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Abandon Ship's first update abandons absolute brutality

This year’s FTL-but-with-pirates effort Abandon Ship had ‘Alec’ written all over it, but unhappily I found that me timbers were not especially shivered by it in practice. A combination of great repetition and vicious circles of doom meant I drifted away all too soon. Fireblade Software’s boats’n’cosmic horror game did pretty well for itself nonetheless, and now they’ve just loaded up its early access hold with its first major update. The main focus of this is on making the game less wantonly cruel.

Foremost of these is changing the system whereby your crew members could get summarily killed by random events. Sudden crew death is a borrowed feature from FTL, Abandon Ship’s gleaming inspiration, but this is an altogether longer haul than an FTL journey was, and this kind of lethal tomfoolery could work against long-term investment.

Now, event-blighted crewmembers are incapacitated instead of killed, and must be revived, for a fee, by an apothecary. They’ll also end up with a negative trait, which can be resolved with filthy lucre. So it’s a slow down rather than a full stop now, and crucially the decisions about when and if to deal with these issues is down to the player, rather than unseen dice of doom.

Another way of mitigating mass crew losses is a new system whereby you can pay a relative pittance to hire a motley crew of prisoners. Such reprobates might be enough to get your odyssey back on its feet again, but they’ve too many negative traits to be a long-term fix.

Meanwhile, a sporadic manual save system – cutely, hung around finding special shipwrecks – also means the dread grip of autosave is loosened a little. I.e. play your cards right and you might get a hail mary or two, which can make all the difference in a permadeath game.

More details on those – and a few other, smaller changes – here, and the update’s live on the Steam build right now.

These sound like thoughtful fixes for sure. I’m not quite sure they’re enough to bring me back right away – more variety on the main map screen is what I most need – but a few more meaty updates could well see me un-abandon this particular ship.

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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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