Natural Selection 2: 10 Commander Tips

Natural Selection 2

“Exterminate! Exterminate!”

5. Cysts – Cysts have one more important feature, not mentioned earlier. The infestation caused by cysts can attack buildings and ARCs. Let us say that you had a perfectly working Marine base. You spread your Cysts into it, thus allowing the infestation to cover the entire base. What happens then? The infestation will reduce the armor of all the buildings and ARCs to zero. ARCs will also be slowed down. However, all structures still have health, but the lack of armor will give your aliens an easier time in destroying them.

You can tell when a structure is attacked by an infestation by the residue covering it. The only way to stop the infestation from damaging your buildings is by destroying the local cysts. Even though Cysts can damage buildings and ARCs they will not damage weapons on the ground, exo-suits or MACs. It is still a useful support method during an attack, when you want to deny the enemy any armor on their structures.

6. On Power – All Marine structures need power. Each room or map section has a “Power Plug” that has to be built and kept functional in order for any structures to work normally. If that “Plug” is destroyed all the structures in the area will power down, so aliens might have an easier time destroying the power source than having to destroy all the other marine structures first. In the case of turrets you need only a sentry battery (“generator”). Destroying the plug will not power down the turrets, you need to destroy the generator located near the turrets to power them down (each generator can power three turrets).

While power plugs might be destroyed they can always be repaired by MACs or through using welders. The problem is that an area that lost power will have its lighting shut down, making it much more difficult for your marines to survive. Aliens have special alien vision that highlights the entire area, but this vision does not reveal the amount of lighting in an area, meaning that an alien sees everywhere equally brightly, but it might not come to the sad realization that there is a flashlight shining straight at it.

7. Constant Communication, Always – Voice communication is the single most important thin in Natural Selection 2. If you do not have a microphone you should, technically, not play as the commander. You can quickly inform your team of danger, guide your aliens/marines and answer any calls for help or assistance. Typing is never as efficient, and while fighting a Marine or Alien might not have the time to see what you are trying to tell him/it.

Having the most basic microphone and some headphones (to stop echo) is enough to let you perform your job at its fullest. At the same time remember to use markers to guide your marines to a destination, if they do not know where you want them to go. Markers will tell Marines/Aliens which way to go, saving a lot of time when trying to explain it.

8. Guns for Everybody! – During the later stages of the game you have to become aware that your team needs equipment. Equipment can be bought, or new life forms evolved, by the players themselves. However, if both teams are equal, and losses are heavy on both sides the players might run out of resources rapidly. If that happens, and you, as the commander, have a lot of resources, you can greatly help-out your team by providing ready alien eggs and equipment, when it is needed. While having a few points in reserve is always a good idea you should not hoard all the 200 team points, and spend them on equipment instead. Use voice comms to inform Marines/Aliens of Eggs/Equipment being available. Guns might eventually de-spawn, so do not spawn a mass of guns at base if there is nobody to pick them up. Let your team know you can take on requests, but also be careful. Giving the guy who charges alone an Onos or Exo-Suit is not the best idea.

9. War of Attrition – Holding the above in mind, it is important to remember that, in the end, the side which eventually wins is the one that has more resources. The enemy’s resources have to be wasted and equipment destroyed.

While open combat is the obvious solution the aliens have the Gorge to perform even further destruction. The Bile Bomb can destroy structures, yes, but it can also destroy any weapons on the ground. So if your alien force just ran over a well equipped marine group instruct your Gorges to bile bomb the weapons. It will take a few bile bombs to destroy a gun, but once it is destroyed you will know that the enemy might had wasted a lot of resources just there.

Destroying structures is an obvious necessity during such a war. Aliens are forced to destroy everything, with claw, tooth and bile, but marines could have an easier time destroying masses of alien structures simply by severing cyst lines. The destruction of a local hive can greatly aid in this, so if you ever have an opportunity to destroy a cyst, do so. Just hold in mind, do not destroy every single cyst you see. Run a short distance and then destroy one of the later cysts. You will destroy more cysts that way, for half the effort. Grenade launchers and flamethrowers will greatly aid in this task, so the sooner you make them available the sooner your marines can deal with alien structures. Welders can do the job as well, but they lack the combat abilities of larger weapons.

10. Transportation – While the battle rages and new bases or outposts are built it becomes obvious that your aliens and marines cannot run or crawl the whole distance to the front. Rapid transportation is necessary. How do we achieve that?

Marines have the Phase Gate, that can be researched through the Observatory. A phase gate connects to the network of phase gates that are build on the map, meaning that you can rapidly travel between points on the map, as long as there is a phase gate. The problem is that phase gates “cycle” through locations. If there are, let us say, four Phase gates (PG 1, 2, 3, and 4) and you were at Phase Gate 1, wanting to reach Phase Gate 4, you would have to enter the different Phase Gates three times. This can be time consuming and at time confusing. Still, it allows for Marines to quickly move between areas.

The aliens also have a system, but it relies on Gorges. Gorges can build Gorge Tunnels (a structure you can research). A Gorge can build a two-way tunnel, between two entry points it builds. The problem here is clear, a Gorge can create only a tunnel from place A to B. If you wanted a tunnel leading to point C you would need a second Gorge to build an additional tunnel between A-C or B-C. Gorge Tunnels are not connected, they are single “rails” that each player can build and has to maintain. You might think this can become terribly confusing, but in fact a Gorge Tunnel will have a floating text above it, explaining where does it lead to. By opening the map you can also view what is your system of Phase Gates, or where are the different Gorge tunnels and where do they lead to. One very important point about Gorge Tunnels, Marines can use them as well. If one of your positions gets overrun Marines could use the Gorge tunnel to deliver an attack straight into your hive.

Bonus Tip: Offense is the best Defense – If you played RTS games before you would realise that sitting in the base does not guarantee victory, ever. In order to win you have to attack. This can mean that in order to attack you have to save up some resources and equipment for the “big push” but the Big Push must happen.

Let’s go back to the beginning. During your initial game, both as the Alien and Marine commander, you have to make it your aim to expand as far as possible, without exposing your base or outposts too much. What I mean by that is that building seven extractors, without the Phase Gate/Armory support, and without decent equipment for your Marines to fight the aliens with, will mean that you will lose all your gains rapidly. You must set certain “Stages” to your advance, both as the alien and marine commander. If there is a situation where you are “stuck”, and neither side gets the upper hand your job is to ask yourself, “How do we change that?”. A lengthy siege, especially if other areas of the map are left unchecked, could mean that the aliens are preparing an attack elsewhere. If your attacks keep getting halted, and equipment lost, regroup your marines. Or at least, try to reason with them. Some of them might realise that wasting the sixth Exo-Suit on an unsuccessful assault is a bad idea.

There are always ways to break through a strong defense. It might be flamethrowers or grenade launchers. It might be a rush of Exo-Suits. Maybe a small group of jetpack and flamethrower armed marines. Do not forget about your ARCs. ARCs are mobile artillery guns that you have control over. If the marines provide the necessary line of sight then the ARCs can even fire through walls at enemy structures. If you were looking for a way to destroy all those alien turrets, you just found it. ARCs do not handle the infestation well, so make sure the marines clear the road for them.

Summary

The Marines have a more demanding early-game, because skilled Skulks can kill a marine from an ambush. As the commander you will have to balance your points carefully, and guide your marines to areas you consider important. Key points being: 1) You must maintain the areas you secure, through your marines. Turrets are poor at killing most aliens efficiently, and they can only fire in a specific arc, meaning that an alien can destroy the turrets from behind, without suffering a single hit. You can use turrets to seal-off passages (take into account ventilation shafts the aliens could use to dodge your turrets), or at least to give you a heads-up when the aliens are coming. MACs will let you maintain areas that do not have any marines present, however, do not waste too many resources on MACs, especially during the early game. Later on having a single MAC maintaining a base or outpost is more than enough. 2) You must deny the Aliens any rapid expansion. Aliens left unchecked can grow very quickly, throughout the whole map. Together with Gorges helping the infestation spread, and building their own defenses, you could find yourself in a deep pickle, so help your marines as much as you can, by giving them the gear and upgrades they need to complete the job. Do not let them focus needlessly on just one corridor. If the aliens keep you occupied on one end of the map that most likely means they are growing in the other direction.

As the Alien commander your job might seem easier, but it is not. While your aliens perform well on their own (a skilled skulk is a deadly skulk) you have to ensure that your underlings grow strong and powerful. Your job is not only to quickly spread the infestation but also research upgrades, abilities and evolutions, so that your aliens can perform even better. Just like the Marine commander you need to inform your aliens of danger, especially if one of your hives is threatened. Do not rely purely on your Gorges to build up defenses, or for your aliens to keep the marines back. Especially do NOT build all your Research structures in one place. If the marines discover this “Main Hive” and destroy everything? All your aliens will be an awful lot of levels weaker.

Lastly, when in doubt, play in “Explore” mode. This will let you play both as the Alien and Marine commander, without having a massive headache when players start telling you things. Since both Marines and Aliens have ways of building without player help (Drifters and MACs) you do not have to leave your commander’s seat to expand your base, and thus experiment. In your first baby steps you should go to rookie servers, and try your hand at commanding there. It might be a very bumpy first ride. Need more info? Check out the Natural Selection 2 Wiki.

P.S.: Due credit goes to player Hozz from the Natural Selection 2 Forums for correcting some of my mistakes in this guide. Cheers Hozz!

Alex “WriterX” Bielski

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About The Author

Aleksander "WriterX" Bielski
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Student of Psychology, he was identified as a Nut-Job even before he started the course. Having done some small work as a Modder for a number of titles, and worked as a Game Designer part-time, Alex now writes in third person. As Co-Owner and Editor of AlterGamer.com he aims high, while being armed only with a sling. In the future, he hopes to become a fully qualified Newspaper Editor, and purchase Google.

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