve cleared out entire towns and have lots of NPCs that admire and follow you. After a while, I think you should be able to reclaim a town, have NPCs inhabit it, rebuild, farm, yadda yadda yadda, and essentially start your own post-apocalypse community.

That should also be about when insanely large space-monsters so large that they span several tiles in a roguelike game come down and start smashing your hopes and dreams, while you desperately put together a force to try and wage war against the nigh-unstoppable threat.

That is what I call endgame.

Agreed. My preferred endgame definitely looks like faction building and reclamation, punctuated by zombie sieges (much more dangerous to your community of less-badass survivors than to you) and possibly megabeasts of various types. Essentially, there should be a smooth progression up from single survivor struggling to scavenge food and water, to building up your own base such that it can support other survivors, to teaming up with those survivors to clear out a town, then you get a plateau period where you’re sort of playing Dwarf Fortress, including sieges of various types… and finally, you get the attention of endgame monsters, who come to ruin all you’ve built.

There should be some kind of hostile human groups as an endgame content. Even heavy armed character may find it hard to start a firefight with 3-5 armed robbers. They may be even mobs, not NPCs, but the game really lacks hostile human population.