7 Days To Die has developed a cult-like following during its long and strained path through Steam's Early Access, wavering between enjoyable for days to nigh-on unplayable. The base game, surviving in a rural setting through hunting, farming, building, and murdering massive amounts of undead, has been in development since April, 2013. Fighting infections, monitoring thirst and food, and avoiding the surprisingly common broken legs are all standard-faire for this survival. \n \nPatch A18, noticeably marking that the game continues its early access with no end in sight, seems to hold even more content than A17. \n \nhttps:\/\/twitter.com\/7DaystoDie\/status\/1187758462102593536 \n \nThe most common way to earn levels in the prior build was by killing zombies; thus, players often found themselves stuck outside at night in precarious perches, attempting to use rudimentary weapons to kill as many zombies as possible to unlock new blueprints for building up their base. This inevitable grind has been mitigated in the newest patch, allowing players to receive experience from mining, farming, questing, and even building. \n \nThe game developers 'The Fun Pimps' are hoping that players can find themselves choosing their own path to success in the post-apocalyptic setting, and have found in their own testing that gaining levels is roughly even across all styles of play. They've even prominently featured a perception\/intelligence build on their YouTube channel, showing the increased build viability in contrast to A17. \n \nAnother issue that has been around since A16 is stamina usage; survivors would typically have enough stamina for five or six consecutive actions until they needed to rest for thirty seconds or so. With this heavy stamina drain, basic actions like felling a tree, or mining a cavern, would take the player far longer than necessary as they waited for their stamina to return after every couple of actions. \n \nThe stamina issue also led to melee-centric survivor builds being far less viable than ranged. Rather than applying universal stamina boosts, the devs have made lower-tier weapons and tools utilize less stamina, and perks available for armor and leveling that further lessens stamina impact. \n \nIn regards to melee-centric survivor builds, melee has received a huge buff this patch with an upgraded hit detection system that includes 'glancing blows' on the enemies. Melee swings can now hit opponents in the entirety of the swing, rather than just the end of the swing. A stun buff also reduces the possibility of being stunned based on the player's armor. To wrap up the melee buffs, The Fun Pimps have added baseball bats, spears, stun batons, and even brass knuckles for survivors to full explore the entirety of the new melee system. \n \nhttps:\/\/twitter.com\/7DaystoDie\/status\/1182119746038312960 \n \nWith survivors more likely to close the distance against the undead, death is bound to happen. The dreaded death-spiral, where one death resulted in such massive debuffs that another was sure to follow (resulting in further debuffs, and more deaths ad infinitum) has possibly been fixed. Rather than nerfing the players' health and stamina for each death, players will now experience a loss of experience points on death. Additionally, bleeding does less damage per second and armor significantly reduces the chance of the bleeding effect proccing. Death mechanic paradigm-shifts are accompanied by an infection rework as well; the higher health your survivor has, the better chance he has of avoiding the infection altogether, with the opposite also holding true. \n \nThese massive shifts in systems are only the tip of the iceberg; A18 has also overhauled graphics, rendering, zombie AI, brought new books and weapons, reworked the random world generation, has added more unique points of interest and fixed hundreds of bugs. While no one could say that The Fun Pimps work quickly, they do deliver massive game-changing patches. \n \nSurvivors can hop in and immediately experience the new content across the miserable land that they inhabit, although it will require a new save. A great welcome to the spooky season this year.