Premature Evaluation: Kenshi

Every week we cast Brendan into the early access badlands in nothing but rags. This time, the hot mess of genre that is survival-strategy-city-builder-RPG Kenshi [official site]

You could call Kenshi an RPG, you could call it a survival game. Or you could call it a chaotic jumble of good ideas stitched together via a user interface that would make a Wurm player eat their keyboard in a blind rage. I mention Wurm Online only because this feels like the closest comparison. Except this isn’t online. It’s set in a single-player fantasy Japanese world of skeletal robots and bony animals of burden and it’s got a reputation for toughness. My favourite line in the trailer is: “nobody will help you when the fog-men are eating your legs”. A line both frank and representative. How would I fare in this hostile landscape? Let me tell you the saga of the Gurpson clan.

Gary Gurpson (and his bonedog)

This was my character. Faced with a character creation screen, I normally like to put all the sliders to max (or min) and play as whatever monstrosity is born of a dedication to extremity. This time I made somebody normal-looking – Gary Gurpson. You’re offered a choice of stories when starting a new game, which determine what goods or equipment you have at the outset. You can be a wandering trader, low on money but stocked up on goods. Or a group of “nobodies” who have strength in numbers but are poverty-stricken in all other respects. There are others, but I opted for the ‘Man and a dog’ scenario. Gary would start with a pet bonedog, who would prove useful in exactly zero ways.

The first thing you’ll notice is the UI. It’s a mix of buttons, acronyms, menus and submenus that is ferociously ugly and a pain to use. The tutorial does its best to explain the basics but it feels like only patience and death will deliver a deeper understanding of the many systems and commands here. You can also zoom in and out to the point where you might confuse this with a strategy game. Indeed, there is a vague Mount and Blade feeling to it. You can travel between towns on the map and fight as a bounty hunter for local authorities, for example. There’s a faction system too, with meters that show how much certain groups dislike you. You’re also expected to form a large squad, eventually roaming the land with a small army. But there’s no deeper system of dialogue and roguishness. It’s also not easy to dive straight into these elements of the game. You’re weak and useless at the start of your adventure and, in my case, alone. If you don’t count the bonedog (I don’t).

As Gary Gurpson, I tried to make friends with the farmers of the settlement he appeared at, but nobody wanted to talk to us (only certain characters have a speech bubble). My hunger meter was going up and I was worried about my future in a land where I understood nothing. Any assumptions you bring to Kenshi from foreign quarters will be rewarded with confsuion. I thought I should get some resources, so I clicked on some trees, to no avail. Rocks too offered nothing. The crafting and building requirements here are totally different, something I would only learn later.

Hungry and penniless, I resorted to sneaking into the nearby villagers’ sleeping quarters and stealing everything on the shelves. A sneak toggle makes sure you try your best not to be seen. I came out of the house, pockets bulging. I took flour, fabrics, fuel and a hacksaw, amid other pieces of bric-a-brac. I also spotted a book called “the Holy Flame” sitting on the shelf, which I assume is this world’s Bible. I stole that too.

But there was a second house in this settlement. And I’ll be damned if Gary will be satisfied with only burglarising one building this afternoon. I went inside the house next door to see what it held. It held a merchant! Or a “farm leader”. But for my purposes, he was willing to trade.

This was good news, since it meant that I could sell back the very same things I had just stolen. A master plan. The mainstay of any good RPG. But Kenshi again did not fit neatly with my expectations. The merchant was smarter than he looked. He at once recognised the mug that I was trying to hawk to him as belonging to his own people.

“Paladins!” he shouted.

That must be the local guardsmen, I thought, although I won’t be waiting around to find out. I didn’t expect to be running away from my first town so soon, but a thief’s life is a hard one, especially when common farmers have such zeal for property law, on top of an impressive knowledge about who owns which drinking receptacle. A little counter in one part of the nebulous UI told me that I was “committing a crime” and needed to stay out of sight for 20 more seconds. I obliged.

There was a river nearby the town. A perfect place to set up my first shack. The building options are a tad confusing, however. You can plant foundations anywhere deemed far enough from the nearest town but you need a generic resource called “building materials” as well as other resources – vegetables for a small veg patch, a sleeping roll for a camp bed, and so on. I had nothing, so only a wireframe of my shack would ever be built. A relief, when I think about it, because it means that pack of “River Raptors” appearing over the horizon will have nothing to destroy.

I ran a few metres away from the riverside and let the dinos pass. Bonedog followed me, not out of loyalty or fear, but because earlier I had right-clicked on my own character and instructed him to “follow”. An instruction he would obey from today until his last day, which are the same thing, it turns out. The raptors marched on, caring nothing for my wireframe home.

I was waiting until they were completely clear of the area. But then I saw another merchant – a travelling one! – walking along the road with his caravan. I had to intercept him before he reached the farm town, and sell him my definitely-not-stolen property. I caught up to him and showed him my mug. He recognised it immediately.

All at once, his guardsmen were unleashed upon both bonedog and I, and I was so laden down with stolen flour and fabrics that I couldn’t outrun them.

They hit me on the head, in the chest. I fell down unconscious. A meter on my character showed that I was bleeding too. Behind me, bonedog was also knocked out. The caravan guards rifled through my belongings and left me on the side of the road, where callous passers-by simply ignored me.

A problem: how do you heal yourself in this game? According to the tutorial which I only read much later, you simply press a little heal icon above your character while carrying a first aid kit. But when you’re unconscious, you cant heal yourself, can you? That makes sense. You need someone else to come and patch you up. I didn’t know these exact rules at the time, however, so I tried all manner of things to apply these bandages – double-clicking the aid kit, right clicking my dude, pressing different buttons on the UI. In the end, I tried one last thing: click and drag the first aid kit onto my body. It fell on my head.

Now the only thing that could save my character was lying on top of me, as if Gary had tried to patch himself up in his last moments but couldn’t understand how to open the child-proof first aid box. It was midnight. Three patrols passed by the dying frame of Gary Gurpson, lying helpless at the side of the road. They did not help him. Bonedog was dead.

By ten past three in the morning, Gary was dead too.

Weirdly, the game just continues on. There’s no ‘game over’ screen, even though there’s no way for me to keep playing – I have no other characters and no way to interact with the world. Nevertheless, the patrols keep passing, the river keeps flowing. In a few hours, the sun will rise. My character’s corpse will soon rot, in that most videogame way, by vanishing in a single puff because the game doesn’t like useless objects lying around taking up computing power. An ignominious death for a master thief.

But Gary isn’t the only Gurpson in this wilderness.

Polly Gurpson

Gary’s sister appeared outside a bar in some small outpost in the desert. She never liked her brother.

I started her as a “wanderer”, which means she at least begins with a handful of money. With that, she bought a backpack, a loaf of bread and some dried meat from the barman inside. I did this before realising it might have been more helpful to buy building materials – that generic resource you need to build a shack among other things. But Polly isn’t the settled sort anyway, I firmly decide. She’s a wanderer! She will travel from town to town, bag on her back, scavenging what she can and living the nomadic dream.

Off she goes to the north, and soon arrives at a cliff edge overlooking the nearest proper town: the settlement of Clownsteady, which sounds like one of my made-up names, but no, it’s really in the game.

But after asking around and exploring this sandy den of voiceless citizens, there doesn’t seem to be anything to do, unless I want to try stealing again. But Polly isn’t like her scheming, dishonest brother. She won’t steal.

A visit to this town’s bar reveals that you can hire people to join your squad and fight on your side. This is generally how you’re supposed to build yourself a better life in Kenshi. With more people (not just fighters) you can delegate more jobs. If you are lucky enough to own a farm, for example, you can assign multiple people to work the land, while others stand guard or craft items or research things at a tech desk. That’s the game in its strategy, settlement-building mood. But from a single person, it feels difficult to reach that ideal. Everyone in this bar costs way too much to hire. One of them demands 6000 cats. Do not be alarmed, this is only the name of the currency. I myself have 17 cats.

I look around the houses and buildings of Clownsteady. there’s a cool tower in the corner of the city, embedded into the walls. You can buy vacant houses like this to live in, a pop-up tutorial informs me. This one is 28 grand. I decide to leave the city.

Following a nearby river to the wetlands, I come across a swamp turtle herd in the middle of the night. They roam around like giant, shelled elephants. Wonderful.

The animals of this world are excellent, it must be said. There are boney buffalo in pastures, big-footed creatures that roam the towns as pack mules, dino-looking animals prowling in packs, blood spiders creeping around in the marsh. It feels like an alien planet and I find myself appreciating this janky life in the countryside, despite the hard-to-manage camera and the daft, button-filled screen.

As morning breaks over the wetlands, Polly finds some new friends – swamp ninjas. They seem like decent and honourable folk, so I start following them, walking only a few meters behind the group of six well-armed fighters.

They don’t seem to care about my presence. Maybe when they get into a fight I can loot some of the corpses. And in exchange I can tell all the readers of RPS what brave and talented warriors these swampfolk are. A perfect, symbiotic relationship.

As it turns out, they just didn’t notice me. When they finally do, on the way up a cliff path, they have something else in mind.

“You’re in swamp territory now, girl,” says one of the ninjas suddenly, “Time to pay the toll in loot.”

I don’t like swamp territory anymore. Within seconds I am unconscious, battered and sliced by those traitorous swordspeople. My food has been stolen, not that I can eat it as I lie on the rocks unconscious. The swamp ninjas wander off toward their home – I can just about make out a temple in the foggy marsh over the hill. It’s the last thing I see as Polly Gurpson dies, alone and destitute.

You might think that’s enough failure and mortality to judge Kenshi: The Videogame. An obtuse if interesting blend of homemaking, merc-hiring and mug-stealing. But we’re not done yet. What about the ones who Gary and Polly left behind? What about the Gurpson family?

The Gurpsons

Here are the rest of the Gurpson clan.

This is Mama Gurpson.

And here’s Papa Gurp.

Here’s firstborn daughter Sally.

This is middle child Skimbo.

Jazzina is the youngest and most ill-tempered.

And, uh, this is Bosco.

They start at a rocky outpost outside the ‘border zone’. But the family, unlike their two wayward lambs (RIP), have a plan. This starting scenario is called “Freedom Seekers” and is inexplicably described as an “easy/hard combination”. With this setting, the game starts you with 6 people, well-equipped with building materials, food and 4000 cats. In other words, we aim to make a life for ourselves and this time we actually have the resources to do it.

Mama Gurpson takes the lead (I right-click with each family member selected and choose “follow” like they are all spiritual successors to bonedog). After consulting the map, we decide to head for the presumably more fertile lands near the water to the south east, where we will plant crops, start a farm, become self-sufficient and sell any excess food to the nearby outpost. For anything else, we can send someone to the nearest town or city. Eventually, we’ll use research tables and other gameguff to build walls and defences. This will ensure our new settlement is secure from raiders and jerks. It is a plan worth savouring.

“No more,” I can imagine Mama Gurp saying as she leads the family through a dusty valley in the border zone, “no more will the Gurpsons play the victim!”

“Kill em and strip em!” shouts a voice from the hillside.

What?

“Hold up!”

Oh dear.

“Give us all your money!”

Before I have time to count the huge gang of dust bandits running down the hill to scalp us and take our gear, or even to read all the little aggressive barks they make in their teeny-tiny dialogue font, every single Gurpson except Mama Gurp decides to play the hero. This is because they have an aggressive combat stance on by default, and to change it you have to click on each of them and set them to passive. Something I have neglected to discover until now. Only the family’s mother has the gumption to stay back but once her children look to be in trouble, she flies into the same combat rage and takes out her katana. I can do nothing but watch as each of the Gurpsons are knocked out or cut down by the dust bandits.

In the end, only Jazzina is left. She is viciously fighting all of the bandits at once, like some kind of cornered wolverine. She’s the only Gurpson with combat gear and a decent blade, but even she cannot hold off the dusters. She is knocked out and the bandits rifle through our pockets, with an odd half-heartedness, leaving most of what we own untouched. They walk away, I can only assume, with disgust. Like a mugger who demands your phone and is suddenly faced with an old Motorola.

Meanwhile, the Gurpsons lie there, all six of them knocked out cold. Bleeding, wheezing, dying. I’m ready to give up on another run and finally be done with this game.

But what’s this, Jazzina stirs! She’s still alive, but because the bandits are still hovering around their fires close by, she is automatically “playing dead” – a surprising game mechanic that ensures you aren’t immediately attacked once you wake up. But one that also means a long period of watching an unmoving character model on the ground, as I soon discover.

It’s a horrible situation, nonetheless. Jazzina is alive, she’s awake. She could get up and go to her family members – heal them with the first aid kits the robbers decided not to take, save the lives of her kin. But the instant she gets up she might be spotted and cut down again. Then who’ll be left to save the family? So far I’ve been taking Kenshi very lightly, but this is a genuinely cruel dilemma.

She only has one dark and terrible option: wait until nightfall and pray that the family can stay alive where they lie. When the dark of night comes she can get up in sneaking mode, where the darkness will boost her chance of not being seen. Then, she can move to each of her family and use the first aid kits to fix everyone up.

But this planet, this world, is a curse. It must have some kind of funky summer. The sun stays and stays and stays. It does not go down until 10pm. In quick succession the pop-up messages bring grim news. Papa Gurpson has died. Sally Gurpson has died. Bosco Gurpson has died.

But the sun is finally low enough to act. Jazzina gets up and remains unseen by the bandits idling by their campfires only 30 or so yards away. If she acts quickly she can still save Skimbo, who is losing blood, and her mother, who is only a little further away.

I move Jazzina to Skimbo, and he gets patched up. But he won’t wake up for a while yet. It looks like he needs to regenerate some blood. Jazzina starts towards her mum, only to see the old lady take her final breath. We were too late.

After a short, sad wait, Skimbo wakes up. I want the pair to get out of there ASAP. But there might still be something left in the bags of our brothers and sisters. We lift as much as we possibly can – building materials, food parcels, blueprints, iron plates – and start crawling away, with our broken legs and busted stomachs. A sandstorm has started. The pair move slowly through the dark and the blistering sand. Will this trauma never end?

At 6am, they reach the swamp, still clutching their broken body parts. A village stands in the waters, houses on stilts, workers in the rice paddies. Safety.

Jazzina and Skimbo enter the village. For some reason, Jazzina has a 20,000 cat bounty from the members of the Holy Fire, whoever that is. I don’t know if this happened because of the bandit fight or if she has always had this price on her head, from some pre-game kerfuffle with the authorities. Maybe she too stole a mug. Maybe it’s a Gurpson family tradition to be a wanted criminal. In any case, it doesn’t matter. There’s no Holy Fire here. Only swampers. The gate guards let them enter without trouble. One spins to look at Jazzina briefly but, to my relief, does nothing.

The family’s plan is no longer the plan. The wheat we meant to plant and much of our other material was lost in the attack. Jazzina and Skimbo barely escaped with their lives. Skimbo still walks with a limp. I’m not sure if that will ever heal. This is it for them, I think. A life in the swamp is better than a death in the desert. Miraculously, property prices in the wetlands are much more affordable than the big city.

They find a shack worth 2000 cats – they have enough for that, somehow – and they can also scrape together a sleeping bag and some riceweed. Some day, maybe they’ll learn to grow rice. They will become swampers themselves.

Jazzina stands by the fire. Skimbo rests. With luck, they will spend the rest of their days here.

It might not be what Mama Gurpson wanted. But for a Gurpson to survive their first day in Kenshi at all… well, that’s a triumph in itself.

Kenshi is £12.99/$19.99 on Steam. These impressions are based on build 1848375

26 Comments

  1. EvilMonkeyPL says:

    Great read, as always.
    So, the game – it’s like M&B mixed with Rimworld mixed with Baldurs Gate? In a world that gives me a slight Morrowind feel?
    Interesting.

    • LazyWizard says:

      Morrowind is an apt comparison. Kenshi takes place on a huge island with various alien flora and fauna; the wilderness is abundant and dangerous; and there’s no fast travel (though you can fast forward, it still takes many minutes to travel between towns). The gameplay’s much closer to an open world melee RTS/RPG hybrid than it is to Mount&Blade, however. There’s no direct control during fighting beyond “attack this guy”, but the melee simulation is very in-depth and positioning of your squad members is key to winning battles. Like keeping a dedicated healer in reserve to drag off and heal unconscious squad members during fights – a hint that Brendan would probably have appreciated before playing!

      Also like Morrowind: everyone is an asshole, and racism is a big part of the setting (though unlike in the Elder Scrolls, race has significant gameplay consequences: you will be refused service or even attacked if you bring the wrong squad members into certain towns).

      The game’s brutally difficult even when you know what you’re doing. If you buy it I’d suggest using the Advanced Options when starting a new game and setting everything to as easy as it gets, especially the enemy group size slider. The single largest contributor to early game difficulty is how outnumbered you are (blocking is directional, so being flanked is not good), and by default most enemies roam in what can only be described as small hordes.

    • Danarchist says:

      It’s like Rimworld only in that you will enjoy the game a TON more if you read forums and watch youtube videos on it before you play.
      It is being developed by one guy with a few contracted artists last I heard so I give it a ton of forgiveness, but man is it a brutal game!
      After a dozen hours trying to figure it out on my own I did some online reading and learned to spend the first few hours in the game training on practice dummies and running anything that chases me into the nearest friendly army, then looting the corpses of both sides afterwards. Later I learned to run big groups of bandits into trade caravans and hoping a few of the traders got killed. This gave me the materials to start a base. a dozen hours later I had 5 guys, a mining operation, and crops growing. I was feeling great until the “Sand Ninja’s” stopped by to visit. I even had a fairly well equipped set of “guards” that last a minute or two longer than my farmers. Everyone bled out after my healer was killed by a completely different group while trying to get people back up.

      Pretty sure thats the last I will be playing of that game. Challenging is fun, but this game is just hideously brutal

  2. Kolbex says:

    I got this waaaaaaay back when in some kind of bundle for like $1, I think. I recently installed it thinking it would make a good candidate for some kind of Dwarf Fortress-y blog series, but man is it ever impenetrable.

  3. wombat191 says:

    i remember trying this for a few hours about 18 months ago.. built a nice settlement and the bandits murdered my town :(

  4. gi_ty says:

    I played this game and loved it enough to persevere and learn many of its quirks. I haven’t played in years though I need to get back it looks so much better!
    So if your just start IIRC you want to scout any area you may settle thoroughly with 1 person who is only carrying the bare minimum and thus is able to run very quickly. This will allow you to escape danger. I believe that I also bought a cheap shack built a research bench and tech’d up a bit before trying to found my own settlement. Also a fun way to get some loot for your guys is to have your fast guy lure bandits and other ne’er do wells to city gates which they will then fight the town guards. After they are killed you can usually get some basic swords and stuff.
    Also IIRC you want to build training dummies in your starter shack to train up your squad so they don’t get murdered so easily. Kenshi is an absorbing game once you get the hang of it and this was at least a year to 18 months ago so im betting its even better now!

  5. Artiforg says:

    Is Bosco your revenge on Graham for making you review Kenshi?

  6. DEspresso says:

    Polly does look like someone who has 17 cats ;)

  7. LazyWizard says:

    Ah, the “Man and his dog” start. It’s the very definition of a newbie trap.

    See, tamed animals in Kenshi are actually ridiculously strong – usually coming with stats and combat skills in the 40-50 range, something your own squad won’t have until mid-to-late game. To “balance” this animals were given an age mechanic, which is actually just a flat modifier to all stats and skills. Animals you buy from farms come in a variety of ages, but the bonedog in that starting scenario is a puppy that begins with a 0x age modifier. Also important to note: the age modifier only goes up by 0.01 every in-game day or so. You can see where I’m going with this.

    The end result is that if your bonedog can survive for several real life hours of gameplay (very unlikely since it begins with stats literally at zero), it might become nearly as strong as the generic starting squad members you can recruit in bars. By the time it reaches its actual listed stats your soldiers will far eclipse it in ability.

    • LazyWizard says:

      Urg, multiplier to all stats and skills, not modifier. Damn you, edit window.

  8. Potocobe says:

    I’ve been playing Kenshi off and on for years. And yes, the UI is awful. I don’t play it for the UI.

    I play it because it’s the only game I’ve ever played that tells me I’m not special. Anything the player can do the AI can do too. Kenshi is a brutal game. It is not for the faint-hearted or casual gamers.
    Any gamer that likes gameplay based off of systems and mechanics more than scripting should be able to get into Kenshi. This is one of those games you can start up and let run and stuff happens on it’s own that has nothing to do with you.
    Kenshi has a steep learning curve. You can’t work it out in one play session. It isn’t like other games. I think of Kenshi as more of a rogue-like than any of the other tags it claims as it’s style. You learn by doing and over time you get better at reading the environment and your surroundings, what works and what doesn’t, but understanding the game does not guarantee success. That and it’s brutally hard before you figure out how to get a character some serious combat skills. Then it’s just regular hard.

    • LexW1 says:

      Prior to this review, I’d always assumed Kenshi was some sort of low-rent MMO. I think I must have been confusing it that one where you are some sort of rabbit-man.

      It actually looks rather interesting from this, though these hardcore build-em-ups have tendency to get very dull after a while.

  9. haldolium says:

    Oh wow, Kenshi… one of the first EA games. Its been so long, I forgot entirely about it.

    Happy to see that it is still around. Might be time to check it out after 4 years.

    My character didn’t have a family anymore, so my first and only life ended after 20 minutes the same way as Garys.

  10. poliovaccine says:

    Definitely sounds interesting, and like it’s got a bit of Morrowind in it, what with the jankiness, the alienness, the surprising depth and the hideous brown UI. Except I like the sound of how you are sooo not the foretold one or whatever.

  11. montfalcon says:

    I don’t want to crap on the graphics, because that really seems like low-hanging fruit, but are there absolutely no shadows in this engine? Everything just looks sorta superimposed and floaty. Not even a diffuse circle under the character models…

    • Premium User Badge

      Superelastic says:

      There are numerous graphical options, included detailed shadows, but they are in need of optimisation (which is one of the dev’s main focuses at the moment). My desire for long draw distances leads me to sacrifice the nicer settings.

      Played this game a lot in 2013 and have put a load of hours in over the last month. Great game, lots of interesting systems and increasing depth the the more you play. Still a fair chunk of work till it’s ready for release though (2 thirds of the map is still restricted).

    • mcnostril says:

      They’re turned off by default, which I find baffling since the low quality shadows don’t really impact performance all that much anymore.
      I personally find the game borderline unplayable without the shadows. Kenshi’s landscapes are so massive, the shadows add an incredible amount of flair to the environments, to the point where there’s nothing quite like it as far as I’m concerned.
      Most objects and buildings are also fairly large, having quite a bit of detail in their models, and their textures are fairly busy – a lot of the ground textures have weird colors in them that make everything look like a soupy mess when it’s all bathed in that weird ambient light you see in the article’s screenshots. Especially with the amount of rocks and vegetation that is present in most areas, without shadows it’s all just visual noise (and the insides of buildings are all weirdly lit too).
      Here’s a gallery of screenshots I took when I was still playing a few months ago (I stopped due to an update in the experimental branch that did weird things to AI and broke a few mods):
      link to steamcommunity.com
      Aside from the shadows I’ve actually turned down a lot of graphical settings but I’d be surprised if someone thought it didn’t look significantly better with the shadows on.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Dorga says:

    I’ve got this way back when it was first released, it’s been nice to follow its development.

  13. Drib says:

    This looks like it could be interesting if it was less janky and generated less sad stories. Poor Gurpsons.

    Also poor settlement that some other commenter mentioned, getting destroyed by bandits.

    • dwobbers says:

      I’d keep an eye on it. It’s being developed still. I would be surprised if this is the final state of the UI (although it’s completely functional. Not easy to understand at first glance but also not buggy). One thing that’s there to stay though is making poor choices results in sad stories. The game is actually fairly forgiving for a lot of things as long as you don’t jump in completely over your head, but it will wipe you out if you do crazy shit. Generally, if your combat skills are anywhere close to the person who downed you, you won’t die. You’ll get knocked unconscious and wake up a bit later (maybe in jail, maybe where you were after getting robbed)

  14. mxmissile says:

    Has the worst camera in video game history, hands down.

  15. Sin Vega says:

    I’ve been installing this again about once every 18 months for several years now, but never got round to giving it a proper go. Last time, sod’s law, I was finally ready for it, but it ran like a baked turd on my backup PC so I had to give it up. Shame really, it’s come along very slowly but quite a long way, and has made obvious progress towards many of its ambitions.

    Glad to see it on here!

  16. holy says:

    I played this a lot a few years back and I’m happy to see it’s still around and evolving. Possibly worth mentioning the music, which I liked a lot back then.
    Have just started a new game and am instantly hooked once more.

  17. Darkz0r says:

    Wow, cheers for the article, never knew about this game and I’m loving it!

    Even a 1080 ti can’t handle it! LOL, it’s not optimized and loads too many things at once that’s why. Had to tone down quite a few settings.
    But considering the world is huge and you can have multiple characters in different places, it loads quite fast.

    Anyways, first playthrough is going great, did some sneak training / roaming between cities until I found a city that was constantly getting attacked by guys that dropped 500/2k $ armors. With a few other lucky drops I made over 50k just by being a scavenger rat.

    After that I hired around 15 guys, started a settlement between cities and got up to tech 2.8 ish. Damn rebel farmers kept attacking and zerged me eventually.

    Reloaded earlier save, parked all my guys at a safe city and took my main guy (high running skill) exploring everywhere. Hired 10+ guys.
    After I finish exploring the north and hire more guys I’ll find somewhere quiet and rebuild.

    Something nice/broken is that you can have 1 guy parked at each city to scavenge drops from attackers and keep selling those drops. Since money is shared, you can go on a hiring/buying spree and then regroup later!

    • dwobbers says:

      It used to be even more broken. He made the buy/sell prices different for weapons/armor for that reason.

  18. Gomer_Pyle says:

    Great article, Brendan, as always! I practically burst out laughing when I saw that picture of Bosco.