Abilities or classes?
Well, 2.0 was intended to provide a game with less dependence on hives and more on resources, also for the aliens, right? (Well, I think that was one of the objectives, I could be wrong)
If so, that didn't quite succeed. Having a second hive for aliens and holding it for some time is no longer the game-winning move for aliens like it was in 1.04 (marines could still win, but if it got to this point it was usually after marines lost a lot of res on a failed hive defence and were in serious trouble). However, turret farming two hives (relatively cheap now) and having a few defenders with welders there IS a game-winning move for marines, because the aliens at one hive don't have turret-farm breaking abilities. A one-hive Onos (assuming one upgrade only) is going down when faced with a serious turret farm, or in the best case redempt before doing significant damage. Other classes shouldn't even bother to try unless the marines set up the turret factory under a vent that's good for bilebombing. Lerk spikes are no threat is you have an occasional welder patrol.
So, a two hive lockdown is very valid, and aliens still need that second hive, though they can get it faster now. Maybe, instead of making relatively minor balance adjustments, a more radical change would be good? Instead of giving all alien classes at hive 1, allow all upgrade chambers at hive 1 and allow the use of all weapons. I think this would improve things for aliens in several ways, on public servers at least.
First, aliens now have a base-breaking gorge with bile, and the lerk can provide umbra cover for the gorge. This means that marines would have to defend there hives more than with just a small welder patrol phasing from one hive to another. It would also give aliens more diversity in teching up. This is important because the current chambers offer very few viable choices (most have only marginal benefits).
Sensory (2 good upgrades):
- Scent of fear: usually the best, wallhacks are neat
- Cloaking (much weaker than the cloak from being in range from the chamber, but useful for those guarding some place without chamber coverage).
- Pheromones: generally considered to be a weaker version of scent of fear.
Defense (value depends on class, not very valuable for skulks in 2.0, though apparently needed in 2.01a).
- Carapace: good for the stronger aliens. Skulks die fast even if they have this.
- Redemption: good for gorges, fades and onos when the marines do not have upgraded weapons or shotguns. If they do, only the onos has a significant chance of surviving. Not sure if lerks benefit from this, and it's no good for skulks.
- Regeneration: too slow to provide much help during a fight, but gets you back to full health if you can get a pause. For skulks and lerks this may be the best upgrade, as the others seem to provide only minimal benefits.
Movement (1 or 2 good upgrades, depending on class).
- Silence: nerfed badly by marine hivesight (AKA minimap).
- Celerity: Worth having for any alien, least beneficial for fades and lerks as they have blink for speed or plenty of speed even without it (still useful though).
- Adrenaline: good for any alien once you get the second hive, skulks only get limited benefits (just for leap).
I think allowing all upgrade chambers to be built, but not getting all classes until more hives are available, would allow for more available tactics for the aliens. You get a choice between getting 3 upgrade chambers for 30 res, or waiting for 5 more to get a hive. Now you can't choose. If you also give them their multi-hive abilities, the marines would have to be more active to defend their base, even if they locked down 2 hives.
- 1 hive onos with upgrade: 102 res.
- lerk with umbra ability (36 res assuming fully upgraded), 4 bilebomb gorges with adrenalin and carapace (16 res each, 64 res): 100 res total.
The biggest threat of the two varies. If people refuse to do teamwork (hapens too often now, but people will learn (I hope)), the onos may be the biggest danger to individual marines, but won't break a turret farm. If people do use teamwork, the umbra-supported gorge gang would be pretty dangerous, and more importantly useful for breaking a lockdown.
Giving aliens all of their abilities at first hive does have problems. In the very early stage of the game, gorge rushes might be too good. My last 1.04 game was a gorge rush vs. cargo relocation, and the gorges won. Imagine that with hive 3 abilities! Worse, there are some weapons the aliens simply shouldn't have at hive one. Web, while very underused now at its hive 3 spot (by that time marines often can't leave their base anymore and prepare for the endgame stalemate why onos block every exit, so it just gets some use webbing infantry portals after the last tf goes down), would be very evil at the start of the game. Swapping gorge web with fade metabolise might make sense here. The same is true for xenocide, and it's not so obvious which alien should get that.
Looking back, this seems like a rather lengthy text to say aliens lack anti-turret abilities at hive one, and aliens saving for
from the start instead of spending res on hives harms the team. Any opinions?