I've heard a lot about sci-fantasy roguelike Caves Of Qud, split between "This game is amazing" and "This game sounds amazing but what am I doing and why do I keep dying?" Good news for both types: the latest early access update has added new areas, factions, and items for experienced players to enjoy, while also adding two new friendlier modes. Character creation is overhauled too, complete with some helpful presets.
Two new modes arrived in yesterday's patch. 'Roleplay' mode creates checkpoints at settlements, letting you reload from there when you die, and 'Wander' mode sounds even more chill. In Wander, your reputation with every faction starts at 0 or more so most creatures start neutral to you, it offers no XP for kills, and it offers extra XP for discoveries, completing quests, and performing the water ritual, and it has checkpointing it. The game already had an option to disable permadeath, but this seems better. 'Classic' mode still exists for ye olde Qud experience with permadeath, obvs.
The character creation interface has been overhauled too, and now has nine customisable character presets (whose names sure give a sense of the game: Marsh Taur, Dream Tortoise, Gunwing, Star-Eye Esper, Firefrond, bzzzt, Praetorian Prime, First Gardener, and First Child of the Hearth) to help you get started. Even noted roguelike fan Adam Smith said in 2017 that he had no idea how to make a good character.
For veterans, the update adds two new late-game regions, new items (including ones with tantalising names like 'gravity grenade' and 'psychal fleshgun'), new cybernetic implants, a new quest, new plants, new items, new furniture, a new settlement, new factions, new creatures, and more.
See the patch notes for the big long list of newness.
When the game hit Steam in 2015, Marsh Davies noted in our Caves Of Qud early access review that it had "a richly simulated and imaginative game world full of funny, well-authored detail" but he mostly just died.
"I am so eager for a game which offers this but is also happy to let me actually reach it," he said. "This may well be a flaw with me, but I personally do not find an insistence on obscurity and hardship even remotely beguiling. I'm sure I'm doing loads wrong - and that more persistent, self-flagellating or forgiving gamers will find a great deal more to enjoy - but, honestly, if the game doesn't care to help me, then I struggle to care about the game."
A friendlier mode or two to ease in sounds grand.