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Another thing Trudograd already has going for it is the increased production value. Despite some missing UI elements and audio effects, the game already looks and plays much better than its predecessor. And overall, it feels more ambitious, thanks to the new atmospheric live-action cutscenes, weapon modifications, and a neat little card game that vaguely resembles a cross between Hearthstone and Arcomage.
So, what about the systems fueling the game? At their core they’re still very much inspired by Fallout, but by now they feel unique enough to be their own thing. Attributes are mostly the same, but then you have skills that on top of merely making your character more proficient at something, also provide extra bonuses when you reach certain skill levels.
Then, there are the so-called distinctions that act as Fallout’s traits, but are closer to something like Arcanum’s backgrounds in how much they affect your character. And finally, instead of Fallout’s perks, you have abilities that are separated into several ability trees. Each time you gain a level, you get a few ability points to learn something new.
Trudograd’s take on the ability tree differs greatly from its ATOM RPG predecessor, and is overall much better. However, the way abilities are grouped together right now makes very little sense. Say you want to become good at using heavy armor. The way things work now, you’ll need to first invest a good few points into the tinkering tree. And if you want to get more skill and ability points when leveling up, you will first have to become a better medic. It’s safe to say that this system still needs some work.
Another thing that can go either way at this point is the new weather system. Right now, your character has a warmth meter that goes up and down depending on the temperature outside. And while in theory battling the elements can be a fun challenge, cold has completely replaced radiation in the current build, which is quite a bold move for a post-nuclear game.
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Finally, let’s discuss the game’s biggest issue. Its writing.
It’s important to note here that by the time I played the original ATOM RPG, it has received numerous patches and content updates. As such, it’s hard for me to gauge the extent of its journey when it comes to dealing with writing-related issues.
Still, as it stands, Trudograd’s writing is dire, no other way to put it. Even looking past all the typos and odd word choices, something that’s easily fixable, it’s extremely hard to enjoy Trudograd’s writing. Many of the game’s quests and interactions simply feel broken on a fundamental level and make very little sense.
At the same time, the game also features a good number of quests that, thanks to their unusual premises, unorthodox solutions and numerous angles of approach, are actually pretty engaging and fun.
And while the original ATOM RPG was far from perfect in this regard, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad. As such, I hope that by the time Trudograd leaves early access, its writers can fix some of that jankier stuff. Because right now, calling Trudograd’s writing uneven would be a colossal understatement.