I played some more and I’d like to do some appreciation/critique.
I usually play offline solo, and I often boost the server in some way (notably by reducing crafting time by 50%, thrall conversion rate by 90%, and having resource gathering multiplied by 10) in order to actually progress in an acceptable timeframe. This time, I started a game with only halved crafting times and 3x boost to resources.
Currently, the early game rewards exploration and camp raiding a lot more than resource gathering. Sure, by gathering you are making a ton of XP, especially if you early gather Brimstone and Black Ice. However, raiding a camp rewards you with 1) resources such as leather and steel 2) Supply Material crates and gravedigging loot 3) High-quality weapons and armor. Instead of hiding in your hole and gathering strength until you are ready to face what’s outside, going out and engaging in camp raiding is dangerous but HIGHLY rewarding. Also, gathering thralls is much more enjoyable: before lvl30, converting a T3 thrall is a chore, so having the possibility of instantly converting a thrall simply by killing an enemy is a massive plus.
I really like this new early game: it is more ferocious and aggressive, and you do not feel like a scared puppy that needs to hide.
One thing I absolutely DO NOT like, however, is the prerequisite to gravedigging. In my run, I found 2 broken Gravediggers inside a Supply Crate, and suddenly I was able to gather extra loot. I personally find this current state of affairs quite stupid: I should not require a shovel made of frigging Star Metal in order to dig a hole and a broken one at that. If I may propose an alternative, I would personally change it like you can craft shovels at the Blacksmith’s Bench that unlock with Iron, Steel, and Hardened Steel Tools, such as
Iron Shovel = 50 Iron Bar, 10 Wood. Can dig 5 graves.
Steel Shovel = 50 Steel Bar, 10 Shaped Wood. Can dig 10 graves.
Hardened Steel Shovel = 50 Hardened Steel Bar, 10 Shaped Wood. Can dig 15 graves.
If the shovel is broken, you cannot dig.
EDIT: Obviously ignore the numbers, it’s the mechanic that counts.
Maybe you’ve already tried this, but I personally think it might be an improvement instead of gatekeeping the possibility of digging graves in the early game through RNG, which is never fair.