Escalating difficulty mode

This suggestion addresses two current problems (for some people) with the game:

  1. Late game triviality
  2. Overall game arc

Right now, you struggle for a bit, build up your character, amass an arsenal, then resort to setting artificial challenges for yourself. By a year in, you are generally invincible. I was brainstorming ways to keep the challenge up without introducing exotic and annoying monsters.

Escalating difficulty
What about a game mode that increases game difficulty over time? Here are some suggestions for ways to do that.

1. Increase zombie spawning rate by a certain amount per day/week
Perhaps after a grace period of a week, the spawn rate can begin to increase.

2. Give zombies a tech development
Zombies start the game as regular zombies. After a period, boomers and toughs and shriekers appear. Then brutes and shockers. Then hulks etc.

Variant: zombie tech-tree
Game starts with regular zombies. Spawn rate increases. After a period, new types of zombies appear, but with a bias toward a type (lots of acid variants, electricity variants, or plain tough-type zombies). This gives each run a flavour, but also presents additional challenges to your preparedness

3. Zombie waves
Game starts with static spawning. Periodically, a dynamic “horde of zombies descends”. A certain number of Zs spawn within a certain radius (outside a safe bubble of 30 tiles radius or so) and head toward the player. These hordes can be flavoured and also increase in intensity over time

4. Degrading environment
This would probably be toughest to implement — and it would have to be an option because it’s a bit RND heavy — but I foresee things like:

a. an extended period of endless night
b. electrical storms that temporarily incapacitate all electrical items
c. spontaneous wildfires
d. earthquakes that produce mild-medium damage to structures (fallen walls, plies of rubble appearing)

I was inspired by the idea of building up a base and then having to actually defend it against an increasingly hostile world. Perhaps even in a “survival” mode where your ultimate demise is inevitable, but players can compete to see who can hold out the longest. The idea of being dug in to a base full of ammo, bombs, and food, surrounded by traps, with armed turrets, then getting a game notification that tells you “the sky turns black and your bowels tighten as the deafening sound of a massive horde fills the air”; suddenly you have to defend against a wave of hulks and shocker brutes who are wading through your defences, shrieking in rage as bear traps snap around their legs and 9mm ammo from your turrets pepper their hides. You got a breach in your outer walls opening up to the north — better molotov them. Booze is running low. Did you build enough stills? Is it time to make a run for it in your mobile death wagon? And if so, what then? Will you have time to establish another base before the next wave?

Just an idea. Some of these suggestions have popped up before, but I couldn’t find them combined into a singular vision for a game mode.

  1. Zombies don’t spawn, so this would be a huge change.
    2 is generally the way we’re headed, though having a persistent “flavor” to the evolution is an interesting idea.
  2. Is again referencing dynamic spawning, which is going away. However there will be waves of zombies for you to attract.
    4 is planned, but hard