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Grounded: Obsidian Gets Back to its Roots with Hot and Hazy Update

It’s no secret that Grounded, Obsidian’s backyard survival game, is very different from anything the prolific RPG developer has made before -- something the developers themselves have poked fun at in the past. But while the microscopic multiplayer adventure has seen success in its own right, even while still in preview, the upcoming Hot and Hazy update seems poised to give many fans more of what they might expect from Obsidian: lots of stats. With everything from character stats that let you upgrade your avatar’s abilities, to weapon upgrades that increase deadliness, to new armor classes with gameplay consequences, Grounded will get a whole lot nerdier and RPG-like later this month.

One of the biggest additions Hot and Hazy adds is a collectible called Milk Molars, which lets you upgrade stats like max health, max stamina, how quickly your character gets thirsty or hungry, and how many mutations you can equip at once. Going forward, not every adventurer will be the same, with players being able to upgrade their avatars in different ways by collecting and spending this new currency. Even more interesting, you’ll be able to buy group upgrades as well, which give a boost to the entire party.

Similarly, weapon upgrades will give you a chance to enhance your weapon with increased damage and durability, and even apply status effects. For example, if you collect mint candies and apply them to your weapon, it’ll give it the “fresh” status effect that bestows it with unique properties.

Armor has also been given an RPG-like rework, and now all armor will be classified as light, medium, or heavy, each of which has tradeoffs between stamina and protection, as a million other RPGs have taught you. Wearing light armor gives you less protection in a fight but allows you to regenerate stamina faster, while heavy armor is the opposite -- yet another way for players to define their own play styles and occupy different roles within a party of players.

Of course, there’s no point in having all these new tools if you don’t have some new dangers to confront them with, and the Hot and Hazy update adds four new environments, including the new Sandbox Desert biome, and an upgrade to an existing one: The Haze.

The Sandbox Desert is a giant sandbox in the backyard where exposure to direct sunlight applies a new Sizzling effect on you that begins to kill you over time, forcing you to dash between sources of shade before you get burned to a crisp. Out in the desert you’ll find new enemies to fight, buried treasure to uncover, and other secrets that might make the scorching trek worth your time.

On the other hand, there’s The Haze, which has been revamped to be more than just a bleak patch of poisonous smog. Now you’ll find creepy mushrooms that explode, new enemies, and even a secret lab to be explored and plundered. But traversing this highly toxic area will mean gearing up with suitable equipment, like a gas mask, to make the hostile zone semi-habitable.

In our early access review last year, we liked Grounded’s survival RPG core, but lamented its lack of meaningful content. So it’s really awesome to see Obsidian doubling down on the RPG elements with the Hot and Hazy Update, which looks to add exactly what the game needed. I’m excited to jump in and start min-maxing my character when the update hits later this month.

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