Rainbow 6: Siege: Yet Another Lazy Post

So I’ve been trying to play as much R6 as possible… We’ve got Scott, Ryan, Mick, Oly, and a VDD guy called Chappie playing at the moment. We’ve had our worst runs when we get all five ūüôā But lately I’ve been getting better, and had some pretty decent runs with 3 of us (or by myself.)

At the basic level, the gameplay is like, say, Counter Strike. Spawn in, 5v5, CT’s disarm a bomb and T’s defend it. Most games end in all of one side being wiped out, rather than the bomb being disarmed or the hostage being freed. It’s really just there so the T’s don’t roam aimlessly. If they were to totally abandon the objective, the CT’s would capture it. So that’s all the depth there is to the objectives. That also gives you a pretty good idea on how the game plays out too. You know: You have lone wolves and the like, but generally the better FPS players win, regardless of tactics. Having said that you can make up for poor shooting to some degree with tactics. And when I’m referring to tactics, there is things like simultaneous breaching that works surprisingly well – I’ve coordinated and been on the receiving end of several of those, but it’s ultimately more important to have *other* tactical knowledge – knowing where the objectives could potentially be. Knowing where common ambush points are. Knowing good ways to navigate from the top floor to the basement, etc.

But! Having said that, it really does feel different enough from the likes of CS and that comes down to two main factors: The destruct-a-bility of the environments, and the classes.

The classes have clearly taken a leaf out of the MOBA hand-book. Everyone tends to have 1 special ability and it also influences your choice of primary weapon, secondary weapon, and gadgets. For example!:

“Castle” can put up tougher-than-usual barricades. That’s his special ability. His primary weapon can be a shotgun or a sub-machine gun (a UMP 45), his secondary can be a 9mm or .45, and his gadgets he can choose either barbed wire or a deployable shield.

Meanwhile “Ash” has a 2-shot breaching launcher that lets her blast through walls and barricades from a range (her special ability), and a choice of primary weapons: g36 or remington (auto shotty I think), a .45 or 57USG for secondary, and breach charge or smoke grenade for gadgets.

And so it goes for all “operatives.” They also have a 1-3 rating system for armour and speed. Ash, for example, has 1 armour and 3 speed.

So you unlock these operatives with Renown, but that’s easy to come by. For example, you get enough renown to unlock your first operative by opening the tutorial videos one by one, and immediately closing them ūüôā The rest you get from just playing – whether that’s coop terrorist hunts, single-player tutorial-style “situations” or (probably the slowest way to do it) straight up multiplayer. There’s challenges and so forth to unlock Renown faster. No doubt there’ll be (a lot) more stuff to spend renown on later.

I’ve probably got half the operatives already, so it’s certainly not a grind. It’s more of a little reward.

So, basically, a game starts by telling you whether you’re on attack or defense. Everyone picks a class (and with about 10 options for attack and 10 options for defense, you start seeing the MOBA influences.)

Everything about the game is short and sharp. The team picking phase is like 30 seconds, then you go into the prep phase. This is¬†about 40 seconds of a mini-game. The attackers all control a little drone each. They’re trying to scope out the defenses, and most importantly spot the objective so it’s marked on the map when the real game starts. Meanwhile, the defenders use those 40 secs to set up traps, barbed wire, fortify walls, that sort of thing while ALSO trying to stop the drones from spotting the objective. It’s frantic for both sides.

Then, bam. You’re in the game. Well, the defenders have been in the game for 40 seconds, but now the attackers are in too. They could actually switch back to their drone (or deploy a new one) if they wanted, but usually everyone bolts to the building the defenders are in. Perhaps they head to where they know where the objective is, or they just seek to enter quickly and start searching for the objective.

Thing is, they only have… hmm… 4? minutes. It’s not much in any case. If you didn’t find the objective with the drones, there is a real danger you’ll run out of time. Not because you’ll NEVER find it – you will, but by the time you find it, THEN fight the defenders it’s well balanced so time starts to become a real pressure.

A great map is a two-story suburb house. Perhaps the drones found the objective in the master bedroom. So, one thing you might try (I did…) is to rappel up the side of the house opposite the main bedroom. The idea is to bust into the kid’s neighbouring bedroom, blast open their wall into the parent’s closet, and attack from there.

So I rappelled up (btw, you can practically rapple any wall and scale it vertically, horizontally right-way up, or upside-down… lots of flexibility) and smashed out a single plank from the barricaded window and peeked through. The bedroom was empty, so I swung in smashing out the rest of the barricade. If they’d had Castle he might have barricaded it with his special armoured barricade. If I had have been sledge (or if he’d hung off the wall with me) he could have smashed out a piece of wall for us instead… or perhaps one of the many operatives with breaching gear could have blown Castle’s barricade out … but then it’s a bit obvious where we are.

So I swung in, and took cover behind the bed. I was starting to hear gunfire in the hallway, so I was afraid some snap-shotting-head-targeting machine would walk past the doorway and snap me.

I came around the bed to put a breach on the wall I knew led to the closet… but the enemy had planned for it. Someone had set themselves up in the closet with a shotfun (originally typo, but I’m keeping it) and used it to blast a small hole to peek through into the kid’s bedroom… so he lit me up. I saw where the fire was coming from, so I returned fire just riddling the wall with bullets. We had a fully-fledged gun fight THROUGH a wall, with only a shotfunned-sized hole to see through… welllll… after a few rounds, we have a many¬†more ¬†holes to play with.

Anyway, I lost the fun-fight, and was dead. Had I had won, I would have breached that wall to put pressure on the defenders from a different angle.

And, mate, this is where the game starts to shine – the variations, variety, counters and counter-counters. I’ve seen, or done:

– In a gun fight someone goes down. The attacker wasn’t sure though because they were firing through broken wall, so took he took cover. Suspecting that he’d won, he crept up to the breach point and found… a trail of blood leading down the hall and around the corner. Following the trail, he found the person he’d been fighting with crawling along the ground, wounded, trying to find an ally to help them up … leaving a trail of blood the whole way. The attacker executed them and secured the kill.

– Found a wall that defenders had fortified, so cannot be breached… except by the attacker “Thermite”. Got Thermite to set up a thermite charge on that wall while another sub-team (actually in this case Thermite did both) to set up a breach charge on a different wall. Set off the termite charge, drawing the defender’s attention as it starts to slowly burn through… then when it detonates, detonate the second charge at the same time and actually attack from a different angle.

– Hear someone setting up a fortification on the opposite side of the wall I’m on. The wall is destructable (well, until they finish the fortification), but not thin enough to shoot through. So, as Fuse, set my device on the wall that burrows through the wall and deposits 3 frag grenades, killing the dude setting up the fortification.

– Blow a hole in the floor, lob through a series of flash grenades, and drop down to find a completely blind defender who I can happily kill.

– Team up with a guy with a bulletproof shield (Montagne) and crack a hole in a barricaded door. Determine it’s all clear, and so bash through the door… setting off a trap that Kapkan (one of the russian operatives) has set on the door killing us both.

– Try to use Thermite to burn through a barricaded wall, only to find that the enemy team has Mute who has put up a signal jammer near that wall that prevents Thermite from setting off his charge… so use Fuse to pop some grenades into that room from a different angle, and those grenades destroy the jammer, allowing Thermite to blow through afterall.

– Seal off an area well enough that the enemy could really only attack from one angle, and proceed to have a long gun fight around the one blown wall… only to lose because they had a lot of damn¬†shields ūüė¶

– Use a drone near the hostage to bait the defenders into accidentally killing the hostage.

– Die, then use the camera systems to highlight and call out enemies to those still alive.

– Die, then use a well-placed drone (you can’t drive it, but you can still view through its camera) to give your allies an advantage.

Now for the bad stuff! None of it is a game breaker for me… yet. If things don’t improve though, they will be:

The servers are dodgy. Things are fine more often than not, but it’s not all that uncommon for people – either individually, or as a whole group – to drop out mid-game. In casual games new players can drop in, but you gotta be lucky to be able to join back into the game you just dropped from… so the rest of your party continues to play, and you can’t just drop back in on them.

Everything is FAST, but slowed down by two factors:
First there is a LOT of things that happen fast. What I mean is… matching goes through:
1. Finding teammates
2. Finding opposing team
3. Joining game
4. Then a loading screen…
5. Then the picking phase, which is a mere 30 seconds.
6. THEN everyone loads the assets, which due to either potato-level computers or server issues, usually takes more than 30 seconds, and sometimes takes AAAGES, and sometimes even completely drops the game. It’s really not uncommon to have people from either team drop out at this point… JUST as the game is starting (fortunately in casual new people drop in… (sometimes delaying the start even further) and in ranked you get punished with a 15-minute ban for dropping.)
7. THEN you’re finally in a game! A round is generally fast and furious. No problems there. But each match is a best of 4 rounds (2 goes as attacker and 2 goes as defender) – complete with overtime rounds in case of a tie (golden point in casual, and you have to win by 2 in ranked.)

Casual doesn’t use matchmaking. That is – it calls it “match making” but it just jams people together. So usually queue times are less than 30 seconds, but it doesn’t take into account skill at all. The last couple nights I’ve had pretty decent games, but the first couple nights it was a game of “bend over” rather than “r6.” Then we got matched with the same damn¬†group 3 times in a row – possibly because we were both 5-stacks… but without ELO matching taking place, I’ll be damned¬†if I know why it would prioritise that.

There is a ranked matchmaking that DOES use ELO… but you can’t use it until level 20. I’m level 12 atm, so it’s for “fairly experienced players only.” I’m very, very, VERY afraid that the population there will never be high enough for DotA-quality matchmaking. When I argue the point on forums, people seem to think the likes of CS;GO has a casual mode, but most people use ranked. If casual gets known as the “only for learning the game” area, and ranked is where you really play, then it could be OK. And the fact it’s something you have to “earn” at level 20 might encourage that. But it also may not, as people get used to just playing casual and think “oh, I’m not good enough¬†for ranked!”

I can see I’ll have bought everything pretty quickly. I think I may just have all the available operatives by the time I can get into ranked matchmaking. There are other things to spend it on (e.g. silencer for your gun), but none of it is terribly significant. Also, there will definitely be new operatives. They’re broken into nationality / organisation atm. e.g. “FBI” “GIGN” “SPETNAZ” and each organisation has (about) 2 attackers and 2 defenders to pick from. They’ve already revealed a couple more organisations they’ll add. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Australian organisations in the future either, like SASR or TAG.

That’s all I can think of for now. I know I was pretty annoyed with the (lack of) matchmaking at first, but the servers were only slightly iffy (lots of complaining on the forums, but I wasn’t feeling it) and the more I play, the less concerned I am with the matchmaking and the more annoying the server issues are becoming. I can’t help but think both these things could be fixed by UBI… who knows, though? It’s early days for battlefront, I know, but they still haven’t fixed dropping in on partner’s and other nice things like that and we just work around them.

People Are Upset about Battlefront DLC


Ok, so for reference, American’s pay $60US for the base game, and the “season pass” is $50US, bringing the total to $110US.

So the basic argument goes like this: “To get the whole game it costs $110!!! What a rip off!”

I don’t have a ton of time to invest in this blog, so here’s some choice comments from my online arguing:

It seems to me, it’s about choice.

I have bought Battlefront, and many other games … I have never, ever, seen the point in a “season pass”. What the fuck is that? You never EVER have to buy the DLC (although, if that ever DOES happen, then I’ll be the first to take up a¬†pitch fork.)

In the very unlikely scenario that I buy ALL of the DLC for my favourite game, it’ll be so rare that the $10-$20 I save from a season pass won’t be¬†worth the risk.

Speak with your wallet – yes – and think with your brain.

Buy the game YOU want. You get what you want, and the gaming companies get the message of what gamers want.

I’ve bought the base game… and unless there’s something amazing coming in the DLC for Battlefront (if any other game in the history of games is anything to go by… then there won’t be) then I won’t be spending more than the initial purchase price. And for that price, it’s a great game. Well, pretty good anyway. Not earth shattering, but hella fun.

I have no idea why anyone buys season passes, or 99.99% of the DLC games offer… and then to top it off, bitch and moan about the model. The model that GIVES YOU MORE OPTIONS.

You don’t want to pay full price, but still want the game? Don’t buy the DLC … simple.

And then you’re going to complain that you’re not getting the “full experience” ? Bullshit. 0.01% of DLC is any good at all, and the base game is as good as games have ever been. You get the experience you want, and games companies are giving you that choice. Exercise it.


Gamer’s need to change. They need to stop thinking they HAVE to collect ’em all. I¬†just missed the Pokemon craze and I think “gotta collect ’em all” has been ingrained in the¬†generation behind me. This leads to compulsive buying of crap, then anger at being ripped off for buying crap. The simple solution… is to stop buying stuff you know is going to be crap.

You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Buy the game.¬†Judge the game on that. Buy the DLC that looks like it’ll be good, and ignore the rest.

Cities Skylines: Addictive. Shades of SimCity 2013

At the moment, I still really like Skylines. I have to think… I really liked SimCity 2013 for the first week or so too, though. After that time, its flaws starting to get pretty glaring:

  • Very simple. Practically impossible to fail.
  • Traffic AI leads to huge jams where you wouldn’t expect it.

The traffic situation, in particular, was a real Achilles’ heel. The agent-based simulation required good road connections or the whole city ground to a halt – fire engines couldn’t get to fires, so buildings would burn down, and ambulances couldn’t get to houses so people would die… and eventually the traffic would clear up simply because workplaces would shut down from lack of workers.

Oh simcity -_-

Cities Skylines has these same problems.

This happened in Cities: Skylines. The joys of traffic management.

Although… SimCity did have several other fundamental problems that Skylines does NOT have:

  • Tiny maps sizes.
  • …that could have been offset by the commuting / multiplayer system, but design decisions there totally broke it too, so it never worked as it should have.
  • Limited road options.
  • Freight – Commerce – Shopping cycle completely disabled because they couldn’t get it to work.
  • Always online fiasco.
  • Multiplayer mechanics (15 minute “sync cycles.”)

You just cannot accuse Skylines of having small maps. A single Skylines map is easily 6+ SimCity maps. They’re more akin to 6 SimCity 4 regions… all on the same map. It’s damn magic.

Their freight system – somewhat different to SimCities, but nonetheless similar – is there in all its glory. You are even given several tips and tools to try and keep the industrial freight from clogging up your commuter traffic, and several options for importing and exporting freight that your industry creates and commerce craves.

Speaking of clogging up commuter traffic, you have many different types of roads to choose from: Dirt service roads, two-way roads, one-way roads, all from 2 to 6 lanes and then highways and ramps on top of that. So, even though the traffic can be screwy, at least you’re given a bunch of tools to deal with their quirks. It’s not really enough, of course… I still spend the vast majority of my time analyzing why a particular intersection is clogged up, but I find it enjoyable.

I always felt SimCity had real potential. If commuting between cities was fixed, the servers stabilized, traffic AI improved enough that freight could be turned back on (I realise a cut-back version of it was turned on at one point) then it would have been a fun little game. After all the problems, though, EA/Maxis abandoned it after 2 lack-luster patches.

I feel the same way about Cities Skylines. It has REAL potential right now, but there are problems that pull it up short of being a really engaging city builder. For instance … I’ve not touched the tax rates at¬†all, and I’m just rolling in the cash. In fact, I haven’t looked at my cash reserves for probably the last 10 hours. It’s just not a feature. This then ties into city / suburb / district policies you can set: smoke alarms, big business breaks, small business breaks, high-rise limitations, etc. Basically none of which I’ve bothered to touch because… I just don’t need to. It’s like being a mayor is a license to print money.

A HUGE advantage Cities has over SimCity though: It’s published by Paradox. A publisher that is¬†famous for releasing games that are in need of polishing, and polishing them well. All their Europa games, and Hearts of Iron games, and yes, Cities in Motion, got this treatment.

Secondly, Cities Skylines has full modding support that the community is making full use of. Already the Steam Workshop is getting flooded with mods (mostly artwork, but several gameplay changes, such as a traffic inspection tool and an auto-bulldozer) so with some luck we can have balance overhauls to really make this baby shine.

Even with it’s flaws, I’m still incredibly addicted to it. I just expect that to wear off within the week (I’ll need to give a second city a go to put my new traffic-management skills to the test from the ground up) but after that? I think I’ll need to wait for some mods to mature there.

Halcyon 6: FTL goes even MORE Star Trek

I name-drop FTL, because the game clearly has been inspired by it, but in fact Massive Damage (the developers) appear to have nothing to do with it…

STILL, it looks very nice, and within a few days they’re almost at their goal. It seems they WILL reach their goal, and it’s just a matter of how much over it they will go.

I see capital ships with turn-based combat, away teams involved in turn based combat, base building, and characterisation. So…¬†Star Trek-style space battles, Star Trek-style ground combat, Deep Space Nine (that is… Star Trek-style) space station control, and sci-fi crew members … kinda like Star Trek, but we could also throw Firefly or something like that in there as a comparison too.

That’s a backin’. (HERE)

Valve’s Entry to VR Targets the Standing Experience

Tested has provided a very thorough review of Valve’s entry into the VR space – the Vine. The main takeaway I got from it all is that base-station approach seems to give a tracking ability to their controllers to the same degree as the head tracking you can get for¬†the HMD. If true, if the steam controllers can track to the same accuracy as the headset, Valve has solved the biggest hurdle facing VR at the moment.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still several hurdles to jump, but they all pale in comparison to having a standing experience with some way of properly interacting with the environment. We still need:

  • Enough resolution to make out small text and dials (e.g.¬†menus and¬†flight sims)
  • A way of moving around infinite environments without inducing motion sickness. I feel like a controller could solve this, but no game I’ve tried yet has made the movement natural enough to eliminate motion sickness. e.g. Alien Isolation. Redirected Walking is a great idea I’m hanging my hat on, but it may not be practical if research indicates we need a minimum of a 23-metre-radius area.
  • Haptic feedback. I expect for the first 5-10 years of VR a controller that let’s us interact with objects that behave like air will be acceptable, but it really does make it hard to naturally interact with an environment. Can you imagine trying something that requires even a low amount of dexterity (e.g. opening a drawer) when not only are you unable to feel the handle, but your hand passes straight through it.
  • Better optics. I have taken to putting in contacts when I want to VR – glasses are uncomfortable. It’s enough of a pain to make me not bother some times. Self-focusing lens, manual focusing lens, automatic IPD measurements, a more glasses-friendly fit – I expect all of these things to make an appearance sooner or later, but at the moment they are outstanding issues.
  • General simplification of the hardware and software. When I want to use the DK2, I have to put in contacts, grab the headset (maybe plug it in), fire up the OR software, change my monitor configurations (issues with Extended Mode), somehow fire up and navigate demos and games that are often half-in and half-out of VR (e.g. Windows is out of VR, but in the game the menus are in VR… but require the keyboard to navigate which I can’t see.) A lot of these problems will be solved when more software utilises the Rift’s¬†Direct Mode, but due to limitations within Windows this hasn’t been widely adopted yet.
  • 180 degree field of view. At the moment the FOV of the DK2 is pretty good (and the Vine appears to be slightly worse in that regard), but it would really help presence and immersion if the¬†engineers can get that FOV to encompass all of our peripheral vision. It doesn’t really feel like you’re looking down a tube, but you do find you can’t do some of the things you would in the real world – like catching things out of the corner of your eye. You have to move your head a bit more left-and-right than you would realistically to keep your situational awareness high. I feel like I’m a quarterback scanning the field … all the time.

The haptic feedback might be a tough nut to crack (but it is also something I think we can live without for the foreseeable future) and the rest I fully expect to be quickly solved in the next 12-24 months.

The VR news has been a bit quiet of late … this has me excited once again.

More on Evolve


It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Real life. What a scumbag.

Well I have a hankerin’ to tell people about a bunch of cool things I’ve been playing, and first off that list is Evolve.

Honestly, it’s copped a¬†ton of flak just around release – as of writing, Steam reviews has it rated as Mixed – only 67% positive. For Steam reviews that is absolutely shocking. That platform is designed such that, as opposed to other user-review sites, games are¬†more inclined to be rated positively. This is because you usually have to actually buy¬†the game to review it, user’s¬†generally bother to review in an effort to get others to join in playing, and it requires minimal effort. If it required more effort, you’d be more likely to see mostly people who are very motivated (often by extreme negativity) rating the game.

However, if you take the time to read of the reviews, they’re almost entirely critical of the DLC and packages. To me that’s just ridiculous. I might do another whole article on why jumping up and down over DLC (even day 1 DLC) is just dumb, but there are several indisputable facts:

1. The gameplay is excellent. A typical Steam review: “A fun game that proves to be a unique experience, but doesn’t offer enough content to merit it’s $60 price tag”

2. 2K and Turtle Rock have screwed the pooch on the pricing/marketing model.

Even to this day, I have a hard time recommending the game, despite the fact I play it nightly, simply because it is SO expensive. Simply put, it does come down to content. If I’m having a great time, and there’s a lot of depth, it probably is¬†worth¬†the full price, but $80 USD is a very tough pill to swallow under¬†any circumstance, let alone a game with samey maps, and 3 monsters. (12 Hunter classes is quite a nice number, but as they’re divided into¬†4 roles there is not quite as much variety implied there as you may think. Don’t get me wrong – each hunter does play quite differently, but they’re not worlds apart.)

Price aside, the game is just fantastic. I can easily recommend it for $50 Рwhich is a price you can get it for if you shop at G2A.

Personally, I love playing as the monster. The Goliath, specifically. I’m not great at it, but I’m good enough to win perhaps 50% of the games. This also speaks to how incredibly well the game is balanced for a totally asymmetrical experience it is.


To give you an idea of the level of depth, here’s how a typical match plays out:
After everyone has picked their characters, they’re revealed to the other side. As the monster, I need to¬†quickly note the characters, because they’ll greatly influence my strategy. I firstly need to note if the trapper has picked Maggie – because if she has, sneaking is practically off the table. Her trapjaw pet can sniff a monster out easily. Sneaking makes the sniffing process a bit slower, but since I move slower as well (and even being sneaky it’s practically impossible to not accidentally leave a footprint that she’ll detect from time to time) I’ll decide at this point if I’m going for a dash and bash, or a hide and seek strategy.


Next I need to take down the name of the medic. They’ll be my primary target sooner rather than later… but I also need to note the support character. If they’ve picked Hank, then HE’LL actually be my primary. It’s practically impossible to kill a medic while they’re being shielded.

The game drops in, and while the hunters watch a 30-second intro movie (complete with party banter a la Dragon Age) I have a bit of time to get a head start. If they haven’t brought Maggie the trapper, I’ll usually take off in one direction nice and loud, then drop to a sneak and loop around. To the hunters, this leaves a clear trail of footprints that then go cold. For all they know, I’ve jumped ahead or climbed a rock. Generally, they take off in the same direction the footsteps were heading in the hope of picking up my trail. Meanwhile, I’ve sneaked¬†in the opposite direction and start hunting down wildlife one by one.

You see, my goal is to eat as much wildlife as possible until I have enough “energy” (Dna) to “level up” (Evolve). At stage 1, I’m weaker than the hunters, at stage 2 we’re about even, and at stage 3 I’m more powerful than the hunters… but there is a lot of variation that can change this up. The monster has armour¬†which you replenish when you eat wildlife and health¬†which are basically an non-renewable¬†resource. Every point of this valuable resource they chip off me is gone for good, so even if I get to stage 3, if they’ve successfully worn my health¬†down and/or catch me without armour, I could still easily lose.

Conversely, if during our cat-and-mouse games I’ve managed to incapacitate hunters (they can be helped back up by an ally) they receive strikes. Strikes lower THEIR maximum health¬†and furthermore, once you receive 2 strikes, every time you are incapacitated after that, you out-right die (which leads to a 2-minute dead timer. A significant penalty.)

I can’t keep up the sneaking forever, though, because each time I eat an animal there is a random chance that some carrion birds will spawn, giving away my general position. As soon as this happens, the hunters will know they’ve been duped and will swing around to the correct section of the map to keep looking for me. If I make the mistake of accidentally disturbing bird flocks by walking too close they gives away my exact position… and those birds can sometimes be surprisingly hard to see. (The number of times I’ve leap from a high point, glided hundreds of metres through the air, and landed smack into the pack of them…)

Once I know the gig is up: I can continue to sneak – afterall, they only know my general vicinity – or I can take off at top speed. Hunters can never keep up with me, but I leave a clear trail of footprints. If they play their cards right, they’ll be able to corner me into the edge of the map.

It’s rare I can get to stage 2 without at least a brief skirmish. It’s a bad sign if they’ve caught me at stage 1, or immediately after evolving to stage 2 (you use all your armour’s energy to evolve, so you start a new stage essentially “naked”) and, to be honest, this is pretty common.

So the trapper drops a dome around the area called an arena, and I’m cornered for a good 60 seconds. If they’ve just caught me after an evolution, every point of damage they do is permanent. So what do I do?


So many things…

Perhaps I might try and hide. Playing hide and seek; cat and mouse. The arena is limited, but I can leap around and climb on high points. I can see them through rocks, but they have no such tools (barring the likes of Griffon’s “sound spike” sensor.) I can’t avoid all damage, but I might be about to avoid the worst of it with a little ring-a-round-the-rosey. Once the arena drops, I make like greased lightning (… that’s a lot of cliche’s I’ve used. Too bad. I like ’em.) and put as much distance as I can between¬†them and me to try and build up armour and maybe evolve to stage three. By this point, they’re likely hot on my heels, and each time I stop to eat I’m in danger of letting them close enough to entrap me again. This second stage of “hot on your heels” depends heavily on the tracker. They might be using Maggie, as above, and they’re basically always hot on your heels, or Abe who has likely got a tracking dart on you. You might be able to stay ahead long enough for it to wear off, but it’s unlikely… he only needs to catch sight of you again to keep you tagged up. It might be Griffon, with sound spikes scattered around the map. You’re likely charging across the map now, trying to stay ahead of the hunters… charging straight into the areas they’ve already been and Griff has put up sound spikes. You can sneak to avoid them, but it’s a tough balancing act. You need to get far enough away from the hunters for the sneak to work, but there’s not real way to tell if you’re in the sound-spike radius or not, which will make the location you initiate the sneak pretty obvious.

Perhaps instead of playing hide and seek (perhaps there is not enough hiding spots) I decide to take the dome down. To do this, I need to incapacitate the trapper. So, Griff, Maggie, Abe – whoever you are – woe is you. This is where¬†remembering who is playing which character is important. You can make out their siloutte’s, but they’re so damn SMALL compared to you, I find it pretty tough sometimes. Especially when the support class starts winking people in and out with a cloaking field.

Perhaps I charge into the trapper and send them flying, but the support raises a shield over them, and the medic starts healing them. What to do? I need that trapper down FAST – every second the assault is tearing up my hitpoints – perhaps I could focus the medic? Maybe I just toss a rock or two at them to keep them distracted? Maybe I hit the trapper with as many knock back moves as I can to separate them… get us¬†enough “alone time” to take that dome down. Maybe there is a native of the planet that can help me – crocodile creatures called Tyrants that pull hunters into the water, or carnivorous plants that gobble hunters up like venus fly traps, can disable a hunter until a friendly shoots them free.

It is very easy to lose the game here, and it all comes down to reading the situation. Hide and seek? Take down the trapper? How to take down the trapper? What’s the lay of the land? What creatures are there nearby?

After I get out of that dome (IF I do) and we’re playing the “hot on the heels” game, I then look to have as much takeaway food as possible. Kill, eat, keep moving. Even better if I find a fresh kill that the hunters or other wildlife has left for me. If I can get enough energy to evolve, I’ll look for an area with plentiful wildlife that is also as far from the hunters as possible. This allows me to evolve, and quickly get my armour back up before they catch up to me.

When we reach this point, it is end-game time. I can usually tell who’s going to win – how much of my health¬†have they whittled away? How many strikes did I put on them? If the hunters choose to avoid me at this stage, I can always go to the middle of the map and destroy a generator that’ll win the game for me. That never happens. Many hunters will retreat back to the generator when they realise the monster is going to evolve to stage 3 (a bad mistake IMO – why not try and catch him while his armour is low?) and then it’s a fight to the death. A final brouhaha that could go in many different ways.

I’ve had games where the monster, all but destroyed, has escaped from the final fight, eaten a bunch of wildlife, and come back multiple times after recharging their armour. I’ve had games where a final hunter has escaped, and waited until his allies respawned, dropping back on the monster before he could finish off the generator.

Honestly, it’s a thrilling, deep game – but there is not as much content there as you’d want for the price. DotA, and similar MOBA’s, have 80+ characters to choose from, and each is vastly different. This leads to practically endless replayability and costs 1/3rd the price. The game works for me, and I’m pretty certain I’ll get my money’s worth — but the same won’t be said for everyone. If it was $30, absolutely. For $50 – yes, probably. More than that and consider it only if my above story makes you VERY wet in the pants.

A Slapped Together Review of Evolve

First up, let me just say I got pretty addicted to Evolve last night, so that should set the tone for most of this little impressions/review. Having said that…

– No, I don’t know for sure how much staying power the game has (I think at least a month, if not more… but I can’t really tell after one night’s play. Would need like a week.)
– There is heaps of depth. Almost an intimidating amount. Not on the level of learning DotA from scratch, though, I suppose.
– It is extremely expensive. Even though it is unquestionably tons of fun, and the unlocking system is pretty addictive, they’re still asking a lot with the base AAA full-price and then, down the track, paid-DLC for new classes and monsters. I think it’ll be worth it if they hit their marks with everything … but will they?
I’m mostly trying to convince people to play because I have these great ideas of solo queuing so I can play as the monster (and that works great) and when we’re in a team, we play as hunters. For that, I’ll need a few peeps.
SO. To give you an idea of the depth of the game, check out some of these short tutorial videos.
First up, a hunter. Hunters have 4 roles to choose from (Assault, Trapper, Support, Medic) and each role has 3 classes (that is, characters) to choose from. So for example, the Trapper role has a black chick, an Australian mustache, and a Texan mustache. The interesting thing here is that even though they all have the same ROLE, the three classes are really very different. To show you:
Maggie, the base-line trapper (that I played a bit of last night): This is her basic and advanced tutorials. They give a good indication of how the class works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU6zVIX17vQ  and   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBF_LohTSJI
Compare that with one of the other trappers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZykRxEqvt4s
The differences between the classes really makes the game play quite differently. I mean, something like Nosgoth has quite different classes too: you might play as a rapid-fire long-range dude, or a grenade launcher person, or a leaping vampire vs a flying vampire. But especially the humans in that game really just felt like different weapons. The vampires felt a bit more like totally different experiences but there wasn’t that much depth to it… just different ways of killing dudes. Not a bad game, but fairly shallow.
Back to Evolve, and consider: 4 Roles, 3 classes in each role… There are some combos to be discovered there. For example, Maggie, who has the pet “dog” Daisy. If you don’t take Maggie, instead selecting, say, Griffon, then the team doesn’t have any way to sniff out the monster. There’s tracks, and birds, and other hints to find the monster but the typical strategy I found from last night was for the hunters to stand around until Daisy picked up the scent. By far my most successful monster runs were when I could prevent Daisy from picking up my scent (more on that later.) So – if the trapper goes Griffon, perhaps the support should consider playing Bucket? A robot who can pull his head off and fly it around as a UAV. Hrm. Decisions, decisions.
Now, the monsters. The human classes are one thing, but the monsters are so different from each other it’s ridiculous:
So, story time:
Most of the time the monster was the Goliath. I like him, and besides he’s the only one unlocked at the start. But what I noticed the most was when I ended up a trapper and some other guy had a Wraith. The differences in strategy…
Hunting the Goliath came down to speed a lot of the time. When *I* played the monster, I preferred to sneak as much as possible, but I noticed most people would tear around the map at top speed to try and stay ahead of the hunters killing and eating on the move (as best as they could.)
So a typical Goliath hunt would involve following Daisy to get close enough to see the tracks, then following the tracks as fast as possible to try and limit his ability to stop and eat wildlife (and thus “evolve”) until such time that he makes a mistake and we get close enough. I’d drop the shield arena, and we’d do as much damage as we could before it went down.
While the fight is raging I’d move around the battle dropping harpoon traps to just consistently pin the big guy. They take less than a second to break off, but they really disrupt the monster’s rhythm (and slows his escape.)
Meanwhile, hunting the Wraith was much harder to pin down. They tended to play him a bit stealthier, so I really felt like we were always close (we could see tracks and other clues) but unlike the Goliath who you’d hear/see from quite a distance, I never felt sure if the Wraith was right there.. or not. Combine that with his decoys… we’d think we had found him but he was just dropping decoys in our path. It took a long time to work that one out – my teammates would stop to fight the decoys every time (and I did the first 5 or 6 times… bloody hard to ignore a kaijin tearing you up) which just meant we were stopped and the monster could put more distance on us.
Then, even when we did catch him, I’d hesitate – is this the real one, or a decoy? And that hesitation was often enough for the Wraith to dash out of range of my shield arena. With the ability to go invisible it was hard to tell if dropping the arena was the right idea. When locking down a Goliath it was just a matter of whether we wanted to be cornered with him or not. With the Wraith I actually missed a couple times and it was hard to tell. I’d throw it down, and things would go quiet…. did I miss, or is the Wraith just hiding? Catching a Goliath in a mobile arena was a totally different feeling.
So in the quiet I’d lay down harpoon traps about the place hoping the Wraith would get snagged on them once the fighting started. I found it really hard though because he was so sneaky. Moving around, trying to pull people out one by one… the traps I’d laid rarely snared him, and when I’d throw some down near a fight, he’d usually hit and run before they activate. Fighting a Goliath was a much more violent affair. Snaring wasn’t a huge problem, it was more about getting the traps to stagger and be spread out so he couldn’t easily break them off.
So playing as the monster. This is what I did most of the time. Story time.
The longest game I played went for 15 minutes. And it felt like forever.
I lost nearly every match, but was getting better. In this game I had evolved to level 3, and was barely scratched. I’d done well by using a trick I’d worked out: At the start of the match, I’d bolt in one direction, then when I got to a junction, I’d sneak and then loop around. I could see in the replay, they’d usually fall for it. They’d follow my tracks until they suddenly stop, then keep going in that general direction, allowing me to sneak around eating wildlife. I just had to be careful not to leave a footprint, or stir up birds because then Daisy would pick up my scent. Once the monster gets to stage 3 he can destroy the power relay. Destroying the relay actually takes a really long time, and can be interrupted easily. It’s pretty clear that winning by destroying the power relay is never supposed to happen. It’s only there to prevent the hunters from totally avoiding the monster. If you literally stay away, he’ll just end the game without you. So it forces the hunters to defend the relay at the end of the match in a final show-down.
I got to stage 3 and bee-lined straight for the power relay. I was confident I could beat the hunters in a straight up fight, so really I was just attracting them to me.
Right on queue, they showed up. I burnt them, bashed them, smashed them. It was great. They had no hope. When a hunter is knocked down, it plays out very much like L4D + Tank. That is: Someone goes down, and the monster can keep beating on them until they’re totally dead, and if not, someone can go help them up. If you’re¬†incapped¬†3 times you’re dead anyway. All dead¬†people respawn together on like 3 minute timers… this is a very long time.
So as I smashed them to pieces they were dying all over. They’d all been¬†incapped¬†so many times,¬†they had few hit points (every time you’re incapped you lose max HP) so it was easy to take them out and they’d die… but… they just kept coming back. Way too fast for it to be the respawn ship.
For some reason, the game just wasn’t ending, so after smashing them in the face, I’d go back to the power relay, and this is eventually how I won.
It wasn’t until later I worked out what was going on. The Medic role had picked Lazarus as his class. This character doesn’t really heal much – instead, he canresurrect¬†players even after they’ve been totally killed. I had no idea.
It just goes to show, that because I didn’t consider the difference in strategy that different classes bring, I really fucked myself. I mean, for about 5+ minutes I had those hunters completely fucked over… but just couldn’t finish them off, because the fucking medic was running around resurrecting people. I could have lost that game that I had in the bag.
So that’s my opinion. There are currently 3 monsters, another one coming soon (March, I think?) and a 5th slated already (some of the more expensive editions get it as soon as it comes.)
Assuming new classes and monsters keep rolling out… there’s a lot of playability here. How quickly can they pump these classes out, though? I’m a bit dubious – there’s a LOT of detail here. Way more than a DotA hero. So they’ll probably be kinda slow after the initial roll-outs.
Then there’s the price… it’s confusing… it looks like everything (so far) is unlockable in the game. You start with 1 monster, and 1 class for each role, unlocking as you go. I think the more expensive purchase deals auto-unlock these? Then when new classes and monsters come out … can you unlock them, with auto-unlocking if you pay… or do you have to pay to get the privilege of unlocking them? I dunno. It’d be like paying for a new hero in DotA. Something LoL does, and I think is dumb.
Like I said, there’s a lot more work that goes into these ones though… so if they keep them coming quickly (but not too quickly…) then I might drop money on them to unlock it. It all depends on how I’m feeling in the coming months, I suppose.
One other thought comes to mind… you could wait until it goes on special. It’ll surely be worth the money if you can shave 25-50% off it… but I’m thinking of the population, which will be best in the early days. I suppose, the logical conclusion here, though, is that if the game really has staying power (like, say, DotA) then the population will actually grow over time, making the matchmaking betterer, and betterer.
Oh! The matchmaking. Did you know I played with randoms ALL NIGHT. Generally the same ones – we got into a match, and out of the 5 of us, I think 3 of us stayed in the same game and one of the guys only dropped out at the end.
If you’re still dubious, probably ask me what I think in a week. I certainly don’t have the Titanfall feeling – before I saw the game, and the moment I played it, I thought “I’d be surprised if there is more than a week of playtime in this…” I was hoping I was going to be wrong, but I wasn’t. This I feel like there is about a month, and if cards are played right, more than a month. I just wouldn’t stake my life on that prediction.