One of the major challenges playing the 7DRL prototype was a limited list of options for dealing with hordes of enemy robots that would alert each other and swarm you.
You could fight them in a bottleneck or narrow corridor, try to herd them into a group and use a powerful explosive, or better, simply avoid as many enemies as possible by relying on sensor utilities. Even then, you could still end up cornered and run out of resources before you could escape or defeat them. That and it’s not good design when most of your options rely on having certain parts that you may or may not have found, or requiring that you bring those parts along even if they don’t fit the build your trying to play.
Now there’s a much more versatile option.
Now you can have friends.
I spent some time running around the earlier levels with a few allied robots, and they provide an enormous benefit compared to the prototype in which all robots operated on the assumption that Cogmind was their only enemy.
(I should note here that while the game is in a playable state, it’s purely for testing new UI features and gameplay mechanics since it’s still running the old prototype game. After much of the initial work is done, the entire world will be rewritten from scratch.)
While there is currently no way to issue commands to your allies (that will come later), simply giving enemies a wider choice of targets greatly increases your survivability. So much so that it’s obvious this new feature will require some heavy-handed balancing. The solution is fairly obvious, too. The overall enemy response to your actions will be dependent on the threat you pose. Thus if you raise a robot army, expect to start a war. You could also just try to slip away in the ensuing chaos, but attracting too much attention in the first place can be at odds with the idea of “slipping away.”
In any case, the addition of allies will open up new strategic options. Going it alone will still be a viable option as well.
Allies fall into one of two categories, defined essentially by how much information they share with you.
The first type acts as a spotter--you can always see and hear everything they do. This category consists mostly of Cogmind-launched reconnaissance drones you can send around corners, into rooms, or leave in a particular location to keep watch.
The second type are the more autonomous robots that can fight for you, but if they leave your field of view you may not know what they’re doing (unless you hear lots of gunfire :D ).
Where do these allies come from? The game doesn’t currently include any of the mechanics involved (that will come later with the world rewrite), but it’s likely that small drones could be manufactured by a utility part, and larger robots will be manufactured at fabricators. Still other allies could be robots that join you from other factions.
As part of the ally update, the game now supports more than two “sides” (factions). Thus a single map can contain more than one faction of robots which may or may not be friendly with each other. The main branch of the game will still be occupied almost solely by your primary enemy that built and controls the complex you’re exploring, but additional factions can be found in special side-branches. (More on the world in a future post.)