It's that time of the year again where the dev team is mostly focused on the next big annual update for Foxhole. Similar to last year, there will be an interim Spring Update and a Devblog instead of a Devstream. This will be a small release that's mainly focused on tackling the backlog of minor bugs, design issues, and small features that have been accumulating slowly over time. Look at it as spring cleaning before moving onto the next year of Foxhole which will come with Update 54.
We're at the final update for Inferno with Update 53. Besides it being a checkpoint for maintaining the live game, it's also helping to prepare for the next big update. First, we are able to ship a more current version of the overall codebase to get updates to systems (e.g. inventory, maps) battletested ahead of time. Second, there are some changes included that are a direct pre-requisite for features coming in Update 54.
After Update 53 releases, there will be many months of development before a new year of Foxhole begins with Update 54.
Update 53 Preview
This update will be released on Dev Branch later today. Below is a quick overview of the most significant features and changes coming in Update 53. For a full detailed rundown of all the changes coming in the update, please keep an eye out for Dev Branch release notes.
Cross Faction Voice Chat
Local voice chat has always been a foundation feature of Foxhole. As far back as the early Pre-Alpha builds, being able to talk to players spatially around you has been essential for teamwork and occasionally engaging with the enemy. The latter also allowed for a lot of fun sandbox scenarios and role playing opportunities. Unfortunately, the voice technology we were using only supported 200 players per voice channel so when we optimized our region servers to support more than that we had to find a work around. That work around was to limit local voice chat to the same faction.
Since then, one of the biggest ongoing requests we get from the community is to bring back the ability to talk to enemies in local voice chat. We explored many different solutions, including switching over to a different voice platform or even developing a custom solution. After over a year of exploring options we began to accept that this feature might never return to Foxhole.
Late last year, we got in touch with Vivox and found out that they now offered support for what was called "Large Channels" for spatialized voice. This would allow up to thousands of users to connect to the same voice channel. We did some investigation and sadly found out that the feature was targeted more for AAA games in terms of infrastructure. We again reached another roadblock.
Several months later, as we were approaching Pre-Alpha for Anvil Empires we were investigating solutions for local voice chat. To work around the issue, we planned to again limit voice to the same faction and accept that early tests would only support a maximum of 200 players per side. However, earlier this year we got back in touch with the Vivox team to figure out a new solution. This time, the proposal was to have both Anvil Empires and Foxhole share infrastructure. Without going into the deep technical details, this allowed us to effectively solve the problem for both games at the same time. This is a case where the development of Foxhole and Anvil Empires at the same time was able to yield benefits across both titles.
It's been a long journey and a lot of work, but we knew how important this feature was to Foxhole veterans and we're excited that we've found a way to finally make it happen.
Dedicated Vehicle Ammo Slots
One significant change coming in Update 53 is Dedicated Ammo Slots. In the current game, vehicles have only generic inventory slots which has limited game design and often causes user experience problems for players. Vehicles now consist of both ammo and generic slots.
Ammo slots have a specific ammunition type and capacity associated with them. For example, a HH-d “Peltast” Half-Track will now have 3 dedicated ammo slots, each associated with a different type of Mortar Shell and capacity. Ammo slots will display the icon for the ammo type and the count for the capacity directly in the inventory UI.
There are several big benefits to this approach. First it gives the balance team the capability to be more flexible with ammunition limits for vehicles. Previously, vehicles either had to have a single slot of ammo that stacked to 100 or multiple slots of unstacked ammo items that were limited to 30 for technical reasons. The new system allows for any custom ammo stack limit between 1 to 100, enabling the balance team to better fine tune inventories. Secondly, vehicles can now have both limited ammo capacities and generic inventory slots, meaning vehicles like the HH-a “Javelin” can now have extra slots for carrying other generic equipment again.
Besides the gameplay benefits, the new system provides a much better user experience for new players. At a glance, players can see from the inventory UI what ammo is required for the vehicle. Furthermore, the displayed capacity informs novices on what is an appropriate amount of ammo to load.
West Coast Redesign
For the first time since Entrenched two years ago, there will be significant changes to the world map. The west coast of the Caoiva has been reconstructed. These changes are being made as a pre-requisite for other map changes coming in Update 54. There will also be similar modifications coming to the east coast but we wanted to do these changes in two phases to give the map team more time to work on these maps instead of having to do everything in one go.
A split river region that once housed a prison for Caoiva’s greatest hero. His shackled march from the Heartlands of Caoiva is the stuff of legends. It was his tenacity in the face of ridicule and imminent death that eventually won over his captors, and that tenacity extends down to the very soil of the region. From the cascading cliffs of The Manacle to ever-blooming Bloodfields, King’s Cage will forever represent a turning point in Caoiva’s history and independence.
As part of this update, Farranac Coast and Westgate have been pushed out to the westmost hexagons on the world. Their prior locations are now occupied by two new regions: King's Cage and Sableport. Fisherman's Row and Oarbreaker have been temporarily disabled but will return in the next update in a form that better reflects their original design goals.
Once a checkpoint along the Bulwark in the west, Sableport was later taken over as a base of operations by Jon Barrony. During a period of peace following one of Barrony’s several victories, his constituents settled inside the walls of the base, transforming it into a bustling town. Much of the strategic importance of Sableport lies in its dense woods south of the Bulwark, and the port town of Light’s End.
The overall world will be expanded slightly in Update 54 to accommodate new features and content coming in the next year of Foxhole, but to temper expectations the additions won't be huge. Expect the world to increase in overall size by 10-15% at most in the foreseeable future.
Note: The global world map image here is work in progress and will change between now and release.
While it's still very much a goal for each faction to have unique content, there has been an ongoing low key effort to fill in some gaps in weaponry for each side. With Update 52, the Colonials got a buff to the Tremola Grenade GPb-1 to bring it more in line with the Cutler while the Wardens got a more accessible 94.5mm tank with the Silverhand Lordscar - Mk. X. In Update 53, both sides can now utilize both types of Rocket Artillery ammunition and to continue with the trend there will be two new small arms weapons introduced.
First, we have the Colonial Catena rt.IV Auto-Rifle, which is an automatic rifle and counterpart to the Warden Sampo Auto-Rifle 77. Then we have the Warden No.2B Hawthorne, which is a secondary slot rifle and counterpart to the Colonial “The Pitch Gun” mc.V.
Rocket Artillery Update
This update will revisit Rocket Artillery once again with the ongoing goal of making them useful while still having a unique role on the battlefield that's distinct from conventional artillery. The maximum range on all Rocket Artillery has significantly increased, with accuracy being lower at the longer range and flight time extended. This was to make their use case more distinct from other artillery. Explosive rockets have had their damage slightly tweaked up as well.
In addition, new early war vehicles have been added to allow both factions to produce and utilize both types of rockets. Previously, only Wardens could use 4C-Fire Rockets and only Colonials could use 3C-High Explosive Rockets.
It should be noted that these vehicles were developed half a year ago with the intent of being released as a follow up to the initial Inferno update, but were delayed from release to give us time to revisit Rocket Artillery mechanics first. We're happy to finally have found an opportunity to release them alongside these overarching Rocket Artillery changes. Finally, some of these changes to Rocket Artillery are here to accommodate new features coming in Update 54.
This update contains dozens of other small improvements, quality of life changes, and minor visual enhancements that we've been wanting to knock off for a long time. Many of these changes were based on lower profile feedback we've received from the community or internal issues that never quite seem to be high enough in priority to work on. It's important for us that we take the time to work on the little things between the larger updates. Below is a subset of such improvements rolling out with this update. Check out the release notes for the full list of changes including 50+ bug fixes.
Aim can now be toggled on/off using a key press
Map Viewing The map can now be opened and viewed while assembling items or packaging
Large Crane Large Cranes can now be undeployed in 4 different directions instead of 1
Callouts are now localised to a user based on their selected language
Multiple Tripod Mounts Added multiple Tripod support, enabling dual mounts for the BMS Holdout and future content
10 new types of log entries and other overall log improvements
Coal Refinery Visuals Conveyor belt now animates, giving feedback that it's active
Map Filter Focus Shift-left clicking on a map filter icon toggles all other icons off/on
Weapon Materials Small arms weapon now have faction specific wood and metal materials, further distinguishing their visuals