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Project Xenome : Interloper

For discussion and promotion of Unreal Engine single-player campaigns, mapping projects and total conversions.

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User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 21 Sep 2017, 11:14

Finally started Interloper on Hard.
First map: no problems up to the multiple Skaarj attack (where the health keg is). But then my perfect strategy which worked on Medium is now a recipe for a very quick death. Change of tactics: decided to get the extra health immediately but that just postponed the outcome. Then tried to stay behind the large boxes so the Skaarj wouldn't see me and my helpers would kill a few while the timer was running. That gave me an extra 20 seconds or so but the outcome was the same. OK, let's try something that was mentioned earlier in this topic: weaken the Skaarj but avoid killing the retreating (weakened) Skaarj and concentrate on the newly appearing strong ones. That seemed to prolong my life an extra bit but there's just too much crossfire around so I had to retreat in the long curved tunnel and hope the lift would get power soon, which it didn't. Next try same strategy and yes: the lift has power, so I made a run for it, got on the lift and as it was moving up took one too many hits. Tried the same system and again survived until the lift had power but by then I'm without helpers and seriously outnumbered (4 or 5 Skaarj between me and the lift). 3 or 4 tries later decided to call it a day. :x
As I thought the jump, from Medium to Hard is serious, and in this section it feels like Unreal difficulty (for me). On Medium I never had the feeling of despair and was always confident that I would find a way past any section, but now it seems I'll need luck (and lots of it) to pass this section (on Hard) and I'm inclined to state that the difficulty level of this area is one step higher than the chosen difficulty level of the mappack and (as mentioned before) this needs tweaking. (On Medium I could kill all Skaarj, use the med kits to get 100 health and then pickup the superhealth keg, plus I had lots of ammo left over - on Hard I need the extra health immediately and have to use almost all heavy ammo to push back the Skaarj).
Difficulty Hard should still be possible for mere mortals (and Unreal should be for the UBerserkers who even use 115% settings - would I like to see a video of that? You bet I would.)

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 21 Sep 2017, 12:36

OK, I just can't give up and decided to try that area again but now with 115% speed.
That's a no go for me, I died 115% faster.
Tried counting the number of Skaarj but that's impossible while fighting so i ghosted and went into wall and counted and it seems there are never more than 4 Skaarj present at the same time.

I have an idea on how pass this (and it doesn't involve superfighting skills.).

edit: jeezes, I am really spamming this topic.

new edit at 17:35: My new strategy worked and I passed the area a lot easier than expected, moving on to Cobalt with 150 shield and 199 health, also keeping my 2 helpers alive and almost in perfect health which turned out to be a waste of time since they don't accompany the player to Cobalt.

Even though it could be called a succes, I don't really consider it a success because it's a trade-off between getting on to the next map without wasting time but with loss of health and shield, or maxing up for the next map but taking it really slowly.

Those who want to try the map without help should refrain from reading the spoiler.

► Show Spoiler
Last edited by salsaSkaarj on 21 Sep 2017, 18:07, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar Buff Skeleton
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 21 Sep 2017, 17:51

Yeah, on Hard the rest of Interloper is quite doable and I didn't struggle with any of it nearly as much as I did in that one arena. Slower spawn rate or 3 Skaarj at once instead of 4 would fix it.
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User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 21 Sep 2017, 23:17

Buff Skeleton wrote:Yeah, on Hard the rest of Interloper is quite doable and I didn't struggle with any of it nearly as much as I did in that one arena. Slower spawn rate or 3 Skaarj at once instead of 4 would fix it.

Even 3 will be difficult but OK, on Hard it's probably acceptable. The major problem is that if you do fight, you will need heavy ammo (and you're not fully loaded yet) to keep the Skaarj from raping you which means that if you make it out alive, you're probably short on heavy ammo and in Cobalt heavy ammo should be saved for for the spider sisters.

And talking about the sisters: my savegame is just before entering their area. Already 4 hours and 223 kills (damn it, how many spiders are there and why aren't they counted? :) ) and still a lot to do (next week)

Seriously those spiders in Cobalt really keep you on your toes but no complaints, they fit the map perfectly.

User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 22 Sep 2017, 16:24

There really isn't much thought-process to put in finishing Xenome, it's not that hard. I don't think anything comes any closer to the difficulty in Day 1.

Use the Pulse Gun primary fire against the Troopers, one fully charged BioRifle glob deals a MASSIVE amount of health, enemies don't dodge Ripper regular blades and the weapon shoots rather fast, splash damage always help against group of Skaarj.
And so on. Classic strat is to have always a decent amount of flak ammo. However getting almost all the secrets is definitely a requirement on Unreal difficulty (but few of them are way too brutal or flat out impossible to get).

I think it's just way easier to exploit the AI as Xenome part 2 is full of huge places. Huge groups of Skaarj turn out to not be that dangerous because they'll always be close to each other and that's an indirect buff to explosive weapons.

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 23 Sep 2017, 11:25

UBerserker wrote:There really isn't much thought-process to put in finishing Xenome, it's not that hard. I don't think anything comes any closer to the difficulty in Day 1.

I beg to differ.
In fact the way you put it, it sound as though the save option is superfluous.
You seem to forget that Unreal difficulty is your standard level.
There are other players (like myself) who can cope with Medium relatively without problems and consider Hard truly testing.
I don't think that the arena with the spawning Skaarj is wrong as such, but the player doesn't know what's coming at him and (certainly the first time) wil try to fight his way through ... and hopefully last long enough to see the message that the lift has power (that takes around 1.5 or 2 minutes).
I fought my way through (on Medium) but I was living on the edge. On Hard there is no way I can fight my way through (how much damage can you deal with your arsenal, and compare that to the damage the Skaarj can deal (remember they are faster than you, they have infinite ammo, there are constantly 4 around you, and there are 20 in total I think).

Reading through what Jazzy wrote, I think he also realised this and gave the player the option
to hide while the timer is running, and to make a run for it. My spoiler (previous post) will allow the player to move on to Cobalt sufficently equipped but it takes too long and most weapons which you have at that time are ineffective.

UBerserker wrote:Use the Pulse Gun primary fire against the Troopers, one fully charged BioRifle glob deals a MASSIVE amount of health, enemies don't dodge Ripper regular blades and the weapon shoots rather fast, splash damage always help against group of Skaarj.
And so on. Classic strat is to have always a decent amount of flak ammo. However getting almost all the secrets is definitely a requirement on Unreal difficulty (but few of them are way too brutal or flat out impossible to get).

Of course choice of weapons is so important but that comes with experience. The thing is that in the arena with the spawning Skaarj (this has been mentioned before by) it's almost impossible to avoid being cornered (read surrounded) as the player just doesn't have enough ammo to push them back (and defending in the tunnel implies having to avoid the constant stream of bolts from 4 Skaarj = almost impossible)
I think I missed out on 4 or 5 secrets in total (one of them being the shieldbelt in the room with blue energybolts).
That secret (and also the super hidden one) are a no go without the save option.

UBerserker wrote:I think it's just way easier to exploit the AI as Xenome part 2 is full of huge places. Huge groups of Skaarj turn out to not be that dangerous because they'll always be close to each other and that's an indirect buff to explosive weapons.

Isn't it always exploiting the AI? The whole point of a game is to give the player a chance to beat it?

User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 23 Sep 2017, 12:46

It's much easier to exploit the AI when many of them are grouped together. A bunch of grenades shot at the right time is game-changing.
I think it all boils down once again to one weapon just like Zephon - abuse the Ripper, get headshots. Sure that unlike the Razorjack the secondary fire here is completely garbage but the primary fire has quite the ROF to make up for it.
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User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 24 Sep 2017, 23:59

I didn't want to wait until I had finished Interloper on Hard to try AmbushX on Unreal difficulty.
It's quite a short story this time. First I tried exactly what I did on Hard, 4 times and 4 times I died. Then got an idea : use my helpers to distract the Skaarj. It took me 3 tries to find the best position for my helpers, hoping the Skaarj would then take not take their original positions, allowing me to reach my goal (same system as on Hard).
My final conclusion: the way it is currently set up, I fear that many players will focus too much on fighting, fail, give up and revert to godmode.

Just now Finished Cobalt (on Hard) and got the surprise of my life in the area with the excavator when the welcome party wasn't the one I expected (which is a very good thing really and makes the replay worth it).

edit today: The Dam! OMG this is so much harder now. Full armour used up and health not optimal but managed to stock up on ammo. Missed the secret though, and realised that in Cobalt, after the spiders I immediately went down to the excavator area and had forgotten to stock up with the supersecret. Also overwrote my Ambush savegame.

So I guess I'm just going to start all over again (I want to complete it on Hard with all secrets).

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 10:04

Finally finished Xenome:Interloper on Hard. It's taken me almost 2 weeks playing 1 map per day in between chores. But the replay was definitely worth it and a new session (on Unreal) is envisaged for this year. (barring the sudden release of Firestorm and The Chosen One :p).
I found all secrets and collected all except for 1 (in Revelation) which doesn't seem reachable without shock or rocketjumping (and a 2nd special jumping would be required to get out of the area).

I wanted to get as many kills as possible and maximise my score. Unfortunately I hardly ever finished 1 map per day since I used up a lot of time searching for all secrets, meaning that I had to backtrack a few times or even start over since there are a a few sections which can't be returned to after passing a certain point. I wanted to not use the helpers so as to keep them alive and to avoid that they would steal my kills but at the end of Ambush, I really needed them to distract the Skaarj, so then I decided to make use of them anyway (and they helped quite good in PowerPlay).

There is one area though (mentioned before already) which was doable on Medium but on Hard it's bordering on unfair. I think it's in Soothsayer, nearing the end after falling from a wooden transporter over the falls. A bit further the player descends into a very large cave with an open elevator. And then all hell breaks loose, Skaarj fire from all angles and visbility is bad (difficult to spot the Skaarj and to get the bearings, the terrain is an obstacle circuit for the player - I tried that 10 times before surviving with around 30 health and no armour (starting with full health and armour)

It's a pity I didn't get to 1000 kills (which I hadn't planned anyway since I had no idea how large the killcount could be), missing it by only 2 due to 1 fish that I missed (I expected 4 but only 3 appeared), probably a fly or 2 missed in Cobalt, and a couple of Skaarj jumping to their death at unreachable places.

My score is higher than UB's even though I played on Hard and UB on Unreal and his killcount is higher than mine. That's probably because I went for all secrets and killed just about every unfriendly thing I could find. The score can also be "artificially" increased a bit by shooting the translucent Green Skaarj whenever possible) (at least in 3 maps).

The difference between Medium and Hard is massive and if I hadn't played on Medium before I would have died many more times and would certainly have received much more damage (BTW finding all secrets and timing when to collect them makes a VERY big difference - the damage received is only the drop in Health it seems, and with shield and armour there is quite a sizeable cushion). Yet, what I feared about Hard being unfair or much too difficult didn't materialise. Most fights are doable on first try and a couple of learn by dying situations are part of the game (what's the point of a game if it can be beaten with no effort?). There are 2 battles which I won only because I avoided the arena fight (Ambush and Thin Ice). This means of avoidance could be blocked in an update of Xenome but I would recommend against doing that. As it is now the not so good players (like myself) can still pass a very difficult section whithout having to cheat (mind you, it takes some lateral thinking now and then). This makes me think I could well stand a chance of beating it on Unreal, but that's gonna take some time and won't be in the near future.

BTW Thanks to UB I learned about the power of a full biowaste load - very useful against those big green Skaarj with their light green glowing eyes (How much health does one of these have anyway?- 6 rockets don't stop them). In hindsight playing on Hard was almost easier than playing on Medium thanks to foreknowledge about the maps and a much better understanding of the biorifle and ripper (secondary fire modes).


edit: spelling mistakes and some extra info + used [sshot] instead of [img]

User avatar salsaSkaarj
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 15 Oct 2017, 18:58

salsaSkaarj wrote:I found all secrets and collected all except for 1 (in Revelation) which doesn't seem reachable without shock or rocketjumping (and a 2nd special jumping would be required to get out of the area).

Actually I did find a way to reach the "unreachable" secret in Revelation, without having to revert to rocketjumping/illegal methods. Unfortunately haven't found a "legal" way to exit the area yet and I don't think there is one as that secret wasn't supposed to be there in the first place.
Still, it's an extra 200 points and the damage taken to exit the area with a rocketjump is negligible and easily compensated.

Diego96
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 11 Nov 2017, 06:06

Any way to fix the left side-only music?

User avatar Xezr
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 23:25

I haven't posted here in forever. But I do love Unreal and I've played pretty much every mappack released thus far. I remember being critical towards the creator for using textures from other games way, way back. I'm still not sure on the rules on that. But I've played through the updated first part now, and I'm working my way through Interloper. I've had a interesting experience thus far, excellent texturework and level design. Story is involving, and part from the odd spelling error the translator messages work really well to deliver immersion in the form of briefings and logs found in datapads scattered about. Combat is also good, with plenty of suprises around every corner, a fair amount of big battles and scripted events, some even with with bots on your side.

The influences are apparent. Some a tad overdone, but that could just be according to my tastes. Personally I feel that just too much stands out from that 'Unreal' feel. Like when you hear demonic chants from Doom 3 and music tracks straight from Half-Life 2, but it's fully possible the author was aiming more towards his own feel for the setting than Unreal. They also work as homages to those games.

There were a few parts in the level designs that really stood out to me nostalgia-wise. Without spoling too much, two maps in particular appear to be direct recreations from levels seen in Half-life: Opposing Force and Return to Castle Wolfenstein. If they were indeed studied closely and then recreated in Unreal, then holy shit. Well done. The latter even had the mission music from RtCW. If they are supposed to be easter eggs or homages, amazing job.

But until I know for sure about the exact legal rules that apply to the amount of borrowing that's going in in this mappack I sit on the edge of the fence whether or not I can truly recommend it. There's textures, sounds and music taken from a large number of games in here and although used well it feels a bit strange for them to be included so frequently.
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User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 23:42

Xezr wrote:But until I know for sure about the exact legal rules that apply to the amount of borrowing that's going in in this mappack I sit on the edge of the fence whether or not I can truly recommend it. There's textures, sounds and music taken from a large number of games in here and although used well it feels a bit strange for them to be included so frequently.


As long as no custom map is being ripped off without credit or permission (same for any other actor), everything is morally fine.

Not recommending because it borrows a bunch of textures and music while the mappack is at the highest standards reached in terms of build and length, and also plays well, is a very extreme thing to do especially in a time where top-tier mappacks for Unreal SP are below the rarity tier.
Last edited by UBerserker on 15 Nov 2017, 23:55, edited 1 time in total.
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User avatar Xezr
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 23:54

I'm not trying to put blame on anyone here, the mappack really shines in many ways and is thoroughly entertaining to blast through. It's clear a lot of work has gone into it to make sure it feels unique, and I applaud the author for it, and for keeping the Unreal mapping scene alive. I'd simply love some clarification from the author regarding the points mentioned. And I'd love to know if the easter eggs are intentional, like the dam map. I'm not bringing anything other than criticism both positive and negative to this thread. Apologies if it comes off as bashing, that's not something I'm trying to do.
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User avatar UBerserker
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Subject: Re: Project Xenome : Interloper

Post Posted: 15 Nov 2017, 23:57

No problem, see my final edit above.
Borrowing from retail games has been always a common thing in Unreal mappacks. Xidia/7B from what I remember also came with Silent Hill songs for example, nobody did truly notice.
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