Asymmetry. Not a word often used when describing First person shooters. Unknown Worlds’, Natural Selection 2 however is based around the notion of two very distinctly, different teams fighting one another. The Marines versus the Aliens; both have their own very different playstyles, mechanics, weapons and tactics. Oh and there is also Real time strategy elements too.
Marines are very much like the marines in other games; what makes them powerful is the weapons and equipment that they are given (something that commanders have direct control over). Aliens are more about using the individual talents of each of the different species to beat the odds. Commanders are the lifeblood of each team, without them neither can expand, upgrade or develop new technologies/species.
It’s a strange experience, even having played Nuclear Dawn which also uses a FPS/RTS hybrid gameplay; Natural Selection 2 is clearly different. The Commanders affect the grand scale of a battle, at the same time as the micromanagement of small squads or even individuals on the map. The maps are medium sized and are littered with different pathways, vents and objectives to wrest control over.
It takes a little while to get used to all the small ins and outs of the gameplay but to anyone who’s played an FPS before, you should settle in nicely. Marines are very shooty and aliens are more melee. Playing as the Marines can feel like going up against an unstoppable tide, as the aliens ambush you from unseen areas; gnashing their jaws at you as you desperately try to fend them off. As enemies all have quite a bit of health you have to get about three quarters of a clip from your assault rifle in the aliens to kill them. Not so easy when they’re right on top of you.
I’m not the most accurate of people; so survival as either team was difficult but Marines don’t have the speed to run away from the maws of the Aliens. They rely mainly on their guns so having creatures clawing at your face is reasonably off-putting. They do get some cool toys to play with; flamethrowers and jetpacks being particularly fun.
Aliens have different evolutions instead of different weapon sets and each has a radically different style. The Skulks are the basic unit you spawn as and they are probably the most fun of all the classes; if only for their ability to scale wall and ceilings. Skulking around in air vents, stalking your prey and jumping out of cracks in the ceilings makes for great fun. Biting your foes to death is just as hard to handle as shooting in close quarters. Though it does take significantly less hits to kill a marine.
Fades are one of the staple late game units, named as such for their ability to fade in and out of reality. It is a lot of fun to jump into a marine base and cause a little havoc; before “fading” away and escaping. It combines hit and run tactics with high close combat damage. They do take more damage than Skulks but they can be brought down by a few marines. It was the most fun to play in general so far.
Commanders are needed in every game; they build up the map with everything you need. They ready the resource extractors, research you upgrades and weapons, and they give the players objectives to follow. Playing for the first time will be very stressful. As there are no tutorials as of yet, you will have to learn on the fly. You have to start your base expansion very quickly otherwise you’ll find your team lacks the resources and weaponry to fight off the enemy team.
While playing Commander is fun, first time round it’s very stressful. Players will bark at you to get specific things done so communication with them is extremely important. They will ask for specific weapons to be researched, new bases to be formed or even ask you to buy them weapons or equipment. It is up to you as to whether you give in to their pleas but be sure to manage your resources wisely; as they are more likely better spent elsewhere.
The game is still in beta but the most recent patch has been one of the best. It fixed bugs and has been the most balanced patch so far offering a near 50/50 win/loss ratio for both sides. There are still some elements that have yet to be put in but it’s a promising game.
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Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.