I'd just like to say....
What a gip!
I killed two of the blue missile launching battledroid thingies in the Mining Fields (No mean feat with the Alien, I tell you). What do they drop? Repair units. Repair units!
Since I'm posting anyway, however, I figure I may as well have my two pence with the two races I've currently played, for when either people take up improving this excellent expansion, or when UberWaffe becomes interested and has time. I've given my best ideas on how to bring each into line with each other, so hopefully if nothing else, it might inspire some thoughts along the lines of balancing out the non-"linear plot" version of Werivar mentioned previously.
Having played through with the Alien, I actually found the game on the whole a lot easier than the default setting, rather than harder, as some people suggest. The alien can easily claw her way up to her penultimate Default evolution by simply sticking to the jungle areas, where a steady supply of Reapers helpfully keeps your health topped up. You're fast enough to run through the spots with ready made stasis fields to give yourself a place to rest up if you have a shortfall of Reapers, and by the time you're ready to move into the Hive, you're already gifted with Acidic Spit, which will disable Dire Reapers enough to scamper out of range. Then you level all the way up until 1100 Evo, when you get Killer Claws and enough armour to start taking even Dire Reapers out, and Devour can keep you alive through the lot. You don't even need to lay eggs, if you just hang around until 1600 Evo (Can't quite figure out how to get to the 2300 hinted at in the Dat files) you become perfectly well suited to take out the Dire Reaper area in the East Hive completely alone with rages and simple claw action. You can rage up to machine gun turrets (the greatest non-boss threat I found due to their high damage) even in numbers, and generally take on hordes of pretty well anything except flamethrower marines with claws alone.
Devouring Feast puts health and food into overdrive, and typically if you're active about hunting little blues, you can actually gain more food than you lose even when it's above maximum (10,000 food and above maintained for about half an hour was my best). Sniper Spit makes flamethrower marines so much fodder, and can stun most bosses to make kills even easier, but in the end you have enough health and recovery that you can get away with just charging flamethrower marines head on, and just sit and beat some bosses with your claws until they give up and die like sissies. Other bosses, notably ones such as the planetary defence drones, and the battledroid thingies are instead laughably difficult. The Battledroids starburst counter punishes the alien for using its pretty well only viable weapon, namely its claws, whilst its missiles deal enough damage to kill the alien in a single hit, and cannot easily be evaded at close range. Likewise, whilst fighting the planetary defence droids, around four to five direct hits will kill you, and whilst trying to finish off one of the pair, the other will ream you with missiles, requiring constant rage and enough fancy footwork to make a megaman game blush.
The only major new disadvantage with the Alien would be the extreme temperature issues. I found myself continuously freezing or burning up. The human has enviroment suits, the android isn't particularly bothered, the psionicist can directly improve his lot, and the Werivar ignores temperature so completely that it may as well be easy difficulty, whilst the Alien, whose fundamental playing aspect is continuous movement to hunt, has to continuously use fires, find trees, use fires again....
A more serious issue is the simple lack of anything really juicy. Special skills make the other characters use less food, move fast like the alien, see enemies better, see items better, and gain absolutely free experience points....
They can't use the fun generators, they can't mine for materials, they can't forge tools, or mine ores.... They can't upgrade their batteries, they can't develop completely new and unusual talents, or get even get vampiric claws (which is rather sad, since Werivar stole the whole claws thing off them) and they can't get special skills. All the Alien can do is hunt, eat, kill, lay eggs, hunt some more, kill again, eat, use the planetoid to provoke every enemy in the game to move towards you, go to the hive, kill them all and still have more health than maximum, get bored, win the game anyway you care to. The alien, bizarrely, cannot improve its health, or carrying capacity where the Werivar not only gains health like a fiend, energy like a fiend, (and to add insult to injury, I notice the Alien can no longer use battery extenders), and carrying capacity to boot.
To improve the Alien I would recommend:
- Improve Alien Weaponry
I'm not suggesting allowing the alien to use laser sniper shotguns, but now energy and ether both have become effectively unlimitted resources, it would be nice if the alien had something to account for its counterparts with access to unlimitted laser shotguns, unlimitted psi attacks that can kill Dire Reapers in two hits and health draining attacks. Lethal Fangs kills Dire Reapers in two hits, and uses food, regenerates slowly and is rather difficult to actually hit the beast with.
A bite that actually lived up to its name and was indeed lethal would be a nice improvement, as would something with knockback, allowing the alien a recourse to being swarmed by the increased numbers of monsters other than sitting clawing everything and hoping they all die before you.... and in an ideal world, vampiric claws.
Rather than simply having Devouring Feast as a suped up Devour, instead the Devour Blue, Devour Brown, and Devour Reaper abilities in addition to the standard Devour for progressively better results would give the player a reason to actually collect all those extra corpses that seem to accumulate. Gaining further immunities to things like cold and hot rain, rather than simple temperature stability, would be more in keeping with the alien's style, and be a unique method of going about it.
- Allow Alien to use some high technology.
A several of the restrictions on technology seem rather arbitrary and unintuitive, such as the self-powered generators, which are notionally even easier to use than their externally powered brethren, tool use, or the battery extension devices (surely the alien's pilfered energy supply from the pod is no different from the human's?).
Since most of the "rewards" for clearing out particularly dangerous locales (the Dire Reaper fortress springs to mind), come in the form of technology, the Alien tends to lose out. It simply doesn't have much need for piles of first aid kits, rations or bullets, its only real use for ether is food, but creating giant fortresses, mining tools and making things would actually give something to do once the alien finished its evolution, even if it was just to make as many turrets and stasis fields as possible and put a fortified base in every area.
- Alien Specialities
Rather than simply having the Alien evolve in a fixed manner, allow the alien one or two little perks of its own once it's reached high levels. A permanent minor rage of 5% or so, to take the edge off those frenetic battles, advanced rages of 50% speed reduction, or the rage slowing time, but increasing your speed to move as normal during those rages, fun things like fire breath, lava immunity, each of these fits into the Alien theme, and helps extend the evolution time of the alien. Naturally, unless I've missed a clue on how to evolve further from 1600 evo, making this extended evolution both available and possible would be a nice step in helping the alien balance out.
And now, the Werivar.
I don't know if this is as was intended, but the first impression I got when playing this race was that of "easy mode". They don't strike me as particularly powerful a race off the bat, but they are extremely, extremely easy to do well with, for a number of reasons:
- Health regeneration: Eat a rotten shroom or five? No problem, a rotten mushroom for a Werivar is essentially a ten second maximum penalty. I don't recall ever using a red plant as a Werivar. Naturally, the health is also extremely large, a nice easy character to play with on the grounds that you can leave the Werivar getting attacked by a small blue alien to get a cup of tea, and come back to see him still sitting around on full health, I've certainly managed a lava bath without taking any damage.
- Energy regeneration: Can't afford the super scanner psionic ability? No problem, even at level zero, the Werivar regenerates enough energy to use the modded subspace radio and the torch, and still actually gain energy. Unlike the human, for whom energy is a finite supply, the Werivar allows the player to squander it, use it all up, squander it again... Never will the Werivar be unable to start a fire, find an item, see in the dark, because even if they use all their energy up, they need to wait but a few moments and then turn it all back on again, they'll soon regain all their battery anyway.
Again, blue plants for Werivar? Never, their maximum energy is also simply colossal.
- Claws: For the human, close range combat is a hazardous, uncertain affair, costing health and food, for the android it costs precious energy. For the Psionic, they must lock up their other abilities in order to give themselves their primary attack....
For the Werivar, they have claws. They aren't as damaging as the alien's, and don't start backed up by that obscene speed, but they are effectively free. They don't cost health, they don't cost food, and they can kill small blues in one scratch fest. Again, this makes life easier for the Werivar.
- Temperature regulation: Short of sitting in lava, I've never seen the Werivar suffer from temperatures above or below around thirty off base. Their resistance to temperature change is so complete that the "Freezing rain" that causes the alien to huddle beneath trees for minutes at a time or die of frostbite is about as much of a danger to a Werivar as Eden's rain is. This really is like making the game an entire step easier here, why you bothered giving them the temperature regulation ability at all is a mystery.
- Psi Blast: I'm going to ignore all of the other psi abilities for the moment, because this one simply dominates the early game. The very moment the Werivar gets psi blast is the moment the Werivar can hunt Dire Reapers. It really is that simple, just line up sights and blast them back just out of range. Because of their large health and the high damage of even the most basic psi-blast, they don't even need to have that good timing, they can afford to get hit several times before keeling over, and that's generally enough. Since you get psi blast as one of the numerous bonuses granted to the Werivar for a perfect pod run, this means you can start the game able to take on and beat Dire Reapers.
This, combined with their energy regeneration and claws, makes them capable of dealing with most aliens without trouble from very early in the game, which simply jump starts their advancement.
Experience levels: An alien first needs to stay above 150 food, then kill around fifty small blue aliens, then kill thirty or so blue aliens, then another twenty brown aliens, then another twenty reapers or so, then hang around in the hive area for 300 points of evolution, gaining one point per tick, to reach even the 1100 mark. That's a good half hour of game play to evolve into a higher level form, and another 500 points of hanging around the hive, whilst you take a brief nap before you can finally reach the point that the alien can leave the hive.
Killing the alien queens won't increase those evolution points any, killing Dire Reapers so efficiently that a grand total of a singular (rarely) respawning Dire Reaper in the hive remains at the end of the genocide won't earn you a single point of evolution.
For the Werivar, sitting around taking a nap will earn you two experience points per tick, even if it's lurking in the ancient ruins with the door shut and just feeding off a bunch of generated rations. Killing aliens speeds this process up, as does staying well fed upping the two from XP machine to four. Every time the Werivar levels, their Health and Energy go up, ignore the "All" option, and simply pile on Health and Energy specific level ups once you've got the three useful special skills, and you'll end up with a 1,000 HP monster, who regenerates 20 Health a second, can permanently equip Psi Sense, Psi Armour, and unleash as many Psi Blasts as they care to without leaving maximum health....
The "other" psi abilities: Psi Armour, essentially a reusable, constantly triggering repair unit that reduces damage too. I beat every single battledroid in the mining fields by the master strategy of sitting right in front of them, sleeping, and letting the insane energy and health regeneration tag team the poor defenceless battledroids who get a taste of their own medicine by dying through super counter fire. Heal, completely, completely imbalancing when combined with the regeneration aspect. Sleep, which essentially makes stasis fields pointless, food pointless, and actually doing anything, pointless. Create food, which means the Werivar can create infinite amounts of food, all of which weigh nothing, making the game slightly pointless, seeing as it's about survival and all....
And lastly, the ability to detect both biological and energy signatures at the same time, another helper tool for those new to the game, or are too lazy to switch between their radio and their scanner.
Special skills: The most important two special skills would be food reduction and speed increase. With food reduction, what was previously similar to an Alien appetite, the Werivar's singular disadvantage, becomes the sluggish hunger of the humble human, whilst speed increase turns the already quite swift Werivar into an Alienesque speed of movement. The race becomes within the first four to six levels devoid of disadvantages, and gaining the other primary race advantage of the alien.
All in all, with all these advantages, there are four possible outcomes to a Werivar game:
Starve early on, and die.
Get mauled by a pack of Dire Reapers early on, and die.
Act carelessly and die by forgetting to heal.
Survive long enough to get a few level ups, avoid bosses for awhile, wander round killing Dire Reapers until abusively levelled, and enjoy the near inevitable win.
Whilst a nice easy race, perfect for beginners, there is one tedious trait about the Werivar I've noticed, and that is the sheer amount of psionic abilities they have. I've counted twenty to date, not including their automatic flashlight. Scrolling through all of those is a chore, and aside from an occassional "Hm, what's this do again?", most of these abilities were entirely unused, and as such detracted from, rather than added to the Werivar's appeal.
A good example of defunct abilities would be "psionic healing", vampiric claws, "psionic sleep", "psionic drain" and the Werivar's inherent regeneration. All heal, but with so many different options, why bother? Equally, once you get psionic blast, all the other projectiles are irrelevant, with the possible exception of the really high energy non-psi weapons out there, and having energy shield AND psi armour is simply excessive.
The slow time ability I would also say to be largely superfluous, the alien needs its rage because it's almost one hundred percent dependent on its claws, the Werivar, gifted with the ability to use guns, summon instant allies (all of whom are armed with a supremely potent weapon themselves), with enough health to survive getting hit by three blue missiles at the same time with some to spare, does not need this at all, especially when topped off with the psi armour and psi heal, and the generally low knockback taken from weapons (charging a machine gun turret with an alien without rage is a good way of never getting close than halfway there, an armoured Werivar can toddle through the bullets soaking up the damage, unleash a psionic blast or two to destroy the turret, and then continue on to the next one, only running away if he's low on health, only to come back fifty seconds later fully healed).
Equally, dash or teleport might be necessary movement tools, but since with Dash you can move around three times faster than the alien, and thusly cross entire maps without an enemy getting time to even turn around, it makes teleport rather pointless. Since the Werivar is so fast after skills anyway, whether these skills are needed at all is dubious.
To improve the Werivar, I'd recommend first choosing an actual ethos for the character to follow. For the alien, it's the biological terror, almost all close range, gains advantages from consuming prey, incredibly fast, strong.... For the human, it's definitely the techie, without his toys, he swiftly dies, but let him tinker with things, he'll end up with enough firepower and protection to let him take on most everything. The android is the tank, big and unstoppable, his greatest fear to run out of gas, whilst the psionic is the wimpy mage, whose energy and energy regeneration should always be the absolute best. For the Werivar, the most overriding theme to me is something akin to a werewolf, can take a lot of damage, regenerates, and has a finger firmly in the supernatural.
To adapt to follow the werewolf theme, I would lower the Werivar's energy drastically, and energy regeneration to boot. I would keep the regeneration and high health, and limit the psionic abilities to:
Psionic Blast, Summon Ally, Psionic Drain, Psi Armour, Psionic Senses, and potentially Psionic Dash.
The psionic werewolf, given to high speed physical regeneration, slow energy regeneration (certainly not enough to use Psi Armour, Psionic Senses and Psionic Dash all at the same time all the time, at least not without extreme levelling up). Use of simple weapons like pistols, but not quite the knack for the complicated things.
In general, this would keep the things that make the Werivar an entertaining race to play, it's regeneration, it's nice "Jack of all Trades" approach to Melee, Ranged and Psionic attacks, and the speed and convenience of the Psionic Senses picking up goodies and enemies combined with the Psionic Dash reaching them, with a (hopefully toned down damage output) Psi Armour to help protect the otherwise armourless Werivar.
This would still be in conjunction with the constant level increases of energy and health, but as gone into below, a potentially different means of doing so.
Even with these modifications, it should be noted that the Psionic Blast ability for the Werivar is extremely potent, and would still have the inherent anti-Dire Reaper qualities that set it far ahead of the others for the early game, but less overwhelmingly so, due to having a more serious limitation in terms of energy, stopping the game from becoming pointlessly easy. At least without serious work.
Adjusting the Levelling system:
To start with, though the system for the bonus level based stat increases is very impressive, I would actually recommend removing it entirely, for all the races who have it, not least because humans should not regenerate health and battery, and is supremely easy to imbalance. Instead, I would recommend a higher focus on the standard per level special skills that suit the theme of the character.
Giving Werivar the "enhanced regeneration" special skill, or the "nocturnal" gaining special abilities at night, and black and white night sight, and enhanced energy regeneration, the human advantages like swifter weapon reloading, swifter combine times, things fun and unique to each character, gained every few levels, to enhance the particular advantages of the race, rather than necessarily alleviating disadvantages at a basic level (such as the Alien overcoming its hunger with devour, rather than with lowering its hunger rate).
In short for the two:
Alien: Generally improve slightly to match the other races' advantages in its own way, and increase longevity of the alien scenario.
- Improve Alien Weaponry, a further evolved bite that can actually kill Dire Reapers in one bite, and possibly a howl or some other type of ability to grant the alien some means of knocking back opposition.
- Unrestrict the advanced generators, leaving other advanced things, such as weapons and hoverbikes/armours human/android only.
- Give the alien Devour Blue, Devour Brown and Devour Reaper rather than just improving the standard Devour, with further methods of gaining evolution points beyond sitting bored in the hive, combined with a little due care and attention with journal entries for the new evolutionary items saying how to do this evolution.
- Alien specific special abilities such as resisting negative rainfall effects, longer or better rages and the like, to help shore up a certain lacking trait in a new way.
- Fix the repeated Rage bug.
Werivar: Change to fit a single theme of character to tidy up what is currently a rather excessive number of abilities, whilst keeping the overall simplicity of use of the current Werivar.
- Lower energy and energy regeneration, whilst maintaining the exceptionally high health, possibly lower food consumption slightly to offset this.
- Reduce abilities to: Psionic Blast, Summon Ally, Psionic Drain, Psi Armour, Psionic Senses, and Psionic Dash. Keeping the ability to wield long range weapons and claws for a nice Jack of all Trades mixture.
- Unrestrict advanced generators as per alien, but restrict use of the subspace radio, much like the alien (has a superior psi version).
- Remove the Werivar levelling system of "strength, health, energy and all", and change the special skills to things that reflect true wolf style abilities, night time speed bonuses and night vision, as well as one off improvements to regeneration.
If any folks who actually read this have any comments to make on my ideas, incompetence and/or any difficulties in execution of my frequently bizarre ideas, feel free to say, if there's any particular interest, I'll turn my attention to my less favoured characters in the same manner.