Strains [Dystopia Rising: Evolution]

Dystopia Rising

Dystopia Rising: Evolution art by Marco Gonzales

The main “character class” you choose in DR:E is called a “Strain.” I’ll talk a little about Strain Paths in another update, but I wanted to give you a bit of an in-world explanation of what they are. Just remember — while the people you play may be physically (and in some cases mentally) different from today’s, in the end they’re just as human as we are.


Nobody really knows where the fungal infection came from; sure, there are theories, but I haven’t seen anything close to definitive proof. I’m not sure it matters anymore, really. It’s everywhere, it’s changed everything, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere any time soon. So instead, let’s talk about what it’s done to us, the human race… or what’s left of us anyway.

For starters, we should all be dead. And I don’t mean in the live-die-return way, either. When I was learning medicine, we had a couple partial pre-Fall textbooks in the library, and while they were incomplete, there was still enough there to prove that none of us should be able to survive in this world — the radiation, the chemicals, the tainted water, the poisoned meat, and of course the fungal infection itself. Humanity should have died a hundred times over.

Yet here we are.

That’s where the Strains come in, I think. We’re looking at hyper-evolution in action, changes taking place in real time across a few generations instead of so many hundreds of years. It’s amazing, when you think about it. The world fell apart in a dozen ways, and yet we adapted fast enough to keep up — or at least enough of us did to keep the species going.

And from everything I’ve read, we’re better than humanity 1.0 in just about every way. Funny how the old differences also fell away too. Nothing like an apocalypse to make you realize that being an asshole to someone about their junk or the color of their skin is useless bullshit.

What’s fascinating is how we’ve changed compared to what I’ve read of pre-Fall humans. I mean, all the Strains still have some things in common. Not only are we baseline tougher, but we also heal fast, far faster than humans ever did in the past. I think we can also credit the infection for that development — if it can rebuild us from nothing, knitting some broken bones or stopping internal bleeding doesn’t seem so extreme. Plus, of course, we come back from dying, at least for a little while.

But then we diverge in ways that are just amazing, especially because it seems like something in the infection passes on not just physical traits but natural talents and inclinations as well. I don’t know how else to explain it. A Natural One I know compared these inborn affinities to how animals are born with certain knowledge and instincts already in place — how to hunt, where to find food, etc. Of course, he also thought it was more evidence that we should give up the ruins and go back to living as one with the wild, but still I think he might have hit on something there.