Interim Update Pt 1 - Early Access V0.31 Patch Notes

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Community Manager
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Community Manager
It's time for a big overhaul of freeplay, a whole bunch of new art, and a campaign rebalance! Welcome to Empires of the Undergrowth version 0.31, and thank you to everyone who has helped test it for the past week and the focus group who have been on it for the past month or so.

This is part 1 of the update - we are immediately launching into finishing work on part 2, and now that everything is in place and working, we can work on improvement and tweaking. So, once you've given it a spin, head on over to the discussions and let us know what you think could be done to improve the AI and balance of the custom games in general.

Patch Notes - July 14th 2023

Headline Features

  • Smarter AI - much cleverer freeplay colonies, with a new modular AI system
  • Freer Freeplay - new freeplay features, new uber creatures!
  • Skirmish Mode - quick-to-setup game vs AI colonies based on freeplay
  • Prettier Artwork - for beach story & freeplay levels, & some creatures!
  • Campaign Balance - the campaign has been rebalanced with many changes
  • Mount Your Enemies - many more enemy creatures can now be climbed by your ants!
Freeplay / Custom Game
  • Freeplay now lives in the Custom Game menu with the new Skirmish setup mode.
  • Freeplay AI completely reworked
    • Much more intelligent building & food collection priority
    • Assists allies under attack & plan coordinated attacks
    • Guards resources, steals aphids, harrasses opponents
    • Nest designs tailored to species & room location
    • New build priority system for different species
    • Build orders adapt to storage & battle needs
    • Will hide from rising water on applicable maps
    • Customisable temperament & reactions
  • Streamlined setup mode called Skirmish
    • Quick battle setup vs computer-controlled colonies
    • Emphasises colony vs colony combat with conquest victory condition
    • Preset landmarks & creature spawns
    • Generally shorter form games
  • New landmarks
    • Huge creatures (whip spider, great blue skimmer or bullfrog)
    • Caterpillar plants
    • Relocatable aphid plants (rosemary in beach levels, fewflower milkweed otherwise)
    • Carnivorous plants
  • New uber creatures
    • Bombardier beetle
    • Red velvet ant
    • Eastern newt
    • Narrow-mouthed toad
  • Beach tiger beetle & beach wolf spider are now custom game / extra level only creatures
  • The above have had stats & abilities changed to differentiate them from the new campaign creatures taking their place (see below)
  • Freeplay can optionally use the fixed landmarks from Skirmish
  • Freeplay now has the option of spawning environmental creatures with roaming patrol routes
Story Campaign

Most levels in the campaign have been changed. In general, in the 1.x & 2.x levels aggressive creatures drop less food, whilst environmental food is increased. In the 4.x levels, aggressive creatures drop slightly more food. The 1.x, 2.x & 4.x levels should now feel fairly consistent in that regard. There are many other changes, too.

All beach, forest & rainforest creatures have had their food quantity recalculated & reduced
All swamp creatures have had food quantities increased to bring them in line with the new values in the rest of the game

1.1 New Home & 1.2 Subjugation
  • Food has been added into both levels
  • 1.2 slave maker attacks will now have level 2 & 3 ants amongst them
  • 1.2 slave maker attacks will get harder more rapidly on hard & insane
  • Challenge mode cricket attacks will be more frequent on harder difficulties
  • Funnel web spiders now become food items rather than harvestable corpses on death
  • Enemies in top-left of 1.2 will now attack the queen on being unearthed
2.1 Rising Tide & 2.2 Queen of the Hill
  • More food added to the undergrounds of both levels
  • Has higher level enemy ants on the map & in attack waves
  • Notification about creature mounting moved to 2.1
  • 2.1 underground caverns added
  • 2.1 has more daytime surface food
  • 2.1 has a new food arrival event with new narrator dialogue
  • 2.2 aphids now produce food throughout the night
  • Melee wood ants speed increased to 320 up from 300
  • Melee wood ants given 30% AoE resistance
  • Reduced number of challenge mode beetle larvae in some areas
  • Creature changes
  • Beach tiger beetle replaced with northern dune tiger beetle (same stats as old beach tiger beetle)
  • Beach wolf spider replaced with sand bear wolf spider (same stats as old beach wolf spider)
  • Larger variant of hermit crab added
3.2 Front Line
  • Level 2 & 3 huge whip spider added for hard & insane in 3.2
  • Significantly increased health of huge whip spider
  • Huge whip spider now has a health bar like the bullfrog & great blue skimmer
4.1 Cold Blood & 4.2 A Bridge Too Far
  • Aggressive creatures now drop a little more food
  • Pervasive fire ant free hatch timer improved to 1m30s (from 1m40s)
Artwork Changes
  • The beach environment has been updated to bring it up to the fidelity of the more recent swamp & rotting log environments. 2.1, 2.2 & the freeplay / custom game maps The Dunes & Towhead all use these new assets.
  • New decorative beach assets: rippling beach sand, flowering bindweed, samphire plants, water weeds, limpets, scallop shells, sea-smoothed rocks, sea urchins
  • New artwork for the 2 replacement beach creatures: northern dune tiger beetle & sand bear wolf spider
  • New model for black ant queen
  • New water look for beach levels
Enemy Climbing / Mounting

In this update, many more creatures can be climbed and mounted by your ants - not just the very largest creatures! As a general rule of thumb, most creatures as big or larger than a large tiger beetle can be climbed - but there are some exceptions. Smaller mountable enemies cannot be climbed by larger ants - for example, a leafcutter major cannot climb a wolf spider.

Ants mounted on enemies deal bonus damage, and apply a damage buff to allies attacking the creatures from the ground. There are circumstances where you may be better off disabling enemy mounting, however - if speed is an issue, it takes ants time to climb up and down larger creatures, and if a creature despawns with ants still on it those ants will be lost.

The pine woods tree frog is currently unmountable but this will be changed once we’ve fixed a crash related to it.

Extra Levels & Festive Levels
  • Food has been added into most extra levels in line with the food value changes
  • The Hungry Spider now has 80% thorns resistance
  • Aggrandise
    • Different levels of huge whip spider final boss added depending on difficulty
    • Removed extra whip spider juveniles from the final boss
    • Fish no longer loses resources on harder difficulties
    • Huge whip spider will no longer ignore player’s ants on the way to the queen
Other Changes
  • Realistic Mode removed & replaced with Advanced Options for control of individual things it did
  • Seasonal costumes option added in Advanced Options to allow them to be disabled
  • Point values have been reassessed & updated (this affects enemy creature spawning & score)
  • User interface updated in multiple places (adaptations, level select, options menu, achievements) to use up more screen space & allow more space for language & UI scaling
  • UI scaling slider added to the menu to allow manual increasing of UI scale (good for handhelds & TVs)
  • Updated harvesting spots on some dead creatures so no more ants are harvesting than there is food available
  • Minor performance improvements & reduction of visual artefacts on resources
  • Changed the Battle Arena tile set to the new beach one
  • Localisation additions & changes
  • Updated enemy mounting button icon
  • Tooltips will now show when the game is paused
  • Fixed some visual effects remaining on creatures after death
  • Fixed an issue where attack points could sometimes be unreachable causing attacker to wait on the floor by them
  • Uber velvet worm can now be harvested by 8 ants at a time
  • 1.1 & 1.2 player colony now black in colour
  • Fixed an issue in Tug Of War 2 that would lead to the enemy colony spawning black ants
  • Decals now correctly delete when a tile is downgraded or deleted
  • Fixed an issue where ants would not rotate for a short while after collecting a queen egg
  • Fixed an issue where ladybirds may not land if they are not being observed by the player (quantum ladybird wave function now collapsed)
  • Fixed an issue where loaded eggs would only appear after the game had started
  • Fixed a pontoon construction point in 4.2
  • Numerous text & AI scaling fixes
  • Matched the colour select UI more closely to the in-game colours
  • Queens will no longer perform pain animation on loading
  • Salamanders & newts will still be rendered when just off-screen
  • Aura effects should display better on inclined surfaces
  • Lynx spider should no longer do its climbing animation when walking
  • Fixed a wood ant firing sound issue
Known Issues
  • There are some localisation issues causing problems with custom game setup. We intend to fix this as soon as possible.
  • There are still some crashes being reported, but we don't have enough to pin down causes. If you experience a crash, please manually email the 3 crash files as attachments to us. Instructions on how to do this are in this thread on Steam: This needs to be done for us to see what's happening - hitting "send and close" on the crash dialogue doesn't work.
  • Some extra levels are unbalanced, and The Other Foot in particular might not be winnable on higher difficulties. It is possible to beat the level on easy, so if you want the reward before we can fix the level then we suggest playing on easy.
  • The Besieged victory condition in freeplay currently has very weak or empty early waves until the difficulty increases. Until we patch this, it can be avoided by playing with environmental difficulty set to insane.
Further Balance
  • Whilst the new freeplay AI is in place and working, it is not yet as optimised as it could be. The system is very easily tweaked, however, so we'd love to hear your suggestions for it - please post on the forums.
  • Similarly, freeplay creature statistics are now divorced from the campaign and can be tweaked without altering the difficulty of a story level. If you have ideas for making creature stats and abilities more balanced, let us know. This applies to both colony ants and environmental creatures.
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