Overpowered Stuff in CDDA, from a New Player's Perspective

Hi All,

This game has been eating way too much of my time over the past couple of weeks. It’s a fantastic achievement and thanks a lot to the developers. Just want to throw in my two cents about some of the gameplay mechanics that are a bit unbalanced/overpowered in the player’s favor, in my opinion. Don’t take it the wrong way, it’s intended to be constructive criticism.

It depends on your philosophy for the game. It seems to me that survival games should be a struggle to survive primarily. Once it becomes routine to survive it becomes more of a building/sim game. I am getting that impression now from CDDA about 60 days in. Of course, some prefer this playstyle and that’s perfectly legitimate - if that’s the kind of game the devs are going for it’s fine. Just for my own point of view, I find CDDA is much easier and inspires less of a sense of fear or danger than, say, Rogue Survivor or Neo Scavenger - these are nowhere near as complex or polished as this game, but do a better job, for me, of making you feel you’re struggling to survive against the odds.

So, in no particular order, here are some of the culprits that I think throw the balance in favor of the player too much. Bear in mind that this is just from my own preferences and that some people may be fine with these.

Melee -

Fighting off a horde of undead monsters who feel no pain, some of them ‘tank sized’, and including while being surrounded, grabbed etc., with your bare hands, or any melee weapon, should not be a thing, at any skill level. I would prefer melee be an ammunition saving mechanism against only the weakest enemies, and then require significant skill. There should be many enemies in the game that are suicidal to melee.

Dodge -

Similarly, dodging every attack while surrounded and being assaulted from all sides like you’re Neo is too easy to achieve.

Ranged - Too easy to get very low dispersion with all the mods and accuracy enhancements. Too easy to get infinite ammo weapons and these are too strong - bows, pneumatic etc.

CBMS - Major offender. Effects very overpowered and far-future sci-fi (time dilation?), turns you into superman. No drawbacks. Unlimited slots/power (I know the slots issue is being worked on but really, giving the player a chance to upgrade themselves indefinitely seems a bit bizarre to implement in the first place). Power far too easy to maintain. Spamable. Not that hard to find.

Nightvision - Extremely overpowered. For a survival game night is a great chance to make it feel like a real post-civilization situation. It’s very dark, without any lights… Getting into a safe place at night or making sure you have reliable light sources should be a goal. Instead ‘natural’ night vision trait (who has this irl, by the way?) lets you see miraculously rather well, better than the zombies, making raiding at night safer. Even without the trait, you can see too far in complete darkness.

Armor - Particularly power armor, as in almost all other games ever, makes every danger moot. A lot of other armors too are too strong though - survivor armors, cobbled together with a needle and a few patches, are much better than military grade. Also armor values in general allow you to ignore a lot of zombies. Wearing body armor does not turn you into a tank.

Stats through skills - I know this is a mod, so can’t blame the devs for this, but I know a lot of people use it. Outrageously overpowered and nonsensical.

Vehicles - too much gas, too many installable mod cons, too easy to maintain (try to keep a tank’s composite armor in perfect condition over years while driving through houses using nothing but a welder, and no spare materials) no incentive for static base.

Well these are a few of the ones I’ve experienced so far. Too new to have played around with mutagens, but it seems these have the potential to kick your character even further ahead of the difficulty curve.

Again, please take this as just feedback on what would make the game more fun, from my perspective, and not a rant. If I didn’t love the game I wouldn’t bother. Thoughts? Thanks!


There is lot of settings you can use to make the game harder. If you prefer it that way.


I was going to agree/disagree with you, point by point, but I’ll just say this.

Most of your complaints are about some sort of realism (nightvision, melee ability, vehicle maintenance, CBMs) and I hear that. As I see it, these things exist in the game because they attempt to balance some amount of realism with fun gameplay.

Notably, if we made melee combat more ‘realistic’ it would get a whole lot less fun. Should we make it so that your character can sever their own foot while trying to use a broadsword for the first time? Should we make it so only critical hits (IE: headshots) kill zombies? Should we make it so that you can’t kill a zombie with a stack of dollar bills (god I hope not)

Should we nerf CBMs or power armor because they’re futuristic and thereby completely remove aspects of the end-game search for the shiniest of things?

I hear your points, but I think it’s important to remember that gameplay needs to be balanced in many different aspects, and I think, currently, they’ve done a good job.

The end-game could use some work. I mostly only enjoy the first few weeks of my characters. You’re right about there being a lack of tension and ‘survivalism’, but that’s where it’s at right now, and I don’t think that chasing what you’ve suggested would do remedy that.

Just my two cents, not trying to be a dick or anything. And all that being said, you can mod a ton of this stuff into your game with little to no technical knowledge.


I think realism always needs to give way to fun gameplay, definitely, but a lack of realism can also detract from fun I think. I don’t think we’d need to implement things like your examples to improve realism (and, for me, fun). I’d just across the board nerf player melee damage, and add in significant stacking penalties for fighting more than one opponent. Melee would still be very effective even with a significant nerf.

CBMs and power armor are more tricky because they fit in with the sci-fi element of the game (not a big fan and it detracts from ‘survival’, but that’s the game). However they are currently very overpowered even for futuristic items. Compare the bionics to Deus Ex, say, which according to the wikipedia is part of the inspiration. Bionics in DE were extremely limited compared to CDDA. Probability travel? Star trek doesn’t even have that technology. Also you were limited in how many you could install and your power, which would seem an obvious thing to implement. Again for me, personally, I would be much happier with a very limited set of CBMs you could install in certain slots (just like DE), and focused on what you want to build your character into. You could go for stealth-enhancing stuff or melee bionics or targeting systems or armor + med systems, but not everything and anything without limitation or sacrifices. This would create interesting choices, and that makes for a good game. Having everything doesn’t provide any meaningful choice or planning.

Power armor I’d just remove but if it has to be left in have it powered exclusively by plutonium cells or, if these are not rare enough, an even rarer find. Also I would suggest only allowing it to be used with certain guns and perhaps have a vision and dexterity penalty, and make a lot of noise. Basically you’re turning yourself into a walking tank for a while with heavy firepower but with some drawbacks. Anyone played the great game Xenonauts? I’d be looking at something like the Predator armor from that game - http://xenonauts.wikia.com/wiki/Predator

I know that you can mod in a lot of this stuff and also there are setting for some of it, I just think that sometimes players will naturally make things easier and more unbalanced and it takes a stand and a clear philosophy from the devs to say this is the vision we have for the game and is the default ‘dark days’ experience, but feel free to mod. But of course that would just be what I would do with the game, doesn’t mean others don’t have different preferences.

Thanks for your reply.

I think the game is kind of moving in the direction you suggest, CBM are harder to install and something to limit the numbre of installation will be implemented. It seems that the reall OP things are slowy moving further into the late game. I saw a PR that makes gaz be a bit harder to find. Vehicle are being fleshed out.

As far as melee is concerned most zombies are Human sized and have no strength enhancement so fighting them in melee seems doable. And I’m not sure fighting against giant one or horde is that easy, but sure it’s doable once you have enought skill/armor.
It would be cool to have a mod that makes zombie more like dwarfs fortress where you can kill them only by destroying the head, but the combat system does handle body parts like in DF so it might no be possible.

The crazy OP thing are part of the fun I think, but clearly if it took more time and effort to get to, it wouldn’t be bad.


Yup hopefully we’ll see more development on the cbm side especially to make things a bit more balanced. For me it’s always good to avoid giving the player no-brainer decisions in the game. Right now there are a lot of no-brainers with install all the cbms, put everything on your vehicle, wear heavy survivor suit or power armor for specific areas, etc. Of course this is a volunteer project so it’s hard to keep it balanced while adding new content too. All the best.

My examples were a tad extreme, and I meant them to be. In hindsight, my comment wasn’t very productive.

Regarding bionics, I didn’t know they were inspired by Deus Ex. That is my favorite game of all time. I use CBMs the same way I used bionics in that game – for utility. They’re also an alternative to mutation for providing a lot of end game fun. I’m not a fan of mutation, so I use a lot of CBMs and I’d be mighty upset if they started dropping certain modules because they were OP. It’s ultimately a single player game and so I think that the easiest route is for people who dislike certain CBMs to simply not use them, or alternatively, set up a mod that blacklists them.

This is probably just our difference in tastes, I guess. Probability travel is my favorite CBM and I feel excited when I finally get one, have a kit, and have cleared a hospital. It IS a very powerful ability to have, but it feels like a reward for all the work I put in to make installing it possible.

There have been previous talks about ‘nerfing’/balancing CBMs. I think implementing a limit on installed (non-power storage) modules would be the way to go, and it’s something that was at least partially implemented before. Using Deus Ex as an example again, though there were multiple augmentations for each slot, they limited how many could be installed in each body location.

As for Power Armor, I was under the impression that they already WERE all plutonium powered. I was wrong, I guess.


I thought cbm installation were already balanced by finding an “intact” autodoc and using rare anaesthetic kits to install so instead of installing all cbms you find you have to choose what cbm is more important with the amount of anaesthetic kits you have.
Also i think there’s an option in the debug menu that puts a limit on how many cbm you can install and there is a mod in the base game that will remove power armors and sci fi stuff in the game its called “no sci fi” mod.
Edit:looking at the mods there’s a mod that removes mutagen from the game called “no mutagen” mod.


@ MurderUnicorn - Yup, I guess we’re just looking for different things from the base game so it boils down to preferences - it’s fixable very easily with available or createable mods anyway so no huge issue. I’m just saying what I think would make a good baseline. To me the CBM system right now seems like it plays like a fan made mod someone added into the game for fun without any regard for balance. But there is a lot of work ongoing to fix it with slots etc. so that should be cool.

I don’t know about being that hard to get. (also @ eat3cake) Sure you need to get lucky with drops from CBM sources if you’re really set on a specific one, but in the meantime you’re picking up other good stuff anyway and will get everything eventually. I’m very new to the game and no gaming genius and it was fairly straightforward to get anesthetic kits - just go around to the relevant building, crack safe with easily trainable mechanic skill, collect. Kill CBM zombies. Break into banks, doable with easily craftable jackhammer or low computer skill will usually get you in too. I don’t feel like my character is ‘late game’ yet at all, hasn’t been outside the starting area yet even. I wouldn’t even say mid game, but I wouldn’t know since I’ve just started playing the game - yet have all this powerful gear with not a whole lot of effort.

go to cdda/data/json and open monsters.json. Change everything’s melee_skill, melee_dice, and melee)dice_sides to 10. Do the same for everything in cdda/data/json/monsters. Everything will now completely pwn you in melee. You can up their damage too if armor still seems broken…

The most fundamental thing youve brought up is the melee abilities of the survivor. This is partially a result of various design decisions, partially an intentional drive to keep melee comparable with ranged combat, but mostly a lack of investment in the system.

Going forward, the plan is to reign in melee to be more like what you described, an option too dangerous to use on large or powerful groups of enemies, but that has a niche in dealing with routine threats.

Specifically, dodge and block are ludicrously broken in that they’re useless until they’re sufficiently leveled, and then overpowered in that they make you nigh-invulnerable to most enemies. The plan for them is to change them to mitigate instead of eliminate most attacks, meaning attackers can still chip away at your health instead of having their attacks nullified outright.

Another adjustment to melee is making grab attacks much more dangerous. If sufficient numbers of grabs prevent dodging, blocking, and attacking, then it doesnt matter how tough you are, the zombies will eventually win.

Armor is another major problem, it’s much too effective against most kinds of attacks. Part of this is lack of real consequences for encumbrance, and part of it is that armor values are simply too high across the board.

You can see more detail here https://github.com/CleverRaven/Cataclysm-DDA/projects/13

Don’t you only get one dodge per turn by default, unless you’re using something crazy like Zui Quan?
I know I’ve got an Alpha Prime mutant (all stats 15) combat monster kitted out with anti-shock and acid gear and a gasmask, and while he can pwn most any zombie type in a one-on-one, a crowd is still dangerous to him if they can surround him, and one or two lucky hits from the nastier types (juggernauts in particular) can force him to have to flee.

I think that compared to mass-produced military armor, it is logical for senior tailors to make their own custom armor more sturdy. Not only a few patches, but also a lot of Kevlar.

I think perhaps the huge issue, is that one may become a demigod, and the world does not provide demigods to compete with

Personally i think a lot of your issues sound like they’re because you haven’t wandered into the really dangerous areas where power armor is necessary (maybe you have and i just misunderstood/read). I play on pretty high monster and item spawn rates and it makes for a quicker game, but it’s higher risk and reward, and i don’t really ever feel like things are too easy.

Admittedly i also play with PKs rebalance so maybe I’m speaking from a hardmode standpoint.

Also, on bows, i think you might be underestimating a bit just how much damage they can do in real life, but they could also stand to take longer to craft, arrows too, which might help.

@kevin.granade - Agree with all of this. Great to hear you guys are looking to change these base systems.

Just a suggestion for the dodge skill - instead of mitigation as with block, how about just having it on a diminishing returns system with a soft cap on your chance to dodge an attack? You can keep improving your dodge but the higher you go the less additional effect you get, and it’s basically impossible to achieve chances to dodge greater than 90%, or whatever number, depending on opponent’s melee skill. Also make it heavily dependent on gear encumbrance - I know there are already major penalties but it seems these are absolute rather than percentage based? This makes it possible to mostly overcome with high skill levels. If you had, say, a 50% penalty for a certain encumbrance (optionally retain an absolute penalty too) you would feel the hit more the higher your skill goes.

Would love to see grab attacks buffed and it fits in well with the theme. Zombies might be slow and not particularly dangerous to an experienced survivor alone, but let a few get a hold of you at once and you’re in trouble.

Thanks for the link and all your work on this game.

  • just read your ideas in the link, sound great.

@Midac - I agree with some customization options and slightly improving performance but right now you can create armor far superior to machine-produced military grade items. Seems a bit unrealistic. There are tailors in the military too, if you could produce items with 100% coverage and better all round performance with negligible drawbacks they would probably be producing those already.

@dissociativity - Definitely seems that way to me.

@darktoes - You might be right about that, I certainly have not experienced very many of the real dangers in the game. I don’t have PKs mod but I think I’ll give it a try. Would you say that there are any areas in the vanilla game where power armor is basically required? I’ve disabled it.

There isn’t a lot of places, but anytime anything shows up with a decent gun you basically need power armor to be safe, and that includes all military locations and a few of the special locations. Some of the nastier nether creature need it too.

Keep in mind that military armor is designed to stop bullets, a few smalls ones or one, maybe two large ones. Survivor armor is made to protect against clawing, grabbing, and biting primarily, all over the body. You could still put bulletproof plates across the chest as well, giving similar protection to a military grade bulletproof vest.

Warning! My english is terrible. Viewer discretion is advised.


Fighting off a horde of undead monsters who feel no pain, some of them ‘tank sized’, and including while being surrounded, grabbed etc., with your bare hands, or any melee weapon, should not be a thing, at any skill level.


I would prefer melee be an ammunition saving mechanism against only the weakest enemies, and then require significant skill.

This may be true. However, I don’t think melee should be turned into something as utterly useless as you describe.
It’s already a fairly niche thing with poor scaling, considering how much effort it is to actually make a melee build, with all the bionics and don’t get me even started on how ridiculously impossible it is to find a style guidebook.

There should be many enemies in the game that are suicidal to melee.

There are a lot of enemies that are suicidal to melee.
Just because you can fight them up close and take no risks is not a problem with melee specifically.


Dodge and armor is wonky. I see Kevin already addressed that.
However I can’t stop rambling due to my crippling autism and passion for the game.

I agree on both. In my opinion, those are main reason why melee feels so overpowered.

dodging every attack while surrounded and being assaulted from all sides like you’re Neo is too easy to achieve.

I think it’s reasonable to add something like a dodging penalty if there’s more than one enemy around you. The higher your skill is, the easier it is to dodge.
So, at ridiculously high skill, with appropriate mutations and/or bionics, you can actually dodge like Neo from 5-7 directions simultaneously. Maybe make it scale of perception so this stat is not as useless as it is now.

A lot of other armors too are too strong though - survivor armors, cobbled together with a needle and a few patches, are much better than military grade. Also armor values in general allow you to ignore a lot of zombies. Wearing body armor does not turn you into a tank.

This also triggers me on more levels than is should, but I grit my teeth and let it slide, since survivor armor is kinda hard to get.

On a side note…

It’s actually really easy to dodge if you move around, and some fighting styles with bonuses to dodging/blocking after moving kinda reflect that, but not really.
Most of the time you’re still just stay on one spot and trade blows, which is almost never the case if you have seen people actually fighting.
Fighting with high level brawling actually feels good because you send your opponents flying, reeling, trip them and so on. But this never occurs to the player for some reason. The worst thing that could happen is grab or toss from larger, stronger Z’s.
Some advanced Z’s even have “it seems to remember it’s training” in description, but in reality all they do is claw at you like every other Z out there.


Too easy to get very low dispersion with all the mods and accuracy enhancements. Too easy to get infinite ammo weapons and these are too strong - bows, pneumatic etc.

I disagree. My experience is utterly reversed.

Too easy to get very low dispersion with all the mods and accuracy enhancements.

I also don’t see how it’s a bad thing. Shooting stuff is easy, especially if it barely moves (if at all). Try it yourself. :slight_smile:

Gun are weird overall. Early on you don’t have enough ammo to deal with the horde you’ll attract and later on you’re so immune to Zs that you might as well just quietly chop them up, so you don’t have to shoot the whole town on your trip to the bank.


I disagree on everything, except unlimited slots. CBMS are utterly fine.


I don’t feel it’s as bad as you make it sound.
Nightvision shouldn’t be nerfed itself, but it’s accessibility - definately. It’s a good mutation but bad perk. Removing it from starting perk pool should do the trick in my opinion.


As a primary (or should I say pure?) melee fighter, I can say that the melee system is more of a high risk high reward type of play. And rewards risks. It’s not easy and dodging isn’t really invincible until late late game.
I’m currently toying around with a kickboxing character, and lemme tell you it was extremely difficult to get him to a viable level of play.
Normal martial arts like Muay Thai or boxing have an alright amount of realism and reasonable scaling with how you play. No scorpion king fu with your insane crits.

And unless you have some sort of motor function disorder or are truly new to using melee weapons, it isn’t that hard (irl wise) to kill an unarmored and clumsy being with a melee weapon in a single hit. (Poke or swing and the head)
Human targets especially, someone with brass knuckles can very easily shatter someone’s skull and kill them with a well aimed punch. Hell, even a simple hip-toss on solid concrete will at LEAST send someone to the hospital. This is speaking from a point where not a lot of physical strength is needed to do so.

Then again you can dismiss this as zombies being more durable, for balance or lore purposes. This isn’t including special zombies of course.

What I’m trying to say is, melee combat early to mid/mid-late game is not as godlike as you’d think. Even with good armor and dodge or melee skills I still avoid hordes and keep fights 1v1, mostly due to stamina limits and getting surrounded. You still spend most of your character time getting to late game, so I’ll omit the “godlike op super character, since all characters are like that late game.

The horde grabbing mechanic would be neat, prevents blunders and rushing head on into a crowd of zombies. The 90% dodge chance or encumbrance penalties I’m not too sure about, but it’d be a welcome addition to at the very least try out.

@darktoes - Thanks for power armor info. Almost found out the hard way just now.

@veh - Thanks for your reply. You could be right about the protection factor being the main thing making melee feel too strong.

Yeah I see what you’re saying about melee, just for me melee in modern combat is very much a last resort after you run out of ammo. No need to make it like that in a game of course, but just personal preference.

I don’t think survivor armor is hard to get. Tailoring is really easy to grind with lots of books too. All you need is a few kevlar plates and before you know it you’re in survivor gear.

Yeah I agree with the guns. I would like to use them, but it just seems so sub optimal. I haven’t fired a single shot of a firearm in the current game. Why blast with a shotgun and attract the whole neighborhood and run out of ammo when you can do the same damage with a sword slash. I don’t have any particularly good idea to fix it besides making ammo stashes bigger or making your own ammo easier - oh and nerfing melee damage of course.

Re CBMs that’s fine, we can agree to disagree :slightly_smiling_face:

Re nightvision Agree that it should stay in as a mutation.

@Rot I think kickboxing zombies is a bit silly to be honest, just imo. Maybe it would work on the normal slow humanoid ones at a good skill level, but even with a relatively fast zombie dog I can’t see how you’d martial arts your way out of getting bitten, and certainly would be ineffective on a large animal like a moose. A shotgun to the face might be effective. At the current stage however you can seemingly get good enough at unarmed combat to exceed the effectiveness of a close range firearm blast. Then again, this only matters if you think some degree of realism should be a goal, which it definitely needn’t be, just a matter of preference.