What prompted this what this discussion and lore writhers answer to the question:Is the human race able to survive Cataclysm?
I feel that one of the things that makes cataclysm dark days ahead unique and what was a big draw for me as a new player was the fact that the apocalypse presented in the game was unique in that it didn’t seem to fall into the two big cliché’s that other apocalypses do. Because they are either not really a threat (see your classic zombie or walking dead scenario, shit like that would never make civilization fall) and only because the average person in such a world must have been either completely inept and any government and institutions are always laughably incompetent for the apocalypse to succeed. Or they follow the 40k format of grimdark that there is no hope for humanity everything is bleak, all your hardship and tribulations and how much you struggle are all meaningless because everything Is doomed in the end.
I like cataclysm because it avoids the first kind of cliché by making the monsters of the cataclysm something truly horrifying and dangerous that would induce existential dread in the people that have to face. And by giving a good explanation why although the government response wasn’t incompetent and was based on plausible motives/sound reasoning but still made everything worse because they didn’t know what they were dealing with the entire time (excellent Lovecraftian theme).
It avoids the second cliché by making the people in cataclysm like real people with the same competence, options, adaptability and tools that they would have in reality and not the soon to be zombie screaming retard that didn’t have the basic instincts to at least try and avoid the zombies. But also by making the monsters that stayed after the cataclysm grounded to our reality and laws of physics (for the most part) and thereby making them killable and beatable (albeit at great difficulty sometimes) if you use the greatest assed that humans have individually, namely tools/technology and intelligence (our social structure is arguably just as important as these two but that is still not properly In the game right now to reflect this).
From what I read form the design document is that you want to avoid the first kind of underwhelming apocalypse that would make the game to easy/unrealistic as the PC can just do whatever they want with very little to stop them and would make many of the games features redundant as the player has no real necessity to use them at all. But I also think that the grimdark direction that you are taking the lore right now does not fit with it either since two of the games you name to emulate in the document are the fallout series and x-com are not just good games because of their gameplay mechanics but also because of their lore surrounding specifically how humanity has reacted to and is adapting/trying to deal with the apocalypse or impending apocalypse (alien invasion). It is also from this lore that many of the gameplay mechanics come from.
I think that cataclysm dda is no different in that regard. A lore that says that earth is a dying world with a collapsing post-cataclysm society that does not have the chance to grow and adapt much (do to unwinnable odds and unbeatable monsters) offers far less (long-term) opportunities for strategy, character development and late-game faction related gameplay than a humanity that is ignored for the most part by the blob, triffids and mycus. Who recognize each other as the biggest competitors around and because some of them have encountered each other before and think humans are just part of the local fauna. Allowing humanity to survive, adopt and reorganize in any way possible. Only for the big 3 (mycus might be exception) to realize that humans are actually way more dangerous than they were let to believe right after coming to this world. At which point they start treating humans as a serious treat and sending some proper horrors to deal with the player/humans.
I think the title sums it up best: Cataclysm Dark Days Ahead. A cataclysm happened and there will be DARK days ahead but there will be days ahead: a future.