Reason for this Suggestion:
In one of his recent videos MurderUnicorn talked about the addition of the deserters camp.
His valid point of criticism was the sheer deadliness of this place with half a dozen soldiers firing assault rifle salvos in your direction and the impossibility to make this a worthwhile endeavor.
With NPCs using their guns in an appropriate (and deadly) way, you need endgame armor to even try fighting such enemies and by then, every loot you could find there is already worthless.
This makes the new location, and anything similar to it, frustrating for newer players, while experienced players will probably just avoid it altogether, which would be a shame because these new areas are really well done and should be explored.
The problem with firearms in enemy hands is already massive and will only grow in the future with a more fleshed out AI and more places, where NPCs can appear.
Even in the current state, a NPC with a gun is far more dangerous than even the strongest zombie.
Of course firearms could be nerfed to the ground and beyond to make them less deadly to player characters but that does not really fit the game.
One part of a possible solution for this problem could be a cover system to make firefights more survivable.
Another one would be the addition of a game mechanic for “Death’s Door”.
Description of the mechanic:
When a character would die by lethal damage, they reach Death’s Door instead.
This affects player characters and all NPCs with names (allied, neutral or hostile).
They fall to the ground unconscious and are treated more or less like a dead body.
Enemies won’t attackt them as long as there is another valid target around.
When reaching Death’s Door, a counter is started at 100, lowered by 1 each turn.
Every damage the unconscious character suffers is subtracted from this counter as well (for example stray bullets or AoE-attacks). They would be safe behind decent cover though.
When the counter reaches 0, the character dies like they woud in the current state of the game.
While on Death’s Door, a character can be stabilized by an ally using decent medical equipment.
This stops the death counter and enables a rescue and subsequent healing of the fallen, which should probably take a significant amount of time and resources while the unconscious character is completely helpless.
If the player character is on Death’s Door, the player can take control of an ally like normal but with the additional chance of rescuing their original character if they are fast enough.
Purpose of this mechanic:
Death’s Door would make high risk battles a lot more encouraging and fun.
While not making firearms any less dangerous, the possibility of recovering the player character or fallen allies would make exploring dangerous parts of the game a lot less suicidal.
Of course this mechanic would only make a difference for players with at least one ally at their side, a lone wolf would just be ripped to shreds by their enemies when they don’t find anyone else around to fight.
Another welcome byproduct of this mechanic would be the elimination of most one-shot kills.
These are annoying in every permadeath-game, especially when they are not really your fault.
With Death’s Door in place, deadly traps like landmines and hard boss battles in the future would be much more bearable and fun, because a single misstep would not mean the end any more if you prepared yourself and brought some friends.
It would also help tremendously with keeping NPCs alive, when they behave in a more … erratic way (like they do sometimes).
Other interesting parts of this mechanic:
The possibility to end fights with enemy NPCs without killing one another:
Stabilizing would also work on enemy NPCs, so they could be captured, healed and interrogated / recruited / experimented on with lots of mutagens, ect.
I see a lot of interesting quest potential in this idea!
(You could probably also make amends for angering a friendly NPC without outright killing them, which might come in handy for some players).
The player character could be caught by an enemy faction:
Some enemies (raiders, mi-go) would probably be more interested in capturing and enslaving a survivor than just killing them.
Being ambushed by NPC bandits on the road and waking up in a slave compound could be an interesting part of a story, much more intersting and satisfying than just being shot.
Of course, when you fail at escaping, the bandits might be much less charitable than before.
Death’s Door would only work with normal damage (attacks, blood loss, falling from medium heights, car accidents, telefragging) and temperature effects, NOT with starvation, dehydration, jumping from a skyscraper roof or getting caught in the explosion of a mininuke.
In my opinion this game mechanic would add a lot of fun (and drama) to the game without sacrificing the deadly reality of gunfights and surviving in an apocalypse. While exploring would still be dangerous, it would be much more worthwhile when facing enemies with high damage attacks without the protection of upgraded power armor.
The tactical decision to fight an uphill battle to the bitter end in the hope to rescue your fallen comrades is something that could make one of the more frustrating parts of the game into one of the most exciting ones.
Players should want to visit these new NPC locations, like for example the deserters camp, and not avoiding them like hell because they don’t want to risk their character.
The death counter could probably be linked to another game statistic as well. It could be combined with the blood loss mechanic but considering that a character shot to Death’s Door would alreday be bleeding like a fountain, this would probably not work.
This game mechanic would need a system to change the player character not only on death, because when the original player character enters Death’s Door and is rescued, the player might want to switch back to them when the healing process is completed.
Considering that switching characters is already possible ingame, I think this would be a rather easy adjustment.
This is only the first draft of an idea, so please discuss and improve it if you want!