Surviving the Aftermath Tainted Earth Update Pollutes the Post-Apocalypse

You'd think that, after the collapse of civilization, littering would be less of an issue.

Post-apocalyptic survival city building games are a surprisingly effective mix. And while I haven’t had time to check out Surviving the Aftermath directly yet, it does get that sector of my brain that loves Frostpunk and They Are Billions humming every time I see it. So it goes with the latest update. Surviving the Aftermath is expanding its management features with the Tainted Earth patch, which seems to make pollution, water, and food production bigger concerns across each ramshackle colony.

As it was with System of a Down, the toxicity of your city seems to be the real star of the show here. Hence the name of the update. According to the developer, “Pollution now has different levels of strength, and can spread based on wind strength and direction.”

The randomness doesn’t end there. Natural disasters can also “increase contamination levels and extend the polluted areas,” which ought to lead to those good old fashioned failure spirals one encounters in any survival game. Finally, just removing the pollution isn’t enough. Even after particular sources of danger are gone, “their effects will need to degrade over time.”

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Thankfully there’s a heat map to tell you which zones are the worst. That way you can keep buildings from becoming contaminated, which will slow down or even halt their production completely until the issue is resolved. In a game where resources are scarce, and management is key, that’s going to be a big deal!

Speaking of resources: let’s talk about water and food. Both systems “have seen a massive overhaul” in Surviving the Aftermath. Water in particular is now used for drinking and to power certain buildings. While that splits your attention, there are new automation options that let you tell colonists to switch things up on the fly when certain quotas are reached. And vice versa. If you’re failing to meet the quota, the colonists will return.

The rest of the major patch notes include minutiae like “six additional buildings that enhance resource production” and more interactions with leaders from rival societies. While those can include positive effects (like conducting trade), bandits will also nick your resources during battle. That’s… annoying. But I love it when games throw wrenches at me. I love to manage and overcome. And it feels appropriate to a survival game — even if it’s only recently been mixed with the city builder sub-genre.

If you want to check out the full nitty gritty of the changes, the full patch notes are available right here. Otherwise you can just play the dang thing on Xbox One or the Epic Games Store. Steam exclusive players will have to wait, however, as the game has been announced for that storefront. It just won’t be available until October of 2020. Wherever you buy it, the Early Access game will run you $19.99.