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The next Atlas update lets players eat shit and die

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On January 7, Atlas developer Grapeshot Games is hoping to push out a patch that will, among many positive changes, make eating poop a death sentence. It doesn't specify whose poop you have to eat, but I'm assuming any old turd will, come Monday, turn would-be fecal feasters into corpses.

It's probably one of the smallest changes in Atlas' upcoming 10.0 update (opens in new tab), but it caught me so off guard, despite patch notes frequently being full of weird stuff (opens in new tab). Fans of ARK: Survival Evolved, Atlas' spiritual successor, will be well acquainted with poop-eating shenanigans. The difference here being that any doodoo devouring is instantly fatal in Atlas.

Update: Jeremy Stieglitz of Grapeshot Games reached out to me with some helpful context about the poo: "Getting captured by enemies in Atlas can be a dangerous event: Since there's only a single world, if your character is stuck you can't simply go play on another 'Official Server.' So players needed a way to kill themselves easier if they got captured or stuck, and we figured it was more contextually engaging than a suicide key. Though, if enemy guards kept close enough watch to prevent a player from eating crap, they could still theoretically keep them alive indefinitely—it would just be very difficult! 

Original story: Take a look at the Atlas subreddit (opens in new tab), though, and you'll see that's not what has everyone cheering (for the most part). It's update 10.0's other changes that are cause for celebration, as they, combined with the previous patch, will hopefully make Atlas significantly less punishing and more fun.

Since its release back in late December, Atlas was panned (opens in new tab) for how awful it was to play during those first few days. Servers buckled under the massive influx of eager sailors, making the game borderline unplayable, resources were extremely scarce, and players were in a constant war against Atlas' aggressive survival systems that necessitate managing such granular things like your vitamin levels. (opens in new tab) Those who were able to escape dying on the starter islands found the open seas even less forgiving. True to Atlas' nature, other players were already living out their lives as murderous pirates, but even worse were the hyper-aggressive NPC ghost ships that would spawn en masse to smash your schooner to bits. Players were frequently losing dozens of hours of work in the blink of an eye.

But things have been getting better, as noted by the remarkable change in tone in the Atlas subreddit. Patch 9.2, for example, doubled the rate at which you could tame animals or harvest resources, turned off ship collision damage on PvE servers, and made sailing in general much easier. Now, ships can hold 40 percent more stuff and won't be made a sitting duck if the winds aren't blowing in the right direction (but you'll still have to manage the direction of your sails properly). The spawn rates of those pesky NPC ghost ships has also been nerfed hard.

Patch 10.0, which Grapeshot Games is hoping will arrive on January 7, expands on that with even more changes that could make Atlas a lot more fun. The resource requirements for ships has been lowered by as much as 50 percent in some cases, which will make various ship types much easier to build. Merchants will also now sell "Ramshackle Sloops"—beginner versions of the sloop that are less durable and can't hold as much, but are cheaper and provide a shortcut to get into sailing.

By and large, Atlas players seem happy with how quickly the game is changing course. Right now, the subreddit is full of posts like "Well done Atlas devs" (opens in new tab) where players are talking about what a positive change these updates are making. If you want, you can check out the full patch notes (opens in new tab) here to see what else is coming in update 10.0 and, just as importantly, what Grapeshot Games has in store for the future.

I reached out to Grapeshot Games to figure out why the hell they would make eating poop instantly kill you. I'll update this story if I hear back.

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.