The first major release of 2015 brought with it the ability to craft all sorts of clothing from tanned leather, along with a plethora of new meleeweapons. Major map changes were included also, like the brand new Prison Island and a complete reworking of Skalisty Island. Players gained a way to distinguish their groups from one another with colored armbands, we got the stylish and useful M65 jacket, and tactical tools were expanded with the addition of the flare gun.
The focus of map changes shifted to existing areas of the map finally in this release with improvements to Black Lake, Pik Kozlova, Devil’s Castle, and the village of Bor making up the bulk of it. Military clothing got a win with the inclusion of the plate carrier set, the first multi-state weapon was introduced with the Trumpet, and the cargo (“Civilian”) variant of the V3S was added. Resources from animals were greatly expanded and additional crafted items were included to utilize the new resources.
-Initial Experimental Release: Feb. 18, 2015
-Initial Stable Release: Feb. 25, 2015
-Experimental builds: 5
-Time spent on Experimental: 7 days (6 days for hotfix)
-Hotfix(es): Mar. 4, 2015
Somewhat controversial upon release, 0.55 had many changes to the function of the Central Loot Economy, and many players weren’t happy with the new behavior, resulting in a rollback to the previous function until a later release. Traps made their debut with the land mine and bear trap, bark added another piece to the puzzle of wilderness survival, and .308 Winchester ammo neatly broke down previous 7.62×51 weapons into two separate .308 and 7.62x65R categories for balancing and accuracy.
Players of the game got their first taste of the work-in-progress New UI as an option in this update using the -newui launch parameter, and critical changes were made to zombie behavior. Stealth was finally added as a factor of game physics as well. Finally, mapupdates came in the form of ten summer camps scattered all over the map in offbeat locations.
-Initial Experimental Release: Mar. 11, 2015
-Initial Stable Release: Apr. 1, 2015
-Experimental builds: 6
-Time spent on Experimental: 21 days
The most recent version to exist solely on the Experimental branch is 0.56. It was originally intended to see a release to Stable, but late in its development period it was decided that it would be rolled into 0.57 instead and remain limited to Experimental. Though 0.57 would get all the attention with a Stable release, much of the user-facing additions of that update were actually introduced in 0.56.
Oil barrels are seen for the first time here, though their functionality is limited and unpolished. The hand drill kit makes it possible to light fires using nothing but nature for the first time, and long wooden sticks are introduced to serve a multitude of uses like cooking meat and vegetables over a fire. Many weapons see their introduction here such as the Winchester Model 70, SVD, Red 9, UMP, and VSS, though some of them would disappear until a later version before hitting the Stable branch. The Hunting Scope and Kashtan C-1 scope expand the capabilities of hunting rifles and the AK family respectively.
The accidental inclusion of the Radio entertains us for a short while. Map changes are significant with the return of the Stary Sobor Evacuation Camp from the Mod, the new town of Samorodok in the North, and the balancing decision to remove the military prison in Turovo.
-Initial Experimental Release: May 8, 2015
-Initial Stable Release: N/A
-Experimental builds: 4
-Time spent on Experimental: 18 days
Here’s a video by SepticFalcon of the working Radio if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzq4KWNScOk
The focus of 0.57 was to expand upon and fix the huge list of changes brought on by 0.56. It included even more crafting options like improvised rope, a fish net trap, and a nailed baseball bat. As 0.57 incubated on the Experimental branch, it became a much more polished release than some of the ones before it and brought on a huge expansion of the wilderness survival aspect of the game.
With the combined development period of 0.56 and 0.57 spanning a longer time and greater number of builds on Experimental than players had grown used to, it marked a dramatic shift in how the development team utilizes the Experimental branch. Builds are put out for testing earlier, more time is taken to get feedback through player bug reports, and Stable releases are intended to be more of their namesake than ever before. Map changes were light, but included brand new school buildings in major cities of Chernarus as well as a reworked northern Berezino and barricaded roads from before the collapse of society.
-Initial Experimental Release: May 26, 2015
-Initial Stable Release: Jun. 10, 2015
-Experimental builds: 8
-Time spent on Experimental: 15 days
Version 0.58 took the longer Experimental period concept and ran with it. The timing was good for such a shift as well, since 0.58 was an update focusing on back end changes and mechanics rather than new content. It was the first update in a long while to not include any mapupdates, further emphasizing that focus.
A load of new “things” made their way into the game like world containers, full availability of barrels, the car tent, and the UMP45. The vehicle repair mechanic finally began working its way in with tire repair, batteries, and plugs now being necessary to operate the V3S. Fishing was expanded with the addition of the Mackerel, and it became possible to use the indoor fireplaces of many houses.
0.58 included a new inventory screen for those opting into the use of the New UI, and persistence saw major changes as well.
The Experimental branch was relied upon heavily in non-standard ways during 0.58. It included a short-lived pair of servers configured for extreme rainy weather, and an eventual hotfix release for performance issues related to persistence was tested by by community members creating massive camps together.
-Initial Experimental Release: Jul. 1, 2015
-Initial Stable Release: Aug. 26, 2015
-Experimental builds: 15
-Time spent on Experimental: 56 days (3 days for hotfix)
-Hotfix(es): Sep. 14, 2015
For a look at what the extreme weather looked like, have a look at this album: http://imgur.com/a/feGuA
Part content, part mechanics, and part back end, 0.59 changed many different areas of the game all at once. Heavy changes were made to the code in preparation for future updates and vehicle repair mechanics were expanded to feature many more parts necessary for operation. Content was big with three new vehicles being added at once and many new parts to support them, along with three new weapons, new smoke grenades, and a number of new clothing items. Map changes were once again light, with only southern Berezino being changed due to map work being focused on revamping major southern cities for future releases.
Current record holder for most number of Experimental builds, 0.59 is continuing the trend of extended and careful Experimental periods. That branch has also been heavily utilized for both of the hotfixes that this update received after its initial release. The first of those hotfixes addressed a number of issues and added Christmas trees once again for the 2015 holiday season, and the second hotfix removed those trees and added some additional options to the New UI for turning off system & chat messages. The first of those hotfixes also gave us the awesome pair of Glock 19 pistol and FAL rifle.
-Initial Experimental Release: Nov. 2, 2015
-Initial Stable Release: Dec. 10, 2015
-Experimental builds: 18
-Time spent on Experimental: 38 days (7 days, 2 days for hotfixes)
-Hotfix(es): Dec. 21, 2015; Jan. 13, 2016