Feedback: The Winds (As A Game Mechanic)

There are very few things in this game that I dislike, but one of them is the environmental hazard group that I will collectively refer to as ‘the winds’. I believe there are three, though the only two that I can currently recall the names of are the Candle Wind (or was it the Wax Wind?) and the Peacock Wind.

While I understand the idea behind environmental hazards, and their role in making the areas feel more alive and like real locations, they’ve become probably my biggest gripe with the game.

Ideally, when you encounter an environmental hazard like these, I feel like one should be faced with a choice or risk/reward. Do you brave the environmental hazard and risk ending up in a sticky situation, or do you take a long detour around as the safe but slower approach?
The problem is, this choice is very seldom present when you actually encounter them in game.

At least in the way that my version of The Reach generated, when the peacock wind shows up somewhere (typically at the main entrance to the Nature Reserve) there is no real alternative to going through it. Taking the only other way out is a massive detour, which by merit of its length makes going straight through the Peacock Wind the objectively best choice every single time. It’s faster, it costs less fuel, it generates about as much terror if not less. I’m going to gloss over the fact that it also replenishes my supplies for now, for the sake of this argument, as the other winds don’t do that (and in the case of the Candle Wind it actually consumes extra supplies). Even if my hull is low and I want to avoid getting into a sticky situation, just braving the winds and hoping some random enemy doesn’t catch me in a vulnerable position is preferable over picking the long detour, as it will be full of potential enemies anyway.

This means that whenever I encounter this wind, there’s no hard choice or risk/reward situation. Every single time, the correct choice is to enable cruise control and sit and wait until my locomotive makes its way through. As an additional unfortunate side-effect, it has also helped make the tense music that plays when around the various terrors of the game feel much less impactful, as I keep hearing it for extended periods of time whenever I brave the winds.

The issue of there being no alternate route to go through is somewhat lessened in other areas than The Reach, but even in these cases I end up feeling like the best option just is to push on straight through, as the detour typically takes even longer, and actually ends up being riskier than going straight through, as it’s impossible to tell how far around you have to go before the wind stops.This, again, results in my go-to option always being to just head on straight through.

Because of all of this, the winds stop being an interesting gameplay element. They are, whenever encountered, merely a hindrance. Not an interesting hindrance which I can outwit or outsmart, but an annoyance that feels like it just swallows up my time for no good reason.
Interestingly, this worked out far differently in Sunless Sea, because the simple act of slowing your ship down made all nearby enemies so much more dangerous, but in Sunless Skies where I can dodge out of the way of or outmaneuver most enemies even when my hull is being pummeled by growth-enticing star-winds that feeling of ‘oh, be careful when going to these areas, the weather might mess up your plans’ instead becomes ‘ugh, it’s so annoying going through this area, the weather makes it take so much longer to get through there’.

Now, I realize that just removing the winds alright could have a very negative impact on the overall feel of the game, but to make them less of an annoyance to the player (in lieu of figuring out some way to make them a more interesting obstacle), I’d suggest that they rather than slowing the locomotive down instead consumed fuel at a higher rate, proportional to how much it currently slows the player’s movement.
This would, at the very least, make them feel less annoying. At least, that’s my personal take on the matter.

If anyone else has any thoughts, ideas, alternative solutions or facts that I missed in this little write-up, please do let me know.
Thank you for reading!
edited by Munk on 2/8/2019

The winds often force interesting changes to planned routes. They also provide an excellent way to escape battles regardless of the direction they go in, since pursuit becomes much harder while dodging becomes easier.

I agree it is very annoying to go straight through them in instances where it is infeasible to do otherwise, though. I think this would be fixed by either reducing the maximum effect on speed or making winds more transient.

Again, I like the winds most of the time. The exceptions are the issue here.

By the way, it’d be nice if wind vectors were marked on your map when they came into view, like Discoveries.