This one has a really large amount of random polish/bugfix items in it, and the overall effect on the game is pretty notable. Things are visually and game-flow-wise smoother, and a number of the minor annoyances that people have reported have been dealt with.
Several key interfaces are also now more self-explanatory, and are also now more visually-oriented for faster navigation. Oh, and the stats of characters have been rejiggered a ton, so that they actually have more of an impact on gameplay; having a lot or a little mana, for instance, now actually creates a difference in game feel.
The really exciting new thing in this release isn't something that we'd really planned on doing, though: vitality stones have become upgrade stones. The general idea is that now each character has a limited number of upgrades (10), but they can be spread across three categories rather than all having to go into the health category.
This is obviously a big win for character customization, which is something that people have shown a lot of interest in. But it's also a big win for the meaningfulness of permadeath: because whatever upgrades you have applied to your character all get lost on death.
There are a couple of ways to avoid this loss on permadeath:
First of all, try not to die. The death of a maturely-upgraded character should be the culmination of a lot of mistakes, not a single missed jump or what have you. So if you have a character that you care a lot about (for gameplay reasons, not thematic/emotional reasons), then take extra care.
Secondly, if you have a character you love, and you're about to go somewhere that they are not suited for (or that is just too high-risk in general), then you can use the newly-patched-up Glyph Transplant scroll to leave them at your settlement and take another NPC along as your character instead.
Doing this, you can actually build up a small stable of buffed-up NPCs that are each suited for specific kinds of tasks -- or you can just play each character until they die, and then build a new one from the ground up. Either way is valid at the average difficulty, but the point is that now you have a lot more choices (and some new ways to deal with the higher difficulties, in particular).
More to come soon. There's more stuff along the lines of this sort of cleanup/polish/training/clarity that we're working on, but we're also working on new missions. Keith has majorly upgraded battlefield missions today, although they weren't quite ready for release yet, and we're both really looking forward to implementing a bunch of the player-suggested missions (plus some more ideas of our own) very soon. Enjoy!
This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 0.500 or later. When you
launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found
if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 0.500 or later, you can download that here.