Atlas – Vitamins Are Serious Business (Apparently)

One thing that is rather… questionable… is the nutrition system in Atlas. Unlike in Ark, you need to deal with more than just keeping your water and food levels above zero — you need to make sure that your character consumes a nutritious balance of foods, by balancing the four vitamin groups represented by the four coloured bars in the bottom right corner of your screen. At first glance, it seems to be an interesting game mechanic, but the reality is that the system is poorly implemented, illogical, and does not mesh well with the skill tree.

First, let’s go over the system: Every player has four bars representing vitamins A, B, C and D in the bottom right corner of their UI. If any of these get too low, the player will experience a vitamin deficiency, which range from visual effects that decrease the player’s vision, to coughing fits that result in a brief, but annoying animation lock that also makes the character fall off of ladders, to near constant defecation, depending on which vitamin is missing. On the other side of the coin, having too much of a vitamin is also (very) detrimental: if your character exceeds a given level on the vitamin bar, they will experience vitamin poisoning, which deals damage over time to the player, and takes a significant amount of time to go away, even in the case of vitamin C, which is safe to consume in large amounts in real life. Each vitamin is colour-coded, and food items all have coloured arrows in their icon to show what vitamin they contain:

Unfortunately, this system is poorly thought out: As mentioned before, it simply does not mesh well with the skill tree; players have the opportunity to decrease the speed at which vitamin levels degrade over time. This, coupled with the fortitude stat, can result in a situation whereby the player is hungry and must consume food to survive, but their vitamin levels are already maxed out, forcing them to accept an inevitable vitamin poisoning-related death. On the other side of the coin, when starting out, vitamin levels degrade quite quickly, and it can be difficult to obtain a good mix of foods, as in the world of Atlas, each food item only contains one type of vitamin, and, as far as we are aware, it is not possible to see how much each piece of food will increase your vitamins, with berries having almost no effect unless you consume fistfuls of them, but other foods such as cooked prime meat being so rich in vitamins that eating a mere six pieces (not nearly enough to fill a hunger bar) resulted in death by vitamin poisoning. This system is made especially annoying because of the fact that vitamin D, which is only obtainable by eating fish (and not, say, by standing out in the sun), requires the player to dive and kill sea creatures for their meat, as the fishing system, which remains unchanged from Ark, is mysteriously not working even though it has been an Ark staple for years.

The result is that, at least in our personal experience, instead of spending a bunch of time spear fishing and what not, we have just been letting our characters die after getting vitamin deficiencies, respawning at a bed with a balanced level of each vitamin, and no negative side effects.

This is not the only nutrition-related issue that we consider to be bad game design. Just as your character requires a balanced set of nutrients to survive, they also need to drink fresh water on a regular basis. This sounds perfectly acceptable in a survival game until you realize that most islands do not even have a single fresh water source. To be fair to the developers, players can dig for water, either by hand, resulting in a minigame that gives at maximum 60 units of water, or with a shovel, which creates a water spout that provides enough water for a few players to fill up on, but mysteriously it isn’t possible to fill waterskins from these water spouts, and to add insult to injury, there is an entire skill tree dedicated to cooking, but all cooking recipes require water for some unknown reason, meaning that unless you were lucky enough to both be on an island with fresh water, and actually have access to it (because larger companies simply wall in water sources for their own use), you’re going to be relying on cooked meat and berries to survive. We have no idea why, in a game world that is almost entirely open ocean, the devs did not have the foresight to include some method of collecting salt water and boiling it to obtain salt and fresh water — something other survival games, such as rust, have had for a long time.

All in all, the vitamin system leaves us scratching our heads — we can’t figure out why the devs thought that this system was a good idea in its current form. It simply does not add positively to the gameplay experience, and we are strong believers that gameplay elements should not be added only for realism, they must also be fun, or at very least, not unenjoyable. We believe that systems like the vitamin system in Atlas should rely on positive reinforcement, and to the developers’ credit, they have added a buff for having a well-balanced level of vitamins since release, but it isn’t enough to offset the brutality of vitamin deficiencies and vitamin poisoning.

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