Embark on a journey in Cycles Reforged Update!
Embark on a Cycle-long journey toward the Ancient Seals. Grow your caravan, solve World Events, and plan your route to the ultimate goal!
We’re very excited to finally share with you the extensive Cycle Overhaul that we’ve been testing on the Experimental Branch for the past few weeks.
Here’s what’s new:
- New World Map System: Ancient Seals
- New World Map System: the Viceroy’s Caravan
- New World Map System: World Map Events
- New Upgrades: Faction Trade Routes
- And more!
Check the recording of our recent livestream for an in-depth overview of the Cycle Overhaul:
This update marks the first step of our extensive revamp of the meta layer and lays the groundwork for exciting new things to come in the future.
Continue reading for our detailed notes and the full changelog.
IMPORTANT: Due to numerous changes to the World Map layer, your current Cycle had to be force-finished and you’ll begin a new one. You will be given a choice to climb the Seal difficulty ladder either from the bottom (Settler difficulty) or from the difficulty level matching your highest won Prestige game. If you choose the latter, you will get all the rewards that you’d get for completing lower-level Seals.
Against the Storm welcomes 500,000 Viceroys!
Before we begin, we also have the pleasure to share that Against the Storm reached 500,000 players!
We are honored and humbled that so many of you have decided to embark on this thrilling expedition with us. From all of us at Eremite Games – thank you, Viceroys! It wouldn’t be the same without you 💛
If you like the Chibi Characters Art, you can download the original art from our press kit.
The Cycle Reforged
As you might have noticed, over the last couple of weeks we’ve been releasing somewhat smaller updates. That’s because, in the background, we’ve been hard at work on some exciting new stuff from our recently released extended Early Access roadmap – namely the Cycles Overhaul.
But before we move on to the changelog, let us first share some more detailed design notes on this new system – why we feel that this revamp was needed, how we approached fixing some pending problems on the World Map, and what the future holds for the meta layer of Against the Storm.
When we talk about the so-called “meta layer” of the game, we essentially mean everything that is not the pure city builder gameplay loop. For example – the World Map, leveling, Citadel upgrades, difficulty progression, meta resources, etc. Over the last couple of months, we gradually improved the moment-to-moment gameplay of Against the Storm, but the meta layer has unfortunately been left behind.
With the extended roadmap, we decided to focus our efforts on this neglected aspect of the game. However, the problem is that the whole meta layer of Against the Storm is already overwhelmingly vast, even in its current state, so we needed to split it up into smaller, bite-sized chunks and work on a single one of them at a time. And what better place to start this endeavor than the very foundation – the World Map and Cycles?
In the current version of the game, Cycles lack structure, risk, and goals, and the only challenge they pose is a rather dull system of influence ranking. There are no meaningful choices, nothing to strive for or explore on the World Map, and no potential failure state. We decided to try and address that in today’s update.
New System – Ancient Seals
The very first thing you will notice after launching the game is that the World Map is much larger and has 2 to 4 special fields on it, visible above the fog of war. These fields are the Ancient Seals – old, intricate structures built by a long-forgotten civilization, meant to hold a primeval, malevolent force at bay.
Unfortunately, the power of the Seals has gradually waned over the millennia, causing the mysterious Sealed Ones to slowly regain their hold on this world. Your goal as the Queen’s Viceroy isn’t just to establish settlements and collect resources anymore, but also to reforge these Ancient Seals and help the Crown protect the kingdom.
To reforge a Seal, you have to successfully establish a town right next to it. The Seals are surrounded by a special biome, the Sealed Forest, and are available only when a range of conditions are met:
- The Blightstorm is almost there (the Cycle is ending);
- A sufficient number of Seal Fragments were gathered (explained below);
- The Seal is within the reach of your last town.
If you meet all of the above conditions, you have one chance (during this Cycle) to embark on the map with a Seal and try to reforge it (currently, the Sealed Forest looks like the Cursed Royal Woodlands and has placeholder effects, but it will get a unique look, music, and mechanic in one of the upcoming updates). Winning that game will grant you regular rewards for a run, a Citadel Resources bonus at the end of the current Cycle, and will increase the length of the Cycle by a few years (a one-time boost for each specific type of Seal).
Bronze Seal and World Event marker
The first condition is quite straightforward – you can only try to reforge a Seal at the very end of the Cycle. If for any reason you can’t or fail while doing it, the chance is lost and you will have to try again at the end of the next Cycle.
The second condition is Seal Fragments. The farther a Seal lies from the Smoldering City, the more damaged it is, and the more fragments are required to reforge it. Seal Fragments are obtained by winning games and can be picked as one of three possible rewards for playing near negative modifiers. Any leftovers at the end of the Cycle will be sold back to the Crown for Citadel Resources.
The last condition is distance. You must be within the embarkation range of a Seal to start a game there. This sounds pretty obvious but it is also closely connected to the changes in a Cycle’s structure described below.
New Systems – the Viceroy’s Caravan and World Events
From now on, your Viceroy’s party has a physical representation on the World Map once it leaves the Smoldering City, and you can only embark from your current location (your last successful settlement). That means each Cycle is one large expedition, one you must plan carefully if you hope to reach the next Seal and progress the world.
As you make your way across the world, you will encounter a completely new type of point of interest – World Events. Their main purpose is to offer some kind of decision or challenge, as well as make the World Map feel a lot more exciting and alive. Events are closely tied to a new mechanic – caravan upgrades – and by solving them, you will be rewarded with additional embarkation goods, villagers, or temporary buffs (as well as Seal Fragments, Embarkation Points, etc.). These will be added to all your starting caravans and influence your future settlements (but only for the duration of the current Cycle).
Modifiers also got a refresh in this update. Winning a game near a negative one will now give you a new special reward – the Royal Resupply. This is a choice of one of three bonuses:
- Reserve Embarkation Points (a new pool of additional Embarkation Points for the entire Cycle, not replenishing after every game)
- A temporary boost to your Embarkation Range
- Additional Seal Fragments
There are also some smaller changes that influence your caravan’s journey through the World Map. For example, the map is now divided into difficulty rings, meaning that after reaching a certain distance, you will be required to increase the difficulty. Additionally, the modifier spawn rates have been adjusted, so that negative modifiers will appear more frequently on fields further away from the Citadel, and positive ones will have a higher chance of spawning on the first few fields from the Smoldering City. This might sound somewhat restrictive, but don’t worry – the very first ring (Settler difficulty) is quite big and will have a chance of spawning all types of modifiers, so you won’t be locked out of any content.
With all these changes, we hope to create a more meaningful journey on the World Map, with things to discover and a sense of progression within a Cycle.
Our main goal with this update is to create a strong foundation and structure for future releases. With the introduction of Seals, World Events, and the Viceroy’s Caravan, there are finally multiple mechanics and systems at play we can manipulate and adjust, creating meaningful decisions and stakes. We know that this is quite a big change, so as usual – we will keep an eye on feedback and adjust if necessary. As with every update to Against the Storm – nothing here is set in stone.
From here, the next step is rather obvious – a proper Sealed Forest biome with distinct aesthetics, audio, and a set of unique mechanics to ensure the Cycle ends with a proper climax. Then, if there is still time, we have two other systems in store that should satisfy both high-prestige players looking for the ultimate challenge, and everyone thirsty for lore, characters, and closure. But that is a story for another time.
As always – thank you all for providing feedback and suggestions for the new update. If you’d like to share your ideas for upcoming updates, here are some useful links:
May the storm be gentle on you,
P.S. If you’ve picked up Against the Storm and have been playing it, make sure to leave a Steam review! They help a lot!
Sealed Forest biome preview
And now it’s time for a little surprise!
As we mentioned, it will take some time before we’ll be able to deliver the new Sealed Forest biome. However, we can already share a sneak peek of the biome’s visuals. Enjoy!
Sealed Forest (work in progress)
Sealed Forest biome preview
If you’re looking for even more information about the Update and the changes we made since the first Experimental Update, check out the Frequently Asked Questions:
The Sealed Biome looks just like a regular biome. Is this intended?
This Update focuses solely on the Cycle overhaul (which is the foundation for any future work). We’ve been working on the build-up, not the climax (yet). On the journey before destination (sorry/not sorry for the blatant Brandon Sanderson reference).
The current Sealed Biome is just a placeholder and we’re already in the middle of designing a proper new biome with unique visuals, music, and a potential mechanic for reforging the Seal. We expect to deliver it in late July or early August (this is, of course, subject to change).
You can see a sneak peek of the new biome above.
Is there any content gated behind difficulty zones?
The World Map is divided into difficulty zones with each Seal marking the border of the particular difficulty. Playing farther away than the zone’s border will require you to play on a higher difficulty.
The aim here is to:
- Encourage players to amp up the difficulty as part of the game’s natural progression.
- Prevent situations when it would be optimal to play the last games in a Cycle (before attempting to close the Seal) on lower difficulties to accumulate negative modifier bonuses.
No actual content is gated behind the difficulty. You can still encounter each of the game’s Modifiers within the Settler difficulty zone.
We consider adding cosmetic rewards for completing Seals in the future. In our conversations with players, this was generally agreed on to be rewarding enough for those who complete them and not a deal-breaker for players who don’t aim to play on higher difficulties. We encourage you to share your thoughts with us too!
Why is it no longer possible to embark anywhere on the map?
The main stimulus to work on the Cycle overhaul was the ever-repeated feedback that the World Map layer lacks depth and an overarching goal. We ourselves can’t agree more. There is no purpose, thrill, or stakes involved.
The journey towards the Seal is our vision for a Cycle-long mini-campaign that involves planning, decision-making, and a climax (reforging the Seal in the Sealed Forest).
On this journey, you’re growing your Caravan by engaging with World Map Events and overcoming Negative Modifiers. You’re also challenged by a geographical distance that separates you from the final goal of your quest.
We believe that a physical representation of your Caravan and an actual route on which you’re embarking not only fits thematically but also provides the much-needed depth and strategy to the World Map layer. Embarking from any point on the map (and not your Caravan position) would deprive the World Map layer of this depth.
In the first Experimental Update, the Cycle was counted in games, not years. Why did you change it?
Out of the two tested approaches, we decided to keep the existing Cycle length counted in years.
The discussions about this aspect were probably the most heated ones and we wholeheartedly admit that both approaches have merits and drawbacks. We eventually decided on a Cycle counted in years as this approach adds more depth to runs and introduces new decisions and consequences. It leaves a bit more room to maneuver if things take a turn for the worse and gives you an opportunity for a comeback.
To address the needs of players who sometimes prefer to play runs for fun, the Daily Expeditions (and Training Expeditions) don’t affect the Cycle in any way and nor does continuing to play after winning the game.
Do you plan to make more updates to the World Map layer?
This Update is just the beginning of our planned changes to this layer of the game. Please don’t worry if some things seem a bit off and bare-bones.
We will continue to iterate the Cycle mini-campaign based on your feedback and the experiences of new players for whom this will be the first encounter with the World Map.
In the next couple of updates, we plan to implement UX improvements and unique imagery for each World Event. The number of World Events will grow as well.
And most importantly, we are now able to focus on the new Sealed Forest biome with its unique visuals, music tracks, and Seal reforging mechanic that we hope will provide a proper climax for the Cycle’s mini-campaign.
Number of changes
Inspired by community
Changes marked with ⚡ were inspired by community.
New content and features
- ⚡ Added a new system to the World Map – Ancient Seals.
- Ancient Seals can be found on the World Map. These intricate structures were built by a long-forgotten civilization, and it is believed that they hold a primeval, malevolent force at bay – the so-called Sealed Ones. Unfortunately, the power of the Seals has gradually waned over the millennia, causing the Sealed Ones to slowly regain their hold on this world. Your goal as the Queen’s Viceroy isn’t just to establish settlements and collect resources, but also to reforge these Ancient Seals and help the Crown protect the kingdom.
- To reforge a Seal, you will have to journey towards it with your caravan, collect enough Seal Fragments on the way there (a new Cycle-specific meta resource gained by winning games and completing modifiers), and successfully settle right next to it at the very end of the Cycle. If you make it there much sooner, you can wait until the end of the Cycle by pressing the button in the lower right corner of the screen.
- There are 8 types of Seals with distinct names and symbols. Each one requires more Seal Fragments and is located further away from the Smoldering City. At any given time, you can only see a maximum of four Seals on the World Map (two of the same type as the recently completed one, and two new ones). Successfully reforging a Seal will grant you additional Citadel Resources at the end of the Cycle and prolong the time between future Blightstorms by a few years.
- At the end of a Cycle leftover Seal Fragments must be returned to the Crown (for an additional reward).
- To attempt reforging a Seal, you have to:
- Have enough Seal Fragments.
- Be in range of the Seal.
- Be at the end of the Cycle (you can skip to it now by pressing the button on the calendar).
- Play at the minimum required difficulty level of the Seal (or higher).
- Around the Seal, there is a special new biome – the Sealed Forest. It has unique effects and special resource distribution. This is meant as a “final battle” in a given Cycle.
- For now, this biome has placeholder visuals and effects. It looks like the Cursed Royal Woodlands and has penalties to trade routes, farming, and fewer charges in nodes. All this will change in the coming weeks, with a dedicated Sealed Forest Update.
- After winning a game in the Sealed Forest near a named Seal for the first time, the World Map will progress, spawning a new type of Seal (in addition to the previous one), and extending the Cycle duration by several years. Older Seals (below the tier of the two most recent ones) will not be spawned anymore.
- If you are an experienced player who has already reached Prestige difficulties, you will get a dialogue box when launching the game for the first time after this update. There, you will be able to decide whether you want to start your Cycle progression from the beginning or skip to a Seal that matches your skills.
- Added a new system to the World Map – the Viceroy’s Caravan.
- From now on, your caravan has a physical representation on the World Map (shown by a marker) and you can only venture from your last successful town.
- As you move through the map, you will be able to collect new resources, villagers, and effects for your caravan by completing negative Modifiers and World Events.
- The minimum difficulty of a settlement is now tied to the distance from the Smoldering City on the World Map. This means that after reaching a certain point, you will no longer be able to play Settler runs, as only Pioneer and higher will be allowed. But don’t worry – the difficulty ranges are pretty big, so if you prefer to stay on Settler, you will have plenty of space to explore and modifiers and events to see.
- There is also a new type of Embarkation Point – Reserve Embarkation Points. These can be used across multiple games in a Cycle (instead of being specific to one game like normal Embarkation Points). You can earn Reserve Embarkation Points through Negative Modifiers and World Events. The normal Embarkation Points are now called Base Embarkation Points.
- Base Embarkation Points are no longer influenced by difficulty (previously, the pool would shrink the higher the chosen difficulty). From now on, they are affected only by the distance from the Smoldering City.
- Added a new system to the World Map – World Events.
- World Events are random encounters that can be found on the World Map.
- All World Events offer some kind of decision or challenge. These can range from giving up a portion of the resources in your starting caravan in exchange for additional villagers, paying Seal Fragments for a temporary bonus, or winning a game by completing a special task for additional Embarkation Points.
- Successfully completing a World Event will reward players with additional caravan goods, cycle-long effects, or shorter (one or two games) blessings.
- World Events can also have negative consequences based on the player’s decision – lost caravan goods, cycle-long debuffs, or shorter (one or two games) curses.
- With this update, we bring you 10 types of World Events (with more to come in the future). We won’t spoil them all in this changelog, but some notable encounters are: a Stormbird Egg, the Obsidian Loremaster, a Cloaked Wanderer, or a Hanged Viceroy.
- In this update, World Events will have some repeated art assets attached to them. Our goal is to create unique illustrations for every scenario, but due to time constraints and possible changes/improvements to the system, custom encounter art for every event will arrive in the coming weeks.
- Added a new type of Citadel Upgrade to the Smoldering City – Faction Trade Routes.
- With the introduction of the new Seal system, factions were removed from the World Map and from the upgrade tree in the Smoldering City.
- As a replacement, and as a way to help trading in the early stages of a Cycle, we added Faction Trade Routes to the game.
- Factions will now act as independent settlements you can trade with, always located in the Smoldering City. Think of them as a district belonging to a faction.
- This means that after buying all 3 faction upgrades, you will have 4 towns to trade with at the start of each Cycle.
- Every faction has a unique variation of desired goods. These are mostly based on what a given faction would have a hard time producing (for example, the Brass Order are great metalworkers, but terrible farmers).
- There are 3 faction upgrades in the Smoldering City now. They were mostly shuffled into the existing nodes of the upgrade tree (there was room due to the removal of the previous faction upgrade and one Town Vision upgrade). There is only one completely new upgrade level for the Monastery of the Vigilant Flame (on level 17), increasing the total number of upgrades in the game to 80.
- The exact list of upgrade changes can be found in the balance section of this changelog.
- ⚡ Changed the way Modifiers are spawned on the World Map.
- Positive Modifiers will now have a higher chance of appearing near the Smoldering City, and a lower chance of spawning far away.
- Negative Modifiers have a higher chance of spawning further away from the Citadel, and a lower chance of appearing close to it.
- This new system is not completely rigid, however. It only affects the spawn rates, but doesn’t prevent any Modifier from spawning at any distance (for example, negative Modifiers can still appear right next to the Citadel, the chances are just lower).
- The main goal with this change is to further boost the clear difficulty progression of the World Map by making the first games in a Cycle a bit easier and faster, and the later ones a tad harder.
- Adjusted starting caravans to make them more balanced and in line with the new system changes.
- Changed the numerical spread of villagers in starting caravans. Now, the base number of villagers ranges from 6 to 8.
- Changed the Embarkation Point price range for Planks – it’s now from 2 to 3 instead of a static 2.
- Reshuffled the rewards in multiple Citadel Upgrades.
- Obsidian Archive Level 7 – removed the faction unlock, added the Citadel Resource bonus.
- Obsidian Archive Level 11 – removed the Citadel Resource bonus, added the Field Kitchen essential blueprint.
- Dim Square Level 7 – removed the Field Kitchen essential blueprint, added the Amber Embarkation Bonus.
- Brass Forge Level 6 – removed the Parts Embarkation Bonus, added the Brass Order faction unlock.
- Brass Forge Level 8 – removed the Global Carrying Capacity bonus, added the Parts Embarkation Bonus.
- Brass Forge Level 9 – removed the Amber Embarkation Bonus, added the Global Carrying Capacity bonus.
- Pioneers’ Gate Level 3 – removed the Embarkation Range bonus, added the bonus to starting caravan goods.
- Monastery of the Vigilant Flame Level 11 – new upgrade level, with the following rewards: Scrolls and Incense Embarkation Bonuses.
- First Dawn Headquarters Level 4 – removed the Herbalists’ Camp Embarkation Bonus, added the First Dawn faction unlock.
- First Dawn Headquarters Level 5 – removed the bonus to starting caravan goods, added the Herbalists’ Camp Embarkation Bonus.
- Vanguard Spire Level 9 – removed the Scrolls and Incense Embarkation Bonuses, added the Vanguard of the Stolen Keys faction unlock.
- Games won and lost before year 3 now always progress the Cycle by 3 years (to make it harder to avoid negative cycle effects by winning quick Settler games or abandoning settlements).
- Erratum: During the stream, we mentioned that winning the game in 1-2 years will only progress the Cycle by the said number of years, but that was a mistake. Every game will progress the Cycle at least 3 years forward. This was implemented to prevent cheesing and playing below your skill level to venture farther on the World Map.
- ⚡ Cleaned up the perk HUD and implemented a new sorting method. Overall, the perk HUD should now be much easier to read at a glance.
- The perk HUD will now sort effects and perks based on if they’re positive or negative first. Then, effects will be ordered by rarity (from Legendary to Common).
- This change also brings with it a lot of tweaks to incorrectly labeled effects all over the game (working effects, perks, Cornerstones, Forest Mysteries, Consequences, etc.).
- ⚡ Changed the wording in the Shelter description in Polish to make it easier to understand.
- ⚡ Slightly nerfed the Stormforged version of the Hidden Reward Cornerstone. It now gives one Ancient Tablet instead of two.
- Changed the World Map tutorial slightly to mention Ancient Seals. There are also contextual messages displayed when reaching the Seal for the first time to help players better understand the new system.
- Added a new Encyclopedia entry about Ancient Seals. It will now also appear in the “read more” panel after the World Map tutorial.
- Updated the Encyclopedia entry about Modifiers to now also include World Events.
- ⚡ Fixed a bug with villagers getting stuck trying to reach a cache near the edge of a glade.
- ⚡ Fixed an issue with fertile soil sometimes being located under trees when spawned together with farm ruins in undiscovered glades.
- ⚡ Fixed an issue with effects spawning fertile soil sometimes placing it under objects (like geysers).
- ⚡ Fixed a bug with Wandering Merchants causing old trader notifications to reappear on the HUD.
- ⚡ Fixed an issue with the reveal effect icon (from species abilities) being partially covered by glade markers.
- ⚡ Fixed a bug with some need-based Cornerstones (like Well Rested Workers) being offered to the player even if there is no species with a given need in the settlement.
- ⚡ Fixed a bug with Geyser Pumps and Rain Collectors not displaying production times influenced by perks and bonuses.
- ⚡ Fixed an issue with extinct species showing all needs as met.
- ⚡ Fixed an issue with Distillery and Tinctury being named the same in French, Italian, and Spanish
- ⚡ Fixed a typo in the description of sacrifice duration effects in French.
- ⚡ Fixed an issue with some effects being called the same in Japanese (Steel Pickaxes and Steel Mattocks, Rotten Rain and Corrosive Rainfall).
- ⚡ Fixed a typo in the name of the Burnt to a Crisp Cornerstone in Spanish.
- ⚡ Fixed a typo in the description of the Beacon effect in German.
- Fixed a bug that caused the entrance icon to stay visible after closing a building panel with ESC.
- Fixed an issue with text being incorrectly formatted in the specific tooltip in some languages.
- Fixed an issue with missing decoration tags for the Harmony Spirit Altar in some languages.
- Daily Expeditions and Training Expeditions no longer progress the Cycle
The current game version is 0.53.1.
Check out the latest community memes on Steam:
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