Natural Selection 2

Are marine armor and weapon effectiveness upgrades applied automatically or is there some system analogous to the alien respawn to select upgrades?

As far as I understand it, upgrades are applied automatically. However, if you lose the structure used to research those upgrades (e.g. Arms Lab), you'll lose the upgrades too until you re-build it. As either aliens or marines, taking out the enemy's upgrade structures is pretty useful since it effectively weakens the whole team.

Burnt Toast wrote:

Does shift-to-be-silent work for human units too or just aliens?

For marines its left ctrl to crouch and move slow and silent. I don't use it as often, and do be aware that while you are crouched and sneaking silently down the corridor, there may be a skulk silently sneaking up behind you, they move faster crouched than you do.

Skulk (0 p.res): left click ability is normally Bite (high damage, short range melee attack, 75 damage with a direct hit, 50 or 25 with an off target glancing hit), you can select the Parasite ability (ranged low damage attack that attaches a beacon to the target, for 30 seconds anyone on the team can see it). Can be upgraded to the Xenocide ability, which turns you into a suicide bomber (short ranged medium damage AoE attack, might kill a marine if you hug him, might kill 3 marines if they are clustered together, moderate damage to EXOs and structures, will always kill you) Right click is normally nothing, can be upgraded to the Leap ability (high energy drain, noisy fast straight forward lunge, good for chasing jetpackers in the air if you can aim it right, great for jumping past marines then spinning and hitting them from behind, can be suicide if you jump straight at a shotgun marine, can also be used for travelling around the map). Skulks get a temporary speed boost by leaping off walls/ceilings, bouncing down a corridor by leaping from wall to wall is tricky but effective.

Gorge (10 personal resource points or p.res): hit 1 to bring up your build menu, its only got Hydra (a relatively short ranged turret, healspray to build until you see spiky flowers, 3 max per player, costs 3 P.res per) and the Clot (a blob of gunk, stack to make barriers, please leave room for the onos and fade to get through, 10 max per player, no res cost, get to close range and face the clot then press E to remove). Left click is normally the Spit ability (long range snipe, does 40 damage base to marines, chews through armor and flesh. Odds are a marine will kill you first if you try to sit still and swap shots, so don't). Can be upgraded to the Bile Bomb ability (ranged high damage DoT, AoE splash, that eats away armor and structures but not flesh, good for clearing structures/EXOs, and you can lob it in an arc so you can sit out of sight and still kill sentries). Right click is the Healspray ability (very low damage melee range AoE, but also heals an area in front of you). It also heals yourself, and will help a hive mature at the rate of 1% per spray. This sounds low but can be critical, so do it. Healing the hive while its under attack can be the difference between the hive living or dying. Moving up with the attackers and healing during combat can be very effective, but you are fragile and easy to hit, so avoid drawing fire if you can. Shift is the gorge belly slide (drains energy, but gives very impressive speed when sliding on infestation). Not as effective on non-infested surfaces. Poor turning, basically straight line movement.

Lerk (30 p.res): left click is the Bite ability (melee range, base 60 damage on a direct hit, skulk direct hit is 75), I will glide in behind marines, bite and keep flying away, hit and run. Be aware that you are an easy target when doing this, and fragile, so don't try this if the marine is aware you are coming. Good for eating structures. Upgrades include the Spores ability(melee range AoE, lingers, drops green gas where you are, which sinks to the floor, flamers burn it away instantly, obscures vision and does a lot of damage to marines - bypasses armor, does no damage to structures or armor or EXOs) and the Umbra ability (ranged gas AoE, lingers, mildly obscures vision, cuts marine damage in half roughly, use it to support others and protect your retreat). Right click is the Bone Spike ability, fires long range fast moving low damage spikes, the best alien 'gun'. Shift is clinging to whatever surface you are next to, you can pivot but any other movement releases the grip, no energy cost. Use it to cling to the underside of beams, in shadow, then snipe with Bone Spikes. Once spotted, move, your only real defense is not getting hit and a pistol sniper can drop you fast. Hold the forward key (normally W) and space, and you will glide without flapping. Trick is to get up speed by flapping then start gliding, you cover a lot of ground fast and turn on a dime. Between its high speed and its effective attacks, a lerk is a great support unit, but I doubt a team of all lerks could win the game.

Fade (50 p.res): currently considered too ineffective for its costs, I expect changes soonish. Left click is the Swipe ability, (melee ranged, relatively fast, good damage attack effective against marines). Right click is initially nothing, but can be upgraded to the Blink ability(high energy drain, very high speed ghostly movement, you can fly while doing so and are hard to see and hit - but you can still die while Blinking) Can be upgraded to the Vortex ability (no damage melee range effect, it phases the target into a ghost for a few seconds, they can't do anything, and nothing can be do to them, not certain of the specifics, never seen it used). Fades do relatively poor damage against structures, so work with skulks, you chase the marines while they eat the power node. Shotguns are your bane, so avoid them until you are comfortable with using the fade. Shift is Shadow Step, a short range straight forward burst of speed, combine this with double jumping - hit space twice, then shift then double space again before you land, you can travel around this way prior to Blink - note that Shadow Step has diminishing returns, so each use immediately after a prior use travels less distance. Due to how much more effective an onos is, most players opt to skip the fade, but having one or two on the team can be very helpful. A fade is great for zooming across a map and killing that single marine chopping down a harvester. Not bad at harassing the marines by killing undefended RTs, but skulks are better at this task.

Onos (75 p.res): Left click is the Gore ability (melee ranged, fairly fast and high damage single target attack, normally takes two to kill a marine, 3 if you don't hit directly). Great against EXOs and structures. Right click is initially nothing, but can be upgraded to the Stomp ability (very high energy drain, two or three stomps will leave you with no energy for fighting or running, knocks marines down for several seconds, fairly large AoE, does nothing to EXOs or structures). Shift is Charge (high speed sprint, high energy energy, basically only straight line, good for retreating if you have the energy left). Be wary of using it to charge into the attack, if you charge from too far back you can end up in their face low on energy and be unable to kill them quick enough or retreat. Onos should travel in herds, 3 or 4 onos can pretty much stomp anything into the ground. When fight EXOs, use your higher agility to circle them and attack from the sides or behind, to avoid the high damage cannon fire or punches. Be aware that a handful of marines can pour fire into a single onos and kill you very quickly, so be ready to disengage early. I will often attack, kill one, immediately flee while still at high health, wait right around the corner and kill the pursuing marines in an ambush.

While you can pay to evolve to a higher life form through your p.res, the alien commander also has the option to modify an existing egg to evolve the player. He clicks on an existing egg, selects the alien type to be hatched from it, pays the cost from team res, and a ghostly image of that alien then hovers over the egg. Once its matured, any alien player can click on it to (almost) instantly evolve to that alien type. Its a very common alien strategy to rush to a second hive and buy an onos egg. As long as the team supports that solo onos, and the onos plays cautiously, its very hard for the marines to fend it off. So if your alien team has a surplus of t.res, suggest that your commander make some extra onos eggs. Keep in mind that these modified eggs are just as fragile as the regular egg, so if the hive is being attacked, use that egg before the marines kill it.

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Upgrades: Marines research them at an Arms Lab, they are applied automagically when research is done. If the upgrade shows as red, that means the Arms Lab was destroyed, you automagically lose all of the benefits right then and there. So, kill the lab alive or suddenly find your armor weaker and your gun less effective until its replaced. Once you build a new Arms Lab, the upgrades automagically reappear, you are not required to research them again. Building a second Arms Lab will keep the upgrades active if the first lab is destroyed, you don't have to research them at each Arms Lab. Having two Arms Labs up at the same time means both must be destroyed to strip the upgrades from the marines. Any lab can research either upgrade, weapons or armor, but not at the same time.

Aliens: Upgrades are based on the hives available. They are researched by building the appropriate structure and then doing research at that particular structure. Unlike the marines, any given structure can only research a single upgrade, to research the other upgrade a hive offers, you need a second upgrade structure, i.e. build two Shells if you want both Carapace and Regeneration available. Once the research is done, the aliens must evolve (hit B) to gain the benefit. If the structure is lost, then the research is also lost, and the aliens can no longer evolve to gain that upgrade. Unlike marines, an alien that had previously evolved that upgrade does not lose the upgrade as long as they don't die or evolve into a different life form. To replace the lost upgrade, the alien commander has to build a new structure AND research the upgrade yet again. If you make a backup structure and research the upgrade a second time before losing the first structure, then the marines have to destroy both structures to remove that upgrade. All told, an alien commander will end up building a minimum of six upgrade structures to gain access to all the upgrades. Also note that upgrades are different than abilities, Carapace is an upgrade, Leap is an ability which is research at any hive but is lost if that hive is lost.

Crag hive, upgrade structure is the Shell, Carapace or Regeneration.
Shift hives, Spurs, Celerity or Adrenaline.
Shade hive, Veils, Camouflage or Silence.

Upgrade structures and defense structures are two different things. A Crag hive lets you build the Shell and also lets you build the Crag, which does healing. They are otherwise not connected, and you aren't required to build one to have the benefits of the other.

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Distress Beacons: Found out something interesting about the 'bacon'. While you click on the observatory to activate the distress beacon, it teleports the team to the nearest command chair, not to the observatory. So if you have only one command chair, you can use any observatory to beacon to it. If you want the marines to beacon to a specific location, then you need both an observatory and a command chair at that location.

Other that fitting into vents I don't think there is any reason to crouch. It doesn't improve accuracy or anything like that.

Tamren wrote:

Other that fitting into vents I don't think there is any reason to crouch. It doesn't improve accuracy or anything like that.

*shhhshhh* be wery wery qwiet, I'm hunting skulks.... Silent movement is useful. Running footsteps carry quite a distance, and can be heard through walls by both the alien commander and the foot troops of both sides. Crouching and shifting position throws off the enemy ability to predict where you are. If you just stand in the same place after the enemy loses sight of you (died or left the room), you are a red dot on the map for several seconds, and if they don't hear you move, they can reasonably assume you are in the same place. So after all the enemy loses sight of you, wait a few seconds and then crouch and shift position. Or when moving up to assault a position, get close, crouch, move up silently and hopefully surprise them.

I've gotten a lot of ambushes as both marine and alien due to people just running in, oblivious to the noise they make doing so. Or they depend on hearing me run in, and aren't paying as much attention, letting me get the drop on them. Obviously if you are an alien with the Silence upgrade you won't get as much use out of crouch movement, but its not worthless - the eye is drawn to movement, and moving slowly might not alert a marine.

For those looking for private server games that are more organized and generally more courteous than public matches check out this site: http://www.ensl.org
There are constant casual (but structured) matches going on called 'gathers'. You sign up on the website and as soon as the previous gather ends the next one begins. The web interface also allows for team captains to be voted on and then they divvy people up into teams by making alternating picks. Teamspeak is used for voice chat.

The level of play tends to be a bit higher as well, like with our private server TF2 nights on Stan. Additionally, there is a Steam group which can make joining the actual game servers easier via the "Join Game" option, check out my profile for more info.

Just a thought since we don't have enough folks yet to fill a server of our own!

Wow, lots of positive buzz on this and then nothing for over a month. People still playing this? Community still as supportive? A few friends and I picked this up over the weekend and are looking to learn the ropes in as supportive and atraumatic environment as possible.

Jow wrote:

Wow, lots of positive buzz on this and then nothing for over a month. People still playing this? Community still as supportive? A few friends and I picked this up over the weekend and are looking to learn the ropes in as supportive and atraumatic environment as possible.

I play this from time to time. PlanetSide2 is currently taking the majority of the time, but there's still a very good community out there for this game.

For the purposes of having an all in-house game, any idea on what the minimum number of players to have a decent game might be?

Jow wrote:

For the purposes of having an all in-house game, any idea on what the minimum number of players to have a decent game might be?

At least 5 on 5. There's not enough folks from GWJ to pull it off so I've bonded with the daily gather crew from www.ensl.org. Friend me up on steam if you are looking for more info or just another player, I'm usually available.

FYI - The game is 60% off (now $9.99) on Steam for the next ~8 hours. 4-pack is $29.99.

Tactical Ops youtube series.

Good collection of videos explaining various aspects of the game, good detail as well showing examples drawn from in game recordings. Fairly short, worth a review if you are interested in learning about the game.

Build 236 was just released, some good fixes. They are planning on some more content releases soon, hopefully before the end of the month. Good time to get back in the game. Servers are still going strong, I can get a decent game at any time of the day - the selection is rather limited at 6am CST, but plentiful during US or EU primetimes.

This game is good. More people should play it.

The game is exceptional with two well managed, or at least evenly matched, teams going at it. I had a lot of fun with my time; more maps could get a reinstall from me.

I enjoyed this game, but gave up on it when I realized the degree of skill required to be good. I watched a Redditor, as a Lerk, tear into a crowd of five or six marines, I think with medium upgrades, head-on, and kill them all. He just never missed when he bit people. Never.

If you're still young and quick, you should check this out, but I'm too old and slow to play it anymore.

This game just makes me miss Savage all the more.

Malor wrote:

I enjoyed this game, but gave up on it when I realized the degree of skill required to be good. I watched a Redditor, as a Lerk, tear into a crowd of five or six marines, I think with medium upgrades, head-on, and kill them all. He just never missed when he bit people. Never.

If you're still young and quick, you should check this out, but I'm too old and slow to play it anymore.

How long did you try at it? I haven't played NS2 but one thing I find constant with twitch games is that it takes time to develop or redevelop the muscle memory, learn how the input side of the engine responds, and the characteristics of whatever weapons you have.

The thing is you have to put yourself in the situation where you have the opportunity to (re)learn those reactions and aren't being the meat in the meat grinder. I'm sure there's really high skilled players out there, as the person that recorded that video, but it's probably not representative of the whole playerbase.

What's that saying, old age and a flamethrower will beat out youth and skill? Some days I just play marines for the flamethrower and jetpack combo, who needs mad twitch skills when you can just hose the room? Burn, lerky, burn! Few things more satisfying than chasing that lerk or fade, through the halls and vents, burning it down.

same boat - this is a fantastic game, but balance issues and other factors make it a "play once in a while" game for me. I had a bitch of a time hitting skulks as a marine out of the gate but was able to improve that considerably just by cranking mouse sensitivity up. However, the real problem is that it's pretty well-known the aliens win around 65-70% of all games now. The first real balance patch just hit so they're working on it, but from everything I've seen and read it's a pretty disparate experience currently.

http://ns2stats.org/

Tracked stats for the last two weeks show the aliens winning 58% of the time. The tournament they ran over in Germany, I think it was, didn't the marines win most of the matches? I'm not sure where the '65-70%' aliens win numbers come from, but if you have hard numbers I'd love to see them.

Personal experience, its been slightly more likely that the aliens will win given rough parity in the skills of the teams. If the marines can't hit the skulks, won't work in teams and don't hold ground while aggressively pushing at the aliens, then they lose. And the marine commander has to know what he's doing. The aliens have it slightly easier, since the khammander does most of the work laying out the expansion - dropping cysts and harvesters, and this leaves the skulks free to harass the marines.

admittedly, the 68-70 figure was word-of-mouth from a friend's experiences (keeping a log apparently) and what he'd been reading the devs saying. I played around with the stat engine trying to see if the recent balance patch has changed that much... not really - a fraction of a percentage point. So roughly 58-59% of the time... I can see the reasons for it, most of which you touched upon: i feel like the marine commander has to work harder and the marines have to have better coordination and the ability to track targets well. At the same time, I don't think the ability to freely harass while the commander expands willynilly is a slight advantage at all. I specced a lot of games over a couple week period to try to get a better feel for the game and noticed that almost all of the marine losses resulted from this phenomenon... aggressive skulks would continually rush the main base or attack any attempts at expansion while the alien commander was free to expand as he chose. I don't think I've seen or participated in a single game where the marines were able to leverage that kind of pressure early and take the aliens out of their game.

As much as people are hopeful that these balance patches are going to help this, I see it as more of a design issue that is only likely to be remedied by future content patches introducing buildings, weapons, or something that help counter these imbalances. It's going to be tricky - I certainly don't want to see two sides that play exactly the same, but a 58-42% advantage is pretty significant.

edit: interestingly, if you change the mode in the filters to competitive, rather than public, the alien win % jumps to 67%...

Jow wrote:

I specced a lot of games over a couple week period to try to get a better feel for the game and noticed that almost all of the marine losses resulted from this phenomenon... aggressive skulks would continually rush the main base or attack any attempts at expansion while the alien commander was free to expand as he chose. I don't think I've seen or participated in a single game where the marines were able to leverage that kind of pressure early and take the aliens out of their game.

Yep. If the marines aren't aggressive, if they won't go out to find and kill the alien harvesters, attack the hives, kill eggs and upgrades, then they lose. If the marines hang back, try to just defend, give up map control to the aliens, then as long as the aliens aren't idiots its another win for the aliens.

Since the aliens don't have to hang around to build, they have two choices: sit around bored, or go find marines to attack (gorges have a few more choices). This means the alien early game is one of heavy attack, base rushing, map control by design. The marines have to build, expand and defend&attack, and too many marines just don't understand how to successfully 'act like a skulk'. Couple this with the understandable notion that the marines are the 'easier' side to start learning the game with, and you tend to get newer and lesser skilled players stacking on the marines side, which has a clear impact on the win/loss ratios.

Personally, I find the game pretty well balanced, both in the small things and the large. I play both sides happily, depending on my mood (do I want to shoot or bite).

As much as people are hopeful that these balance patches are going to help this, I see it as more of a design issue that is only likely to be remedied by future content patches introducing buildings, weapons, or something that help counter these imbalances. It's going to be tricky - I certainly don't want to see two sides that play exactly the same, but a 58-42% advantage is pretty significant.

Yes, its a design issue, its the nature of asymmetrical gameplay. And no, its not an imbalance of the game but of the players. Give me two teams of even skill that understand the roles and what those roles require, and the game plays just fine. Its the nature of pub games, though, that you end up with a lot of players that just don't really understand the roles, what's required, and therefor don't play to win as a team.

I also don't see a 60/40 ratio as significant. When NS2 first released, the ratio hovered around 53/47, which in my opinion meant the devs had nailed the balance issues just about perfect. Going forward, you get a more educated player base mixed with an influx of new players lacking that education and with a tendency to cluster on the marine side, and so the ratio slid over to what we have now. Yet even with the problems inherent in the marine side, they still win a lot of games, and that's a damn good sign for the game.

edit: interestingly, if you change the mode in the filters to competitive, rather than public, the alien win % jumps to 67%...

Having been a competitive player in other games, I can honestly say I couldn't care less what happens on the competitive side of the game. The 'pro' teams think they are the 'tail that wags the dog' and they certainly make a lot of noise about their importance, but in the end, they aren't the people filling the servers up at 2am when I can't sleep and go to find a game. Not to mention that trying to balance a game for both the casual pug games and the competitive match play is a headache I wouldn't want to be responsible for.

I've put 185 hours into this game, which is roughly 10x more than any other game I've played in the past 6 months. I usually play on Mavick's pub or one of the National Gaming servers. Get it if you don't have it.

NS2 is free this weekend, due to PAX East. So the 21st through the 24th, free to play, and 50% off the purchase price. Its a steal, really.

So is anyone playing NS2 over the free weekend? There is a learning curve to it, but it is really really darn good if you want an alternative to games like TF2 that requires more strategy.

Also, wondering if there is a GWJer group for this game yet.

Malor wrote:

I enjoyed this game, but gave up on it when I realized the degree of skill required to be good. I watched a Redditor, as a Lerk, tear into a crowd of five or six marines, I think with medium upgrades, head-on, and kill them all. He just never missed when he bit people. Never.

If you're still young and quick, you should check this out, but I'm too old and slow to play it anymore.

The great thing about NS2 is that strategy also matters a lot. So ambushes and flanking can stack the odds in your favor. Also, you make a big impact on the game with exos, gorges, lerk spores and onos without the same level of twitch skill.

Fired this up during the sale to get my cards. It's still awesome! Runs a lot better than it did at launch and there are some new features I've never tried before like railgun exosuits and tunnels. The railgun is rather hard to use, pinpoint accurate with a charge up timer, it's the closest thing to a sniping weapon in the game. Seems to be made for plinking away at structures and aliens as a fully charged shot hits really hard. I still prefer the dual chainguns for most situations. The new tunnels seem to be for lerks only and they operate kinda like teleporters only the player actually has to run the length of the tunnel before emerging on the other side.

If you are trying the game for the first time be aware that the game goes through a lengthy pre-caching process the first time you load into a specific map. This is normal and takes a long time.

I need to fire this up again.

Let's setup a night next week to play.

NS2 is having another free weekend, and its discounted at 75% off - $6.24 for the basic edition, highly recommended. They just pushed out a major content update to the game as well, so if you haven't played in a while, make the time.