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[Serial][UWDFF Alcubierre] Part 54
Beginning|Previous Premier Valast felt a tingle. It began at the base of his spine and traveled moved upward, sending warm fuzzy feelings all throughout his body as it made its way to his brain and inserted itself in his conscious thoughts. After all of the misery. After all of the failures. For once, something had gone right. How delightful. How extravagant. How deserved. The Humans had made a mistake. Clearly, they had thought to expand upon their treachery, believing themselves to be invincible. Their monstrosity of a vessel had appeared just as their last one had, within Halcyon's inner perimeter. After their ruse of parlay, their beast had commenced belching out weapons of mass destruction, clearly in an attempt to retrieve the encryption key and the elite assassin-thief they had dispatched under the guise of a Witness. They thought Halcyon weak. Defenseless. Not true! Not true at all! Kinetics. Valast laughed aloud, his rib cage heaving out great guffaws. Accelerated mass! More laughter. The savages thought to bring such inelegance against the might of the Combine? They mistook their prior fortune for competence. Their one-time success for future capability. Alas, poor Humans, the truth of your inadequacies is made manifest! The brief gap in the defenses brought on by the improbable chain of events that had resulted in their arrival had been filled. For all of their destructive potential, their weapons were useless. Valast continued to cackle, his hindclaws scrunching up the soft material of his pillow, as he watched the Humans receive their punishment for their insolence. The Humans had made assumptions. Perhaps assumptions were fine in their backwater corner of the galaxy, but here, among civilization, assumptions could be quite dangerous indeed. It was quite unwise to assume Halcyon would leave the inner perimeter exposed. They must have thought their Evangi co-conspirators would leave the gates open for them, as the traitor Neeria had done when she had given them access to a Combine wormkey in the first place. Sadly for the Humans, their four-armed friends had been exposed for what they were. A great many of the Evangi now lay motionless on the floor of a Halcyon mainway, a fitting end to their perfidy. Halcyon had stood since the beginning, and it would continue to stand long after the Human infestation had been expunged from the Combine Space. Perhaps the Humans should have spent more time pondering the nature of the place before they had meddled with forces they clearly did not understand. Halcyon existed in defiance of the chaotic nature of the neutron star it orbited. Its survival required an solution to the objects such a gravity well attracted. Halcyon had many such solutions, weaved together to maintain a delicate balance. Among them were the inertial dampeners. The screen in Valast's paws bloomed with colors, indicating firings of Halcyon's inertial dampeners. Each blossom of color was an attempt by the Humans to deploy weapons in clear violation War Accords, cementing Humanity's position as a menace to decent civilization. Had Valast not commanded Bo'Bakka'Gah to take the necessary precautions, the devastation would have been significant. Lines of crimson sailed through the blooms of color. Valast's whiskers twitched, his eyes squinting as it tracked one of these lines. The solution was not perfect. The intertial dampeners in close proximity to Halcyon were a final precaution, and their purpose was narrow. They were a fine net, meant to indiscriminately capture any residual high-speed astral particulate that had escaped the outer defenses. Their efficacy diminished at an exponential rate in proportion to the size and mass of the object they acted upon. Thus far, they had been quite successful at preventing the Humans from making use of their weapons, but dampeners had no effect on the Human vessels. Even if the dampeners could be used for such a purpose, their indiscriminate nature would have required the cessation of all space born travel within Halcyon, an unacceptable disruption to the workings of the Combine's capitol. The Humans' small spherical vessels were thus capable of traveling unimpeded throughout Halcyon space, tracing their crimson lines behind them as they did so. Such a thing did not overly worry Valast. They could not fire their weapons, and they were susceptible to electromagnetic disruption, rendering them easy targets for the Peacekeepers. Were Valast not otherwise consumed with the affairs of state, he would perhaps take to the front line and dispatch a few himself. Sadly, his bravery would find no opportunity for direct expression beyond the valor found in the privilege of command competently exercised. The whiskers ceased their twitching and some cheer returned. It would not be long before the meddlesome Human spheres were swatted from the sky and the encryption key recovered. Then they would dispatch the Human warship. Then Humanity. He need only wait. ----------- "Get spread. Get small." Sana called out. Had to buy time. Had to get a handle on the situation. Not her first rodeo, but it was the first time where she had no idea what the hell she was riding. Maybe the aliens were riding her. Maybe it wasn't a rodeo, maybe it was just a slaughter. That was the problem. No one knew anything. The callsigns in her local were dropping like flies. Squaddies getting wiped without so much as a peep. The eggs in Science were saying EMPs, but the balls were supposed to be fixed against that frakkery. Sensors said the balls were still there even after they went dead, so maybe they were right. Couldn't think about that now. Couldn't think about anything but the mission. Captain Sana Bushida had a shit-shuttle to bring to station. She needed to get from A to B. Normally the quickest point-to-point was a line, but the baddies were coming in from all sides. Trying to corral her in. So be it. She could handle a long and squiggly with the juice she had in the four balls attached to the cockpit. Only question was how long they'd be up for. Whatever they were using on the balls wasn't touching her. She was good, but she wasn't that good. Guess they wanted her kicking and screaming. Predators, not scavengers then. Frakk 'em. Right in their stupid alien faces. Sana's brain shunted command signals as fast as her eyes to parse the readouts in her pilot pod. Dodging. Weaving. Diving. Dipping. Half those words didn't even apply to space, but they felt right. Float like a butterfly, run like cheetah on amphetos. She'd sting 'em later. Run run run, fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the shit-shuttle can. Swipe. Swipe. Two smaller ships moved in a pincer formation, one cutting off her angle around the larger ship she was skimming around. Sana let out a giggle, as she shoved the shuttle in another direction. "You thought you had me, crapdonkey? You never had me. You're gonna be seeing my ass all day." The giggle somehow transformed into a roar halfway through as a third ship appeared in her view, coming out from its hiding place on the other side of the large ship. "SCREW YOU!" They weren't going to win. Losing wasn't an option. Swipe. Patterns emerged as the ballet played out. Certain ships were the herders. The small annoying frakks that always seemed to be moving around her flanks. Other ships were the receivers. They were the big boys. The ones who just floated there like giant shits in space. Lazy frakks just waiting to be fed some shit-shuttle. Fine then. New info. New tactics. New rule: Get around the herders, never get closer to the receivers. Herders bad. Receivers bad-der-er. As long as she was a step ahead of the herders and two steps away from the receivers, she'd be fine. Problem was they were more agile than her. Problem was there was more of them. Problem was the friendly callsigns on her readouts kept disappearing. Problem was that she was stuck in here instead of out there where she belonged. Ninety-nine problems... Swipe. Swipe. All she needed was a line of sight. A place where she could get a whiff of open space and just gun it. Navigate the maze. Get through it. Light at the end of the tunnel. Glass is half full. Metaphor. Analogy. Idiom. The stream of consciousness flowed out of her, expressing itself in her verbiage and in the desperately navigating shuttle some distance away. Step forward. No steps backward. Okay, maybe one step backward, but it'll be okay. She'd take the step forward soon enough. Just...needed...a...line. Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta was gone. It was just her. Swipe. Swipe. The fate of the world. The shit-shuttle must survive. Swipe. Swipe. The gap opened. She saw it. They didn't. "There it is bitches!" All four balls slammed the thrusters on. It wasn't a direct bee line to the Oppenheimer but it was good enough. She just needed to get out of the hornet's nest and into open space so she could keep pouring on the acceleration. She didn't know how much juice the herders had, but it was all she had going for her at this point. Bitter bile rose up in her throat as the shit-shuttle surged forward, leaving A through D behind. Her squaddies. Her friends. Abandoned. She should be out there. She could be. She just needed to get the mission done. She was so close. She was putting distance between her and the baddies. Just a few more minutes...the link cut off. Her thoughts were shunting into a wall. She swiped, her eyes scanning the readouts. Alcubierre - Shuttle - Cockpit (Ejection)(DISTRESS) no longer appeared. For once, Sana was speechless. --------------------- Kai retched air. There was nothing else to throw up at this point. He'd given everything he had to give, and it was now floating about the cockpit in a viscous cloud. He was fairly certain Neeria was collateral damage in the matter. If she were ever to regain consciousness, she'd find she had been provided with a fresh coat of puke paint. At this point, being blind was something of a boon. Congratulations were owed to the sadist in the pilot's seat though, he hadn't emptied his stomach like this since flight sims. He'd raise his hand in salute if it weren't for the incredible g-force shifts whipping him around like a rag doll as the pilot attempted to avoid whatever was out there. Some of the maneuvers seemed impossibly complex, as if the cockpit was navigating through an impassable morass of enemies. Or perhaps the pilot was just drunk. Either seemed possible. The whipsawing continued. Back. Forth. Round and round. Acceleration never seemed to continue in a single direction for more than a few seconds. They were going in circles. They had to be. Finally, it appeared the pilot had decided on a direction as Kai was slammed back into his chair as the cockpit rocketed forward under sustained acceleration. They must have broken through. Or the pilot had fallen asleep at the controls with the throttle down and they were all doomed. Either way. At this point, Kai was just eager for it to be over. The acceleration continued. He felt like he was being crushed. Like an enormous hand was pressing against him, trying to squeeze all of his organs out through his eyes. Whatever was powering the cockpit now was beyond the parameters of the shuttle's acceleration compensators. His vision began to dim and his joints ached. Pain surged up in his right arm, which was still contorted within the goo. He was fairly certain a bone had just snapped. "Oppenheimer..ETA," Kai managed to gasp out, drawing the breath back into his lungs with some effort. "The shuttle is not currently on course to intercept with the UWDFFOppenheimer." "Joan." Kai wheezed. "Connect. Joan." The acceleration cut off. Kai took a huge gulp of air, the relief immediate. "Comm-link. Fleet Admiral Joan Orléans." No response. Kai tried again. Silence greeted him. Grumbling, he raised his left wrist toward his face. He stuck out his tongue and smeared it along the wrist console's interface. None of the expected beeps and chirps sounded out. It was dead, and, he suspected, so was the cockpit along with whatever had been propelling him. No life support. No way to call out for help. No way to do anything but sit there. For all intents and purposes, they were a hunk of space junk drifting off into the black oblivion. Fair enough. It was a fitting end. Helpless. Hopeless. Kai tried to muster some anger at the situation, if only to distract him from the pain coursing through his body, but found he was up to the task. It was easier to be motivated when there was something to do. Some way he could impact the situation. But there was nothing to do but wait. Maybe he'd live. Probably he'd die. He didn't mind it, that was the same binary he faced every other day. It was a bit more present in his mind than it normally was, but the truth was that he was overdue for demise. He'd given death the slip more times than anyone had a right to. Still. It bothered him. Not the death part. The not doing what he set out to do part. He had run through walls, both literal and figurative, to make it this far. He didn't know what making it back to the Oppenheimer would mean for Humanity, but it had to be better than not making it. The encryption key -- what did it do? What could it do? Would it be doable? Neeria -- could she guide them? Could she help them navigate the treacherous galaxy Humanity was just beginning to play a part in? There were so many questions. The answers could matter. Kai tried to remember how much time they had. Without life support, the supply of oxygen would rapidly begin to deplete. He supposed it didn't matter, since he had no idea whether Neeria breathed, what Neeria she breathed, or the rate she consumed it. His space suit had a few hours of stored supply, but it was designed to work in conjunction with his helmet. Without the wrist console, he'd need to find some way to manually vent it. That was something to do. Small, but perhaps meaningful. Anything to tilt the scales just a little bit more in their direction. Just a few more minutes of air could make a difference. "Seconds matter," Kai wheezed out. His breath was wet and tasted of iron. He'd worry about that later. Air first. It wasn't much of a plan, but it was better than nothing. He hoped Joan's plans were faring better. ------------------- The Admiral's Bridge was awash in a sea of red. Multiple views vied for primacy as the situation continued to deteriorate. So far, the Oppenheimer itself had withstood the sustained EMP assault directed its way, but the same could not be said for the battle balls. Callsigns continued to blink out of existence with every passing second. The Oppenheimer had immediately attempted to provide supporting fire, but its kinetic weaponry was similarly disabled. Whatever the circumstances had been that had allowed the Alcubierre to destroy an alien vessel, they were clearly no longer relevant to the situation at hand. Without kinetics, the vast majority of Humanity's space-born projective power was effectively nullified. Science was looking into explanations and alternatives, but it would take time. The Oppenheimer's EMP arrays had succeeded in firing, but the alien vessels appeared to be impervious to that form of assault. It was unclear whether they possessed EMP hardening around core processes similar to the Oppenheimer or they had other means of deflecting attacks of that nature. In the absence of an alternative, the Oppenheimer was continuously discharging the EMP arrays as they became available, attempting to test for weaknesses. The energy drain from the sustained fire was easily accommodated by the altered physics of local space, but it was unclear whether alien defenses could be worn down by continuous assault. Other oddities were appearing as the situation unfolded. The aliens did not field any tactical fighters that their sensors could identify. There were ships of different sizes, but, thus far, no vessels had moved to directly engage the balls. Kai's cockpit was being corralled by a series of smaller ships working in conjunction with the larger ones, but that was it. Joan considered it, trying to parse out deeper meanings from the absence. Human conflict, both Earthside and in space, had always heavily relied on tactical fighters. They had numerous advantages in terms of firepower projection and significantly increased tactical dynamism in a battle zone. Either the aliens had never considered the approach, or it was considered suboptimal within this environment. Joan squinted, watching as the battle ball's callsigns dropped from the battle status view. She tilted her head. "This environment," she muttered to herself, her eyes drawn to the EMP array firing status. The recharge bars filled and expended. Filled and expended. Each cycle representing an incredibly powerful pulse of electromagnetic energy at the speed of light. Speed of light. Speed. The answer struck her. The ramifications of the answer were displeasing. Plans must be altered. Contingencies reconsidered. The Black Fork was too optimistic. Their position was considerably worse than hoped for, but not entirely beyond anticipated outcomes, which had included their immediate destruction upon arrival in the system. They simply had fewer tools than she desired. Tactical fighters had low utility when combat operated at the speed of light. There was no yield on agility, because no thruster could move faster than light could travel. There was no evading a lightspeed weapon at these distances. Unless a tactical fighter could retain functionality under fire, which the death balls so far could not, they were a pointless extravagance. At best, they could serve as a momentary distraction, particularly when their weapons were inoperable. The unique characteristics of Humanity's birthplace were a hindrance here. Kinetics were the logical path for weaponry to take in an environment where destructive output was a matter of maximizing scarce energy resources. They were also the easiest, most natural extension from their Earthside forebears. Humanity had begun development of lightspeed weapons, the EMP and the Griggs pulse among them, but they placed tremendous strain on ship systems. The Oppenheimer, as a dreadcarrier, was among the few Earth spaceships that contained a full battery of EMP arrays. Due to the extremely demanding specifications, only a Pulser class ship could make use of a Griggs pulse. Had Humanity known what it faced just beyond its doorstep, it would have invested its research and development resources differently. Too late now. The game was not lost yet, they simply must play the hand they were dealt to its greatest effect. A display flashed from green to red and moved toward the center of the wall, increasing in size. Simultaneously, three other displays shifted in color, position and size, in a chain reaction. Joan frowned. Or perhaps the game was lost, and she was only just realizing it. The shuttle cockpit's callsign, along with the four balls that had attached to it, had disappeared. Her hands darted up and began a series of gestures, swiping North to South as she removed some filters from the local space scan and South to North as she applied others. She exhaled. The shuttle had not been destroyed, only incapacitated. It was careening through space away from the cluster of alien ships closest to Halcyon, though a few were in rapid pursuit. The pursuers had acceleration in their favor, but the shuttle's current course brought them toward the Oppenheimer. Joan flicked a few fingers, pulling the course data from the local scan and pushing it into the timer view.
Pursuers to Shuttle: 1m6s
Tactical Fighter to Shuttle: 38s
Oppenheimer to Shuttle: 53s
G4 Fleet First Arrival: 1m42s
Oppenheimer to Exit: 3m0s
Before Joan could issue the order, the nearest balls peeled off and immediately began an intercept course with the shuttle. Joan pulled up the command-chain, it appeared that Captain Bushida had decided to be proactive. Very well, but it would not be enough. The balls were more likely than not to be incapacitated before they could be used in any rescue effort. This required a more substantial intervention if the outcome were to be changed. Joan pushed a new course heading into her comm-link with Ragnar. "Captain, I am moving us off of the Black Fork standing orders." Ragnar glanced at the course heading. "That's even further in." Joan nodded, "It's the only way we'll recover the cockpit. The balls can't get the job done." "There's a risk the Oppenheimer won't get it done either. They're holding back," Ragnar replied, his eyes scanned off screen, bouncing between the various readouts and inbound requests. "Doesn't make any sense they'd only have EMPs. They've got more." "Likely. My current belief is that they will refrain from further escalation until they have either secured the cockpit or believe they can no longer retrieve it. Each moment of escalation from them has been in response to an action on our part directed at the cockpit." Ragnar wiped the back of his sleeve against his brow, mopping up the sweat. "Must be something important." "Must be. The prize is likely worth the pain here, Ragnar. Retrieving the cockpit is the top priority. Preservation of ourselves is an ancillary concern." "G4 is only a few out. We can hold that long," Ragnar said. "Get the job done, Captain," Joan ordered and then cut the comm. Ragnar was a sophisticated battlefield tactician. The overlap between them was significant, and the differences between them were accretive to both. They both knew there was another card to be played, it was just a matter of whether Humanity could adapt to it. Joan opened another comm-link. "Chief Adeyemi." The Chief blinked a few times as the interjection, as if being pulled from a daze. "Idara!" Joan exclaimed. "Where's Science at?" Idara wet her lips, "We've gathered the data and mapped it to a few different explanations...but we need more--" "You don't have it. Best guess, go." "Some sort of inertial dampening field. Effects smaller objects. Weakens as the objects get larger. Only affects objects moving a certain speed. Only affects objects in space. Our kinetics are getting caught. Bigger objects, like the fighters, like the Oppenheimer, are fine. Bullets fired inside of the Oppenheimer are fine. "Any sense on source?" Idara shook her head. "But it doesn't effect the fighters. Doesn't effect energy based weapons." "From what we can see, that's right." Joan's eyes drifted toward the tracker on Kai's cockpit. Hurtling through space. "Idara, when the Alcubierre was heading for Proxima Barrier, your modeling said the ship would survive the impact, correct?" "Yes, Admiral. There isn't an equal an opposite reaction. Actor has primacy in these physics." Joan stared at Idara, lost in thought. The Chief shifted uncomfortably, "Is there something else--" "I have what I need," Joan replied, cutting the comm. She pulled up the status tracker on the balls. Over eight-five percent of launched fighters had already been incapacitated. The Oppenheimer still retained a final wing in its hangers, numbering approximately a hundred and twenty additional balls. Joan watched the timers ticking down. They needed to go on the offensive. To find a way to tilt the situation in their favor. Even if they retrieved the cockpit, it was a long way back to the wormhole, and a long time to survive before G4 appeared. If the aliens had an ace up their sleeve, that would be the time to play it, when they had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. She re-opened the comm with Ragnar. "Captain, I think we can even the odds a bit." "I'm all ears, Admiral." Joan pushed a series of orders to Ragnar. He glanced at them and then glared at her, "You want-- "Yes, Captain, that's what I want." "But they'll be destroyed," Ragnar responded. "Not if they're moving fast enough. Get whoever we can get back into the hangers, launch the rest without the pilots. Target the ships. Target Halcyon." Ragnar stared at her, "Halcyon? That's a civilian--" "Captain, I want those balls dumped and under full steam at the designated targets. That's an order." Ragnar opened his mouth and then shut it. A hand came off screen and formed a salute. The comm was dropped shortly after. Almost immediately, the tactical fighters shifted flight plans and began their retreat toward the Oppenheimer. Simultaneously, the wing residing within the *Oppenheimer'*s hangers shifted from stand-by to active. Soon they would be launched, pushing top acceleration toward Halcyon. No EMP would be able to stop them. If the aliens had another card to play, Joan hoped this would force it out and maybe, just maybe, buy enough time for G4 to make an appearance. She just needed a little time. Just needed to survive long enough for the Pulsers to arrive. Seconds mattered. Next. Be sure to leave a comment or an upvote if you're enjoying Alcubierre. If you want a sense of how much it matters to me,here's a very emo journal entry documenting it. Click this linkor reply withSubscribeMe!to get notified of updates to THE PLATYPUS NEST. I have been conducting a strange experiment on myTwitterwhich people seem to be enjoying. I found an AI bot that randomly posts impactful images every few minutes. I've decided to craft a narrative on top of these random images called "The Human Archives."
A proposal to eliminate the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland
This is a long one. There is no TL;DR, but Google tells me it should take about 10 minutes to read. Or, you can skip to The Plan - Summary if you want the bullet points. But why should you give this any time at all? My background is in data analysis. Making sense of numbers is what I do for a living. I have been studying COVID-19 since I was locked down in March and the experience has been frustrating in equal measure. The difference between what was happening on the ground, and the story that the media told was genuinely alarming. The government / NPHET never even tried to stop the virus getting into the country, and no one held them to account for their (non)decisions. The disastrous consequences are all around us, and much of it was preventable. Six months later, and the country has barely moved on. The ‘experts’ have no goals and little control over the virus. The media frame every issue as a crass binary choice between more or less restrictions and are otherwise happy just to have people to point their fingers at. The government / NPHET has nothing to offer the people, other than admonishments to do better and repeated cycle of restrictions. Meanwhile students, artists, the over 70s, small business owners, the entire events and hospitality industries, and regular people who cannot WFH have been left swinging in the wind. Some have been evicted, others are relying on drugs to get by. This situation is not just a problem for one or two parts of our society: this is a widespread degradation of our quality of life. If I can do anything to help, I feel obliged to try. Context As I see it, we have three choices:
Give up = ‘herd immunity’ / Great Barrington Declaration
Take the path of least resistance = ‘Living With The Virus’ (living in fear of the virus)
Solve the problem = elimination / eradication
I won’t argue over technocratic definitions like ‘elimination’, ‘eradication’ or ‘suppression’. These distinctions are semantic in an environment of oppressive civic restrictions, mass unemployment, waves of business closures, and general misery. Whatever gets us to a place where we can live our lives as normal (or close enough), and the public health infrastructure can take care of the virus, that’s what I’m aiming for. This proposal cannot work without public support. No proposal can work without public support. Public adherence is the single most important variable in the equation, yet it is the one that the politicians and the media and the ‘experts’ have ignored. FG burned through a lot of goodwill in the first lockdown (and money, and resources, and lives…). Instead of vilifying people who aren’t adhering to the rules, policymakers need to recognise the sacrifices that the people made (which were subsequently squandered) and they need to earn that trust back. This proposal cannot work without support from the North. That doesn’t mean that we need to convince them to adopt our plan. It means we need to convince them that the goal is worthwhile and achievable. From there we can work together to coordinate our policies. Managing our own affairs with competence, would be a good start. Picking up the phone to talk to them, instead of trying to browbeat them through the media, would also help. Irrespective of your goals or beliefs, some facts are certain: there will be lockdowns, there will be government spending to support the economy, and the virus will demand public health resources. All of that will happen in the coming months and years, whether we have a plan or not. The question is whether those resources are used to solve the problem, or whether they are wasted on a plan that keeps us going around in circles. So yes, there will be lockdowns in this proposal, but they will not be FG lockdowns i.e. lock them down and throw away the key. Through intelligent policies and a greater mobilisation of resources, we can do so much more with our lockdowns to reduce the burden on the people and make their experience more tolerable. Indeed, that trade-off always exists in public policy: better policymaking = happier people. Which is why the politicians usually get the blame, and rightly so. We need to move to a more ‘war time’ mindset. Not because we need a shared enemy to unite us, but because we need to mobilise every possible resource at our disposal and focus it on the single most important issue affecting us all. We need more tests, we need vehicles for mobile testing units, we need facilities for quarantines. Wherever there is spare capacity, we need to find a way to put it to good use. We need to take most of the power away from the narrow-minded medics, and get the rest of our society and our civic infrastructure involved in planning e.g. community representatives, legal experts, business leaders, An Garda, the army etc. People want to invest in their communities, they want to help their friends and neighbours. There are people all over the country who would rather be volunteering as part of a national plan to get rid of COVID-19, than to be sitting at home on the PUP, going crazy listening to the ‘experts’ – who failed to prevent this – talk about more lockdowns. We need to harness that latent energy and build it into the plan. One of the most important factors that is within our control, is the degree to which policymakers communicate with the people. And I mean real communication, not press releases or attention-seeking speeches from the other side of the world. We need to talk to the people, listen to them, answer their questions, take their feedback on board. The people aren’t stupid. They know a good plan when they see it – which is why few are paying attention to the ‘Living With The Virus’ stuff – and they have valuable information that can help make that plan work. Underlying these points is a need to create intelligent rules, and to enforce them strictly. Strict does not mean harsh. Strict enforcement is not authoritarianism, and it is not an invitation to a fight; it is simply administrative competence. In the context of a contagious outbreak, administrative competence is the difference between life and death. I’ll finish this section with the caveat that all parameters are suggestions or placeholders. The exact numbers will depend on resources, on more data and further analysis, and on input from communities and other stakeholders – all of which is within our control. The Plan – Summary Like any problem in life, if you can’t solve it directly, you break it down into smaller, less complex parts. Instead of putting the whole country into lockdown and trying to eradicate the virus from the whole island at the same time – a miserable experience for all – we should go county by county until the job is done. We seal off a county, flood it with resources, clear it of COVID-19, and then let it reopen as normal. We repeat the process for neighbouring counties and then combine them when they are cleared, to create a larger ‘Cleared Zone’. The process continues and the Cleared Zone keeps growing until it covers the whole island. This approach allows us to focus our resources on one area at a time (nurses, doctors, tests, volunteers etc) instead of spreading them over the whole country. We can be more comprehensive in our testing and quarantining measures, and more confident in our plans. Short, sharp, strict lockdowns work best. By maximising the ratio of resources to population, we also lower the burden on the people. In particular, we minimise the amount of time that people spend in lockdown, and the less time they spend in lockdown, the more likely the plan is to work. This structured approach also makes it easier for us to measure our progress and make reliable forecasts. We can allocate our resources more efficiently and plan our responses more effectively. Observers can watch our progress and judge for themselves whether it is a good idea (i.e. politicians in the North and / or protestors in Dublin). Perhaps most important of all, the structure makes it easier to explain the idea to the people and get buy-in before anything happens. We can outline the plan, explain how it works, explain how it compares to the alternatives, and then give them realistic estimates of what would be required and how long it would take. Then we can hear their feedback and take the conversation and planning from there. I have heard any people talking about elimination and ZeroCovid, but do any of them have a plan for getting to zero? Or a plan to get the people on board? Step 1: More structure and responsibility from leaders Step 2: Less uncertainty, easier decisions, better outcomes, less stress for everyone Step 3: Profit. Elimination. The Plan – Implementation We isolate a county and lock it down for an initial 3 weeks. An Garda man the county borders. They are supported by the army, who provide boots on the ground so that An Garda aren’t stretched. Most routes are closed off so that all essential travel goes through a few well-manned checkpoints. If we do a good job with planning and communication, there won’t be much work to do. We test systemically high-risk households and high-risk individuals early and often i.e. large households and essential workers. With help from local volunteers, medics screen as many people as possible every day. We use multiple measures and repeated applications to improve the quality of our results. We want to identify and remove cases at the earliest possible point, both to reduce the chance of further infection, and to protect the individual’s health. Low risk confirmed cases (young / healthy) go to a safe and comfortable quarantine. Local hotels and guest houses could be used, ideally before we invest in building quarantine facilities. Local taxis, kitted out with extra protective equipment, could take them there. High risk confirmed cases (older / comorbidities) go by ambulance to local medical facilities as required. During this period, we work with local politicians, community leaders, residence associations etc to ensure that everyone is looked after (in reality, these conversations will have started weeks before). We get our neighbourhoods communicating, looking out for each other, making sure they’ve got enough food or heating or whatever else they need. Local volunteers and taxi drivers can do odd jobs like sending packages, collecting prescriptions, lifting heavy stuff, or just checking in on people. If it is feasible, we can even invite local artists to play gigs for people in their streets or apartments. Towards the end of the second week, we begin a mass testing program with the ultimate goal of testing every person in the county (scale depends on resources). Once we have completed the tests and cleared the confirmed cases into quarantine, we can begin a slow, staggered opening process. We must be especially conservative at this point to ensure no slippage. When one county is clear, we move to the next one, and repeat the process. When we have cleared two bordering counties, we can join them together in a bigger Cleared Zone and the process continues from there. Eventually the Cleared Zone covers the whole country, except Dublin (or more realistically, the Pale). What would the other counties do while they wait for their turn? I’m assuming that, they would be doing whatever the ‘Living With The Virus’ plan dictates. This proposal succeeds in line with what happens in the sealed off zones, so I am more concerned with them. However, it would speed up the process if the bordering counties could be encouraged to get a head start. If the plan is going successfully, I’m confident they would. With its population density and its complexity, Dublin / the Pale will be the last county to be cleared. However, given that every other county would be cleared by that point, and with so much effort having been put in, it might make more sense just to burn Dublin down. We could go with a concrete mausoleum as per Chernobyl, but it might be easier and quicker if we just raised the city and started from scratch. The country needs to rebalance, so it’d be two birds with one stone. Or maybe we call that plan B. Dublin’s plan A would follow the same principles as for the rest of the country. Break it into smaller parts, focus resources on one area at a time, use layers of risk measures where precision isn’t an option, and get cases as early as possible, using whatever resources available. By that stage the rest of the country would be clear and the demand for medical resources low. We would have learned a lot along the way, and we would have plenty of ammo to throw at the problem. In general, the more resources we have, the faster we can move. The county by county approach that I have outlined above is too slow. With greater resources, we can increase the number of counties that are being cleared at any one time. One option is to work by province. Another would be to define the zones with respect to observed travel routes, in order to reduce the risk of leakage and reduce the inconvenience on local communities. At the end of the day, lines have to be drawn somewhere, and some people will inevitably lose out. The better we communicate with people in advance, the lower the burden on the people and the more of these problems we can avoid. Following on from that, one of the skills we need to take from this crisis is the ability to isolate and quarantine regions. Whether it is a city, a town, a county, a specific building, or even the entire country, we need to be able to seal it off and control movement in and out. This is an essential tool for outbreak management – whatever the outbreak and whatever the disease. The same goes for individuals. We need to be able to create and operate safe, comfortable, and effective quarantines, and to do so at short notice. It should be a matter of national embarrassment that FG and NPHET couldn’t even organise a quarantine in a pandemic. The whole process might take 3 to 4 months. That means we would have cut off all non-essential air travel for that time, but it doesn’t mean the whole country is in lockdown for 3 or 4 months. The lockdown is staggered, and the individual’s experience will depend on their location and their place in the ‘queue’. The first group of counties to go into lockdown will also be the first to come out. Once they have eliminated the spread of the virus, they will return to a normal, although somewhat isolated, society. The experience steadily improves as more and more counties join them in the Cleared Zone (or steadily deteriorates, depending on your county pride). While the first group is in lockdown, the rest of the country continues as normal i.e. living with the virus. Everyone watches as the first group goes through its lockdown (just think of the #banter). Several weeks later, as the first group is opening up, the second group is preparing to go in to lockdown. As the second group comes out, the third group goes in etc etc and the staggered lockdowns roll like a wave across the country. Every county goes from Living With The Virus -> intelligent lockdown (needs a better name) -> Cleared Zone. The earlier you are in the queue, the less time you spend Living With The Virus and the more time you spend in the Cleared Zone. The individual would only be in a strict lockdown for a matter of weeks, maybe 3-6 depending on the complexity of the region and the resources available. For counties with smaller populations that have shown that they can do a good lockdown, it will be quicker. For Dublin, it will be slower. Strengths I think this proposal has a lot of strengths. It’s a plan, for a start. We haven’t had a plan since this thing began (the FG lockdown wasn’t a plan – it was the inevitable consequence of not having a plan). The leaders take more responsibility to lower the burden on the people, it mobilises idle resources, and it fosters communication and community across the country. These are three strengths that I want to emphasise. 1 It provides clarity This might be the most important point. Uncertainty is painful. Uncertainty is a cost. Even if the bad thing is unlikely to happen, just the fact that it is a risk, or that it could happen means that you live with a cloud over your head. Suffering is bad enough on its own, but suffering for an unknown length of time is torture. And if that period is determined at the whim of a politician or an ‘expert’, that is a recipe for society-wide anger and even civil disorder. With this proposal, we can forecast the length of the period of lockdown with greater accuracy. The people will be able to understand what is being asked of them. We can make plans around resources required versus those available. The economists can make forecasts. Businesses can plan their finances. The people can plan their weddings, book their holidays, get back to training, sign up for courses, and have things to look forward to. At the end of the day, any successful proposal must remove the uncertainty and provide meaningful clarity to households and businesses. 2 Never let a crisis go to waste This plan will require tools and capabilities like rapid local testing, safe quarantines, rapid isolation of towns and regions, emergency decision-making frameworks etc. If we don’t have a capability, then we need to build it. When people say ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ this is what they mean: you build the tools in the crisis that will help you protect yourself from the next one. Nature works the same way. You lift weights until the muscle fibres tear, then they grow back stronger. We build aerobic endurance by pushing ourselves to a limit, then our body naturally reacts to increase the limit. A vaccine works similarly by stimulating antibodies for the disease. Well, we need a civic emergency vaccine for Ireland. These tools are the antibodies that will protect us next time. The sooner we build them, the better. Now is the time, not later. 3 It's the only way we can protect the economy The risk to the economy isn’t the next few months of revenue. We can borrow to cover lost income in the short run. The real risk is a wave of defaults that precipitates a financial crisis. As more individuals and businesses are put under financial pressure, more borrowers will default on their debts. But one man’s debt is another man’s asset, so as the borrowers default, the lender’s financial situation also deteriorates. Defaults are contagious, and if a wave of defaults threatens a major lender, the entire financial system will be at risk. Only an elimination plan can protect the economy. Along with the virus and the uncertainty it creates, we need to eliminate the risk of financial contagion. Weaknesses Could ya be arsed The End Goal Think about what’s on the other side of this… This is a massive challenge – the kind that defines a nation. However you think of your community, this would give you something to be proud of for generations. It would be like Italia ’90, except 10 times bigger, because we would be the players, we would be the ones making it happen. We’d become the first country in Europe to eliminate the virus. And of all the countries in the world, we’d be doing it from the largest deficit too. Those Taiwanese and Kiwis made it easy for themselves with their preparation and their travel restrictions and their competent leaders. Our challenge is much greater than theirs, but they show us what is possible. Have you ever wanted to scoff at the Germans for being disorganised? Wouldn’t you love to have a reason to mock the Danes? Aren’t you sick of hearing about New Zealand? Let’s make the Kiwis sick of hearing about the Irish! If we take this challenge on, the world’s media will be on us. The FT, the Economist, the NYT, the Guardian, Monacle, Wired, the New Scientist, China Daily, RT, Good Housekeeping, Horse and Hound, PornHub… all of these international media empires would be tracking our progress, interviewing key people, reporting daily, willing us on. The world is desperate for good news, and we can be the ones to give it to them. We would become a model for other nations to follow. They would take the Irish model and adapt it to their own situation. Instead of us copying other nations, they would be copying us. Instead of a pat on the head for the diddy little Irish fellas, we would be literally LEADING THE WORLD. Back at home, we get our lives back, and society can breathe again, free of restrictions. The over 70s come out of hibernation. The students go back to university. The protests stop because people go back to work and we announce an inquiry into what exactly happened in February and March. The pubs go back to being pubs. Our hospitality industry is taken off life support. The tidal wave of bankruptcies is avoided. We can play sport and celebrate the wins. We stop talking about things we can or can't do. Just imagine that first session... And imagine how good it would feel knowing that you had worked for it, and knowing that you had set the nation on a better path for generations to come... I think it’s worth a lash! Don’t you?
*These are preliminary Patch Notes and changes may still happen until the launch of Title Update 10.
New Season – Keener’s Legacy
A new season is almost upon us! Starting on June 23rd, Keener’s Legacy offers 12 weeks of in-game activities and unique rewards. Season 2 brings a new Seasonal Manhunt, new Leagues, a new Global event and new unique rewards, as well as an Apparel Event.
New Manhunt tasking you to take on 5 rogue agents over a 12-week period starting June 23rd. Bring down all five to unlock the new Healing Trap skill variant.
New Global Event Hollywood
New Apparel Event Phoenix Down
New Leagues Termite, Luna, Huntsman and Titan.
2 new Exotics
1 new Gear Set
2 new Named Weapons
2 new Named Gear
1 new Brand Set
Participating in the activities above will earn players Season experience contributing to their Season level.
Playing Conflict will contribute XP by gaining Conflict Levels beyond 30.
Playing in the Dark Zone will contribute XP by gaining DZ Levels beyond 30.
New Raid - Operation Iron Horse
The True Sons have taken over a Foundry to develop new weapons and threaten to destroy everything the Division has worked for.
New bosses, puzzles and rewards!
Level 40 version available on June 30th, followed the next week by the level 30 version.
Discovery mode will become available at a later date.
2 new Exotics
2 new Gear Sets
New cosmetic rewards
Further details will become available closer to the raid’s release in late June.
Balance and Bug Fixes
Title Update 10 is bringing our first large balance pass following the release of Warlords of New York. Beyond the addition of new content, the update focuses on three main aspects mainly game health through bug fixes and balancing, generosity by increasing your chances to receive a high-quality item as loot and increasing overall player power. Scroll down for a full list of bug fixes, balancing changes and gameplay tweaks.
Missing Localized Audio
We wanted to inform you about an issue with localized audio that will be present when we launch Title Update 10 and Season 2. While the team was able to work from home to get this update ready, with your help testing the content on the PTS, we unfortunately were not able to record all localized audio content for TU10. With everything going on in the world, our top priority is the well-being of our teams, including our voice actors. Of course, we will start working on recording the missing audio with our partners when it is safe to do so and, in some cases, we were able to get things started already. Adding the localized files to the game as soon as we can in one of our next updates is an absolute priority for the team. This only affects Seasonal content. Operation Iron Horse audio is fully localized. If you are currently playing with a non-English client, you don’t have to change anything going into Title Update 10. When localized audio is missing you will just hear the English audio instead. Subtitles have been localized and can be activated in the ingame options. As work continues, we will update you on the progress of the integration here on the forums and on State of the Game. Thank you and stay safe!
SRS Sniper Rifle: Mantis
Your scoped view displays additional information about enemies not targeting you
Your scoped view highlights enemy weakpoints
Headshot and weak point damage against enemies not targeting you amplified by 50%
Headshot kills reset the cooldown of the Decoy skill. This bonus will wait until the Decoy goes on cooldown if currently active
Status effects also apply a damage over time debuff for 10s
Total damage dealt is equal to 50% of your concussion grenade damage and increased by your status effect attributes
Double Barrel Rifle: The Ravenous (Operation Iron Horse)
On trigger-pull, fire both barrels at once
When fired from the right shoulder, hits add offensive primers, and defensive primers when fired from the left shoulder
Hits from one shoulder will detonate all of the opposite shoulder's primers when present
When detonated or affected enemy is killed, each offensive primer deals 100% weapon damage, while each defensive primer grants +4% bonus armor and +10% amplified damage to armor plates for 5s
Primer effectiveness is doubled at 10 stacks
Magnum Pistol: Regulus (Operation Iron Horse)
Headshot kills create a 5m explosion, dealing 400% weapon damage and applying bleed to all enemies hit.
High accuracy and base damage
New Gear Sets
Eclipse Protocol (Season 2)
Core: Skill Tier (Yellow)
2: +15% Status Effects
3: +15% Skill Haste and +30% Hazard Protection
4: "Indirect Transmission" Your status effects now spread on kill to all enemies within 15m and refresh 50% of the duration.
Chest talent: "Proliferation" Increases Indirect Transmission range from 15m to 20m and refresh percentage from 50% to 75%
Backpack talent: "Symptom Aggravator" Amplifies all damage you deal to status affected targets by 15%
Foundry Bulwark (Operation Iron Horse)
Core: Armor (Blue)
2: +10% Armor
3: +3% Armor Regeneration
4: "Makeshift Repairs" Whenever you or your shield take damage, 20% of that amount is repaired to both over 15s
Chest talent: "Process Refinery" Increases Makeshift Repairs from 20% to 30% over 15s
Backpack talent: "Improved Materials" Increases Makeshift Repairs speed from 15s to 10s
Future Initiative (Operation Iron Horse)
Core: Skill Tier (Yellow)
2: +30% Repair Skills
3: +30% Skill Duration and +15% Skill Haste
4: "Ground Control" Increases you and your allies' total weapon and skill damage by 15% when at full armor
When you repair an ally, you and all allies within 5m of you are also repaired for 60% of that amount
Chest talent: "Tactical Superiority" Increases Ground Control damage bonus from +15% to +25%
Backpack talent: "Advanced Combat Tactics" Increases Ground Control proximity repair from 60% to 120%
New Gear Brand
Walker, Harris & Co.
Core: Weapon Damage (Red)
1: +5.0% Weapon Damage
2: +5.0% Damage to Armor
3: +5.0% Damage to Health
New Named Weapons
Mechanical Animal (SIG 556) with Future Perfection
Weapon kills grant +1 skill tier for 19s. Stacks up to 3 times.
Weapon kills at skill tier 6 grant overcharge for 15s.
Overcharge Cooldown: 90s
Harmony (Resolute MK47) with Perfectly In Sync
Hitting an enemy grants +20% skill damage for 5s.
Using a skill or damaging an enemy with a skill grants +20% weapon damage for 5s.
Damage increases are doubled while both buffs are active at the same time.
New Named Gear
Matador (Walker, Harris & Co. backpack) with Perfect Adrenaline Rush
When you are within 10m of an enemy, gain 23% bonus armor for 5s. Stacks up to 3 times.
Chainkiller (Walker, Harris & Co. chest) with Perfect Headhunter. After killing an enemy with a headshot, your next weapon hit within 30s deals 150% of that killing blow’s damage in addition to it.
Damage is capped to 800% of your weapon damage. This is raised to 1250% if your headshot damage is greater than 150%.
New Skill Variant
The Repair Trap deploys a line of small devices capable of repairing friendlies in their proximity.
Note: The Repair Trap will not be available in-game until the Seasonal prime target unlocks in August.
Weapon Talent: Future Perfect
Weapon kills grant +1 skill tier for 15s. Stacks up to 3 times.
Weapon kills at skill tier 6 grant overcharge for 15s.
Overcharge Cooldown: 90s
Weapon Talent: In Sync
Hitting an enemy grants +15% skill damage for 5s.
Using a skill or damaging an enemy with a skill grants +15% weapon damage for 5s.
Damage increases are doubled while both buffs are active at the same time.
Backpack Talent: Adrenaline Rush
When you are within 10m of an enemy, gain 20% bonus armor for 5s. Stacks up to 3 times.
Chest Talent: Headhunter
After killing an enemy with a headshot, your next weapon hit within 30s deals 125% of that killing blow’s damage in addition to it.
Damage is capped to 800% of your weapon damage. This is raised to 1250% if your headshot damage is greater than 150%.
Reduced how many elites will spawn in the following mission:
Manning National Zoo
Coney Island Ballpark
Coney Island Amusement Park
Camp White Oak
Space Administration HQ
Federal Emergency Bunker
Added all new season 2 weapons/gear to general loot pools
Updated item power distribution to have a better spread between minimum and maximum for all difficulties
Increased minimum rolled item power for Field Proficiency/DZ caches, Clan caches and Season caches.
Regular loot from loot containers in Missions now scale with mission difficulty
Targeted loot from loot containers in Missions now scales with mission difficulty
Loot containers part of living world activities now scale with global difficulty
Increased targeted loot drop chances for all mission and Control Point difficulties
Added new season 2 brand to targeted loot rotation
Warlords of New York brands can now also show up as targeted loot in DC, including Dark Zones
Increased named item drop chance in regular Dark Zone loot
Increased named item drop chance in targeted loot everywhere
Added Warlords of New York/Season 1 Exotics (excluding The Bighorn) to targeted loot
Added Warlords of New York/Season 1 Exotics (excluding The Bighorn) to general Exotic loot pools (Heroic/Legendary/Raid/Exotic Cache)
Coyote's Mask drop from Coyote no longer has a minimum season level requirement
Removed regular weapon/gear loot containers not scaling with difficulty from Control Points
Increased the amount of scaling loot from the big Control Point reward container
Increased NPC loot drop chance for Veterans and Elites on Legendary difficulty
Crafting will now guarantee a higher minimum item power, resulting in higher overall stat rolls. An increased maximum item power also allows for better crafted items than before. The added weighting between the minimum and maximum power results in a more balanced average outcome for crafted and reconfigured items
Removed final World Tier 5 crafting bench upgrade, as its power increase is now redundant
Added Named Items to both Open World and Dark Zone vendors
Increased prices for Named Items
Increased item power for all vendors
Vendors no longer sell Superior quality items at maximum level
Added Field Proficiency cache to SHD level-up after reaching the maximum season level
Increased crafting material rewards for spending SHD level points in the Scavenging category
Added Season/SHD experience gain on Conflict level-up
Rogue Agent Encounters
Every Rogue Agent killed will now drop loot
Rogue Agent encounters no longer occur during time trials
Control Point Officers
Players revived by a Control Point Officer will now have 80% of their armor restored (Previously 0%)
Reduced the likelihood of Control Point Officers being downed in combat
Bounties acquired by speaking to characters in the open world will always be set to the difficulty at time of acquisition or higher.
This affects the Snitch and civilians rescued during the Public Execution or Rescue Living World Activities.
Scheduled bounties, such as daily and clan bounties, are unaffected.
Developer comment: Bounties acquired in the open world should always provide challenge and loot appropriate to the world they were acquired in. Upping your global difficulty now has the added benefit of improving all bounties you acquire within it.
New Season Pass Holder Project Slot.
Season Pass holders now have access to an exclusive daily mission which provides a large bonus to XP.
Weekly SHD Requisition Project Slot
Endgame players at World Tier 5 and Level 40 now have a weekly supplies donation project which rewards them with an exotic cache. (For World Tier 5 players, this replaces the previous daily SHD Requisition project.)
Legendary Mission Project
After TU10, completing any legendary mission will grant you the Weekly Legendary Mission project slot.
Completing the designated legendary mission will reward you with an exotic cache.
Developer comment: With the addition of "re-rolls" to exotics available through crafting, we created the new Weekly projects to provide a reliable supply of exotic components or exotic items.
Incoming Repairs no longer increases the amount of armor repaired by armor kits, talents or gear set effects.
Developer comment: Incoming Repairs was always meant to be the defensive attribute equivalent to Repair Skills, so that players could further enhance the amount of healing they receive from their skills, or the group's healer. Unfortunately, the underlying code prevented us from differentiating between alternate sources of armor repair, such as those from talents and gear sets like Foundry Bulwark, or Firewall's unique armor kit effect. We wanted to address this during the development of Warlords of New York, but chose to post-pone the fix in order to deal with higher priority issues at the time. We underestimated the extent to which this attribute would affect the new Warlords meta, and failed to predict the severity of degenerate gameplay it would cause when combined with certain talents or gear sets. It's important to stress that this is not a PvP-only issue, or an instance of the PvP environment affecting PvE balance. Incoming Repairs was compromising both aspects of the game, and needed to be addressed, especially considering this update coincides with the release of a new raid. Not addressing the issue would mean forcing ourselves to balance all existing and future gear and talents around the knowledge that players could potentially (read: very likely) double the amount of repairs they receive, which stifles creativity and effectively limits player choice.
1% Weapon Handling now gives 1% Weapon Accuracy, Stability, Reload Speed, and Swap Speed, up from 0.25%.
Reduced the maximum amount of Weapon Handling rolled on gear by 6%, to a maximum of 8% at level 40.
Developer comment: In the current meta, Weapon Handling on gear is considered a dead stat with no significant benefit. In TU10, equipping a piece of gear with +8% Weapon Handling will now give you:
+8% Swap Speed
+8% Reload Speed
This should hopefully make Weapon Handling a strong complimentary attribute for players looking to increase their overall accuracy/stability (bloom + recoil) and/or reload/swap speed. Making the % amount of Weapon Accuracy/Stability/Swap Speed/Reload Speed gained from Weapon Handling 1:1 will also remove another element of arcane knowledge from the game and reduce the need for additional mental math when determining whether the bonus is an upgrade or not.
Leadership: Bonus Armor increased to 15% from 12%
Spike: Skill Damage Duration increased to 15s from 8s
Reformation: Skill Repair Duration increased to 15s from 8s
Creeping Death: No Longer goes on cooldown if there are no valid nearby enemies to apply a status effect to. Status effects applied now properly copy the source status effect’s damage and duration.
Global Damage Modifiers
Reduced all PvP weapon damage by -20%
Additional Damage Modifiers
Increased MMR PvP weapon damage by 12.5%
Reduced Assault Rifle PvP weapon damage by -15%
Reduced Shotgun PvP damage by -12.5%
Reduced SMG PvP damage by -10%
Reduced Pistol PvP damage by -10%
Reduced Rifle PvP damage by -5%
_Developer comment: With TU10, there have been significant buffs made to the base damage of assault rifles, SMGs, and shotguns in particular. In order to prevent those weapons from becoming overly powerful in PvP, we’ve had to lower their PvP damage modifiers to compensate. Note: Assault rifles are still tuned to be 10% stronger than normal in PvP in order to compensate for their innate Damage to Health bonus being less useful against other players when compared to other weapon archetypes._
Specific Damage Modifiers
Increased Double Barrel Shotgun PvP damage by 16.6%
Reduced Pestilence PvP damage by -10%
Reduced Classic M1A damage by -5%
Merciless/Ruthless: “Binary Trigger” amplified weapon damage and explosion damage reduced by -50% in PvP
Dodge City Gunslinger’s Holster: “Quick Draw” damage bonus gained per stack in PvP lowered from +2% to +1%
Stacks gained per second in PvP now match the PvE value (0.5s to 0.3s)
No longer automatically applies burn status effect to the nearest enemy in range.
Now requires maintaining range and LOS (line-of-sight) for 3 seconds between the holster bearer and nearest enemy before applying the burn status effect.
Added visual UI feedback to reveal the radius of effect in PvP and an indicator for LOS between the holster bearer and nearest enemy.
Developer comment: This should help address the lack of contextual feedback in PvP, and add a much needed window of opportunity for counterplay, or potential to avoid the incoming effect entirely.
* Pestilence * Plague of the Outcast damage-over-time effect no longer triggers True Patriot’s white debuff armor repair effect. (PvP and PvE)
Developer comment: While we like to embrace emergent or unintended mechanics when the end result is unique and fun gameplay, True Patriot’s white debuff explicitly states it requires shooting the debuffed target in order to receive the armor repair effect. Pestilence’s DoT managed to bypass this restriction, making it and True Patriot (especially when combined with Incoming Repairs) scale to disproportionate levels of power when used together.
Gear Set Modifiers
Reduced the range at which marked targets can damage each other when critically hit to 15m (PvP only).
Added visual UI feedback when in range of another marked target.
Efficient: Reduced specialization armor kit bonus from 100% to 50%
Versatile: Reduced the amplified weapon damage bonus for SMGs and shotguns from 35% to 25%
Vanguard: Reduced the duration of shield invulnerability from 5s to 2s
Note: UI will still show the old duration, but will be fixed in a later update.
Specialization Modifiers * Firewall * Extracellular Matrix Mesh armor kit regen strength reduced by -50%, from 200% to 150%
Pulse now correctly reveals and highlights all players in the DZ, not just hostiles/rogues
Increased Striker Drone damage by 30%
Increased Assault Turret damage by 55%
Reduced Firestarter Chem Launcher PvP damage by -20%
Reduced Bleed damage from Stinger Hive, Mortar Turret and Explosive Seeker Mine by 75%
Increased Stinger Hive damage by 20%, scaling up to 55% at skill tier 6
Developer commentary: We want dedicated skill builds to have multiple, powerful defensive tools for area denial/control. However, the strength of bleed effects meant being hit by just 1 stinger drone, mortar, or seeker mine was nearly a death sentence for most builds. The stinger hive should now better punish players who remain within its area of effect, rather than needing to rely entirely on the excessive damage of a single bleed DoT, while allowing the hive’s drone damage to scale higher for dedicated skill builds.
AK-M – 15.8% damage increase
F2000 – 14.3% damage increase
Military AK-M – 13.2% damage increase
Black Market AK-M – 13.2% damage increase
FAL – 12.0% damage increase
FAL SA-58 – 12.0% damage increase
FAL SA-58 Para – 12.0% damage increase
SOCOM Mk 16 – 11.4% damage increase
Tactical Mk 16 – 11.4% damage increase
Mk 16 – 11.4% damage increase
AUG A3-CQC – 11.2% damage increase
Honey Badger – 10.9% damage increase
FAMAS 2010 – 10.6% damage increase
ACR – 9.7% damage increase
ACR-E – 9.7% damage increase
Military G36 – 9.5% damage increase
G36 C – 9.5% damage increase
G36 Enhanced – 9.5% damage increase
Carbine 7 – 8.7 % damage increase
Military P416 – 7.4% damage increase
Custom P416 G3 - 7.4% damage increase
Police M4 – 6.8% damage increase
CTAR 21 – 8.6% damage increase
Classic M60 – 12.5% damage increase
Classic RPK-74 – 12.4% damage increase
Military RPK-74 M – 12.4% damage increase
Black Market RPK-74 E – 12.4% damage increase
Military M60 E4 – 9.2% damage increase
Black Market M60 E6 – 9.2% damage increase
Military L86 LSW – 8.5% damage increase
Custom L86 A2 – 8.5% damage increase
IWI NEGEV – 2.6% damage increase
Stoner LMG – 2.0% damage increase
M249 B – No changes
Tactical M249 Para – No changes
Military MK46 – No changes
MG5 – No changes
Infantry MG5 – 3.2% damage decrease
Model 700 – 14.9% damage increase
Hunting M44 – 13.5% damage increase
Classic M44 Carbine – 12.5% damage increase
G28 – 11.4% damage increase
SOCOM Mk20 SSR – 9.3% damage increase
SR-1 - 8.6% damage increase
Custom M44 – 8.1% damage increase
M700 Tactical – 8.1% damage increase
M700 Carbon – 8.1% damage increase
Covert SRS – 6.0% damage increase
SRS A1 – 6.0% damage increase
Surplus SVD – 2.9% damage decrease
Paratrooper SVD – 2.9% damage decrease
UIC15 MOD – 21.6% damage increase
1886 – 21.3% damage increase
LVOA-C – 12.1% damage increase
M1A CQB – 10.7% damage increase
Lightweight M4 – 10.5% damage increase
G 716 CQB – 8.7% damage increase
SIG 716 – 6.7% damage increase
ACR SS – 3.7% damage increase
SOCOM M1A – No changes
M16A2 – No changes
USC .45 ACP - 2.8% damage decrease
Urban MDR – 5.5% damage decrease
Military Mk17 – 11.8% damage decrease
Police Mk17 - 11.8% damage decrease
Classic M1A - 12.6% damage decrease
Tommy Gun – 38.8% damage increase
PP-19 – 29.6% damage increase
Enhanced PP-19 – 29.6% damage increase
MP7 – 27.5% damage increase
MPX – 17.7% damage increase
M1928 – 20.0% damage increase
P90 – 15.6% damage increase
Converted SMG-9 – 15.8% damage increase
Black Market T821 – 15.4% damage increase
Police T821 – 15.4% damage increase
Vector SBR .45 ACP – 14.7% damage increase
CMMG Banshee – 12.5% damage increase
Police UMP-45 – 12.0% damage increase
Tactical UMP-45 – 12.0% damage increase
AUG A3 Para XS – 11.8% damage increase
Enhanced AUG A3P – 11.8 % damage increase
Tactical AUG A3P – 11.8% damage increase
Converted SMG-9 A2 – 11.6% damage increase
MP5A2 – 10.0% damage increase
MP5-N – 10.0% damage increase
MP5 ST – 10.0% damage increase
Tactical Vector SBR 9mm – 5.9% damage increase
M870 Express – 23.3% damage increase
Military M870 – 23.3% damage increase
Custom M870 MCS – 23.3% damage increase
Super 90 – 23.2% damage increase
Marine Super 90 – 23.2% damage increase
Tactical Super 90 SBS – 23.2% damage increase
SASG-12 – 21.3% damage increase
Tactical SASG-12 K – 21.3% damage increase
Black Market SASG-12 S – 21.3% damage increase
SPAS-12 – 18.6% damage increase
KSG Shotgun – 9.0% damage increase
Double Barrel Sawed Off Shotgun – Optimal Range reduced to 8m from 11m
586 Magnum – 68.8% damage increase
Police 686 Magnum – 68.8% damage increase
Maxim 9 - 23.5% damage increase
D50 – 17.5% damage increase
First Wave PF45 – 13.5% damage increase
Custom PF45 – 9.7% damage increase
Military M9 – 8.7% damage increase
93R - 7.7% damage increase
Snubnosed Diceros – 6.5% damage increase
Officer's M9 A1 – 6.3% damage increase
Diceros – 5.9% damage increase
M45A1 – 9.5% damage decrease
Tactical M1911 – 9.5% damage decrease
M1911 – 7.3% damage decrease
Developer comment: Along with the buffs to weapon damage, TU10's significant buff to weapon handling meant some exotic weapon mods no longer made sense or resulted in over tuned performance that no longer fit with the original design. We also took this opportunity to make improvements to underperforming exotic
Damage increased by +11.2%
Increased optimal range from 27m to 40m
Optics mod bonus increased from +0% to +30% Headshot Damage
Magazine mod bonus changed from +7% Headshot Damage to +10% Reload Speed
Added functionality that provides additional headshot damage, full talent is now:
When scoped, switches to semi-automatic fire mode, dealing 450% weapon damage with each shot.
(New) Headshots grant +2% headshot damage. Stacks up to 50 times. Resets to 0 at full stacks.
Damage increased by +7.8%
Underbarrel mod bonus changed from +10% Stability to +10% Weapon Handling
Damage increased by +32.8%
Optics mod bonus changed from +15% Accuracy to +15% Critical Hit Chance
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +5% Critical Hit Chance to +20% Accuracy
Underbarrel mod bonus changed from +10% Critical Hit Chance to +10% Stability
Optimal range increased by 33.3%, from 15m to 20m
Long range effectiveness increased by 19%, from 42m to 50m
Added functionality that retains your current buffs to the next combat encounter when combat ends, full talent is now:
Hitting 30 headshots grant +20% critical hit chance and +50% critical hit damage for 45s.
Hitting 75 body-shots grant +90% weapon damage for 45s.
Hitting 30 leg-shots grant +150% reload speed for 45s.
(New) Buffs refresh when out of combat.
Damage increased by +2.6%
Damage increased by +11.1%
Optics mod bonus increased from +35% to +45% Headshot Damage
Underbarrel mod bonus reduced from +15% to +5% Weapon Handling
Optics mod bonus changed from +5% Critical Hit Chance to +5% Headshot Damage
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +15% Stability to +5% Critical Hit Chance
Magazine mod bonus changed from +15% Reload Speed to +15% Weapon Handling
Added functionality to provide extra damage if you're trying to keep stacks, full talent is now:
(New) Hits grant +2% weapon damage. Stacks up to 30.
Headshots consume all stacks, repairing your shield for 3% per stack.
No longer highlights enemy weakpoints when aiming.
Damage increased by +12.5%
Muzzle mod bonus reduced from +20% to +10% Stability
Underbarrel mod bonus reduced from +20% to +10% Weapon Handling
Magazine mod bonus reduced from +15% to +10% Reload Speed
Added functionality to provide extra non-explosive damage as well, full talent is now:
This weapon fires on trigger pull and release.
If both bullets hit the same enemy, gain a stack.
(New) At 7 stacks, shooting an enemy deals 500% amplified damage and creates a 7m explosion dealing 500% weapon damage, consuming the stacks.
Developer Comment: Merciless was previously balanced for its very unwieldy handling and compensated with very high burst damage. With access to much higher accuracy and stability, Binary Trigger’s explosion strength has been toned down.
Damage increased by +7.7%
Text updated to clarify a new target isn’t marked until after the 5s buff.
Damage increased by +11.0%
Damage increased by +18.9%
Optics mod bonus increased from +5% to +10% Critical Hit Chance
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +5% Critical Hit Chance to +5% Critical Hit Damage
Underbarrel mod changed from +5% Critical Hit Damage to +500% Melee Damage
Breathe Free: Lowered the amount of maximum stacks from 40 to 32, and increased the damage amplification per stack from 60% to 75%
Damage increased by +16.7%
Optics mod bonus increased from +5% to +15% Critical Hit Chance
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +10% Critical Hit Chance to +5% Critical Hit Damage
Underbarrel mod bonus reduced from +15% to +10% Weapon Handling
Magazine mod bonus changed from +10% Reload Speed to +10 Rounds
Magazine base capacity reduced from 60 to 50
Muzzle mod bonus changed from +10% Stability to +10% Accuracy
Underbarrel mod bonus changed from +10% Weapon Handling to +10% Stability
NinjaBike Messenger Kneepads
Added functionality to add bonus armor, full talent is now:
(New) Performing a cover to cover or vaulting reloads your drawn weapon and grants +25% bonus armor for 5s.
Dodge City Gunslinger Holster
Added functionality that makes your hit do headshot damage, full talent is now:
While your pistol is holstered, gain a stacking buff every 0.3s, up to 100. When you swap to it, your first shot consumes the buff and deals +10% damage per stack.
(New) This deals headshot damage to anywhere you hit.
Changed functionality to no longer grant group/raid-wide overcharge unless you are skill tier 6
Added functionality to provide hive skill haste, full talent is now:
(New) Grants +15% Hive skill haste per skill tier.
(Changed) Detonating a hive refreshes your skill cooldowns and grants overcharge for 15s.If at Skill Tier 6, this effect also applies to all allies.
Allies receiving this effect are unable to benefit from it again for 120s.
Added functionality to continue to provide damage bonus move for a short duration, full talent is now:
Cannot be staggered by explosions.
Increases total weapon damage by 3% each second you are not moving. Stacks up to 10 until you start moving.
(New) All stacks lost 10s after moving.
Gear Set Changes
Feedback Loop no longer fully refreshes the cooldown of a skill, but instead reduces it by up to 30s
Hollow-Point Ammo is no longer dropped on kill, and instead automatically added to your active weapon when killing status afflicted enemies
Backpack Talent (New)
Increases the duration of your bleed status effects by 50% and all bleed damage done by 100%
Increased 3-piece Reload Speed bonus from +20% to +30%
Tip of the Spear
Main Talent (PVE)
Aggressive Recon's weapon damage buff is now gained when dealing specialization weapon damage, instead of on specialization weapon kill
Main Talent (PVP)
Aggressive Recon's weapon damage buff is now gained when dealing grenade damage, instead of on grenade kill
Backpack Talent (New)
Increases specialization weapon damage by 20%, and doubles the amount of specialization ammo generated by Aggressive Recon
Aces and Eights
"Poker Face" backpack talent is now a baseline effect:
Flip an additional card on headshots
Backpack Talent (New)
“Ace in the Sleeve”
Amplifies 1 extra shot when revealing your hand
3-piece Headshot Damage bonus is now additive, rather than multiplicative
Increased 3-piece Headshot Damage bonus from +20% to +30%
Now repairs 20% of your armor in addition to granting 50% bonus armor
Increases total weapon damage by 1% per 5% bonus armor gained, up to 20%
Reduced the number of stacks lost on missed shots from 3 to 2
No longer reduces number of stacks lost on missed shots
(New) Increases total weapon damage gained per stack of Striker's Gamble from 0.5% to 0.65%.
Damage transfers on the initial bullet that marks a new target
Increased 3-piece Repair Skills bonus from +15% to +30%
Brand Set ChangesAlps Summit Armament
Increased 1-piece Repair Skills bonus from +15% to +20%
Increased 2-piece Repair Skills bonus from +15% to +20%
Richter & Kaiser
Increased 3-piece Repair Skills bonus from +15% to +20%
Incoming Repairs brand set bonus increased from +15% to +20%
Increased 1-piece Headshot Damage bonus from +10% to +15%
Increased 2-piece Headshot Damage bonus from +10% to +15%
Grupo Sombra S.A
Increased 3-piece Headshot Damage bonus from +10% to +15%
Increased 2-piece Accuracy bonus from +10% to +20%
Douglas & Harding
Increased 2-piece Stability bonus from +10% to +20%
Increased 3-piece Accuracy bonus from +10% to +20%
Fenris Group AB
Increased 2-piece Reload Speed bonus from +10% to +20%
Increased 3-piece Stability bonus from +10% to +20%
Gunner specialization's Emplacement talent Weapon Handling bonus reduced from +15% to +10%
Note: The UI will incorrectly say it still adds +15% Weapon Handling. This will be fixed in a future update.
Stinger Hive, Mortar Turret, and Explosive Seeker Mine now display its Bleed Damage and Duration
Cluster Seeker Mine targeting accuracy improved
Developer comment: The Cluster Seeker Mine is not intended to be as accurate as the Explosive variant. Once it is a certain distance from its target it locks the location it is aiming for and continues towards that regardless of where its original target agent has since moved to. This "bullcharge" behavior reflects the mini-mines' less advanced technology and balances the skill mod's effectiveness. This said, we have noticed that the Cluster Seeker's accuracy has been a source of frustration so we've shortened the distance until it activates its "bullcharge" and adjusted when it decides to explode. These adjustments should make the Cluster Seeker feel more accurate, but these are measured steps as we do not want the skill to return to its OP TU7-state.
Stinger Hive base damage reduced -20%
Stinger Hive damage bonus per skill tier increased from +10% to +20%
Developer comment: In order to make investing in skill tiers have a greater impact on the Stinger Hive's damage, we slightly reduced base drone damage, while doubling the amount of damage gained with each skill tier. These changes will result in a net buff for dedicated skill builds, with a 10% increase in Stinger Hive drone damage at skill tier 6.
Restorer hive gains +5% drone flight speed per skill tier
Developer comment: Increases to the Restorer Hive's radius had the unfortunate effect of increasing the time it took for repair drones to reach their target the further they were from the hive. Increasing drone flight speed with each skill tier should help offset that somewhat counter-intuitive behavior when taking advantage of the increased area of effect, and make the Restorer Hive a more reliable tool for healers.
Riot Foam Chem Launcher ensnare duration bonus per skill tier reduced from +20% to +10%
Reinforcer Chem Launcher: UI has been updated to clarify that the initial heal only affects allies and not the Skill user. The functionality has not changed.
Blinder Firefly blind duration bonus per skill tier reduced from +20% to +10%
Blinder Firefly base blind duration reduced from 6s to 5s
Banshee Pulse cooldown increased from 20s to 30s
Banshee Pulse base confuse duration reduced from 5s to 4s
Jammer Pulse base disrupt duration reduced from 4s to 3s
Shock Trap base shock duration reduced from 5s to 3s (PvP duration remains unchanged)
Shock Trap base radius increased from 2m to 2.5m
When the active duration ends, its cooldown is refunded an equal number of seconds that it was active.
Me and my roommate ended up coming up with this theory after C113 and it is at least slightly enhanced by C114. I don't think Molly was ever Lucian to begin with. In fact there might be another undiscovered beacon not to far from where Lucian's body was dropped. Now this theory does require a different type of thinking with magical items, especially in regards to the Beacons, that being to think of them as more binary entities that can make mistakes. I will break this into bullet points from here.
A possible version of the ritual attempted by Vess and the Tomb takers might have been in fact Astral Projection, using Lucien as the willing subject as Vess didn't want to take the risk herself. The consequence of this attempt resulted in the tattoos but perhaps Lucien's astral tether was severed, rendering the body "dead". It is important that something along this happened for the remaining theory to function.
Vess or her people dump the body in a shallow backwoods grave in the middle of nowhere and continues on with her research.
An undiscovered beacon or nearby discovered beacon (exact geography of the OG grave is unclear) then has an error. The beacon functions by essentially recognizing children being born and intercepting them with a consecuted soul. What is the beacon mistook Lucien's soul less body for an Empty vessel. Thereby dropping a new soul in.
We know from Essek and the early campaign mentions that it takes time, a couple years for a consecuted soul to even begin experiencing old memory flashes. This means with a new soul, Mollymauk would have to start clean. Perhaps also the shock of being inserted into a functioning adult body further complicated the process. Thus being shell shocked for a little while after being reborn.
This is how I think the Eyes of Nine story would have originally tied into the Luxon Beacon intrigue, Molly later in the campaign would finally begin to have his memory flashes, which would still be distinctly early than most as he was only active for 2 years. An important distinction is that the Blood Hunter powers are still distinctly Lucien, but it could have been an interesting reason to explore a multi-class option (Echo Knight blood hunter?)
Now, how did Lucien come back? Well I think that might be more simple. Once Molly died, unless they were once again near an undiscovered Beacon, the soul is gone. But, when Cree does the resurrection, it would never have called Molly's soul, it didn't outright belong to the body, it would call the original inhabitant Cree is familiar with anyway, resulting in Lucien coming back, perhaps with a wealth of Astral Sea powers and knowledge.
[Review] Ranking all the Switch shmups Ep26 – Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
We’ve all had a game that is a gateway to a specific genre. That one game which made us pay attention to a style of games and allowed us to fully experience the genre. It might not have been the first one we play, but it is definitely one that stays closer to our hearts. For me, this game was Darius. I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I will say it again: Darius is the shmup that is closest to my heart. I loved the horizontal gameplay, I loved the Silver Hawk, I loved all the huge bosses that looked like fishes. The gameplay also hit bunch of chords that resonate with what I love about shmups. I’ve been waiting so long for this, so alas, I present to you: Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade! Publisher: ININ Games Platform: Nintendo Switch Release date: Jun 16, 2020 Price: $44.99 Tate: Built-in Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade is a collection of the Darius games released on the arcades. This wasn’t your typical cabinet, as one of its main features was the usage of multiple screens. Darius used 3 screens, while Darius II/SAGAIA used 2 screens. M2 really went out of their way to bring the most authentic arcade experience! The result is impressive to say the least! This collections includes 4 games:
Darius and SAGAIA include 3 and 2 different versions respectively, bringing it to a total of 7 playable games.
As hard as this might be to believe, I have never played an arcade Darius game before. I always mentioned Darius as my favorite shmup, but the truth is that I began with the SNES games. I had heard on the street that the arcade versions were superior so I was very excited. When I booted the original version, I couldn’t help but feel like I was standing next to an actual arcade cabinet. The game greeted me with 3 screens places next to each other on the center of the screen. I was excited to play, so I pressed the coin button. I was not prepared for what I was about to experience… As soon as I inserted the coin, a typical fanfare played along as my credit counter increased by one. But there was something else. The controller started vibrating to the tune of the music. I just can’t make justice to this effect with words. It felt like being inside an actual arcade cabinet. Vibrations and sound made the experience feel authentic. It made me think about the arcade days where you would hear cabinets everywhere and just feel the energy of the place. As soon as I started to play, the screen changed and the empty spaces were replaced by arcade artwork. This artwork was exactly the kind you would see pasted near the controllers to show you how to play and other general information. Everything about the game was designed to make you feel like on the arcade. This is the kind of presentation that every other arcade port should try to achieve.
What truly sets apart the Darius Cozmic Collection from any other collection is the amount of features and arcade fidelity that M2 added to the game. Every single aspect, every single menu and every single feature was lovingly added to create a masterpiece. From the get go, you will be presented with the very familiar “A boss is approaching” message featuring King Fossil. The message just says that your game data is approaching fast. It really is only a fancy way of saying the game is loading, but it sets the tone to the orgasmic experience that you are about to have with the game. After going through the intro scene, you will be greeted with the main menu which contains all 7 playable titles in this collection. You also have a replay, manual and staff options. If you are wondering where the options are, they are specific for each game, so they must be adjusted from within each game. My only complaint here is that the manual is in japanese. There isn’t much to learn from a manual though. The only thing was the Darius Gaiden capture mechanic, so I picked that one up from the internet.
AN ENTIRE LEGACY
Speaking of the games, 7 different titles can be quite intimidating. If you are anything like me, then chances are you don’t know what’s “new ver” or “extra ver”. Thankfully, each game features a sort of museum display that features a screenshot of the menu, the title, the launch date and a very thorough description of the game. The text will navigate you through each version of the games and specifically highlight why it is different from its predecessor or what was changed when going to western markets. Each game includes a training mode for those who wish to challenge specific parts of the game. Training mode will let you choose to play any stage and customize a variety of settings such as the strength of your Silver Hawk and the game rank, which is the in-game difficulty. The obvious use for this mode is to practice your piloting skills and go for the 1CC. Even casual players can view this as a pseudo level select cheat code for maximum enjoyment! Perhaps one of the most amazing inclusions of the collection is the replay mode. For every one of your play throughs, there is an option to save a replay of your play session. What differs from regular replays, is that they pack an incredibly robust set of features. Other than being able to watch a recording of yourself, you can see your inputs and control the playback of the replay. You can rewind, fast forward, go back, increase the speed or even go full slow-mo to analyze your gameplay.
KING OF THE ARCADE
Challenging oneself is one thing, but going after the world is the true spirit or arcade shmups. Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade features online rankings which are separated into 2 categories: “Arcade” and “All-mix”. Arcade is played with every setting on default and using only one credit. If you are playing and choose to spend an additional credit to continue, then your scoring is changed to “All-mix”. All-mix is a catch-all for every other style, from easy difficulty to hard or even static rank modes. If you ever wondered what’s it like to play like the king of the leaderboards, then you’ll be glad to know you can download leaderboard replays! This allows you to watch the entire play throughs of top players, along with their inputs and the previously mentioned playback features of a replay. A must have for those willing to go for the record or even those curious about what it means to be a champion.
YOUR PERFECT CABINET
The in-game menu for each game will further let you customize your gameplay experience. The amount of options is truly staggering, so suffice to know that you can change in-game setting as difficulty and score for an extend, screen quality adjustments like scan lines and gadgets, and the controllers. One menu I really want to highlight is the gadgets menu. Gadgets are responsible for making the gameplay experience truly stand out. They track all sorts of data from yourself and the enemies. From a friendly side, you can see your current level of power, the number of hits your arm can take and the information related to the current zone. From a less friendly side, you have all sorts of analyzers that display the current boss, their weakness and detailed HP for each of their parts. There’s even a life gauge that appears at the bottom of the screen for easy viewing when fighting bosses! Although I could see an argument against being way too much information, I’m personally thankful because I’m a data nerd and I love knowing all this information. If it is too much for you, then you can always turn off the gadgets and customize the screen to your liking. The real beauty comes from creating your perfect cabinet.
THE EMULATOR ADVANTAGE
One of the main selling points of emulators has been the ability to use save states. Darius Cozmic Collection is no slouch and features save states of its own! These save states will let you cheese the game as much as you want, but they also let you replay specific sections and master them for your future arcade runs. I won’t judge you, so have fun with save states! The only caveat is that using save states will not record your score. Unfortunately, replays will only record from the last time you loaded the save state onwards. So there’s no chance of creating tool-assisted runs. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that bringing up the in-game menu will completely pause the game and show you a fully-fledged map of the game, complete with boss encounters for each zone and the amount of power-ups featured in said zone. It really is great for strategy purposes to know which stage will allow you to upgrade your Silver Hawk! Resuming a game will also give you a 3 second count down with a jumping robot animation to ensure you are ready for action. This detail wasn’t really needed, but it is one of the many ways in which M2 shows appreciation for Darius and the player. Out of all this nitty gritty details, I have to say the song name is one of my favorites. In the bottom right corner of the screen there is a pop-up that appears when the song changes and displays the song name. I just think it looks really cool. By the way, don’t forget to check “Olga Breeze”, my favorite song!
DARIUS, THE OG
Darius, the game that started it all. Featuring 3 screens, this is the biggest Darius game featured in this collection (ha!). If I may add, I also think this is the game that highlights all the love M2 poured into bringing arcade experiences to your living room. With features such as the cabinet art and the body sonic vibration, it really brings home the arcade feeling. As you can expect, playing the first game on the series is both, a nostalgic and a painful experience. Playing on 3 screens is truly magical, but at the same time, it is a victim to the older design choices. Not much that can be done here, after all, it is a decades old game. Just a small detail to keep in mind. Darius helps establish the foundations of the franchise from the very first game. One of the Darius staples is the upgrade system for the Silver Hawk. Throughout the game, you can encounter 3 different orbs which are dropped by different colored enemies. The orbs can be red, green or blue.
Red orbs will upgrade your primary fire. Each orb increases your power, but collecting 7 will upgrade your shot to the laser, and then the wave. Green orbs will upgrade your bomb, which is your secondary fire. Bombs also get stronger with more orbs and also upgrade when you reach 7. Blue orbs will give you a shield called arm. The initial shield blocks 3 hits and any additional orb will add 1 more hit. Just like red and green, you can upgrade after 7 orbs which will make it so that additional orbs give you 2 hits and then 3. The downside to the upgrade system is that, upon death, you will lose every orb you collected in your current tier. The good news is that if you, for instance, managed to upgrade to the laser, then your shot can never fall below that. The bad news is that the number of orbs is limited per stage, which means it is almost impossible to upgrade within a stage the same stage where you died. The exception is a single stage that has 7 blue orbs in the old version and one with 7 green in the extra version.
The most distinguishable characteristic of the franchise is definitely the marine bosses. The stages are all over the place with a very diverse space settings, but the bosses are always one thing: fish. Actually, I’d say it is marine biology, but fish is an overly simplistic way to describe it. Darius also has one peculiarity which is that every set of stages has the same boss. For example, the 4th stage boss will always be Fatty Glutton in a different version depending on which zone you chose. The other defining feature of Darius is being able to choose your adventure. After each boss, you can choose to go to one of 2 different zones. This choice is made by either being on the top or bottom half of the screen, as the stage actually splits after beating the boss. It certainly took me off guard the first time as I crashed into the divider. Despite having the same boss, the zones are drastically different and carry the strategic choice of having a different number of orbs. Your path will be determined by which aspect of your Silver Hawk you want to improve.
What struck me the most about Darius is how unforgiving it is. This is expressed in the descriptions of the newer versions. The thing about Darius, is that the game is next to impossible to beat if you didn’t fully upgrade. Later enemies are merciless and if you don’t have sufficient firepower, then you probably won’t stand a chance. This ruthlessness is exacerbated by the death system, as death will set you considerably behind. Because upgrades are usually a 2-stage effort, getting shot will set you back 2 levels worth of progress. A fun aspect I found on Darius is the dynamic created by having 3 screens. This is probably the widest game I have played, and it brings new challenges to the table. The first one is that you need to gain screen position to succeed. Being at the front is usually better, with moving back feeling like losing real estate. The reason behind this is that you are able to shoot down enemies before they become a threat with their numbers. The other less obvious reason is the number of bullets allowed on screen. That number is limited, so it is in your best interest that those bullets expire fast so you can fire new ones. Being back equals more time before they reach the end of the screen, which is undesirable. Overall, the game poses a unique challenge, but I’m not going to lie, it is actually really fun to play. Achieving an upgraded Silver Hawk is a hard endeavor, but that makes it even more rewarding when you pull it off!
DARIUS II/SAGAIA, THE PROOF US WESTERNERS HAVE SHORT ATTENTION SPANS
Darius II came in and simplified the game in some interesting ways. First of all it reduced the upgrade system so that it is now only a single stage that can be maxed out. The number of orbs was reduced to compensate. Another simplification comes courtesy of the screens themselves. The number of screens was reduced from 3 to 2 in order to be installed in other dual screen cabinets such as The Ninja Warriors. Unfortunately, the single stage of upgrades means that the game is even more savage when you die. This time around, you actually lose all of your progress in terms of firepower. There will be special rainbow orbs which help you catch up a little, but even then they might be a little too late. As a result, my 1CC had to be done by never dying.
I ALWAYS WANTED A THING CALLED A TUNA SASHIMI
One thing I want to mention, is that Darius II has my absolute favorite intro sequence of any Darius game in this collection. From the music that goes ramping up to the main theme, to the voice lines calling out the launching sequence: “Main engine energy level, 20% increase !” “I always wanted a thing called tuna sashimi” “3…2…1…” It all creates an unbelievable sense of excitement! A very fun piece of trivia is the existence of SAGAIA. It exists to be a compact version of Darius II to be sold on western markets. Then there’s actually 2 versions of it which feel like 2 pieces of the same game. If SAGAIA trimmed certain pieces of the game, then version 2 came to use those trimmed pieces and created another entry. It’s actually quite funny.
DARIUS GAIDEN, THE KING
Darius Gaiden is definitely the reason you will keep playing the arcade collection. Quality in older games under a modern eye is usually a product of nostalgia and design elements that still hold on in today’s gaming landscape. Contrasting with that, Darius Gaiden IS a fantastic game that I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase if it was released today. For Darius Gaiden, less is more, as this time around the game was played on a single screen arcade cabinet. The game does seem to lack some of the ambient goodies such as the rumble effects, but it makes up for it in gameplay experiences.
One aspect that is radically different from its predecessor is the upgrade system. Whereas Darius II simplified the Silver Hawk upgrade system, Darius Gaiden took it back to its original Darius roots. This means that, once again, we have multiple upgrade points. Upgrades take considerably less red power-ups to achieve, which actually makes it possible to upgrade multiple times during the same stage. Death penalties are lower as well with death only losing you a level of power. Because there are more power levels, it is more forgiving and doesn’t set you completely behind like the previous entries. Perhaps the best of all is that neither arm nor bombs have any penalty whatsoever. What’s more, you don’t even lose your arm or bomb level when losing a credit. I can say with 100% certainty that this game is actually possible to complete within a reasonable number of credits if you die on the later zones. I would take it one step ahead and say this game has a little of the Contra syndrome. The original Contra is a game that was considered hard, but was significantly easier if you could maintain the spread shot. In the same vein, getting the earliest upgrades makes Darius Gaiden a breeze. A well deserved victory, if you ask me.
YOU’RE MINE NOW!
New to Darius Gaiden is the ability to capture mid bosses. Half-way through a stage, you will encounter a medium sized boss with a purple orb somewhere in its back. If you manage to take down the orb without killing the enemy, it will detach and slowly drift away. If you capture this orb, then the mid boss will fight alongside you until its timer expires. I gotta say that having a huge fish on your side is surprisingly satisfying! Having a single screen makes the experience much more familiar for shmup enthusiasts. While it does lose some of the charm of the ultra wide field of view, it also rids itself of nuances such as your horizontal movement being low in terms of total horizontal space or the limit on on-screen bullets. A combination of those factors I mentioned contribute to making Darius Gaiden a much better experience. It’s simple to play and forgiving when you lose. Every stage is unique and makes every new play through a completely different experience, not just in a different-ish way, but rather full blown new content!
A LEGENDARY PACKAGE OF NOSTALGIA
There’s one thing that you might be thinking, and that’s that I might be biased because it is Darius. It is true that I openly admit everywhere that Darius is my favorite. However, in this particular case my work was cut out for me, I don’t need to be biased because this is truly a wonderfully crafted collection that deserves to be on everyone’s Switch. It contains every possible version of Darius you might have encountered on the arcades and then sprinkled some top notch features that make it stand on a class of its own when it comes to ports. It also helps that the Darius games remain to be as fun as they always have been, even with their caveats. I took 3-4 times more time to play this collection, not because it had a lot of content, but because I loved playing every second of it and wanted to try it all. Wanted to 1CC every version, wanted to traverse every possible stage, wanted to created masterful replays. The only possible downside I can see to this collection is the price. $44.99 is a very high price compared to other shmups on the market. In terms of features and overall content (because remember, every game has more than an alphabets worth of different zones) it does warrant its price. Although I can see people double guess their decision, with this game being close to the cost of a first party title and significantly higher than other shmups.
My tentative placement for Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade was on the top 3 spots. I really had a hard time deciding where to put it, so I went back and revisited both Ikaruga and Psyvariar Delta. After finishing my Ikaruga play through, I was reminded of the magic that is Ikaruga and how special it is. Psyvariar Delta also reminded me of the buzz system and how the refined gameplay and level ups work towards creating an experience that I can’t quite put into words. The main defining factor, however, was that I don’t think any of the Darius games in the collection beats the top 2 contenders. The 7 games as an aggregate, are certainly a force to be reckoned with thanks to the superb M2 porting labour. With that being said, I will award it a 3rd spot because the gameplay experience is incredible, but a little held back by the age of the games and the hefty price tag. Still, Darius will always be #1 in my heart.
THE RANKING SO FAR:
Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade
Steredenn: Binary Stars
Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax
Sky Force: Reloaded
R-Type Dimensions EX
Sine Mora EX
Shikhondo – Soul Eater
Ghost Blade HD
Aero Fighters 2 (ACA Neogeo)
Lightening Force: Quest for the darkstar (Sega Ages)
The motion to delay and revise the re-entry plan is not a binary issue. Don't buy the politics.
TLDR: People are being goaded into taking sides on whether or not we should open schools. This is not the issue at hand when considering the motions made by Mr. Shurr at the most recent Special Session of the school board. The issue at hand is whether the current plan (Published June 30) is the most inventive solution we can offer that minimizes the risk of lifelong disability and/or death for the students and, more immediately, the many high-risk adults who work in the public schools around the country. If you’ve ever been in an American workplace, you know that leaders (especially exhausted ones) can find running out the clock on a decision period more desirable than engaging in critical discussion. With stakes as high as they are, the motions are meant to ensure this does not happen with our public schools. Here is a link to the most critical 20 minutes of the Special Session of the school board meeting from Tuesday, July 21st. The Details: This is a throwaway account, and an attempt at a complete statement of my opinion. This does not reflect anyone’s opinion but my own based on public information. Feel free to share any and all of this if you’d like. I don’t plan to respond to comments or DMs. A considerable number of parents, students, and teachers (many of whom are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 or live with an elder who is) feel the traditional school model poses too much risk and that we need to pause and revise the plan. Fairly, many people who need the child care/specialized services provided by the schools have voiced their frustration and unwillingness to support such a measure because they believe this must mean that schools will be closed for an extended period of time. This fabricated binary allows an outdated plan to look preferable to pausing and revising because:
Alotof work went into this
This should be irrelevant. If you spent a year developing plans for your dream home, then figured out you had picked a spot with terrible drainage and stability, would you really plow ahead with the plan because you'd sunk so much time into it? Even knowing that the foundation would eventually fail?)
“Everyone is taking the same risk and has a choice”
Teachers are taking on much more risk than students, parents, administrators, and central administration.
Here are office policies laid out in the publicly published back to school plans at each high school:
The main office will be restricted. Item drop-off or pick-up will be done in the school vestibule. Video or teleconferencing will be utilized for parent meetings. Students will request meetings electronically via emails or Canvas to meet with administrators or counselors.
While we cannot have visitors and families into the main office at this time, we are happy to assist you via phone or video conferencing. Any drop offs/picks up will occur at our secure building entrance. We look forward to safely seeing our teachers and students, so Main Office doors will be clearly marked Entry/Exit for flow and social distancing marked as well. -Forms will be digitized and hard copies will be available, when necessary, in teacher rooms to reduce traffic flow in hallways and offices.
Building size is a major determiner in how effective sanitation efforts can/will be.
A lot of peoplewanta 5 day schedule fortheirchild.
This makes total sense on an individual family level. You want your child to have as normal a year and as much opportunity for support as possible.
The motion for a five-day option was rushed through at the end of the special school board meeting, and no one asked whether they had discussed it with teachers & buildings (unlike some of the other motions). Why? Someone who works in a school would tell you that the accurate and authentic way to phrase that question would be some combination of the following:
HIGH SCHOOL: Would you prefer your student to attend with over 1000 (1600 minus the estimated 20% online and off-day hybrid students) or 500 students?
Do you want students, teachers and staff to be able to stay six feet apart in a classroom, or three feet apart in a classroom?
Should class size remain near the low 30s/high 20s, or is a smaller size more appropriate?
Do you want students to be able to have 6 feet of distance in hallways, bathrooms, locker rooms, cafeteria, and other common areas? Are you willing to accept the risk of students being shoulder-to-shoulder during every class transition period?
There is no point to the hybrid model when it does nothing to meaningfully reduce the number of people in the building each day. The five day option cripples schools’ ability to have smaller class sizes and appropriate social distancing.
Parents with high-need situations driven by exceptional needs, socioeconomic restraints, etc. have been led to believe that the only conceivable options for childcare/support is the traditional 5-day schedule we've always used.
This misguided notion is connected to the first bullet point and protecting the pride connected to the initial plan.
Schools have the following resources at their disposal:
Rationales and models for doing online instruction without locking down the building so as to allow our students with extra needs the support and socialization they deserve. Edit: This has been referred to as using the school as a "Learning Center".
Well-educated, willing, low-risk staff who can and do help students with all subject areas. This already happens every day in the traditional model via student-selected remediation/help-session/enrichment periods and after-school tutoring programs.
These faculty members should have immediate access to other teachers via school communication infrastructure to immediately contact another teacher when there is confusion or frustration.
Electronic infrastructure for students who don’t have reliable internet access
Large common areas where students could socially distance (gymnasiums, library, cafeteria, auditorium, large group instruction rooms, and monitored classrooms where teachers would be coordinating and delivering online instruction
Edit: This would minimize the need for students and staff to come into close contact in "choke points" like stairwells, narrow hallways, classroom entrances, etc. and allow high-risk teachers to focus on digital curriculum.
This would greatly reduce the number of students using school transportation, as many would utilize the bus only on days they choose to enter the building for additional support. EDIT: Yes, for some students this may mean 5 days a week!
This also would allow students who utilize the Free and Reduced Lunch program to access morning and afternoon meals.
This would not result in the elimination/furlough of custodian, security, or other hourly positions (many of whom, if social media is to believed, may have people fleeing due to their concerns about personal health).
All this said, the parents who need their students in school are justified in their attitudes and arguments. At one of the large high schools
30.9% of students are socioeconomically disadvantaged,
2.5% of students are English Language Learners (ELL)
Even if you ignore the certain occurrence of some crossover within these categories, this is still less than half of the total student population. A number of these students may still choose to stay home with the online option. Similarly, there are probably students who do not fall into these categories but still need to come to school sometimes for some reason or another. Either way, this suggests that there is an opportunity to serve a MUCH smaller number of students in the building and reduce risk to everyone involved. I will admit this would be harder to organize at the elementary level, where districting decisions have left some schools in a more difficult situation than others in terms of student needs because some schools have:
Perhaps the lesser risk in general at the elementary level doesn’t demand an alternative-to-traditional model. Perhaps identifying students who need to be in a learning center and finding a way to get them to a less crowded school should be part of the conversation. Regardless, I imagine that some schools will already be operating at a much lower capacity than normal due to the online option while others will be close to full. All of this should show that this is:
A terrible situation for everyone involved
One that appears to have two options: Full online or plow ahead
One that actually has plenty of unresolved questions, potential solutions, and the opportunity to give students the opportunity to learn in a way that is both better than spring e-learning AND interested in keeping high-risk teachers and other staff out of caskets.
THE SEARCH FOR THE GREATEST SWITCH SHMUP: EPISODE 28 – Raiden V: Director’s Cut
Before I begin, I just want to remind everyone that all of my reviews can be found at my site: www.azormx.com. I tried to keep it as minimalist as possible, and it doesn't have any add or any other intrusive elements, so the content is king. Do check it out, as reviews are usually live there before I publish them elsewhere. Any way, on to the review! The shmup genre hasn’t been a mainstream genre in a long time. To be honest, I don’t think it ever was, even during the arcade days. While we certainly don’t have a shortage of shmups, let alone new release, they usually come from smaller teams. Indies have taken it upon themselves to become a guiding light for all of us. Their creations have been nothing short of amazing! However, we don’t really have anything we could call a “AAA” shmup. We do seem to have the next closest thing: Raiden. Developer: Moss Co. Platform: Nintendo Switch Release date: Jul 25, 2019 Price: $29.99 Tate: Unfortunately… no. This really needed to have TATE Raiden V: Director’s Cut is a vertical shmup set in a fictional but real world. It claims to be the original bullet-hell, and after playing it extensively I gotta say that I agree. Raiden V features some intense air combat, coupled with giant bosses and some jaw-dropping transitions between areas.
THE GREAT INTRO CHECKLIST
Right out of the gate, what caught my attention was the intro. The best way I can put this is that it has everything great about shmups in a short video. It has a great track, it has giant enemies, it has ships and it even has pieces of lore I do not understand! Simply amazing! Most importantly, it is a very accurate portrayal as to what you should expect from the game. Unlike other shmups, Raiden goes all out in the presentation department, with the story taking a mayor role. Another way I can put this, is that it certainly feels like a considerable effort was placed in every element of the game. Raiden V features a level of polish that very few shmups can claim to have.
WELCOME TO THE CUSTOMIZATION STATION
One of Raiden’s strength is the amount of customization you have available for your ship. At the beginning of the game, you can choose between one of 3 different ships: Azuma, Spirit of Dragon and Moulin Rouge. Each of these ships has different stats in terms of attack, defense and speed. They also have their own sub-shot which is always firing along with your main cannon. On top of selecting a ship, you can arm yourself with 3 out of 9 different weapons. Those 9 weapons are grouped into 3 categories: Vulcan, Laser and Plasma. You can pick, or rather you must pick 1 for each category. The result is a combat style that is unique to you. During your play throughs, you will encounter several power-up orbs. These orbs will power up each of your weapons up to 10 times! Each of these orbs can be either red, blue or purple depending on the weapon it powers up. The orbs cycle the colors, with an outer dot indicating a timer until it changes colors. This allows you to control which weapon you want to power up, giving you the flexibility to pick your own style or choose a weapon for the occasion. The best part is that absolutely no power-ups are lost upon death! This means that you are free to retry to your heart's content and play at your own pace. Raiden won't punish you or set you up for failure with an unrecoverable situation. I didn’t put too much attention into weapon selection at first. I figured it wouldn’t be too relevant, as I would probably just play the entire game with a single weapon, but the advanced scoring mechanics and the rank system were quick to make me second guess my decision.
At the core of Raiden V, there are 2 main systems to be aware of: your rank and your flash level. Both of them measure your combat capabilities, although in different ways. Your flash point gauge is a score multiplier that tracks how fast you defeat your enemies. By defeating enemies as soon as possible after spawning, you can earn higher multipliers to increase your flash gauge. By having quick kills, you can raise it to higher levels to increase your score. Your rank, on the other hand, only concerns itself with how many enemies you’ve defeated. Your rank doubles as the deciding factor of which path you will be taking. Raiden features branching paths with an A, B, C or S version of each stage. Depending on your total destruction rate, you will either move up or down in rank after a stage. While I do not know the exact numbers, I believe having more than 98% destruction rate will increase your rank, 90 – 98% will keep it as is and <90% should decrease your rank. S rank stages are presumably harder than A/B/C stages, with C being the lowest. Apart from having a higher score and challenging yourself with the difficulty, the importance of S rank is getting the true ending. In order to truly watch the ending of the game, you need to reach the final stage on S rank using a single credit. You also need to power up your 3 weapons to level 10. Once you meet those conditions, you will be able to challenge the final boss. Alternatively, you could just fulfill the level 10 weapons condition to fight the true final boss.
THE BEST CHEERLEADER
A new addition to Raiden V is the cheer system. By accomplishing certain in-game milestones like a certain number of enemies destroyed, you will get an achievement. These achievements are broadcasted to any players connected to the leaderboards. They can then “cheer” on your achievement to increase your cheer gauge. This goes both ways, as you can also cheer the achievements of your fellow Raiden players. Once the cheer gauge is full, you can unleash it to clear the screen and gain a drastically stronger sub-shot. Think of it as a devastating bomb, only more devastating and easier to fill. It clears screens and decimates even the bosses. Perhaps many people won’t think too much of it, but I found it really interesting to know that there’s someone on the other side celebrating my achievements. Likewise, there were times where I left my game on pause to do other stuff, but held on to my controller to provide support for my comrades.
Everything I’ve mentioned before plays out in the general strategy of the game. Assuming you want to get the best results, you need to know where to hit and how to hit hard. For the untrained eye, most shmups just look like games where you fire away with complete disregard and hope the enemy dies. This is definitely not the case in Raiden. In order to succeed, you must be able to find your rhythm and read the stage. Learn the enemy formations and strategize the quickest kills. Be there before the enemy arrives and take them down before they realize what hit them. If you want to face the true final boss, then you must also learn to juggle your weapons and find the moments to upgrade them. Maxing a weapon and then switching is a recipe for disaster, as you don’t want to be on the later stages with a level one weapon and risk your flash level or destruction rate. With so many weapons and ship types, your strategy to succeed will be unique to you!
One of the main selling points, at least per the game itself, is the story. Raiden V features an extensive story that is fully voiced and occurs as you play the game. This story elements come as the prologue and epilogue scenes, as well as all the events happening mid stage. As you fly your way to the levels, characters will be advancing the story by having conversations and narrating the current events. The dialogue is available on one of the gadgets located on the right side of the screen. You can read anything you might have missed and even pause to read the on-screen log of events (up to a certain number of events, as the log scrolls to open way for new text). As for my opinion of the story, I have absolutely no idea of what happened during the game. I played my fair share of runs, but I found it next to impossible to focus on the dialogue while trying my hardest to survive. The voice acting would have been my saving grace, but I found the sound mixing to be the opposite of ideal for listening to dialogue. I even tried lowering the sound effects and BGM to see if I could focus on dialogue to no avail. The text is also incredibly small when playing on docked mode. It gets even worse when playing handheld.
THE WORST CHEERLEADER
Out of all the voices, Eshiria’s was the one who got on my nerves the most at the beginning. Other than having her role as navigator on the plot, she also critiques your gameplay. In-between stage scenes, she will provide commentary describing your gameplay. She will be quick to point out if you did well, but also if you did poorly. On my early runs, when I was still learning, it would tilt me to listen to her complaining to me about stats I did not understand. And perhaps, a huge part of my problems was a lack of understanding of the game mechanics. I listened to her complain about my destruction rate without knowing it was about my rank. She also complained about destruction speed without me knowing it was about the flash point. The problem is that the game never bothered explaining any of its mechanics to me. I really looked around for some sort of tutorial to no avail. I had to resort to 3rd party resources. While that isn’t uncommon, I really don’t like games with obscure mechanics that can’t be discerned in-game. Once I got better and consistently reach the S levels, I finally started to value her advice. Of course, I wouldn’t count on everyone reaching the same enlightenment as I did. In my opinion, her comments would more often than not add insult to injury. Once again, it’s not really the commentary, it’s the fact that none of what she said made practical sense until I started digging on the wiki.
GADGETS AND THE SCREEN REAL ESTATE
Perhaps the worst omission from Raiden V is the lack of a TATE mode. Vertical shooters don’t really have an excuse to do this, with the existence of add-ons like the flip grip or rotating monitors. Instead, Raiden decided to make the most out of the free space and add several gadgets. In standard fashion, these gadgets will keep your stats like score, flash level, the dialogue and even hi-score statistics. Your left gadget can even be cycled between the score chart and cheer notification, in-game tips and global statistics. Out of those, the tips are definitely the winners. They do give some important advice, such as staying on top of the guns of the first boss to avoid damage.
NOT A FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD
Every stage is divided into smaller scenes. These scenes serve as a way to catch your breath and tally your score. There’s even a nifty “restart scene” option that allows you to replay a scene. Choosing to restart will deny you the option to upload your score to the leaderboard, but serves as a great way to practice or even “fix” a run to so can get to the true ending. Every once in a while, the action will pan out and open the way to a bigger stage, with you looking smaller in comparison. I admire the grandioseness of the resulting scenes, but they were also quite impractical. Think about your weapons, the destruction rate and the flash gauge. An extended stage means longer travel distances from side to side. Having a bigger stage means you move slower, which reduces the pacing of the game to a crawl. Reaching enemies quickly becomes a struggle. Worst yet, I’ve counted times where it took me whopping 5 seconds to go from side to side of the stage.
THE OG BULLET HELL
Despite all the fun of blasting enemies quickly to gain flash levels, I gotta say that I found the combat, specifically the bullets, to be lacking in grace. For a game that’s the original bullet hell, most enemy volleys feel like bullet showers. There’s no finesse in them, just a bunch of bullets moving towards you. Dodging them isn’t fun, it’s survival. The problem only gets worse in higher difficulties where the bullets just go faster. Not all patterns are as bad though. While the vast majority will be just a bunch on increasingly faster bullets thrown at you, some exceptional patterns will show from time to time. As a result, fights tend to be very hit or miss, with both hits and misses being on their respective extremes. What certainly doesn’t help is that the bullets are very hard to see. As pretty as the backgrounds might be, they are very busy and the quick motion makes them into a blur. Bullets don’t have their characteristic outlines or color palettes to become distinguishable. Some even blend with your own vulcan. The result is a lot of cheap kills caused by intentional obfuscation. It this was their intention, then perhaps I’m being too harsh, but you know visibility is usually one of my pet peeves in shmups.
REPLAYABILITY AND LONGEVITY
As far as game length goes, I consider Raiden V to be one of the longer ones. I was surprised after my first run of the game, as it took me 50+ minutes to complete the campaign. Usually, my baseline for shmups is around half an hour, which made this one almost twice as long. While I’m not fond of longer campaigns, I know a lot of people would certainly be glad to know there is plenty of content. Of course, playing through the campaign isn’t enough to view the entire game. If you recall, most stages have 4 versions of themselves. Those versions are separated by the ranks: S/A/B/C. This means you would need at least 4 runs to see everything the game has to offer. There’s also 6 different endings to uncover. Also new to the Director’s Cut edition are 2 bonus levels. These level are slightly different from your typical levels. The bonus missions will challenge you to fight a new boss ir oder to obtain medals. Dealing damage will detach the medals from the boss, allowing you to catch them. Gather enough medals and you will advance to the next phase. Higher medals mean higher ranking. Taking damage will take medals away from you, so surviving continues to be a priority. Lastly, there is a new boss mission mode that allow you to play “boss rush” missions. These missions have certain conditions, like using a specific weapon or fighting at a specific HP level. The targets are usually 1-3 bosses. Boss mission is a very fun arcadey mode for those who enjoyed the boss fights and want more of them.
If there’s a factor that merits my highest praise is the sound department. Simply put, the OST is fantastic. The track length syncs perfectly with the stages, and it always fits the mood. I just couldn’t get enough of the OST, and listening to it while writing this review was the recipe for a perfect Sunday! I also got some good coffee that would make the captain proud. For all the praise the music gets from me, it still is dragged down by the terrible sound mixing. Similarly to the voice acting, I tried to mess with the sound settings to increase the volume and reduce the sound effects, but it still wasn’t enough. The tracks were great but I struggled to listen to them amidst all the explosions. The calm moments were great, as they let me listen to the songs in peace.
Raiden is a master class in shmup design for the wrong reasons. Its high points perfectly illustrate how shmups should look and feel. The low points also show what you should NOT do when creating a shmup game. Despite all of this, it all comes down to how fun a game is. Raiden V is a very fun game. It isn’t different, but it’s certainly very polished. I delivers some levels of quality that are notably absent in the majority of the games. As a concept, I feel like it serves as an example of how current gen shmups should be. The execution fell flat in some regards, but as a whole I was satisfied with the time I spent with the game. It does come with a hefty price tag, so my advice is to check this game out when you find a decent sale. I got mine at -70%.
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