The first location of Velora is the only level in the entire game to not have a music track. Sure, some levels don't have main themes and have instead songs that pop up in specific events, however this one has simply nothing and probably for a good reason.
Similar to Triton, Velora is a location divided in two levels, due to how each part plays very differently from the other one, and due how you can't go back anymore, the changed atmosphere, etc...
Velora was another Nali ancient location that served as a "hidden" connection between Bluff Eversmoking and the Triton's castle. There was never much good blood between the Nali of each location (just your average rivality though) but still, never say never. Secret meetups between the two Nali groups were done in Velora to discuss the status of the great market hot spot beyond Bluff and how to deal with the rather secretive people of the one and only Nali Castle. The location was also used as a home for lower Nali that either worked at Bluff or in the Triton castle, as an escape route from the latter said location and as a great separator between Triton and Bluff because something apparently invincible defended Velora's entrance from the Bluff side (aka the Stone Titan).
As for the location itself, the Velora dwellings were found underground and save for the final pass, it was invisible from above the surface. Of course there were hidden holes around where air could pass through but were really tiny (you can spot them during the level). The place was similar to Dark Arena in terms of style and design: lots of corridors, lots of rooms and several escape routes; quite a dark maze and unlike other Nali places, this one didn't have much monumental qualities to it aside the fact it was built very long ago. Probably, it wasn't even that stable of a place, and was eventually abandoned over time. With the fall of Triton's castle in the first Skaarj invasion, the Nali stopped considering Velora's existence and god knows what happened to the ones who escaped into Velora when the castle fell. The Guardian's Pass though, did fully stand even after all these centuries.
Now you are inside these evidently abandoned dwellings and things around you aren't good. No music, no sound, door behind you got suddenly locked, there was a disfigured dead Nali outside it. And so far, the presence of intelligent aliens (aside some Skaarj Hawk who has been annoying you from above the surface) here is null and void.
The atmosphere very much resembles horror games such as Amnesia. The location itself has hardly any Z-axis action, you walk through corridors scarcely illuminated by green/gray lamps and the textures used have similar murky colors too (floor mostly dark green, the walls dead gray). There are barely any sound, aside the wolf howls you've been constantly hearing since Triton and random unrecognizable noises.
Indeed what this map offers is horror, and the horror theme in games where you would never expect it ten thousand miles away always ends up cool and refreshing, as long as it's done right. Indeed you won't find regular enemies in this level except randomly appearing Flies along the way, Spinners and water creatures in the last area of the level. You'll be facing something that will stalk you through this maze of corridors and rooms.
There will be a lot of annoying Horseflies around the dungeon, sometimes way too much; they won't harm but the buzzing they'll do will most of the time outdo the regular Flies' buzzing. Flies just come out from wall holes found in many, many spots of the map, whenever they feel like.
In terms of items you will only find Bandages and maybe some Tarydium Crystals for the Stinger. There will be also messages, continuing the writing themes seen in the ones from Triton's castle (and probably in a more crude and horrific way).
So you'll run around this maze that goes around Velora's central area (the one from the UBeta), your "goal". However, the doors to this area are locked down and there's one only passage that you have to locate, which is an underwater tunnel (which is how UBeta Velora started). The maze itself is almost fully symmetrical, like a rhombus, though each diagonal side comes with some sort of unique area: a small library, a dinner area, some entrance hall (inaccessible exit due to rock fall) and big bath chambers (this is where the underwater tunnel you're looking for is located).
What's the matter here? A Nali Monk with an instrument which plays wolf howls is the place's stalker, and the one who mindlessly killed all the Nali here. He is known by the name of "Wizard" and was able to cast on himself an ethereal spell; he's invulnerable, and at the same time he can teleport around, throw shit at you with telekinesis if there are decos around, summon more Flies and can cast a a charged-up hitscan beam similar to the ASMD's primary fire (deals 55 HP). He's quite annoying and since there are no armor items, it's pretty possible to die.
How much time it takes for this Nali Monk to appear for the first time is completely random and can happen in any areas except inside any of the dormitory rooms you find through the maze every now and then. When he appears, you'll have to run away. He'll chase you for a while, then he will disappear. Afterwards his appearances will become regularly frequent, even constantly if you are unlucky enough and there's no buildup to whenever this happens (same with the first appearance, although that one has the Monk appearing in more dramatically, and with more particle effects).
The Nali Monk has no real backstory; he's probably one mad edgy fucker who hates everyone. Nali Wolves on Na Pali are apparently extinct, and for Nali to hear their howls feel very weird. The Monk probably plays these howls to attract victims. It is implied this Nali Monk might have been the one who controlled the guardian of Velora.
Using ammo on the Nali Monk is useless so you might as well use defensive items like the Force Field or the Relic.
Unless, you have the Impaler.
If you tried the weapon against the Nali Ghosts on the galleon, you might be aware that it hits ethereal beings. It works against this Nali Monk too and this is the only way you can kill him (and he dies quick). When he dies, you'll hear a loud otherwordly sound but nothing else happens aside being granted an achievement.
Note that this Nali Monk, pawn-wise, is still a Nali Monk. Nali Monks are coded to use multiple spells whenever they are ordered to do so. They have more attacks that are never seen in this campaign.
The central area of Velora, aka the UBeta one but vastly improved in grandness and detail, has few Spinners that will constantly respawn (similar to LightningHunter's Velora conversion on RTNPUE). The water pool in the center cylinder area will have instead a Kraken which is not required to kill.
The way to go up is sorta the same but more logical this time around. For the elevator to go down, you have to decrease the water level of the central area. So you need to trigger the lever to decrease the water level and then the elevator lever. The elevator will stay down for a while so jump in quick. The way up is shorter than in the UBeta version.
Note that the two levers are located in those side rooms in the Spinner section of the area (in those rooms that had open windows to the center water pool, remember?). The other elevator that leads to the mini-area is gone, and so is gone that closed hole at the bottom of the water pool.
You'll finally go outside.
Velora - The Guardian's Pass
Guardian.umx will get another remix there, in the style of the remixes of it we got through 7B and BFNP. Extend it, don't go full epic, keep it aggressive.
And here we are back to standard Unreal locations. This is Velora Pass, and you get out of that elevator from the dwellings below. That was an emergency exit from the underground it seems, as next to you there's another door that apparently also leads to Velora (but it's closed). You're in the part of the map where the teleport pod was located in the original Unreal version. And of course there's no teleport pod here, let alone Skaarj.
The mountains around the playable parts of the level are now much taller (so tall you can hardly see the skybox past the sky itself), much better looking as well instead of those ugly cubic shapes. Lighting is also dark overall - evening is done and the last sunlight of this game is about to go off.
So the pathway to the arena is longer but either way you'll reach it. The arena itself has more detailed ruins around, the Stone Titan's structure is now an extremely tall monument made of an unknown shining rock; even the throne got a huge makeup. The lava pit is also wider and obviously you can't cross it now.
Once again, you have to pick the power-up to trigger the event. If you got all the power-ups so far, your DP should be now a Dispersion Pistol Level 5 - and it's not the last power level yet.
The entire boss awakening event, including picking the power-up, is all a cutscene. The stone is pressed, blue/white electric energy from this stone monument flows into the guardian as he wakes up like a champ, destroying part of the throne in the process. When he beats his chest, the scream he does is insane, a blast of wind comes from within him and earth cracks under his legs (various ruins also crumble in the process). Guardian.umx commences.
The Stone Titan, compared to the Titan, has the following differences:
- He's almost 1.5x bigger than your regular Titan; his model is slightly different, as the Stone Titan has no armor and his body is mostly made of stone. His shoulders are larger, his back spikes much more noticeable, white/blue energy can be seen flowing within his body (he's sorta like an energy golem at this point) and there are symbols scratched on the back of his hands.
- The Stone Titan is fast. He's bigger, he's made of stone and yet he walks faster than a regular Titan. Running away isn't good enough to stay away from this guy, you gotta do dodge moves too.
- All his sounds are louder and have an echo effects.
- All his melee attacks have doubled damage (deal around 200 HP per hit). His shockwave attack also deals more damage (90 instead of 75) and travels infinitely until it finds a generic big obstacle on the way. Overall, just stay the fuck away.
- The Stone Titan has a unique attack: when he does the regular earthquake move, his hands charge-up that blue energy you just saw from the monuments (the animation doesn't change, it's just slowed down). The earthquake move is then done, releasing an energy shockwave around the boss which damages units on ground for single digit HP. However, upon releasing that shockwave, huge and tiny stones from the ground bounce up and then float around the Titan. With the hands still on ground, the Stone Titan will raise his face to look at you, and then roars. All the floating stones will then be thrown onto you telekinetically, at complete irregular intervals - since they are so hard to dodge (if you have the reflexes try so though), the player is recommended to take cover behind something. The full animation before the stone attack commences takes five seconds maximum.
- If the Stone Titan is far away and can't see you, he'll do the regular earthquake move instead - the shockwave effect has infinite range.
- The Stone Titan has 5500 HP and has 85% resistance to all damage (except pure one that ignores any resistance). So it's pretty much unkillable with normal weapons and you have to go with the lava trap route. The Impaler's damge ignores the boss' resistances, so if you actually want to waste time in a long battle (and waiting the Impaler to regenerate all the time), you can kill him with this weapon. His normal death animation is the same as the regular Titan, except the blue energy explodes out of his body very violently, and spectacularly. Technically the Stone Titan is the strongest enemy in the game - he can only lose against four bosses (whose only one you fought so far is Droth - all his attacks ignore enemies' resistances).
And this is hard when this Stone Titan is always fucking you from behind, giving you barely any time to press the button and consequently extending the battle too much.
There is a trick however. If you do a lot of damage to the Stone Titan, the same amount of damage that's required to kill a normal Titan (which means the Stone Titan will still take way less damage than that but it's the amount of your firepower that counts), he'll be stunned for a crapload of seconds, like 25, and this gives you some spare time to raise the bridge up.
When the bridge is up, you do the same shit as ever: go to the other side of the land, wait the boss to walk on the bridge, turn the lever and bye. If you don't and decide to run to Bluff, he'll try to charge over you really fucking fast. Whatever you do, it's impossible to escape from him and he'll kill you (in coop, he'll always take priority over the guy that's going to Bluff).
If you decide to turn the lever again to raise the bridge, it turns out the Stone Titan is still alive on the bridge and he's covered in lava! And that was really hot magma, by the way. He'll now try to just melee you to death but he can barely move around. So you'll either turn the lever down or, if he's out of the bridge, shoot him some flak shells or rockets or whatever heavy you have and he'll quickly go down. This is to get a special achievement (which you also get if you kill the Stone Titan "normally" with the Impaler).
Bluff's entrance is now a stone, outpost tower separating both pathways - where you can climb to the top thanks to an elevator. You'll find some Skaarj Railgun ammo there and a Kevlar Suit.
Bluff Eversmoking begins as you access the little cemetery courtyard.