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We Happy Few takes a big step forward with the new Clockwork Update

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The dystopian don't-rock-the-boat simulator We Happy Few debuted on Steam Early Access over the summer, but the absence of a proper story and NPC behavior left the experience well short of its ambitions. The big Clockwork Update released today doesn't address all of those issues, but it does take a big step in the right direction by adding a new shelter for Arthur, the lead character, and a new "Conversation Mode" that ensures quests won't be broken because of bad NPC (or player) behavior. 

Prior to the update, it was easy to knock a quest off the rails by killing, or just walking away from, the NPC you were talking to, or by getting jumped mid-conversation by someone else. Now, engaging in conversation will isolate you and your chat buddy from the rest of the world while you're talking. "This means we can place better animation with the VO, and quest givers can’t be interrupted by other NPCs, or you, or them," developer Compulsion Games wrote in the patch notes. "The game won’t lose the plot as much any more, and it’ll be slightly better [and] more cinematic." 

Existing encounters have also been overhauled. "Previously, each level designer on the team had their own method of scripting things. But because all of this was different, if something broke, we couldn't repair it globally," the team explained in the update video. "This update introduces a new quest state system that allows us to streamline everything." That means fewer bugs, and also a faster and more robust save system, although there are apparently still a few oddities left to encounter, such as the inability to save in areas like the Mystery House. 

The update also makes a number of visual improvements to the world of Wellington Wells, improves idle NPC behavior, adds some new animations, and fixes various bugs. As updates go, it's a big one, but there is one downside: Existing saved games will not be compatible once it's installed. Such is the way with pre-release games.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.