YMMV / Cataclysm

  • Broken Base:
    • Static or Dynamic spawn? In a nutshell: Dynamic has a pool of mobs for each map tile. At variable periods of time defined by the noise you make, it draws zombies from said pool to spawn, so firing an non-suppressed weapon full auto or throttling a vehicle with no muffler could get the game to spawn zombies in several turns in a row: only after this pool is exhausted will the area be purged of zombies. Static spawns all the zombies you will see at world generation, which causes greater initial concentrations of zombies and does away with Dynamic's grace period, but it's easier to depopulate (and some think of it as representing the apocalypse more accurately). Static spawn was heralded as the new gold standard at a time when Dynamic had long been the only method of spawning, and caused much resentment from the veteran camp which felt as having to relearn how to play the game.
    • Single pool vs multipool. In versions 0.C and earlier, you had a set amount of points which could be spent in either stats, traits, or skills, and could be increased by taking negative traits. At some point during experimental builds, this was changed so that you had two points that could be spent on stats, two for traits, and two for skills, and could only increase trait points by taking disadvantages (although stat points could also be spent on traits or skills, and trait points could also be spent on skills). This was made to encourage players to actually buy skills with their points instead of just taking twelve points of non-debilitating disadvantages and pumping their stats up to superhuman levels, but the fact that this makes having high stats impossible without either lowering another stat to uselessness, finding rare cybernetics, or getting lucky with mutations has caused quite a bit of arguing in the forums. Fortunately, players who dislike multipool can still opt to use single-pool instead.
    • Filthy clothing. The version 0.C experimentals have made it so that you can't loot clothes from killed zombies without suffering a morale penalty unless the clothes are cleaned, causing the community to divide over it. Some see it as unnecessary tediousness, while some see it as realistic.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Bears and moose are fast, tough, and aggressive. They and their zombie counterparts are infamous for mauling early-game characters: moose, in particular, have a reputation among the community like that of carp in Dwarf Fortress.
    • Wolves are faster than you and attack in packs, and killing one wolf will, for a time, make any other wolves you encounter aggressive. Thankfully, grim howlers (their zombie counterparts) only come alone and are weaker.
    • Among the mutant wildlife, giant wasps, black widows, and giant trapdoor spiders are aggressive and venomous. Black widows can occasionally be found in basements, usually in a massive horde, and the player will likely be slowed by blundering into webs the instant they use the stairs. Giant wasps have a distressing tendency to Go for the Eye, and occasionally spawn in decent numbers outside a special, paper-walled house. Giant trapdoor spiders tunnel underground like giant worms, are fast and tough, and spawn in special lairs that may not be visible at first glance.
    • Most of the special undead give some players good reason to use the available mod that disable them. Zombie brutes will send you flying, and shocker brutes combine this with a potentially stunning area-of-effect electric attack. Zombie hulks combine the brute's punch with sky-high HP, immunity to .22/9mm bullets, the ability to destroy any barrier, and lightning-fast speed. Zombie bio-operators, while rather rare, can swiftly mangle characters with their brutal bionic martial arts attacks. Zombie necromancers can revive any unpulped or unburnt zombie corpse, and zombie masters can upgrade zombies on the spot, sometimes into other zombie masters.
    • Blobs are merely a self-replicating annoyance. Fungal monsters are rapidly self-replicating and potentially lethal, mostly through the indirect hazard of unearthly fungal infection.
    • For Nether monsters, there's the fast and aggressive mi-go, and the regenerating Mighty Glacier that is the shoggoth. The flaming eye is a more passive version, as its stare can inflict a variety of nasty status effects ranging from getting slimed with ectoplasm to spontaneous mutation or fungal infections. It was even nastier in older versions where the flaming eye had terrain-destroying Eye Beams, as it could blow up your car or collapse the building you're in on top of you.
    • The experimental versions added grenadier zombies, which deploy explosive variants of the ever-annoying manhacks. Elite grenadier zombies are even worse, as they deploy much deadlier 'hack variants— if you're unlucky enough, they can send out a mininuke manhack. In older experimentals, they spawned more often, making them an incredibly deadly threat.
    • Feral predators, also from the experimentals, are upgraded feral hunters with an attack that stabs you in the torso, knocking you over and causing bleeding. They are also much faster than you and have the feral hunter's leap, meaning they can rapidly close in for the kill. On the other hand, once you get decent body armor or a weapon that can fell them in two or three hits, they become Goddamned Bats.
    • Corrosive zombies, also added in the experimental versions, trade off the spitter zombie's Area of Effect acid spit for a rapid acid attack that piles up pain. They are also quite tough (140 HP) and spew acid around themselves when struck, making melee combat even more of a nightmare. They used to have a formidable melee attack that could bring down structures that usually take multiple zombies or a zombie hulk to damage; said attack hit for up to 43 damage, in a game where you're lucky to go past 100 HP. Thankfully, their melee attacks were nerfed in the 0.4 experimentals so they can't knock buildings down any more, but their acid machine gun remains.
    • Anything with a gun, from bandits to military robots. Most characters can't take more than a couple of 9mm shots even with decent armor, and a .50 BMG burst will cripple (limbs) or one-shot you (torso, head) unless— or even if— you're in Powered Armor. Turrets in particular are the main reason to be careful around abandoned laboratories.
    • NPCs with flamethrowers, even friendly ones, tend to indiscriminately fire them at anything they deem an enemy, even inside buildings. Even outside, the blast of the flamethrower can end up catching a building in its radius and burning it down; this denies you of the spoils and can attract zombies as the building collapses with a deafeningly loud smash. Fire also tends to destroy clothes and cause huge amounts of pain if you're caught in it, meaning almost-certain death.
  • Game Breaker:
    • Archery. It's easy to get started (smash a fridge to get a tube and craft a slingshot), you can make arrows out of almost anything, and pull off headshots most of the time. Archery also trains, and benefits from, the Firearms skill, which represent the general proficiency of the character with ranged weapons. Until the Fabrication skill was introduced, it also determined success when hand-loading ammunition. That's right: your post-apoc Legolas cosplayer could also prepare ammo, even if they had never held a gun in their life.
    • Sewing thread. Weightless, easy to find (smash a window, disassemble the curtain's string) yet a single unit of it burns like kindling. In earlier versions the same unit was enough to start a raging fire.
    • Looking at endgame stuff, the Pneumatic Bolt Launcher. A weapon that rivals medium-to-high-end ballistic rifles in power, fires easily crafted bolts, and is almost completely silent? Yes, please.
    • There's also the option of tweaking how many points a character gets for picking traits and skills, with a maximum allowed value of 1000 (for reference, the default is 6). Bumping this number up a bit makes the Early Game Hell more bearable and is usually considered acceptable for new players by the community, but 1000 points is overkill.
    • Krav Maga is the second most damaging martial arts style there is, with nifty bonuses to boot.
    • Combined with Niten-Ichi-Ryu, the already-good katana/nodachi becomes a force of destruction. A character so armed can 2-3-shot zombie hulks and one-shot any others.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • Giant jumping spiders. They only exist to bite you for negligible damage, but poisoning and slowing you down enough for regular zombies being able to outrun you.
    • Spitter zombies. Their acid attack almost always does some damage to you, and while it may look like nothing at first, repeated attacks will cause more pain, which will slow you down. Get too much, and you might find yourself unable to run from one of the stronger enemies...
    • Giant dragonflies are the most aggressive creature you'll find in swamps, and are annoying hard to hit for characters with low melee skill. Assuming you aren't swamped (heh) by the more dangerous creatures in the area, they'll remain a persistent annoyance for survivors trying to live near waterways.
    • Blobs are self-replicating and tend to crowd out other wild animals. And unlike fungaloids or triffids, the only way to decrease their spawn rate is to search and kill the bigger blobs, as slime pits can't be burnt down.
    • Any enemy that's small, fast, and tends to run away after attacking. Examples include krecks and manhacks.
    • Sewer rats do negligible (if any) damage, but practically require you to strip nude just so you have a chance at hitting them. Zombie children are the same, minus the negligible damage.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • It was once possible to salvage rotten food by cooking it, which was most notable with meat gathered from hunting. Even now you can cook safe with rotten ingredients so long as the end product is non-perishable, although non-perishable food has its own inconveniences.
    • The game has little to no measure about the quantities of stackable items laying on the ground as far as fire is concerned, so 1 unit of paper burns as long as 500. This was gamebreaking back when cooked ammunition could damage walls - a box of .22 ratshot served much better as breaching charges, one bullet into the fire at a time.
  • Minmaxer's Delight: The Ugly and Truth Teller traits only affect NPC interactions. Since NPCs are turned off by default, and the effect of the traits are negligible if you activate them, they're basically free points. Poor Hearing is also almost advantageous to take, since you can still hear nearby monsters, which are what really matter, and you are less likely to be woken up by noises while sleeping.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Some of the Mi-gos' parroted speech can be quite creepy, especially if you hear them above ground where they're less likely to be behind glass. The most unnerving would have to be the "little girl wailing".
    • Seeing a cloud of smoke ominously approaching your position and knowing a smoker zombie has sighted you.
    • Fungaloids. They can easily infect you with a nasty disease that starts off with symptoms of a regular disease (coughing, nausea) before progressing onto full-on horror, which includes vomiting a thick, gray, goop, spasming occasionally, coughing up live spores, and having fungal stalks bursting through your hands.
    • Seeing a trail of dirt mounds approaching your position is also nightmarish, as that means that a Giant Worm or a Graboid has spotted you, and is now rapidly digging it's way towards you.
    • The zombie hulk. A gigantic, nigh-unstoppable monster that is much faster than a sober survivor and kills by smashing their targets into paste with fists the size of trash cans. Players will learn to consider the white-on-purple Z as a warning sign to run away quick.
  • Squick:
    • You can find mutant fetuses if you know where to look, and you can get mutations by eating them. You can also eat mutated arms and legs to get the same effect.
  • That One Attack:
    • The zombie brute, shocker brute, and zombie hulk can all punch you so hard that it flings you away, causing some damage plus pain.
    • The shocker zombie and shocker brute can fire a burst of electricity that deals damage and pain while lighting up the attack's area of effect. The last can attract other zombies at night, turning a one-on-one fight into a battle against a horde.
    • The feral predator from the experimentals has a Deadly Lunge that knocks you over and stabs you in the torso, causing you to bleed.
    • The corrosive zombie's rapid-fire acid shot builds up pain quickly and deals damage to your legs, eventually crippling you if not stopped.
  • That One Boss: The Thriller zombie is the reason most players will advise you to turn off joke monsters entirely. Thriller comes with a pack of zombie dancers and converts any nearby zombie into a zombie dancer. These dancers have 10,000 HP and regenerate, and while they destroy terrain they aren't particularly aggressive, making them somewhat less dangerous than regular zombies... unless the Thriller dies, at which point the dancers transform into zombie hulksnote . And Thriller is only somewhat more durable than a regular zombie. As you can imagine, suddenly facing a bunch of the deadliest zombies in the game because you killed off a rather weak monster is a very bad thing.
  • That One Disadvantage:
    • Illiterate makes you completely incapable of using any book, which makes it much harder to train your skills and impossible to learn advanced crafting recipes. The only reason to pick it is as a Self-Imposed Challenge or if you're playing as the Churl (which starts out with Illiterate, being a medieval serf).
    • Fragile gives your body 75% less HP and makes it heal at 1/4 speed, making it much likelier to get one-shot-killed by a stray blow to the torso or just get worn down by attrition. Taking it with Glass Jaw (-30% head HP) turns your character into the closest thing in-game to a One-Hit-Point Wonder. This is great for a Self-Imposed Challenge, but for those jut trying to min-max, there are better alternatives.
    • Savant halves the rate of skill learning save for your best skill; essentially a more brutal version of Slow Learner.
    • Schizophrenia causes hallucinations and occasional Interface Screw, which can only be temporarily stopped by taking Thorazine. Unfortunately, Thorazine is rather rare and raiding pharmacies— the most reliable source of Thorazine— can be dangerous, especially on Static Spawn.
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