Seeking feedback on the TCL (new lab) from playtesters

cross-posted on reddit

The Trans-Coast Logistics facility (aka new lab, aka modular lab) has been released for a couple of weeks now, so I’m hoping enough players have encountered it and worked their way through it to offer some feedback before I move on to the next phase. I have some areas that I really want feed back on but I’d also appreciate input on the overall approach to these labs and any interesting stories that they have facilitated. When I began working on this set of maps, I had a lot less “tools” then in the final month or two of development (we’ve gotten a huge amount of new map tricks thanks to some great contributors), so I made some fairly pronounced changes at the very end of my work. I’ll be discussing some of those differences here and looking for feedback on if/how I need to adjust the lab before I expand on it.
This post is going to be spoiler heavy, so be warned.

  • Overall design, card access areas: This lab is a big departure from the procgen placed RNG of the old labs. I’ve done away with a specific finale room in favor of vaults of varying quality and contents. It also has a static overall design. Areas are gated behind card access or brute force entry. It also has thematic areas for loot, once you know the layout you don’t need to go through the entire lab if all you want is the mutagen loots. How are you all finding this approach in general? For those that have raided multiple labs, what’s the replay-ability like?

  • Too many zones? The lab has 10? separate zones requiring key-card access. There are a lot of checkpoints but that is balanced out by having the card reusable I think. Should I combine some of these zones so there are fewer key cards that need to be found?

  • Card reader durability: I think they are pretty fragile and could use some feedback. It’s rare for an area to only have a single access point so I think broken readers can make runs more interesting overall, but I could be wrong.

  • Finding cards: Cards can drop from bosses and be found in the lab. Low tier cards have several ways to spawn and should be pretty easy to find. I’d like some general feedback on your experiences with the cards and if it’s annoying to find them. Terminals are not an option for these type of implementation yet.

  • Entrance cards & their maps: adding map reveals to the lab entrance cards, good or bad? Where are you finding the cards, can you find both types?

  • Trap triggers: One of the big design differences is that the bots and automated defenses in the lab are set from the start, they don’t magically spawn because you failed to hack a card reader or terminal. There are currently 3 ways used to release defenses. I’d like input for each and I will outline how each works here since I’ve seen some incorrect assumptions related to them.

  • Drones & badge system: This system is my favorite and probably the one that I will re-adapt all areas to unless I get different feedback. The drones scan the player for the appropriate ID card. If you have the card, no automated defenses are activated. If you don’t they will release the bots or other suppression measures. These bots will check you occasionally so if you drop your badge, they’ll respond accordingly (This can be quite useful for controlled bot releases for example.

  • Drone durability: I set these to be very strong to discourage attacks, this doesn’t seem to be the case. People attack them regardless, so I’m not sure people understand that they aren’t a threat if you have your badge. I’m considering reducing their HP considerably but that makes the gun the answer to the labs so I’m on the fence about durability. I can look into having them appear as neutral but I don’t think neutral monsters can attack (aka scan) a player.

  • Per OMT: If you enter the 24x24 overmap tile without a badge, it will trigger the trap release. This isn’t easy to identify for the player. I could post extra signs on the maps or color code these areas. I’m considering removing this type of trap trigger entirely though in favor of drones.

  • RNG trap: These are randomly placed traps that you step on to trigger. Only one area uses it right now as a test. I’d like to know how you feel about these. They are the ones that give you a message about something “shifting” nearby. These trigger regardless of your badges.

  • RNG lights: same as the trap but it just turns on lights. I like them and plan on keeping them, however, right now it has 2 to 3 trigger opportunities per OMT, meaning lights can “re-spawn” if smashed. I plan on reducing this to 1 tile trigger per OMT.

  • Risk/Reward

  • loot density: How do you feel about the loot density for normal items, weapons, and things outside the vaults?

  • “finale” vaults: Instead of the finale, I’ve added 2 guaranteed lab vaults and an armory. There are chances for additional smaller armories and vaults as well that are RNG based. Have you seen the new vaults? Do you like the mutagen selection and densities these offer?

  • Boss feedback: Venera3 made the bosses, I’m sure they’d enjoy some feedback on fighting them. They currently drop key-cards.

  • Experiences using cards vs not having authorized access: Has anyone tried a lab run with only using badges vs. not having any badges? How were they in terms of difficulty?

  • Lab Start Scenario: too difficult, too easy? I didn’t plan this as a difficult escape scenario, I wanted to give people an in lab start. I will leave future scenario additions to other contributors though.

  • Lab escape experience: I didn’t design these with escape in mind, so I’d like to hear how that is working out.

  • Experience with secondary runs? I didn’t want to force people to re-run the entire lab just for mutagens, so I’m curious on how people are handling runs after they get used to these labs.

Sorry for the rambling, looking forward to some input!
The next lab will expand on this one with more floors, more OMTs and those areas will be more dangerous. I’ll be making this lab more mutagen focused and the larger one will be more serum focused for rewards. Feel free to comment on that plan as well. These will be the 2 main mutagen loot labs and I have some plans for other content in different styles of labs.

Thank you for making this, it’s really-really good addition… and really-really deadly, unless you are prepared like girl-scout… cookies and all… made from real girl scouts (can we make cookies from child zombies?).

1st thing 1st - there are awfully a lot of TCL locations on overmap, compared to regular non-subway labs and research facilities. Can you, maybe, half the occurrence?

Replayability - it’s descent. Personally, I would only go there in mid- or late-stage game, when trying to collect supplies from ‘finale vaults’. Still, you have to go through all the twisty corridors and areas to get to them that you almost have to clear the entire TCL.
Very good area if you feel like clearing a large facility of some sort and have equipment to do it.
Never tried starting as lab-start escape - seems like suicide; maybe Vormithrax can?

Layout - No complaints here. The area is HUGE, with easter egg traps and backdoors. I have gone in and out with loot several times, but didn’t get the chance to explore or clear the entire facility yet.

Cards, badges - easy enough to find, but I use different methods for entry, so end up with a lot of unused cards after clearing area. There are definitely not enough cards in one facility to let you into Every locked door. Are cards reusable in other TCL locations or only current facility? What does “from this area” mean on the card’s description? Does that mean that Red card indicates that you are currently in Red area?
Still not sure how badge system works, however… do I have to wear those cards on my neck (like IRL) or just having in inventory is fine? Security ‘manhacks’ seem to attack me if adjacent to me, but completely ignore me if I’m at least 1 tile away, no matter if I wear badges or just carry in inventory, or even if I possess that badge. Was that the intention?

Trap triggers - not sure here. I usually roll through like steam train and all the ‘skitterbots’ are always activated it seems and after me, in lower vaults, at least. Have not triggered too many card-reader alarms, so not sure what supposed to happen. Will the bigger robots pop-up?
The only annoyance are the motion-sensing overhead light I keep smashing and they keep respawning second time.

Risk/Reward - like I mentioned - I roll in full-metal-jacket armour gear and have bash/melee/dodge around lvl8 - so the risks are good enough to risk the entry. Rewards? That’s A LOT of mutagen. TCL is a mutagen farm. I don’t find the type of mutagen I’m after, usually, but that’s RNG, has nothing to do with area design itself.
Usually I come out with 3-4 mutagens/serums that I was after, and 20-30 I have no use for. For a hoarder - it’s heaven! For someone who takes only what they need - you come out almost empty-handed. Don’t recall bringing back a lot of stuff from armoury vaults - came in with M4A1, came out with same M4A1.
Any way to make it random, so you won’t know if you are going to get mutagens or CBMs inside the facility as rewards? So - if you are a mutation enthusiast, you can get highly disappointed with all the CBMs laying around, and not a single mutagen.
Also - was it intended to have so many Zappers just waiting for you (quietly) to open the door and get zapped?
Was expecting to see more Hulk and Brute types spread out through the entire facility, but is seems that only Medical wing has them in concentrated abundance (really enjoyed Bioshock reference here :wink: )

p.s. My last visit to TCL was on experimental version from 2 weeks ago. So if you made some large changes since then, I have not tried them yet.

Besides the fact that I always have 1 bar on torso as a result of skiterbots, and getting black badge does more harm then good. I’d love at least some cbms, and to know what is the purpose of fifth flour area with a bunch of crows turrets and seemingly nothing more.
It’s the best designed lab out of them all, it’s only ‘downside’ is that it isn’t loot Piñata. (besides mutagens of course)

thanks for the responses!

A few points:

  • The labs are only frequent now to make them easy for players to find and test. They will likely be reduced to 1 per overmap chunk (or less eventually).
  • CBMs will never spawn in these labs (once I find that one item group that seems to spawn a few…). Those will be exodii content. This lab will have two versions though, this shorter version that’ll be mostly mutagens and a larger one that will include serums as well (higher security areas for the serum research).
  • Cards: the 2 entry cards can be used in any facility. The badges are tied to their facility (this explains that “found nearby” message). They only need to be in your inventory to work. I did provide the lanyard which holds up to at least 10 cards, if you want a wearable item that is just for cards (also works for old ID cards and some other things like maps, irrc).
  • This lab has mostly non-lethal automated defenses so you’re less secubots and more tear gas hacks and such. The larger lab will be more lethal.


  • That area is basically a security corridor meant to prevent things from escaping the research areas. It’s basically a connection area between security, cargo/maintenance and research areas. It could probably use a bit more content in this short lab, it will play a big roll in the larger lab. I probably need to adjust it some more on the risk/reward side for the short version.
  • Loot pinata: I plan on having different labs (hopefully with some different play style requirements and game tactics) that will offer other types of loot instead of having a single grab bag RNG loot pinata. This one is all about the mutagens with a small side of weaponry thanks to the security areas.

last time I tried it spawned inside a wall…

I think that’s a separate issue with character spawning. I haven’t looked into it yet but it’s not unique to this lab.

I had 3 of these facilities within a short driving distance from eachother in one of my playthroughs. I’ll list here “The good” and “the bad” separately.

The Good

  1. I love the outside layout. The parking lot is ample enough for any vehicle to traverse in, isn’t filled with random “rubble piles” that turn a “like new” vehicle into “wrecked” if you just drive past it and hit it with a wing mirror. Even with the potential dozens of zombies outside it’s still manageable but not braindead easy to deal with them, regardless of evolution level.

  2. Ground Level - inside: I like it being ample and offering little “coverage” from ranged attacks and fast mobs, as well as the looting opportunities offering several things that could sometimes be difficult to find, especially some tools.

  3. the drones: unlike some complaints I’ve seen, I 100% support the idea of the drones being “Harmless but very resistant”. It really didn’t take me too much effort to kill one, but I can appreciate the reason as to why they’re tough (some players need to learn that not everything that moves needs to be shot down).

  4. The passes mechanic is nicely thought out, despite requiring a bit more work in ensuring it’s easy to understand (renaming the Maintenance/Security versions of each colour in a better/more concise way, or giving each of them different colours so they’re always unique);

  5. The lights and traps gimmicks are welcomed; it’s been a long time since I’ve actually felt like I needed to pay attention while exploring a building.

  6. the layout in the underground levels is really, really nice; things look organic, placed in places where actual people would put them, unlike, say having random rooms with 6 beds and 6 cupboards just for the sake of it, next to a room full of goo pits.

The Bad

  1. It would be nice if the entrance to the parking lot could be “hacked into” to lift the barricade. Just a small note here really.

  2. I think that the monster variety is fine, but monster placement can often feel very “cheaty”. The turrets that are at the main entrance seem very “dodgy” to me, as in some specific cases they can shoot you while you’re outside, but you will never see where they are. I’d probably remove these ones but I also accept that they are easy to avoid if you have prior knowledge. Same applies to some of the “trap” units. I don’t think Tazer hacks are “fair” considering most of the monsters within weeks become Shocker types, as well as considering Feral Sec Guards can often have their own tazers, as well as Skitterbots being a thing. At least until Tazer Hacks become “fairer” (ie hit-and-run). It does feel like this facility heavily leans onto robots to make it challenging, when, really, it doesn’t need to.

  3. Whereas I am okay with the drones being resistant, I 100% dislike how resistant some of the other unique creatures are. The Melded Task Force and0 the Shelled Mutant have outrageous resistances paired with a huge repertoire of special attacks and high damage for “normal” attacks. They feel like a true "I want to have ALL of the super powers " kind of enemy and there really is nothing you can do to take them down, as they resist pretty much everything. There is also a lack of coherence with their speed: Something as heavy as these creatures surely has no means to be as fast or faster than a normal sized person. There might be others but I still haven’t found them perhaps.

  4. Despite enjoying the layout, several things I need to point out are the card readers for starters. They seem to be too fragile and finding an intact one can occasionally be a problem. Adding to this the fact that some mobs seem somewhat out of place there (Feral Humans and Zombie Children). I’d probably suggest creating “Feral Workers” or something to make this place even more unique.

  5. The lag. Oh lord… the lag. Yeah there’s way too much going on in this building as awesome as it is. Maybe consider reducing the population size or trimming out one or two of the underground Z-Levels if they are redundant in comparison to others similar looking. I would potentially ask what is the reasoning for a place such as that to have no less than 200 enemies in it, on a good day (probably more), even more so considering most of them are roaming free, destroying furniture which adds a lot more things for the game to process. It’s borderline unbearable to sleep nearby or to even take a 5 min break to recover your breathe. This isn’t a problem of just this building; research facility has it, the Collapsed Tower has it, the Refugee Center has it, the Hub has it. I understand that this isn’t up to you (the designer of the building) to “fix” - if there is even any fix for this. But it is worth to point out that excessive amounts of fluff, enemies, items, etc will lead to some frustrating experiences by players who have to wait 5 real-life minutes so that 5 In-Game Minutes go by. Hopefully there are ways to mitgate this in this specific PoI.

  6. the “counters” that have doors for you to pass through them seem to be broken. They actually cost more than it would for you to walk over a “normal” counter

There probably is more I could say, if I remember and/or find a way to put it more coherently, I will. Overall though, I really am into this new “adventure”. Just need to find a way through to see the rest of it, as I always get stuck against the same enemies.

EDIT: one thing I just remembered: the “Auto Doc MkII” doesn’t work, as it doesn’t have an attached couch. (and no, it wasn’t destroyed. It literally doesn’t exist).

EDIT2: can also add that the -5 Z-Level “Lab Research Zone” seems to have a major issue with folding shopping carts. At random intervals it just makes me “ungrab it”, sometimes leaving the vehicle permanently stuck wherever it may be. (in one situation, it was stuck in a door frame, which it should be able to travel through).

1 Like

It feels really bad going through the entire lab and not finding a single CBM, especially with how CBMs are currently not butcherable from almost any zombies. I found plenty of mutagens and was happy with that loot, but yeah i was looking foward to the CBMs.

CBMs will be entirely tied to the Exodii, so the only way for you to find them now is from butchering Zomborgs or finding them in old style Labs (the ones that will be phased out) or in some Electronics Stores (Unless they were removed from the loot tables already).

Nah you can also buy them from Rubik. if you can’t find Rubik, the Old Guard rep (and sometimes the new “teamster” npc in the back of the refugee center) can give you a quest to track them down.

Rubik’s stock isn’t great yet though. Gotta find time to finish that.

Ohh right I forgot about the Hub! It’s been ages since I last saw one, I used to go there for some unique equipment. That’s a good shout.