Alien Commander Tools
SpaceJew Join Date: 2012-09-03 Member: 157584Members Posts: 553
edited December 2012 in NS2 General Discussion
What you have in your belt, and some suggestions.There's another topic here on the forums here that discusses what people preferred as commander.
There were a few people that complained that the alien commander has very few active command tools. There are a few, and I'll list them along with some weaknesses/strength's of each. This is not a definitive list, merely my thoughts.
Cysts (1 Hive):
Cysts are the building blocks of everything you do. They block marines construction until cleared, and form a chain from resource producers back to your structures. If severed, everything 'downstream' from the connection to the hive dies over time until the connection is reestablished, or the structure dies. Also, marines can't help but to poke them which tells everyone on your team where they are. You will probably spend more time than you would care to monitoring your cysts and rebuilding connections in a pub game, and it can be easy to get locked into expansion which actually can waste resources if you're not careful about how fast you expand. As someone pointed out, cysts have an ability called 'Rupture' that will temporarily blind nearby marines. Again, all about micromanaging as aliens. I personally don't use this ability often, as it would only be really useful if there's a nearby unit and inevitably when I would be able to use it there are no nearby aliens to assist. I guess it could piss off the marine though, which is fun in it's own right I suppose.
Nutrient Mist (1 Hive):
This allows you to speed maturation on multiple structures at once as well as speed gestation of player eggs. The more mature a structure, the more health and armor it has. There is a cap on maturation, obviously. Can only be placed on infestation, although can be placed on top of a new cyst within a second or two with practice. It's useful enough for it's cost, but very limited in it's application.
(NOTE: As some folks have pointed out, Nutrient Mist does not heal players, structures, or anything else. It's a common misconception I've found, so I'm not alone in being wrong about it!)
Drifters (1 Hive):
Forward units that give the aliens the 'hivesight' that so many NS1 players complain about not being present. A cloakable unit that spots marines, and can give any aliens nearby a 25% boost to attack speed for a short time for 3 T.Res. These are pretty darn cool, and I like the fact that it requires the commander to do something that provides a pretty darn useful buff all around. Cysts require so much micromanaging that adding on drifter buffs seems inhuman, although it should still be rewarding to commanders that can use it effectively.
Whips (1 Hive):
Whips are melee range turrets, and will seriously wipe the floor with a marine that comes around a corner. Primarily I use these for resource node defense so the whip is out of LOS from the most probable line of advance by marines. It's a delay tactic, since a good marine will find a blind spot. What it does is it denies the use of the marines switch-knife without clearing the whip first. Not as useful late game due to W3 LMG's being boss, but it will significantly increase the effort needed to clear your res nodes even late game. On top of all the other benefits, you can upgrade a whip to give it a ranged AoE attack that melts armor. This could be useful against Exo's, but due to crappy pathing/firing AI the bombard almost always hits something other than what you want it to hit. These whips can be repositioned to deflect grenades away from structures in hives, and are incredibly useful to defend upgrades in tight spaces. All of this is reflected in the steep price of one whip: 15 T.Res. 30 if you want bombard. Alien whips are better than marine turrets all around, as they can be uprooted and will actually walk to a new location or turn around to face a new threat. Again, requires micromanagement on the part of the alien commander.
NOTE ON WHIPS: I've noticed that it seems to really matter which direction your whips are facing, and it can be tough to do it right until you can recognize the model from way up in the air.
T.Res Egg Drops (1, 2, or 3 Hives):
This varies in usefulness, depending on your team. You can drop most life forms on two hives, while Onos now requires a third hive to drop. Giving life form egg's can win a game, but figuring out exactly when to drop them and who to give them to is the real challenge. I recommend checking people's K/D/R or Score before giving them away, but really there isn't much else worth building after you have a couple of forward 'bases' to stage attacks from. Higher life form eggs should not be dropped before your research their corresponding ability upgrade from the second hive. (I.E. Spores for Lerks, Blink for Fades, Bile Bomb for Gorges.)
Bone Wall (2 Hives):
This allows the alien commander to erect a wall of bones that blocks projectiles and physical progress for a brief period of time. It can be destroyed, but also falls apart after a few seconds if not attacked. There are a few ways this is useful, and some ways it's not useful. It can be useful for blocking grenades if timed properly, and can result in an unsuspecting marine to frag themselves. It can also be used to block escape or movement for a marine if you have good aim and they're on infestation. However, due to the fact it dies no matter what and doesn't survive being shot/knifed for longer than a second makes it pretty useless as an actual blocking structure. I would prefer something more like web that's a permanent, limited structure that has a specific counter; in this case flamethrowers. Perhaps a web-type structure should be moved to a third-hive object for the aliens, since at the moment there is no third-hive command ability.
Now, on to the specialized structures that are available only with specific hive types. There are three, as I'm sure you're aware of. I'm going to put them in the order of most important in my opinion, but the information contained in the description should reflect my reasoning for each one.
Shift Hive (Movement @ Energy Hive):
This hive type allows you to build two different upgrades for your team and a specialized structure known as a shift. A shift is your best friend, and is the main reason I choose this first every time. Shifts allow you to build eggs anywhere, as long as it's on infestation and near a shift. It's the answer to the marines phase gate, although a far less effective and user-friendly version of it since it's expensive and slow while still being very vulnerable as a structure. Not having shifts is the #1 cause of egg lock, and I facepalm every time someone goes shade or crag first for that very reason. By default, a shift unit also speeds up energy regeneration in an area of effect as well. This will allow a gorge to bile bomb longer and perma-heal spray, or even speed build a hive. A shift unit can be upgraded to enable teleportation of structures while on top of infestation. It's an expensive option, but can be used to teleport fully mature whips or other structures into area's you've just cysted. It can be useful to teleport a few whips into a Marine emplacement that's undefended, but against good Marines it's very situational. It has a pretty decent area of effect, but if you want to move a structure it must be within the indicated area of effect for the upgraded shift. This is displayed by a large yellow circle, as are all other alien area-of-effects. The teleport takes a moment, so don't expect the teleported structure to immediately appear. It's only a few seconds though, which keeps that function useful in it's limited area.
(NOTE: Last time I checked, you can actually teleport the Shift itself that has the teleport upgrade. This keeps it useful even outside of it's AoE, but far less so.)
Celerity: Gives all your units increased land-speed. Nuff' said. I build this upgrade first to help negate phase travel.
Adrenaline: Gives all your units increased energy pool. Required or highly useful for Gorges/Lerks/Fades. Upgrade this once you have some players near the res to gestate into higher lifeforms, as it's a waste for skulks w/o leap.
Crag Hive (Defense @ Healing Hive):
This hive is second because generally by this point you will have either lerks or fades, and both pretty much require carapace. It's debatable, I know, but it's the safe bet. This hive will allow you to place healing stations anywhere on infestation. They heal a little by default, and can be 'used' by the commander for T.Res to increase their healing substantially.
Crags don't help out skulks much, which seems to be a theme among special structures, but can be instrumental in keeping your fades alive at a forward location or in providing an Onos a healing pit during final base sieges. I try to lay one of these down right next to my forward shift units whenever possible, and usually all of them are grouped up near a res node for redundancy.
Carapace: Increased player armor values based on the life form. Required or highly useful for Gorge/Lerk/Fade/Onos.
Regeneration: Increased passive healing rate. I view this upgrade as garbage for anything other than skilled hit-and-run tactics. Better players like it, crappy players should probably take carapace instead to assist with learning curve. (I take carapace, so I'm in the 'crappy' category I guess.)
Shade Hive (Sneaky Sneaky!):
This hive type is skippable for the most part, and generally speaking it could be helpful to leave your third hive 'blank' in case you lose one of your important hives. However, the upgrades shade gives and the specialized structure do have their uses. These are mitigated by their downsides more than any other hive type with one exception. The shade allows you to build, well, shades. These structures cloak all units and structures within a fairly tiny radius. This cloaking effect is removed if an observatory is nearby or if the marine commander actively pings your location. Also, if a marine touches any cloaked object it becomes visible. The shade can dump 'ink' into the environment, which is neat but underwhelming. Ink essentially blinds players, and might make it harder for a commander to see what you've got since it can negate scans while it's deployed.
Shade hive also allows you to build thoroughly useless, ludicrously over-priced fake units that fool no one. These have the additional benefit of experiencing total existence failure if they are pinged, touched, or otherwise used at all. Might be useful to someone, but in 95% of games it will serve no purpose. The absolute worst side effect of putting down shades, in my opinion, is that it cloaks cysts. This means that marines won't bother to attack them anymore, which means it's harder to know where they're going as alien commander. Less of a downside vs. smart marines teams, but can lead to frustration while pubbing.
Silence: This is the one exception to all the downsides to the shade hive, since it's always awesome to be silent. Notable exceptions are lerk darts and Onos environment rattle are unaffected by this ability.
Cloaking: This ability can be handy for getting around sentry nests as a skulk if there isn't an observatory around, or for ambushing unsuspecting players late game. Mileage on usefulness will vary by your skill level at biting and frequency of observatories/marine pings. Cloaking also reduces movement speed by a massive amount while invisible.
A few other changes I'd like to see.
Specifically, I desperately want a way to easily rebind commander hotkeys. I also think it would be terrific if the gorge build menu was overhauled, because as a gorge it's a pain in the butt to select bile bomb. Inevitably I end up building a hydra or a clog by accident. Gorge needs a dedicated menu to build objects that's more intuitive and in no way connected to their weapon selection. Either that, or make spit '1', bile bomb '2', hydra '3', and clog '4'. I don't want to need a custom bind for one lifeform, that's just silly.
Also, the alien commander needs some english voice overs for the alien requests for heal mist and orders etc. The growl is neat and all, but it conveys no actual information. I think this is the number one reason why no one uses support abilities as alien commander. We simply don't speak alien. We have 'structure is under attack', 'hive is under attack', but no 'healing requested'? (Or at least I never hear the voice over, I always need to read the request. Maybe I'm just crazy here.)
Anyway, I hope this helps some new alien commanders realize their full potential. It's incredibly important to know what all the tools at your disposal do, even if you can't micromanage well enough to make effective use of them all 100% of the time. I know I could be better at drifter buffing, but experience matters in this arena. I also hope some dev's are paying attention to some of the suggestions in this post but I have a strong feeling a lot of folks will just TL;DR.
If you see anything missing, or I've put something down that's grossly inaccurate, let me know and I'll fix it. I'm not infallible, after all, and while I played Beta a little I only put in about 40 hours on it so I'm not the end-all-be-all of anything by any means. At the time of this writing, I have about 100 hours logged and I'd say roughly 60 of those are as alien commander.
A wiki page with more information can be found here.
Post edited by Unknown User on
SteamID: Tallahassee Red
Dedicated Alien Player / Commander
Alien Command Abilities/Structures
Dedicated Alien Player / Commander
Alien Command Abilities/Structures