Exploding 5-tonne Gorillas: Section 8 Beta Thinks

By Jim Rossignol on August 17th, 2009 at 10:37 am.


The Section 8 open beta got into full swing over the weekend, and I spent a lot more time messing around with it. We also had a bit of an RPS community romp on Saturday, although I missed most of it by being late to the party. The overflow played on a secondary server, and still got some good fights in. Some more thoughts on the game follow.

Firstly, it’s a shame that the beta is so limited. Of course beta is a testing phase, so it’s clear that TimeGate want to gets lots of metrics from this to tweak and retouch the final game, but I’m also desperate to see the full range of tools available, and more importantly, the full range of maps. I understand there are eighteen in the final game, and I’m eager to explore them. These two are acceptable, but I wonder if they’ll end up being the core favourites of players in the game proper.

One of the things I realised over the weekend is that Section 8 is going to reward specialisation, and, of course, team-play. I don’t think this is going to be a particularly rewarding game for drop-in deathmatch play, but it’s probably going to be rewarding and engaging at an organised clan level. On Saturday night I spent some time playing purely defensive roles, and waiting inside buildings for enemies to arrive. I configured myself for close combat, and did deadly things to the ones and twos that came inside. Of course I’d have been minced at medium or long range, or by the mechs that regularly stomped by, but they couldn’t get inside to my position, and so we held that particular capture point for most of the game.

The ability to customise the basic loadouts does seem to make a big difference when you’re taking on a specific role. As a “defender” I was playing a similar role to the flag-goalie I used to be in Quake III, only with Section 8′s ability to customise I could drop in ready to hit that position immediately. There are clearly going to be a bunch of accepted “optimal” setups once the game is in full-swing, but it’ll be interesting to see just what those builds are, and how people end up using them. I suspect, like my hiding in the bunker, we’ll see specific squads set up to assault or defend, with players able to swap between the best fit for the job as they respawn.

Outside, and away from pure infantry bashing, I began to get on with the mechs. I love hunting down other mechs and forcing a melee. The mechs bash each other to death with two handed swipes, like exploding 5-tonne gorillas. The fights are always close, especially if there are infantry around, and you are often forced to make a rapid retreat once your enemy goes down. In fact, I’d say that mech-thumping is about the best thing I’ve found in the game so far.

If there are major problems, then there’s the superfluous “lock on” feature, which can actually be relatively useful, but nevertheless should not have been included. And the there’s the lack of situational awareness. With the drop-in allowing people to come down anywhere outside the effective range of AA guns, it’s hard to have a “front line”, or know where to engage enemies to hold them off. You end up having to stick close to the capture points, and nail enemies as they approach. It’s not a game breaker, but it demands much more of your spatial processing.

Anyway, no matter how a game is designed, it’s difficult to filter for morons. I can’t wait to be able to play this on a moderated server, and kick the likes of the idiots I ended up playing with on Saturday, for whom a continuous steam of homophobic abuse seemed a good idea after someone made a mild comment about smacktalk.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s people.

That said, you guys seem okay, so I’m definitely up for risking more Section 8 RPSing. Wednesday night might be less moronic. Shall we say 7pm UK time?

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78 Comments »

  1. ReturnToNull says:

    @guhndahb: Yeah, trying to aim manualling in S8 even at close ranges where you really shouldn’t be able to miss is hard for some reason. It might be the mouse acceleration nonsense mentioned toward the top of the thread or something else, but I appriciate having the lock-on. Although I’m a bit annoyed (playing recon) that -any- time you fire you get detected and are thus eligible for lock-on even if you say -destroyed the damn sensor-

    With all the stuff missing from open beta the game plays a lot different. Not that I miss tons of people having mortar and clearing points with it. But having a six-man heavy armor melee in your base cause you don’t have the most effective counters is a bit annoying. (Although ending up sniping two of them to death was hilarious.)

  2. TheSombreroKid says:

    @toni it might work better if you turn off smoothing

  3. Leeks! says:

    I’m totally okay with internet/gaming smacktalk so long as it’s good-natured/nonsensical. There’s nothing quite like randomly quoting Pirates of the Carribean to assert your supremacy.

  4. Mike says:

    Lock-on is more than just a hand out for console players, it’s a great tactical tool. You’ll still win plenty if you have great aim, but this is something you can counter, that you can improve. It only lasts for a little bit of time and can only take out one person at a time. If you’re great, and playing with teammates, why not stack your skills into armour and shields so that you can withstand a lock-on and still use your great aim to fight back?

    I think S8 is surprisingly fun, reminds me of Empires mod for HL2 in a lot of ways

  5. Matt W says:

    There’s a lot of hate for lock-on but not a lot of talk as to why people hate it and it needs to go?

    Speaking (typing) as someone with mild co-ordination issues that usually make close-quarters gunfights one-sided, I appreciate the fact that it gives me a chance to play tactically and occasionally avoid getting gunned down by people with better reflexes but worse positioning. I can see that for example if you’re used to winning based on reflexes then this could be annoying for you, but… why should you get all the fun? :P

  6. Rei Onryou says:

    This game has enabled me to feel very epic several times over.

    Landing on someone from 5,000ft, killing them? That’s a win.
    Knifing someone to death event though it takes 2-3 swings and they’re filling you with lead? That’s a win.
    Overburst (super running) into someone, killing them with your body’s impact force? That’s a win.
    Using heavy armour to flatten people? That’s a win.
    Running towards a checkpoint at top speed, only to see three teammates also in formation with you, without coordinating a thing? That’s a win.

    My two most epic moments so far have been:

    Dropping into a firefight area, not knowing what to expect. Turns out there’s three enemies. By sheer skill (and mainly luck), I land on one, taking them out, start firing at one and finish them with the knife, then finally take out the third with the help of lock-on and still have 50%+ health.

    Even more epically. I was holding CP4 on Utah in a 16 player match solo. The best player on the enemy team (and the best player I’ve so far encountered) kept harassing the base. Through careful deployment positioning and seeing where he dropped/staying out of site, I kept the point for a long time. Eventually, he pulled me out of hiding, away from the base a bit, and took me down. I immediately dropped towards the base, knowing he was heading for the point. Just before he reached the cover of the platforms, WHAM! Ass meets face. I took out the best player with my gluteus maximus. “Thanks for breaking my fall.”, my avatar quips. I kept that point single-handedly for the whole match, thanks to my ass.

    I also agree with Stalin, lock-on needs to be used tactically. It needs to be timed right, and you need clear lines of sight. If you’re outnumbered, it helps to even the odds. I haven’t tried maxing the passive skills for it to see just how OTT it can go, but it would be interesting to see.

  7. Noc says:

    Landing on someone from 5,000ft, killing them? That’s Gamewang!
    Knifing someone to death event though it takes 2-3 swings and they’re filling you with lead? That’s Gamewang!
    Overburst (super running) into someone, killing them with your body’s impact force? That’s Gamewang!
    Using heavy armour to flatten people? That’s a win. That’s Gamewang!
    Running towards a checkpoint at top speed, only to see three teammates also in formation with you, without coordinating a thing? Time to rotate the board!

  8. DarkNoghri says:

    Thoughts on the beta(s) thus far:

    Pretty much the first thing I did was rename all those unskippable starting videos. No game should have that many videos, and having them unskippable is an insult to gamers.

    Recharge bars: Why does EVERYTHING have a recharge bar? I found myself reloading the rocket launcher, and I couldn’t figure out when it was finished without the bar. That means something needs fixing with the animation.

    I not sure why the sprint has a limit on it. You can pretty much go anywhere with it anyway, but you have to take a straight line path. The only use I can think of is if you’re chasing someone down, they can’t run forever.

    Agreed, jetpack needs more charge. Nothing more frustrating to me than to have hopped a short obstacle, and now I can’t get to the top of the building. It’s not like there are stairs half the places either. Also annoying: running out of jetpack when I’m trying to get away from a mech thing so I can rocket them in the face.

    I was flipping through the controls menu, and noticed that there is actually autoaim. On a PC game. What the heck?

    @Senethro
    You mean defaultinput.ini? That’s read-only. Would you change it in userinput.ini, which is not? Or make it writeable?

    Lock-on. At first I thought it was BS, and configured my classes without it. And then I got owned, because everyone else uses it. It’s not bad, as long as everyone who wants it has it. I usually use it for a finisher. Usually at the end of a firefight, if someone’s about to die, they try to fly away. Lock-on BAM dead.

    I have not yet gotten into a mech-on-mech battle. Therefore I would argue that the best thing in the game is air-dropping on someone. I’d like a bit more feedback though. The landing feels the same either way, and it’s hard to tell you managed it without the kill counter popping up. I keep trying to get a kill by running into someone, but it hasn’t worked yet.

    Lag: I’ve been playing with ya’ll on the UK servers from the US. I usually have around 100-125 ping. There are two things I’ve noticed: 1) there seems to be a slight delay after killing someone before the kill appears on the counter. This could be unrelated to lag though. 2) I can’t figure out the weapons. As far as I can tell, the weapons are supposed to be hit-scan. I can’t hit people sometimes, though. Especially the shotgun. I love shotguns, but I just can’t figure it out. I aim at people from 6 ft, fire, and it doesn’t do anything. It seems to miss. I find myself wondering if I have to lead people, or what. Is this because of a lack of lag compensation?

    I really, really like the machine gun. I’ve found the Guardian class (or whatever it’s called), is just about a perfect all-rounder. I haven’t needed to modify it yet, either.

    I don’t like the lack of in-game detail. When I equip a sensor thingy, there’s an icon in the HUD. I still don’t know quite what that equipment does. Or the sensor blocker thing, for that matter.

    Heck, I still don’t know where to report bugs, as there doesn’t seem to be a bug reporter. The forums?

    More thoughts as I think of them.

  9. CoarseSand says:

    @DarkNohgri: I did the same thing with renaming the start videos and legal junk in the engine ini, but I still can’t get rid of the intro vid where they introduce the single player campaign guy. Any idea which option that one is?

  10. Rei Onryou says:

    I’d just like to add to my list:

    Landing on someone when jumping in heavy armour, killing them? That’s a win.

    I had some good games just now with some RPSers. I went into overkill with the heavy armour. Had about 10 kills plus without dying in it. I shot them, smashed them, landed on them, and did many fatalities (the official name for the finishers).

    I’m getting really addicted now. Perhaps we should have a non-official RPS S8 clan?

  11. CoarseSand says:

    I’d be in for an S8 clan, as I really want a decent group of players to go in with. I really want to play more but the pubs are kind of unsatisfying after Saturday. Getting on a Vent server for this would be great too.

    And maybe it’s just me but I’ve had no success at all landing on anything and smooshing it as yet.

  12. DarkNoghri says:

    I actually didn’t remove that one, as it’s skippable. But I assume that it would be Intro.bik, which is the only large movie aside from the credits.

    More thoughts:

    Maybe I’m just too used to Source, but they need a chatbox. Not a console that pops up with ‘say’ in it by default. A chatbox. With previous chat sitting in it. So you can see what you missed people saying without seeing “Rei killed someone else with his buttocks.”

    Also, they need something that differentiates team chat, squad chat, and all chat. Whether that be color, or something that says (team)blahblahblah. Right now, I can tell if I said something, or someone on either team said something. There’s no way to differentiate who someone on your team was talking TO.

    The game needs more advanced graphics options. Specifically, anti-aliasing and smoke sliders. I’m running 1920×1200 with everything on high except shadows (which I don’t need) and average about 40-45 fps. Unless I run into something explodey. Which means either a big stompy mech or a convoy. And then I drop below 15. I can run CoD2 smoke just fine, and that’s even harder to see through. It can’t be that hard to lower the quality without losing the lack of visibility.

  13. DarkNoghri says:

    @myself

    I am apparently very unobservant about colors of chat. Ignore that section above.

  14. Argh says:

    I tried to like this game but it takes forever to kill someone. And yes I can aim having played cs for 7 years. Theres no location damage and the sniper gun is junk. People just `spawn`all over the place which is fine for a deathmatch type of game but for objective type gameplay is such a retarded idea. Every war has battle lines that need to be drawn. Otherwise you might as well throw away defences. The guns all feel the same. Theres nothing unique about them. Tribes is a good example of the guns that require a differen`t approach for each weapon.

  15. crompers says:

    hi all my first post on RPS (been lurking a coupla weeks)

    downloaded this on your recommendation anyways, and am quite enjoying it. would defs be up for a team game on wednesday. do you have a particular RPS server?

  16. Jim Rossignol says:

    We’ll get on the Steam community chat room and select a server from there.

  17. crompers says:

    ok sounds good, see you there

  18. Harlander says:

    @CoarseSand

    *shakes a fist*

    Actually, the fact that I remained entertained despite being repeatedly pummeled has to be a good sign (or maybe it’s just a facet of masochism..)

    I keep remembering hearing rumours about in-game voice chat… If it actually worked, make teamworking much easier to handle (assuming you could speak, for example, to your own squad exclusively in the same way as the text chat). I guess there’s always Ventrilo and its ilk..

  19. Rabbitsoup says:

    @ the folk moaning about the lack of headshots:

    headshots give a 25% damage boost but only after shields are down

    also the guns do different types of damage at different ranges, this needs to be taken into account before they you call one or another OP ect and its beta thats what you would expect. The main worry (other than auto aim) is the randomness of drop in and this is likely to be more changed with the deployable AA turrets hopefully allowing you to funnel the other team. Also you can shoot folk as they drop so really being dropped on and killed is your own fault.

    My real worry is GFWL – that’s why there is no chat right now and no friends list its all going to be GFWL.
    :( o. shit.

  20. DarkNoghri says:

    For some reason, looking back at the second screenie, I find myself thinking you should just melee him for an instant kill. The rifle, the recharging shields, the armor. It reminds me of Halo.

    Hmmm. Wednesday at 2? I get out of class at 2:15 or so, but I should be able to get on.

  21. CoarseSand says:

    You only think that because you wiped the floor with me in our match last night Nohgri. And thank god there isn’t the giant glowing energy sword of broken game in this one.

  22. Jim Rossignol says:

    I am loving the robo-beatings you can dish out. Good stuff.

  23. The Great Wayne says:

    Surprisingly, the more I play this game, the more I find myself regretting Planetside, which was a ton better.

  24. CoarseSand says:

    Oh, hey, by the way, I finally found the use for the shotgun. It isn’t really useful to think of it as a shotgun as much as a harpoon gun with a very tight burst. Sort of like the pistol but with less range and more damage, perfect for removing armor. It’s actually proved helpful in a fight and can counter the MG when used properly, as it allows flick shots while jetting. Pretty much removes the need for lock on in CC if you’ve played a few FPSes. Very limited ammo though.

  25. Jim Rossignol says:

    I think everyone regrets PlanetSide. It’s one of the greatest dropped-balls of the gaming history.

  26. DarkNoghri says:

    @CoarseSand
    That would explain why some high-ranking general dude kept owning me with the shotty last night.

  27. richmcc says:

    The finished code of S8 really does add quite a lot to the beta experience. AA gun turret placement, particularly, is quite important to holding down points, and having the full range of deployables is particularly exciting – the later stages of a game become quite vehicle heavy and explodey.

    I’d be keen to play it with a bunch of coordinated types on release. Hope it doesn’t get shoved down in estimation like Quake Wars did so quickly after launch.

  28. Slink says:

    This game is addicting. The atmosphere is awesome, and when you get into a good squad-on-squad firefight the game will put you on the edge of your seat.

    However, it feels more like a mod than a true game. Maybe blame the Unreal engine not allowing AA, but the graphics seem clonky. The main menu seems like something you’d see out of a Half-life mod, and the maps aren’t too well inspired (at least the few I’ve seen in the beta). I also feel like the HUD is too big – all of the info on there is useful, but it seems like it was designed for console players who are sitting 5-10 feet away from their big TVs, not PC players who are sitting 1-2 feet away from their small monitors. This could easily be fixed with a UI scaler in the options or even an INI file.

    However, the shortcomings are more than made up for when you get into combat. RPS put it perfectly – it’s a game you plan to just hop in for 5 minutes and then two hours later you realize you’re still playing.

    But, unfortunately, we all know that even the best multiplayer-based game isn’t worth the DVD that it’s printed on if it doesn’t have enough players. Look at Quake Wars – a decent game, but the flaws in it and poor marketing (is it Quake? Is it Battlefield?) made a lot of people look past it, and now it’s hard to find a populated server. I don’t see this game getting much advertisement, and the first time I saw it was on Steam as part of a bundle-pack and I at first wrote it off as a budget title.

    I definitely plan on picking Section 8 up and loving every minute from it. However, it often feels more like a budget game than a AAA title, but if it’s appropriately priced it could be huge. Unfortunately though, I feel like the power-armor suits will be deserted and empty about the time when Modern Warfare 2 rolls around.

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