Forsaken Tactics 1.0
Section Zero: Foreword
Remember, it's only a game. :) Why let yourself be frustrated in multiplayer when someone laser-sterilizes your carcass without your permission? Laugh, congratulate, and move on to the next kill. But, if you're being annihilated just a little bit too often by most players, it sounds like you may need an extra hand in enjoying the competitive spirit of the game. The below is an attempt to give you that: A beginning (hell, maybe even a middle) to your online-combat experience with Forsaken. This may have been written a bit haphazardly, but all in all, it's loaded with tidbits of info I've either gleaned from others, or dredged from my own experiences.
What I write here aren't rules; they're guidelines. Listen to them with a fair ear, and adjust them accordingly to your ability/style. You can probably ignore a lot of what I suggest in favor of a superior tactic; if you want to share that, drop me a line. :) My email's listed at the bottom, and I'll add your info to this document as needed.
If you like what you read, tell me. If you don't like what you read, at least tell me why! I read alt.games.forsaken every day or so, so feel free to post your comments there!
Read, learn, enjoy the game, and watch your six.
Section One: Proper Settings for Forsaken Multiplayer via IPX
There seems to be some passionate disagreements regarding what's best for internet gaming.. :) So, to lay the subject to rest, here's a quick explanation of the settings, and what they do.
Lag Tolerance: On/Off
For internet usage: OFF For LAN situations or the upcoming dedicated TCP/IP server mode: ON Difference: ON means damage is calculated from the shooter's point of view; if the shooter sees it hit, it's a hit even if from the target's point of view, it was a miss. This is OK in LAN situations, or pings of 150ms or lower, since they'll be a close match. In ordinary IPX situations, where the lag is somewhere around 500ms or greater, I suggest OFF; that makes it target's POV, which is a bit more fair!
Packets per second: #
Keep this to a lower number in ordinary net situations: 5 or 6 packets per second is usually good. This is all you need for a fairly good net connection to other players. More than this, and you risk bashing other people with unnecessary packet information. This is ok in LAN gaming, but for net usage, every byte counts.
Short or Long Packets?
Short packets is a standard, unless you're in a LAN situation. To make a long story short: It's the difference between a packets that's something like 8 bytes for short, as opposed to 32 bytes for long. Um. Go for 8. :) Short packets is a standard from the Descent server, and the same applies here.
Packet Grouping On/Off:
"This option reduces the gapping of data being streamed by the host at any one point in time. It may only be set by the host, and via the out-of-game host game setup menu. This option should be toggled on by the host on all Internet multiplayer games, and off on LAN-based games. Toggling this option off for Internet play may seriously degrade performance." -- Quote from Forsaken Readme file
Have it ON? Especially important for TCP/IP games, but also true for IPX gaming. The problem here is that I've tried ON and OFF, and both seemed equably steady, but also the OFF position seemed more reliable for joiners. Try OFF unless doing TCP/IP gaming. Or ON. Whatever floats your boat. ;)
Show Ping On/Off:
Depends on what you set for the rate. I leave it ON to give players (myself included) a gauge on how good/bad the latency is.
Ping Rate: #
Make this a high number; 20 or more. This is the number of seconds in between each ping. It's silly to check for packets more than every twenty seconds; if you're checking every 5 seconds, you're causing far more packet congestion than than you would normally have! 20 or 30 seconds is a good gauge.
Section Two: Definition of Multiplayer Weaponry/Accessories
Stick to homing primary weapons (transpulse) if possible. Due to the nature of the internet, having to get dead-on precision when shooting can be impossible at worst. Therefore, the Transpulse (red arcs of light) is suited to either lag tolerance ON (where it's shooter's perspective if there's a hit) or lag tolerance OFF (where the target is the one who calculates if the shot hits). Either way, the Transpulse is the optimum choice in a 400ms or greater ping situation to other players.
Note by DragonSlayer: After patching, The damage from a ricochet of a Transpulse blast has been reduced to 25% instead of 50%
Next weapon of choice: Beam laser. The benefit of this superb weapon is INSTANT HIT, and more importantly when you've powered it up, MASSIVE DAMAGE POTENTIAL. One solid hit from this baby kills at least 128 points of shield power. Another hit will seriously cripple your hull. One more and game's over. This is a winner for long tunnels, or distance kills where the other person doesn't see you. But how to aim this weapon in a lag tolerance: OFF game? Rake the shot: instead of doing pinpoint snipershooting, trace the beam across their path of movement. Ba-boom. ;) Just think Babylon 5 and a Shadow cutting laser...
Next weapon of choice: Suss gun. Best for close fighting, as the pellets have semi-homing capabilities. Long distance is impossible with this shotgun-like weapon.
Next weapon: Pulsar. Really tied with Suss gun in order of choice... at full power, this gun is a real winner for dogfighting. Descenters should consider it a baby version of the plasma cannon. :) Its best effect is at full power; at less than that, opt for other weapons, or simply go get power pods, dammit!
Next weapon of choice: Pyrolite. While it packs a sizable punch, it's got a slow discharge speed, it's got a medium range (but bounces off walls, so it's good for tunnelratting), and it's an ammo-eater. Sustained dogfighting with this weapon lasts maybe 10-20 seconds. Hold onto this if you run out of pulsar ammo, it's a good backup weapon when you're out of EVERYTHING else, since it uses its own ammo pile (petro-gel).
Last weapon of choice: Trojax. Useful only if you have a stick with a triggerfinger that you can use to give yourself continuous fire. As a keyboarder, I hate it. It sucks down energy like mad, it's SLOW, and easily dodgeable. This is a last-resort weapon, IMHO, but for someone with a stick, I'd punch this up a few notches. Interesting note: A popped shot of this does almost as much damage as a fully charged blast. Keep that in mind - you'll probably just stick to popshots. :)
Titan: Great party buster. Use while sending a hail of fire at the target, so he's dazzled by gunfire long enough to miss the fact that a titan's about to blow underneath his ass. Be a sneak with this weapon: Make people think you're weak, lead them down a turn, spin about, and fire it when you hear their bike whine. Instant kill. Oh, and it kills perfectly good, crowded, furious dogfight deathmatches rather admirably. :)
Scatter: Extremely useful against a superior opponent. This baby will relieve its target (and it homes DAMN well) of everything they have: INCLUDING the chaos shield AND cloak (Keep in mind, homing missiles/weapons home in on cloaked ships, even if you can't see them). Use it on the target, and RUSH IN. You'll get their weapons, they'll be disoriented, you fire, and they'll be dead. ;)
Solaris: Your standard homing missiles. Good homing power, but avoidable with a quick strafe to the left or right as it's on your nose. A good player almost never gets hit by these alone; they better be damn busy dodging gunfire if they get hit, otherwise they deserve to die. I use them with a barrage of transpulse fire shot BEHIND them to have them focus on dodging on BOTH fronts.
Multiple Fire Rocket Launcher: Not terribly useful, IMHO, but great for tight hallways or spaces. It certainly LOOKS scary, but you need pinpoint precision to paint a target with this, and they generally need to hold still while you're doing it! Any nimble player can avoid these with a certain amount of room; however, in a tight tunnel, they're as good as bike grease.
GravGon: More of a strategy weapon than a general purpose weapon. Launching this aimlessly in a dogfight accomplishes little, but applied to some thought, it's a good weapon to rip someone with. See the tactics section for more on this specialized missile weapon.
Mug: Dumbfire rockets. Useful diversions, a last-resort weapon, but good for seriously narrow tunnels. :)
Purge Mines: Your standard 'drop and forget' mines, similar to Proximity Bombs in Descent in method of deployment. More of a distraction if anything, but useful if someone's chasing you fast through a tunnel. Also good for an 'early warning device' if you've got an area blocked off with mines - that extra few seconds as someone tries to blow it up gives you time to get into place to rip them up.
Pine Mines: Abso-f*ckin-lutely awesome mine. :) The most useful of the bunch, IMHO. Essentially a two-faced missile platform, it launches mugs at anyone in the area. Blowing one up carries a greater detonation field than a purge mine. Tactics ideas for this mine can be found below.
Quantum Mine: The purge mine's bigger brother. Its detonation radius is huge - about 3 shiplengths in any direction. Its concussive force also forces ships back into a wall, and simply HURTS if you run into one. ;) The biggest drawback to this mine is the blue strobe it radiates when deployed, thereby mostly removing any sort of surprise tactic with it. Ways around this are discussed below.
Power Pod: This is your Powerplant... You need this one... Get three of them to gain Full Power.
Golden Power Pod: Almost as good as a scatter missile in banging down a superior opponent. You have 30 seconds of nitro speed, unlimited ammo and full orbitals. Hit the nitro button the entire time, and go hunting. :)
Nitro: Something to hold onto until absolutely necessary. Nitro speed is like the afterburner in Descent2; it lasts for about 15 seconds sustained rate. Used with thought, this becomes a great tool of combat. Hoard this until you truly need it, like when dogfighting someone, when escaping said dogfighter, or when trapped by a GravGon field.
Orbital: Add-on fire. There's no reason why you shouldn't pick this up. :)
Stealth Mantle: An awesome cloak. You're completely invisible, so long as you're not damaged, when a spurt of fire and smoke comes out your tailpipe. The cloak does NOT mute your bike's whine, however, and you will reflect gunfire by glowing briefly. Used properly, you can get quite a few sneak kills into the mix. When you have this, stay to your target's rear as much as you can.
Chaos Shield: 30 seconds of manliness. Your only fear is the scatter missile, which will make you lose everything, INCLUDING the chaos shield. Other than that, you're a towering mass of unbeatabilosity. Headon fights are a favorite with this powerup.
Shield: Ordinary shield... You need these to survive
General Ammo: Ordinary Ammo... You need these to shoot your enemy into pices
Pyrolite Ammo: Gas-tanks for the Pyrolite...
Suss-Gun Ammo: Suss-Gun pellets
Section Two: Application of Weaponry
Where the above discusses the individual weapons, this is where actual usage becomes important. It's never just using ONE weapon; it's using a weapon, knowing your location, knowing how players react when they see certain mines, and knowing when to hold onto a weapon to prevent others from using it on YOU.
Also see http://www.descent.org/forsakened/tactics.htm for Gwar's tactics forum.
Tactic 1: Control an area.
One of the hardest variables of gameplay is being able to make other players go where you want them to go. Use mines to control corridors where you don't want players to get through easily (imagine being a player using nitro down a long curve, and ploughing straight into a pine mine nest), or to have a place to herd people as they try to escape you (quantum mine a door on the opposite side; an enemy approaches you in your room, you fire gunfire to force them through that door as they escape you, then BOOM). Use purge mines as an early warning device, and to slow others down.
Tactic 2: Use your radar - your EARS.
I can't stress this enough. A pair of headphones and a good soundcard will clue you in on a player's location that's nearby, even through walls, cloaked, etc. If you hear a bike whine get close but don't see them, fire a shot: if they're cloaked, they'll shine briefly from the reflected laserfire. Remember that homing missiles (solaris, scatter) and guns (transpulse, suss gun) home in on the cloaked player as well, even if you don't see them; follow where the shots go and show them the futility in cloaking.
Tactic 3: Use cloaks effectively.
Cloaks are effective when used properly, however. In a big room, it's hard to tell where a cloaked bikewhine is coming from, and all it takes is one turn around a corner to hide completely. Beware homing weapons, and if you have hull damage, you're visible ANYway from the plume of fire coming out your tailpipe. However, add a cloak to a nitro and you've got an effective killing machine that can zip in and out of a situation without being seen.
Tactic 4: Well, I said it. Hoard the weapons.
There's no shame in taking a weapon, even if you don't use it. In fact, make it a plan: Hoard weapons to prevent others from using the same weapon on you. Especially important if you've got all the guns is hoarding the scatter missiles; never fire them, and they won't respawn. I also hold onto the scatters to bracket enemies while I dogfight.
Tactic 5: Sidestepping.
While homing missiles (scatter, solaris) are pretty unnerving in a dogfight, they're also fairly easy to evade. A solaris missile is evaded with a simple 'sidestep' (strafe left/right) as it's practically on your nose. A scatter requires a bit more nimbleness; toss in a nitro and zip towards it at an angle and it won't turn fast enough to maintain the homing lock (think of Marko Ramius' tactic in 'Hunt for Red October' to escape an incoming torpedo).
Tactic 6: Know thy self, and know thy enemy.
It's almost critical to be able to have a battle method that you can adjust on the fly; why? For one, it keeps your opponent guessing - you're not predictable. And two, no one method covers all angles. Whereas a transpulse works in a larger tunnel or room, a laser would do better in a narrower tunnel or for long distance raking. Be chaotic, but with a logical intent. Likewise, watch your enemy pilots for patterns; do they tend to launch a titan whenever they get it? Or do they hold onto it for hoarding purposes? Use your eyes, and decipher weaknesses.
Tactic 7: Hit and run.
The most disorienting situation for a pilot is having someone come out of the blue, open fire with a hail of laserlight, and just run away. The usual reaction is frustration; the next usual reaction is to CHASE you. Remember these two reactions, and you'll be able to plant a surprise for them when they gun after you, or you'll just win by wearing them down bit by bit.
Tactic 8: Don't hug walls in combat.
This is one of the more critical errors you can make, especially with missiles. If you're in a dogfight, and you're hugging a wall, you're doing several things. One: Half your plane of activity is taken from you. This means you can't go into reverse to back off from a player, and anyone firing transpulse at you doesn't have to worry about you sliding back to evade a bounce shot. Two: Concussive missiles, like anything in your arsenal, carry a blast radius with their punch. If they miss you, and you're far from the wall, you can forget them. But if you're ON the wall, even if they miss, you'll get damaged from the blast wash. Remember, this is a game built in three dimensions. Keep the 6 degrees of movement in your quarter, and you'll be at your prime.
Section Two-Point-One: Tactical Scenarios
While the above are good general strategies for the game, what I'm offering below are a few winning combos that work extremely well. ;) If you want to add to this section, email me (address below) and I'll tack in your suggestion with your name added.
1. Quantum/Laser combo
Face it. The quantum mine is evasible about 90% of the time by an aware player. The purple strobes it puts out negates any chance of surprising people ... for the most part. Let's be frank. Tossing this baby into a large, bland room and expecting people to walk into it is absurd; however, if you place your quantum in an area that's already bright-blue, and put it just behind a pillar or whatnot, you've got a fairly hidden package of pain waiting for someone to walk into.
But why wait? You can trigger the quantum mine with a single shot and it'll explode like no one else's business, same as usual. This makes a great remote weapon; if you plant a quantum by a tunnel exit, and see/heard someone approaching through that tunnel, nitro away far enough to be out of earshot, select the laser, and pinpoint the quantum mine. When they're emerging, trigger your laser; a lightspeed hit on the quantum and you've got a detonation that'll take the opposition in their wake, or at the very least blow them back down the tunnel. ;)
2. Nitro/Transpulse combo
One of my favorite moments in the game, no matter what guns I have, is getting the golden power pod. Even if you're gunless, with this baby you become a nitro-guzzling gunfiend. But if you've got the transpulse...
Nitro immediately. (What've you got to lose? It's 30 seconds of pure speed.) Find weapons, find targets.. and when you DO find a target, look to see where they're going. What I prefer doing is coming at them head-on at nitro speed, firing transpulse on the floor/at them/around them. As I zip past them, I turn in an arc, facing them, while still firing transpulse. This has an effect of making several hits simultaneously from all directions, thanks to the slower speed of the transpulse. When you're done with your barrage, if they're well-armed, just zip away and see if you can find the respawned golden power pod. :) There's nothing more frustrating than to be barraged at lightning speed, and having the aggressor poof away before you can retaliate.
3. Playing Chicken.
Our basest nature is to pick on the little guy. You see someone firing level 1 pulsars, something deep within your psyche screams for the easy kill. But what if you're the little guy? Well, if you see someone, and you're unarmed and you've demonstrated it by popping a shot or two, guaranteed they see YOU. So, run. You can't win a direct confrontation without a good amount of skill/luck, but you CAN lead them into a position where you can turn a corner, perform a 180, and be on the run OFFENSIVELY. This is where learning to fly backwards comes to be handy; if you can lure someone into following you around a corner, whereas they expect to see a weakling limping away, they'll find a weakling with teeth that's still running away! And if you're moving away, you're increasing the chances of finding a powerup that'll help you (think: Golden Power Pod).
4. The Picard Maneuver.
How many ST: Next Generation fans are out there? If you are, you might recognize this maneuver that Picard did in the USS Stargazer. What is it? It's in-your-face fighting. It works best with a nitro, although chording it is somewhat possible, provided the person doesn't see you first.
Working best with the golden power pod, or a nitro + full pulsars, you have a target that's just entered the room. Kick in the burners and nitro straight to his face, with your pulsars blazing. What's the effect? From the target's point of view: A ship in the distance becomes a ship in the face, with about 6 salvos of pulsar following him! (Known as the Wall of Death - see below). The net effect is a.) surprise, b.) death. Is this counterable? Prolly, but the essence of this tactic is surprise.
5. The Wall of Death. (I invented this thing in Descent2 :))
This is a simple concept to use with any weapon that fires salvos, rather than the beam laser, which is an instant-hit sorta gun. Using nitro, advance forward, while firing pulsars (or transpulse, or suss, or trojax partial-fire) at a wall, and watch the effect. Instead of a stream of fire, you essentially get one huge glob of fire that hits nearly at the same time. It's the poor man's superlaser - it has the effect of showering a number of simultaneous blasts at your opponent before he realizes visually that shots are being fired at him. It's useful in an open area, and only with a nitro really; even with triplechording, you don't get quite the same effect.
This is an essential tactic carried over from Descent 1/2. It comes down to algebra: if you're moving in one direction at X speed, and can move perpendicular to that at the same speed, then combining the two vectors will give you a diagonal thrust that's a partial combination of both angles; this means, faster speed without nitro. Combining THREE vectors (think in 3 dimensions; instead of going forward, you're going somewhat towards upper right, lower left, etc) gets you a greater speed increase, although without practice, all this does is giving you greater speed with no way to visually navigate! With practice, movement becomes second nature. I duo-chord everywhere, and tri-chord for tight situations in general. It's a great way of ekeing speed out of your cycle when you're in a race for the guns.
7. The Circle-Strafe. (thanks to a Descent friend for reminding me!)
This is best executed with a stick, or a keyboard/mouse if you must. I admit, being a keyboarder-only, that this is next to impossible for me. (Great, now everyone's gonna use this on me....) What does this involve? Essentially, in a given room, you'll attempt to outmaneuver your opponent while firing a stream of fire to lace him with. This can turn basically into a circling maneuver, where you're strafing at an angle to make the arc, always facing your opponent. Firing just in front of them will give you greater chances of hitting them, since their line of movement will carry them through the blast. More often than not, the other person will take to the same tactic, and you have two interlocking circles. When this happens, Throw the third dimension into it: Strafe UP and carry an arc above their head. This is a 3D game, after all. ;) Especially useful in Descent, where the rooms are flatter and smaller, but also effective for larger rooms in Forsaken.
Section Three: Resolving Descent 1/2 with Forsaken tactics.
There's a barrier of learning from hardcore Descenters transposing their strategies/tactics/tricks from Descent 1/2 to Forsaken. For those who're having a tough time adjusting, here's a breakdown on what's similar and what's different.
You'll be happy to see that all your hard-won chording skills are in full effect in Forsaken. :) You can even bind multiple vectors to a single key/button to make chording on a gamepad or keyboard a snap.
2. Lag compensation aiming.
There are two ways of playing the game: Lag tolerance ON or OFF. When it's OFF, treat it just like you did with Descent 1/2; that's to say, realize that due to lag, the ship positions are actually 'behind' by several hundred milliseconds, and the distance that the ship's 'true' location is usually slightly elsewhere, most often in the direction of the ship's movement. Therefore, aim slightly ahead with your weaponry to score hits. With tolerance ON... it's a shooter's-privelege targeting session. There's less emphasis on dodging than there is on actually hitting the other ship and scoring vs them before they score against YOU. The ON position is useful really only in LAN or dedicated client/server TCP/IP, but certain people like this to be ON because they feel it's a more 'marksmanship' game than a more random 'OFF' game. If you can, stick to OFF, you'll feel right at home.
3. Pulsars = Plasma Cannon.
Take Descent's Plasma Cannon. Put the globules on a diet. That's essentially what a fully-charged Pulsar is. :) This is an excellent weapon in its own right, even against other guns. Don't let yourself be fooled by the other weapons' pretty colors; sometimes, just getting down to the basics is what's needed.
4. Beam Laser = Vulcan/Gauss Cannon.
If you're a gauss wh*re, you'll like the beam laser. It's got an instantaneous hit, goes to infinity, and doesn't damage you when you're ship-to-ship close! Just keep an eye out on the left of the aiming reticle; a temperature gauge will creep up as you use the laser more and more, and eventually it'll overheat and disable for a few seconds. Be frugal, and you'll enjoy this puppy.
5. Nitro = Afterburner.
6. Earthshaker does NOT equal Titan!
Many people look at the Titan missile and think, "Shaker". The comparison is only skin deep. A shaker is a fast-travel missile that explodes into manically-homing shakelets that all seem to wanna go for you, and have an insane turning ability. The Titan? Packs a HELL of a whallop with a blast radius to die for, but other than that, it's a slow-travel pigmissile that detonates into bomblets that go directly ONLY FOR YOUR POSITION WHEN IT DETONATED. Which means, a quick strafe towards it is enough to get out of the way... but beware the blast radius! Make sure you're moving fast to stay in front of the blast, and you'll come out dandy.
To be blunt: Purge Mine = Proximity Bomb. Pine Mine is a LOT more useful than a smart mine; PM's are essentially missile platforms that can do a lot of dirty work for you, and they detonate strongly and with a blast radius on impact. Quantum mines? A plutonium-powered mousetrap. You could deploy this like you would a prox bomb, but think about putting this somewhere (like a long room) where you can detonate it long distance with a laser to catch someone in its radius.
8. You've got hull/shields now!
Watch your health counters in the lower right. Things are OK so long as your shields are up; but when you start getting hull damage, it SHOWS to other players by a plume of flame spurting out your posterior! This is visible even when you're cloaked, so beware!
9. You feel like you're flying in a bubble, too?
It's a tough feel to get used to - whereas a Pyro had a certain metal-ship feel while skirting along a wall or tunnel, with Forsaken, you feel like your cycle's trapped in a sphere. You will have to compensate for this, otherwise you'll be getting stuck on tunnel openings and doorways a lot more. Remember, if you get stuck: Just hit reverse, and start over. Don't compound your problem by forcing your way through, it'll almost never work to satisfaction. ;)
Remember how awesome it'd be going through one of KrueL's levels, like Kolumns, with a smartmissile reservior, and just popping these suckers through doors where you see movement? Tunnelratting is still somewhat kept alive, but to a lesser degree. Descent 1 and 2 had much narrower tunnels/rooms in general, whereas Forsaken is replete with large rooms and tunnels. Just adjust to the new size; learn to plant mines strategically based on how busy a particular area is, to stop and sit while waiting for an opponent to come through your area, etc. You can win quite a few kills this way, but it's one of the factors that's changed the most.
Section Four: Closing words.
The above text was written for a few friends of mine I've been cajoling into playing Forsaken more and Descent less (I'm not a convert, I just like new games). Smitty, Nevering, Teac, Platter,
Thanks to Descentile for being a great source of 'hidden' info regarding Forsaken, and for Gwar and Majix who usually bring Dtile's news to light. :) Shouts out to Master_Gre for getting me into this damn game (he knows how;)), to the Wildcards, and to all Descent/Forsaken clans and fanatics for making my life one full of triplechording and brilliant explosions! Shouts to Eb0ne for his multiplayer setting suggestions (it was great to compare notes with him on this), to Probe (for the game - nice job!), and to Kali (http://www.kali.net), the most awesome multiplayer IPX emulator/TCP browser out there!
Lastly, thanks to Lady_N'il for her patience, her humor, and her love. I hope this justifies my staying awake and waking you up when I'd come t'bed. :)
Yours in Destruction,
Kali serial #33183
"Wake up. Time to die."
Comment from Reyn EagleStrom
There's a very good use for mines (purge mines specifically) that I missed on your page.
In short: all homing weapons (and pine mines) also target enemy mines.
Incoming scatter or solaris? drop a mine, run, and watch that homer target the mine instead.
In a big room with a @(*#&%^ transpulser pumping shots into it from a tunnel? drop a few mines to attract those for just a second, enough time to rush for the tunnel and give him hell. It'll only get a few shots off your back, and it only works well if you're in a big room, but every miss by the enemy is one.
titans also target mines. I've never been able to actually use mines to attract a portion of the small bombs, but it might be useful. pine mines target enemy mines too. probably not too useful, but it might buy you just a few seconds.
So the best use is to "deflect" scatters and solarisses. heck, purge
mines are actually useful as countermeasures :-)
Above Tactics Edited by DragonSlayer