Flight Club: Natural Selection 2’s Jetpacks

By Craig Pearson on February 3rd, 2012 at 11:56 am.

Death from above.Some days you click on a trailer and realise the developers have mapped out your life for the two months following their game’s release. Assuming Team Fortress 3 isn’t squeezed out in Summer of this year, I’ll be jetpacking around on Natural Selection 2, Unknown Worlds’ Aliens-inspired FPS/RTS multiplayer game. Here’s why.

Humans vs Aliens. I knew that, but the game hadn’t really pinged my radar. It wasn’t in my goddamn room. I hadn’t kept it handy for close encounters. It looked like just another bughunt. My mum always said there were no monsters, she clearly hadn’t seen Natural Selection 2’s giant, armoured rhino thing the Onos (Not pronounced “oh-noes”). Nor spotted the hilarity of jetpack marines fighting against winged beasties: I’ve always loved the chop-o-view of the aliens, but flying chomp-o-view is beautifully surreal.

It’s still being developed, but if you pre-order for $35 you get beta access via Steam right now.

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76 Comments »

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  1. CMaster says:

    If it’s even as good as the original, I think it will blow all existing team shooters out the water.

    Also, new fade looks amazing, although that worries me that the game will be decided on the skill of one player again, much like it was in 2.0

    • MCM says:

      “As good as the original”? Which version? The game radically changed several times. Which game are we even talking about?

    • CMaster says:

      I played 2.X mainly myself. I did still play a fair bit come 3.0, but I slowly fell out of love with the game.

  2. starclaws says:

    Wooo its looking great. I still havent tried the NS2 beta since like gorges were introduced… Looks like a lot of the bugs have been addressed. It’s probably more polished now than BF3.

  3. Syra says:

    Oooh it looks like what I expected HUXLEY to be like.
    (did that game ever even come out?)

    • nanowired says:

      Yea, I betad Huxley. It ended up being a Unreal Tournament style shooter which replaced its server select screen with a city hub.

  4. foda500orama says:

    Wood.

  5. diebroken says:

    Better dust off the Black Armor and get back into it now that it’s really getting released this Summer! ;)

    Such glorious flame effects as well, I don’t I’ve seen them since Unreal 2…

  6. Jim9137 says:

    Good times.

  7. Redcoat-Mic says:

    I never got on with these enclosed space “arena” style shooters, too hectic and chaotic for me to get any enjoyment from it.

    • Jorum says:

      I think you partly misunderstand what NS is about.
      While it can be hectic it is in many ways complete opposite of an arena shooter like Unreal or Quake.

      As a marine you are part of a squad following the orders of a commander player (who has RTS-type view) – running around like you would in a arena shooter is suicide. Hell, even being on your own for more than a minute is probably suicide.
      You spend most of the time very carefully manoeuvring as a squad, covering angles and setting up choke-points etc.

      Playing as an alien running around like a maniac xeno-rambo you’ll also mostly just get wasted by marine squads for not much effect.
      You spend most of the time sneaking, scouting out marine positions, probing defences and coordinating surprise attacks.

    • Gnoupi says:

      “As a marine you are part of a squad following the orders of a commander player (who has RTS-type view) (…) You spend most of the time very carefully manoeuvring as a squad, covering angles and setting up choke-points etc.”

      Really? I mean, does the game manage to actually make people play like this?

      Because the RTS/FPS kind of game, while not really wide-spread, is not really new. There were the Savage games, and more recently Nuclear Dawn. And while the main idea is that you have a commander giving orders and actual players acting as his units, playing tactical… It’s rarely the case. Most of the time you will have a commander who does his own thing, playing as RTS and not really caring about the individual cases, and soldiers who are running around, instead of actually regrouping and acting like squads.

      Savage 2 was actually allowing to appoint officers, in charge of tactical orders, and squad management, and was rewarding all this by extra points. But it wasn’t really enough. In Nuclear Dawn, there is also a system to attribute extra XP for following orders from the commander or acting grouped with your squad… But in the end I rarely see people actually trying that. You will find the ones massing on the current choke point, and 4-5 lone wolves, acting on their own, thinking they can turn the battle alone, and getting killed.

      Don’t get me wrong, I love this kind of game, even if it’s rare to see actual strategy or tactics. But I would be even more interested in NS2 if somehow they managed to push people to actually work together.

    • CMaster says:

      @Gnoupi
      The original Natural Selection predates both of those, and yes it did manage it (most of the time).

      How? By making the games so incredibly dependent on teamwork, that without it you’d lose the match in ten minutes. To an extent, you needed to find good servers where teamwork was expected rather than a hope. It was certainly far from flawless – but part of the strength of the game came from the fact that you simply could not act alone, especially on the human side. So either you followed the commanders orders, or you died and lost quickly. Also, good luck ever being given decent gear or a medpack if you weren’t being helpful.

    • Jorum says:

      @Gnoupi
      As CMasters explains, for the most part it does yes.
      Simply because if you don’t play like that you simply won’t have much fun.
      If you go off doing you’re own thing and trying to lone-wolf then (a) you’ll just get ripped to shreds within a minute, quite often without even seeing what killed you. (b) the commander won’t bother wasting resources assigning you any decent equipment

    • Melatonin says:

      all very true
      (the dev team are very demonstrably committed to the theory behind this kind of thing… so one addition at since NS1 has been for example the ‘auto grouping’ of near-by marines, so you can see who you are ‘running with’… its still very much in development though, so expect these things to evolve in the same direction.)

      While you generally get cut down by going ‘Rambo’ (if they have fades, a single fade can almost cover an entire map with dedicated patrolling), there is a really sweet payoff to being the one marine who actually makes it, finds a quiet spot, and sets up the phase gate for a sneaky rush, while the rest of your team are on the other side of the map drawing attention.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Few multiplayer gaming experiences can match the hilarious joy of playing as a skulk and dropping silently from the ceiling onto the head of a lone marine.

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      @Gnoupi

      the first game was (NS1 Half Life 1 mod circa about 2002 i think) was quite sucessful at this, but you were very dependant on the commander for guns, health packs, equipment, research tech and new building drops. It also developed a culture of most players using head sets on many of the more populous servers. So provided the commander was semi competant it worked quite well. Im not sure whether the new game will do quite as good a job of this. Players arent as dependant on the commander for personal gear and health as they used to be, but he still manages all the structure building and technology, so they wont win if they dont work together on some level.

    • raydenuni says:

      Gnoupi, yes it does. This game, more than anything else I have ever played, truly conveys a sense of fear and cooperation.

      You are running down the hall with two marine buddies, every room you enter, you immediately scan the corners of the ceiling and over the doorway, looking for skulks waiting to ambush you. You finally make it to the resource node and the commander drops a turret which one of you builds while the other two nervously guard and watch for any attacks.

      On the other side, the aliens have discovered your new location and are waiting for reinforcements before they attack. It’s suicide to run straight on against 3 marines as a skulk, better to wait for the Fade to show up and distract them while you can run up behind and chomp their asses. Alien teamwork is more subtle, you don’t huddle in groups like the marines do, instead it’s more about coordinating hit and runs and flanking. Your advantages are speed.

      One of the best games I ever played was as aliens where we were on the losing end of a game, the marines were advancing and we only had access to Skulks (the basic dog-like alien). We worked together so well. We were calling out positions, attacks, flanks, it was beautiful.

  8. Premium User Badge

    bear912 says:

    I ought to get around to pre-ordering NS2 at some point…

    • mod the world says:

      Right NOW would be the perfect moment. NS2 is finally in a fun and lagfree state and it is probably cheaper buying it from the devs than when it will be officialy put on Steam.

    • Cim says:

      I’ve been holding off as well for some reason… but I just realized something.

      Chances are that it won’t be 35 dollars when it hits Steam, at least not for people in Europe. More likely it’ll be 35 Euros. (if that is the final price, I have no idea)

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      Bought it literally years ago, back when it was bundled with Overgrowth etc. and still cost less than this. Honestly, I think anyone who played the original to any serious degree should have bought this already on faith alone — the original was a masterpiece by an outrageously talented and dedicated dev team.

    • raydenuni says:

      Yeah I bought it with Overgrowth. My thought was the same as yours. The first game is easily worth this much $ and I played that for free.

  9. kikito says:

    Oh-noes!

  10. BlitzThose says:

    epic trailer is epic…

  11. Jorum says:

    God I’d kinda forgotten how awesome Natural Selection is.
    I’m getting really stoked for new version!

    Only issue I had with original is that on some maps and with experienced players games could often be decided within the first few minutes by how quickly one side or the other could lock-down a certain area or get certain upgrade first.

    Anyone know if original NS still has active servers etc. I’ve got myself excited to start playing it again.

    • Wang Tang says:

      The playerbase for original NS is very scarce, I fear. I wanted to play a little bit a few weeks ago for nostalgia, and I only found 4 servers with people on (and 2 of them were co_, mind you :/).

  12. ZephyrSB says:

    Hmm…the early pre-release versions never worked for me, so I decided to wait for things to be a little more finallised.

    It looks like that time is now.

    • Premium User Badge

      Craig Pearson says:

      Same for me. It was pretty broken when I first tried it.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      Last time I played it a few months ago it was still pretty broken, I’m gonna have another try though, the premise is too good for me to give up on it.

    • Melatonin says:

      So much love for Flayra and the rest of the team. These guys are a small team, punching way above their weight, and its really coming together right about now.

      NS1 made the man I am today, and while NS2 was certainly outright unplayable at first, the last few builds have really seemed to nail the performance improvements (I don’t think about framerate when playing any more… I can even run crossfire without any flickering/ glitches now).
      Balance is a little off right now, but it will be the focus once all the major assets are added, and in the meantime.. there really is nothing like being that one diva fade who halts 4 marines in their tracks, makes the difference and ultimately tips the game (not to take anything away from the other classes).

      go buy this game immediately, get yourself on [HBZ], and get your lork all over that clorf.

    • Lilliput King says:

      The latest build is a vast improvement over a couple of months ago, particularly on the optimisation front. It’s still far from finished, but it’s reaching the stage where it’s a good time.

    • BioSnark says:

      It actually runs without input lag on my system, finally. Wew!

      I may need a system upgrade but it wasn’t going to be for a source engine game :)

    • Ruger Man says:

      They actually don’t use Source, they made their own engine called Spark

  13. PatrickSwayze says:

    Damn that looks excellent. I want to preorder but the black armour version is gone :(

    Preordering will be cheaper than getting the full game right?

  14. DrunkMonkey says:

    For those interested there is still a dedicated NS community with european server and great players.
    It gets full pretty much every night.

    Wonga.NS
    83.170.71.174:27015
    http://wongans.com/forum/wonga.php

    • Melatonin says:

      really puts my last great love’s (L4D2) community in context.
      there it was rage, hate and kickvotes, and eventually, it grated.

      NS2 is keeping it cool, even with the harder learning curve, people don’t mind helping out the new comers, even when they hop right in the commanders seat.
      I remember the good old days on [YO], and hope we can keep that spirit going through NS2.

    • Jorum says:

      Well if it wasn’t my anniversary, I know what I’d be doing tonight.

    • JackShandy says:

      Happy anniversary, Jorum!

  15. HexagonalBolts says:

    I had this pre-ordered, but it didn’t work for some strange reason. UNTIL NOW! Just had a game, absolutely fantastic, it really was like something out of Alien – all the marines running around screaming into their mics while hordes of horrors poured out of every hole, vent and ceiling towards us.

  16. Raiyan 1.0 says:

    This year’s MP FPS roster has to be phenomenal to measure up to this!

  17. Rii says:

    In their first article about this game, RPS wrote that it had been “much delayed”.

    That article was written more than three years ago.

    The developers could be promising free full-immersion blowjobs and I still wouldn’t give a shit. Wake me if and when it is actually released, and not a moment before.

    • Jorum says:

      To be fair to them, remember NS was originally a mod.
      Considering how many mods don’t ever even get finished (which is almost all) , the fact they’ve turned themselves into a full on developer and are releasing a sequel is impressive.

  18. Toberoth says:

    I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE THIS GAME IS NOT INSIDE MY BODY RIGHT NOW

  19. Veritaas says:

    Unfortunately despite the exciting video, the game is still largely unfinished and dull to play.

    There are 6-7 months of development time left. Optimization is non-existent. Games can take forever to finish due to frustrating stalemates, somewhat similar to Nuclear Dawn. Many of the mechanics are a bit annoying, like the Fade blink.

    For those that played NS1 and are looking for NS2 to be awesome, the most noticeable thing on startup (besides the terrible optimization) is how the game moves like it’s in molasses. I’m assuming everything has been slowed down to appease the modern-day shooter crowd.

    Judging by most game development betas/cycles, I’m very skeptical that the game will be in a fun, working state by this summer.

    • Rii says:

      I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise.

    • Asurmen says:

      The only reason why NS1 could be classed as fast was because of bunny hopping, which is such a retarded mechanic I’m glad it’s gone in NS2. That probably explains your molasses comment.

      Some of my best games in NS1 were those that lasted forever until someone made a break in defences happen, or last minute come backs when all hives have been dead. You speak of appeasing modern day shooter crowds but then also complain about length of matches. They seem mutually exclusive to me.

      While I can’t speak of optimisation as I haven’t played it in while, a few other comments suggest it has been improved. When did you last play?

    • Veritaas says:

      It’s not just bunnyhopping. Movement is all around slow as hell. Marines walk slower. Skulks move slower. Fades move slower and lose most of their momentum after blinking. Lerks accelerate slower, etc.

      You are the minority when it comes to liking long games in NS1. 1.04 was remembered as “that patch where it took bloody forever to end games”. This was remedied in later versions, making the average game length 10-30 minutes.

      I played this newest patch. I load up the game every few weeks to see how it’s coming, but performance still is and always will be a joke unfortunately. I’m running an i5 @ 4.3ghz, 6950 2gb, 8gb 2133 ram and the framerate can dip as low as 20. Battlefield 3, also arguably poorly optimized, runs at a constant 80+ fps for me.

      One could say that it’s a beta and it will be fixed by launch, but judging by the last 6 months of “improvements”, I highly doubt another 6 will change much.

    • hunsnotdead says:

      So is it Red Orchestra 2 bad?

    • Veritaas says:

      I never played RO2, but from what I heard it was basically released as a public beta. I’m assuming NS2 is worse though, as it feels like an early alpha right now (it’s still feature incomplete!). It WILL be released in an extremely unpolished beta state.

    • Regnareb says:

      The stalemates were there because we hadn’t the final classes who are here on purpose, now we have. It was totally normal.
      And for the speed of it, I can fairly assume it’s the exact or nearly the exact same thing as NS1 was by looking to the commentary of the devs. But you forgot that in NS1 you had Celerity almost all of the time, and that bunny hoping were playing a major party of it (The leap is totally shitty in NS2, that is a fact, and they are working on it).

      And you are saying bullshit about your performances, or have a problem on your computer, because I am playing with a laptop with a Q6600 and an ATI Mobility HD4650 and 4gb of RAM at a framerate of 20 FPS too, so… there is something really wrong here.
      They have done a great work on performances, especially on build 190 (if I remember right), and there is in nearly every build. Optimization is not a priority when you dev, you will waste time on things that perhaps, will never make it to the final game so let’s that to the end of the work!

    • Lilliput King says:

      Yeah it’s an indie FPS; you’re going to have to cut it some slack on the optimisation front. It just flat out doesn’t play any slower than NS1, either. Not sure where that’s coming from.

      It’s imaginative, it’s original and it’s made great progress over the past few months. Why so much hate?

    • Veritaas says:

      @Regnareb The stalemates still exist, and games still tend to drag out forever. Optimization is a major problem: Playing at 20 fps is unacceptable! This isn’t a strange isolated case of poor performance, pretty much everyone agrees that it’s terrible right now.

      @Lilliput King You need to go watch both games side by side. Every aspect of NS2 has been slowed down.

      There’s no hate here either, just truth and disappointment.

    • MrBRAD! says:

      All you have stated is irrelevant comparisons, senseless opinions on non-issues and a truckload of doubts (an attempt at emphasizing and legitimizing minor complaints by adding additional pessimistic speculation??? Human communication doesn’t work like that, try again). What is your goal here? Do you have some sort of personal qualm with the devs, or a individual member that has led you to gibber all your asspain here?

      NS1 is almost dead and won’t come back. NS2 is also not going to be a carbon-copy of the original. You need to deal with it. This grieving of yours is ugly.

    • Jermmau says:

      Veritaas is a known troll of the NS2 community. You can reliably find him on the forums poo pooing every single build UWE puts out. The game might not be finished, but this kind of negativity is just tiring.

    • Veritaas says:

      Looks like the regulars showed up to white knight the developers.

      Less than 2% of people who preordered NS2 are playing the beta. At peak, there are maybe two servers with enough players to sustain a game. Optimization is almost universally agreed to be pisspoor.

      @MrBRAD! I’m assuming you’re another one of those mindless UWE white knights who looks at any argument against the game as a negative one. True, my posts today on RPS were directed towards the people considering actually purchasing the game and delivering an accurate assessment of how the game currently plays. None of what I said was necessarily false, but it was largely opinion. There are of course the people (the 2%) that have for some strange reason decided that this game was some kind of gift from the gods. As far as me wanting an NS1 remake, your continuous ignorance toward any kind of point I make is a testament to you attitude towards the developers. If you actually knew me in the slightest instead of making rash impressions of negatively-toned forum posts, you would understand that the last thing I want is an NS1 remake.

      @Jermmau Please reread what I’ve wrote: Where does it sound like I was trolling? Was I trying to get a rise out of the RPS community by posting my opinion of the beta? Have I personally attacked anyone when describing the game?

      I just want to reiterate that I’m not alone in my mindset. There are plenty of people that not only agree with me, but voice their opinion just as openly on the forums. Take a look at this video. Notice the likes/dislikes.

    • Lilliput King says:

      There are currently twelve full servers.

    • Veritaas says:

      You and I both know that it’s only because they just released a massive patch, a trailer, and announced a release date. Unless you just bought the game, then disregard this statement. Give it a week, numbers will go back to normal.

    • Aaarrrggghhh says:

      Which is exactly the same with every other FPS beta with every other company out there…

    • Regnareb says:

      @Veritaas Who said that the game was well optimized? Certainly not me, just read carefully my comment and you will see it. And there is a good reason to not optimize completely the game at this time.

      What we say is that you are telling lies and non-sense, we can talk, but not with a troll. Talking trash never bring anything even if it is right. And bringing statistics when no one know them is just… well, I won’t say it.

  20. Squishpoke says:

    This looks like a mix of Starcraft 2, Unreal Tournament, AvP, and Left 4 Dead. I like the looks of this!

    Will be keeping an eye on this.

  21. DocSeuss says:

    That looks fun, but surely I can’t be the only one out there who would prefer an single-player Alien-style game.

    • Premium User Badge

      Craig Pearson says:

      We have so many of those.

    • MattM says:

      I think its good for a game like this to really focus on one game type. I love SP fps, but this is designed from the ground up as a team based mp shooter/strategy hybrid.

  22. Tei says:

    Great video!. I was scared about the idea to create a new engine from scratch. But the “green goo” that aliens spawn is georgeous, and not possible to create with a stock engine (or may be unoptimized). IF (this is a big if) this engine netcode is good, theres the base here to create a rather good NS2, NS3 and NS4.

    I still hate the idea of a commander in a gloom type of game, anyway.

  23. Blackcompany says:

    So this is like the…evolution…of first person shooters?

    Pun aside, I ask because, well, I desperately want a multiplayer shooter where I can hold my own. I really do. But the ones I have played so far are all “spawn, get shot in face by someone as they sprint/jetpack by, respawn and repeat.” Just a bunch of people running helter skelter across maps, holding down triggers. There is no strategy, no grouping or planning and certainly no stealth or cover or tactical combat. Would that there were.
    ….
    If this game can offer those, and actually get people playing that way, I would be more than willing to set up with a mike and headset and give it a go. Not the best where the FPS is concerned, but I would love to play a game where teams and tactics mattered and were not just a formality.

    • Artist says:

      The common monkey is not able to evolve so NS2 will again be too complex for FPS players. And RTS players cant handle the fact that their damn units dont always go to where theyve ordered them!
      Oh, how I love that chaos! =)

    • Moosemanvanalgae says:

      @Blackcompany Have you tried Left4Dead or Killing Floor? You generally have to work as a team to survive in those games. I’ve had a high percentage of teamwork oriented matches in Nuclear Dawn as well. You have to work as a team to win in NS2.

  24. spirit says:

    Now only for a remake of The Specialists and I’d be sorted for 2012.

  25. Artist says:

    When it comes to the RTS/FPS hybrid genre NS1 was THE reference! NS2 has to live up to his grandpa,
    hehe! DemonKnights, at my command! And we shall know no fear!

  26. buzzmong says:

    I’d totally forgotten this was still in development.

    NS1 was rather fun.

  27. LionsPhil says:

    Hunh, this looks a lot like the Half-Life mod.

    With jetpacks.

    This pleases me.

  28. Regnareb says:

    @Veritaas Who said that the game was well optimized? Certainly not me, just read carefully my comment and you will see it. And there is a good reason to not optimize completely the game at this time.

    What we say is that you are telling lies and non-sense, we can talk, but not with a troll. Talking trash never bring anything even if it is right. And bringing statistics when no one know them is just… well, I won’t say it.