One of the main points of criticism is that Ultimate ADOM: Caverns of Chaos seems to be much smaller in scope that ADOM is. After all, there's a huge surface world with multiple dungeons, quests ranging from saving puppies from deadly caves to befriending water dragons with multiple choices along the way.
Caverns of Chaos starts right at the entrance to the titular caverns, with the characters sent into the infested depths for a reason between them and their faction choices.
Few people remember ADOM actually started the same way - initially, it was all just one big dungeon with monsters becoming more and more powerful the longer you spent in a level to force you moving onwards. It featured no beings to talk with, no story lines and just an ever-growing amount of complex things you could do. Skills like Herbalism made it into the game long before any thoughts of a surface world existed!
We're not going the same way with Ultimate ADOM. There are plots, and stories, and factions to work with and appease or slaughter and loot. Quest chains will require player decisions and change the flow of the game accordingly. ADOM has a lot of different endings: Slay the evil God of ChAoS, usurp his throne or even destroy the universe.
While we feel it's okay to spoiler a game that's been out for nearly thirty years now, we're going to keep quiet about the different endings you will be able to achieve in Ultimate ADOM - but there also will be different ones, including some which require a bit of outside-the-box thinking and experimentation. It will be possible to end the game by simply slaughtering everything if your character is sufficiently powerful and warded, though this may not be the most satisfying and valuable ending.
While Classic ADOM is a game focused deeply on exploring a large variety of dungeons and exploring, we want to put Ultimate ADOM's emphasis on cool gameplay mechanics. I wrote about the complexity already in detail last week, but there are also a lot of different environments to explore in the Caverns of Chaos! Players of our Alpha might have already discovered the Minor Chaos Temple located somewhere near the kobold caves, or the strange and deadly waters of Lake Gloom.
During Early Access, more locations will be revealed and implemented! Rumors of a strange temple populated by frog-like creatures featuring weird mind powers float around, and Rolf is sending out warriors to locate the remaining dwarfkin of Dwarftown somewhere deep below. A powerful slithering creature with snakes for hair has made her lair somewhere in the furthest depth, a mad alchemist is using the nearby source of ChAoS to empower their mad experiments and a very dangerous necromancer is using the many corpses these caves produce for his own nefarious purpose.
All of these areas - and many more - will feature questlines that are local or affect the whole dungeon and your faction's main story. So there is plenty to explore, and not everything will be available to visit every time you venture into the dungeon.
That's not to say there will never be a surface world. We roughly know where we want to go during Early Access, but the road definitely won't end there. While the area around the Drakkalor Chain has been corrupted, shattered and made thoroughly inhospitable due to the events happening in ADOM, there may still be plenty of things to do for an aspiring hero. But that's something for much later!