The best survival games you can play on Xbox give you a ton of options, but one stands out from the bunch: Grounded. This early access survival title from legendary studio Obsidian Entertainment is being developed by a small team—a team that has now grown to include 20 talented developers—and makes its claim to fame by shrinking players down to the size of insects. Bereft of human size, players have to scavenge and struggle to survive in a suddenly hostile suburban backyard.
Grounded’s early access has seen a plethora of high-quality updates and feature additions since its initial release over a year ago, but the team is far from finished. Obsidian has taken the wraps off the next major update heading to Grounded players, and it looks positively gargantuan (as opposed to Grounded characters’ small statures). The Hot and Hazy Update is hitting Grounded for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, and PC on Oct. 20, 2021.
The Hot and Hazy Update is the largest release for Grounded ever, which is impressive given the scope of some previous updates. This update still doesn’t constitute a full 1.0 release, so expect much more from Grounded in the future. In the meantime, players will receive a huge amount of fresh content to play with, as the Hot and Hazy Update includes a list of additions long enough almost to rival a new game.
Most players will get their hands on the update from Oct. 20. However, those willing to test an early build, likely with additional bugs and glitches, can expect a preview version of the Hot and Hazy Update to drop later on Oct. 6 via Grounded’s Public Test ring. The new features and changes entailed in the Hot and Hazy Update for Grounded follow below.
- The Sandbox biome. The new Sandbox biome pretty much is as the name implies: a deceptively large child’s sandbox in the shape of a playful crab. The Sandbox biome features a ton of new content for players to look out for, including:
- A new “Sizzle” mechanic, which affects players in direct sunlight. Players without adequate protection, like shade or unique armor, will begin to overheat while in the Sandbox during the day, eventually succumbing to the heat and perishing. Players can also avoid “Sizzle” by exploring the Sandbox at night.
- Obsidian has plans to expand the “Sizzle” mechanic after collecting feedback on the feature. The “Sizzle” mechanic may eventually arrive in other areas, and influence the addition of other similar mechanics over time.
- Buried treasure, which can be dug up using the new Shovel tool. Buried treasure can be spotted in the distance if players are perceptive, as it occasionally glints in direct sunlight.
- The predatory Antlion insect, which preys on both unsuspecting players and ants. The Antlion is a new dangerous foe, but can be mined for valuable crafting resources. Using these resources, players can craft new Antlion armor, which provides additional defense against the “Sizzle” effect in the Sandbox.
- The Black Ant Hill biome. There are already two ant hills present in Grounded’s backyard, one of which is completely abandoned. With the Hot and Hazy Update, players will gain an entirely new ant hill hidden underneath the aforementioned Sandbox. Features of the Black Ant Hill biome include:
- A new species of insect, Black Ants, which feature an all-new equipment set.
- A full-fledged dungeon. This dangerous subsection of the Black Ant Hill biome can be explored for a chance to find new craftable weapons and armor, but also comes with Grounded’s first mini-boss. We don’t know all the details of this mini-boss, yet, but it will feature multiple stages of combat.
- A brand-new lab with additional threats and secrets.
- Revamp of the Haze biome. The Haze is a biome that has existed in Grounded since day one, but there hasn’t been a ton of reason for players to visit it repeatedly. With the Hot and Hazy Update, Obsidian is giving the Haze a full makeover, which should (hopefully) provide additional value to this dangerous locale. The newly refreshed Haze includes:
- The return of a constantly present noxious gas, which requires a gas mask.
- Redone environments.
- Many more infected insect variants, including weevils, larvae, ladybugs, and gnats, which all feature unique infected behaviors.
- A redesigned lab with new content.
- The addition of explosive and dangerous fungi.
- Two new Landmark locations. In Grounded, Landmarks are unique locations that, like the name implies, can be used to navigate the map if players know what to look for. Landmarks can often feature unique resources and reasons for visiting, as well. Grounded’s Hot and Hazy Update adds two brand-new Landmarks, including:
- The Picnic Table, which features a beehive, harvestable goodies, fun easter eggs, and generally works to expand the in-game lore.
- The Trash Heap, which features a ton of salvageable trash.
- The Roly Poly creature. Roly Polies are being added to Grounded, complete with their armored rolling technique. If players are brave enough to take down the slightly-less-adorable-at-this-size Roly Poly, they can craft a full Roly Poly armor set.
- A new BURG.L chip. Obsidian is adding a new BURG.L chip for players to track down with this update, but they’re also working on some fundamental system-level changes for BURG.L missions and chips for a future update.
- Ways to upgrade player stats. Obsidian is introducing milk molars, a brand-new resource that can be invested in upgrading player and party stats in Grounded. Some of the stat boosts that can be obtained include:
- Personal upgrades like increased max health and stamina, slower hunger and thirst, and additional Mutation slots.
- Party upgrades like increased food stacks, resources, and ammo.
- Ways to upgrade weapons. Obsidian is also introducing new Globs, which can be used to increase the stats of weapons to new degrees, on top of the already-existing tier system. Features of upgrading weapons in Grounded include:
- A Smithing Station crafting table, which is how players will combine Globs with their weapons for boosted stats.
- Minty, Spicy, and Salty Globs, which upgrade weapons to Fresh, Spicy, and Salty variants, respectively.
- Changes to armor and armor sets. With the Hot and Hazy Update, Grounded is receiving some important changes to how armor works, better organizing the increasing number of sets and to make individual armor pieces more compelling for players. Some of these changes to armor include:
- Dividing armor into Light, Medium, and Heavy categories. Light armor provides a stamina regeneration bonus (but likely less defense overall), Medium armor provides no change to stamina regeneration, and Heavy armor actually decreases stamina regeneration (but should provide greater defense overall).
- Individual armor pieces that aren’t part of a larger set don’t benefit from an armor set bonus, so Obsidian is increasing the defensive bonuses for any armor not included in a set.
- Improvements to the “new player” experience. Grounded is gaining new tutorials to walk new players through the game, as well as an additional way of “leveling up” with the Brain Power system. Players who collect Brain Power are able to unlock new crafting recipes as they progress.
- Improvements to accessibility. Accessibility is always vital in gaming, and the Grounded team is taking it seriously. With the Hot and Hazy Update, the team took another pass over Grounded’s accessibility features to ensure options like the UI narration were improved, and added additional settings to configure visual effects.
You can see more images of the Grounded Hot and Hazy Update below:
It’s a big(ger) world out there.
Obsidian Entertainment makes its exclusive debut on Xbox One and PC with Grounded, a unique survival experience that literally makes all of your problems much, much bigger. Join your friends as you’re shrunk down to the size of an ant and are forced to survive in a dangerous backyard.
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