Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Descent mission help and more WARNING: Spoilers inside!

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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by vision » Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:07 am

Thanks for the video, Alex!
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:20 am

Well, level S3 is indeed tough as shit. Very luck based too, not to mention it's really hard to avoid triggering the matcens in the upper area. When I beat it I expect things to start getting easier again with the last three levels. But while after playing the first 2 levels of D2 and loving the experience I'm anxious to start the game, I'll be taking a short break to finish up that level I've been working on for D1,5 first.
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Thu Apr 27, 2017 11:41 am

Xfing wrote:Well, level S3 is indeed tough as shit. Very luck based too, not to mention it's really hard to avoid triggering the matcens in the upper area. When I beat it I expect things to start getting easier again with the last three levels. But while after playing the first 2 levels of D2 and loving the experience I'm anxious to start the game, I'll be taking a short break to finish up that level I've been working on for D1,5 first.
Well I myself had a lot of problems with S3 earlier. Until I studied Marvins' walkthrough of it.
But, it is possible to exhaust those matcens in upper hall on S3 easily, like Marvin did, with fusion, turning from one to the other. Main hall area is tought at the beginning, but learnable. I just used the cloaking device from one of the cloaked drillers to kill most dangerous enemies, including 2 vulcan drillers and concussion hulk from the second floor. Then circled in the 1-st floor arena, waiting for all other bad guys to come (2 plasma drillers and spider, many green hulks and most of blue drones can be easily destroyed there). Blue key area is easy (of course if you dont decide to exhaust two concussion hulk matcens like Marvin did ;), yellow can be easy if you are quick and robots (especially concussion hulks) don't start wandering. For reactor area you have the mega missiles. Of course those supervisors at the end and their offsprings are shitty, easy to run out of invulnerability and time and die. Apart from this I think it is very possible to reach maybe 1 of 5 success rate on this level, after you learn all its parts starting from the selected save points. So it is not as hard as it seems initially. To start the level is the most difficult part. Especially cold start.

BTW i started D2 Obsidian insane no-save, did first 2 levels already. Seems fun enough and doable, but I still plan to save before difficult bosses (I.e even after a lot of learning I will not achieve good success rate on the boss, or will have to camp for 20 mins in order to kill it, I will still save).
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Sirius » Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:33 pm

The late-game Obsidian bosses shouldn't be a problem if you know what to do... and if you're trying for an insane no-death run, obviously you will.
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Sun Apr 30, 2017 1:49 pm

Sirius wrote:The late-game Obsidian bosses shouldn't be a problem if you know what to do... and if you're trying for an insane no-death run, obviously you will.
Unfortunately I go for no-death... Now I am at level 6, at least I was able to kill the boss without saves once (from the 3-rd try) and the level itself is not a big problem, so no-death run should be possible. Yes I believe later bosses will make me save before them. I remember one late boss needed around 9 shakers at the back to kill it, and you had only 2 invuln and cloaks, so extreme luck was necessary to do it. BTW I don't understand why designers created bosses like this, makes fighting them long and boring, more like exersise in save-loading and not real fighting challenge. Same boring and frustrating bosses feature in D2 counterstrike (L12,16,20,24). L12 and 16 bosses especially required extremely boring and time consuming tactics to kill (I mean insane difficulty of course). So I always save before them. TEW bosses were reasonably hard and not boring in comparison (except L25 boss). Although I still believe those one-shot kill bosses are bad idea in general, so you can only fight it with invuln and/or cloak. D1 L7 boss was much more fun. Yes, was very easy but still fun to fight. And it does not break the idea of doing a level without saves.
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Tue May 02, 2017 3:38 pm

Current impressions of Obsidian on insane no-save no-death are good. Now completed level 8. No overly difficult levels, interesting gameplay, balanced robots and their placement (small robot size is a bit annoying however, you kill most robots before you see them), first 2 bosses are not too bad.
One more question to Sirius and Darkhorse - do you think it is possible to play D2 Apocalyptic Factor same way (singleplayer insane no-save no-death)? Or it is mazochistic waste of time (of course I play for fun and don't want to sit for weeks on one level).
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Wed May 03, 2017 1:26 pm

Ok, I made it right to the exit sequence, but there's one thing left I forgot to account for, and that came back to bite me. The supervisor robots. One of them releases 3 super hulks, and I did myself in trying to Mega them from point-blank, silly me. No idea how to take care of those guys, seeing as how there are no invulnerabilities in the level at all, none that I'm aware of at least. Parallax really did try to see with this level what's it like when you're unfair.

The only thing I can think of is leaving a cloak lying around, but I don't think there's one on the upper level, and there's too little time to spare to get down to the lower level looking for one.

These guys are meant to be skippable, I know, but they're not matcen-generated so they need to die for my run to be valid. I could maybe try laying all my prox bombs when the reactor room is clear and then coming back just to blow it up? There's enough bombs to probably at least blow up like two of them, so I could finish the rest with plasma from afar. I wonder how to do it, really
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Wed May 03, 2017 4:28 pm

Xfing wrote:Ok, I made it right to the exit sequence, but there's one thing left I forgot to account for, and that came back to bite me. The supervisor robots. One of them releases 3 super hulks, and I did myself in trying to Mega them from point-blank, silly me. No idea how to take care of those guys, seeing as how there are no invulnerabilities in the level at all, none that I'm aware of at least. Parallax really did try to see with this level what's it like when you're unfair.

The only thing I can think of is leaving a cloak lying around, but I don't think there's one on the upper level, and there's too little time to spare to get down to the lower level looking for one.

These guys are meant to be skippable, I know, but they're not matcen-generated so they need to die for my run to be valid. I could maybe try laying all my prox bombs when the reactor room is clear and then coming back just to blow it up? There's enough bombs to probably at least blow up like two of them, so I could finish the rest with plasma from afar. I wonder how to do it, really
Don't panic, there is an invulnerability in the reactor room, to the left and down of the reactor. If you cannot find it just look for it with full map cheat. However there is big chance to run out of time fighting the robots (maybe 50% or even more), as I said earlier. I hate this place. In my run I just skipped the supervisors.
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Alter-Fox » Wed May 03, 2017 5:48 pm

AlexanderBorisov wrote:Current impressions of Obsidian on insane no-save no-death are good. Now completed level 8. No overly difficult levels, interesting gameplay, balanced robots and their placement (small robot size is a bit annoying however, you kill most robots before you see them), first 2 bosses are not too bad.
One more question to Sirius and Darkhorse - do you think it is possible to play D2 Apocalyptic Factor same way (singleplayer insane no-save no-death)? Or it is mazochistic waste of time (of course I play for fun and don't want to sit for weeks on one level).
?????????????????? it's possible to get to level 8 without being blinded and dead and still with a positive impression?
Oh I get it...
AF I doubt. I play on ace and insane normally but I've never managed to finish level 2 of that set outside of co-op, even on Rookie. Too many homing missiles without enough space to dodge them.
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Thu May 04, 2017 1:56 am

Xfing wrote:Ok, I made it right to the exit sequence, but there's one thing left I forgot to account for, and that came back to bite me. The supervisor robots. One of them releases 3 super hulks, and I did myself in trying to Mega them from point-blank, silly me. No idea how to take care of those guys, seeing as how there are no invulnerabilities in the level at all, none that I'm aware of at least. Parallax really did try to see with this level what's it like when you're unfair.

The only thing I can think of is leaving a cloak lying around, but I don't think there's one on the upper level, and there's too little time to spare to get down to the lower level looking for one.

These guys are meant to be skippable, I know, but they're not matcen-generated so they need to die for my run to be valid. I could maybe try laying all my prox bombs when the reactor room is clear and then coming back just to blow it up? There's enough bombs to probably at least blow up like two of them, so I could finish the rest with plasma from afar. I wonder how to do it, really
Whoa, I only thought there was a quad laser powerup in the reactor room! This knowledge is going to make the level a cinch. I'm not worried about having enough time, a charged fusion blast and a mega should do the trick. Maybe I'll practice that section on its own first though... I've gotten rather decent at the rest of the level already.
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Thu May 04, 2017 6:07 pm

Alter-Fox wrote:
AlexanderBorisov wrote: ?????????????????? it's possible to get to level 8 without being blinded and dead and still with a positive impression?
Oh I get it...
AF I doubt. I play on ace and insane normally but I've never managed to finish level 2 of that set outside of co-op, even on Rookie. Too many homing missiles without enough space to dodge them.
Of course blinded and dead many times, until the levels are learned well. After this, all the levels i've played are doable no-death no-save. Of course with full knowledge of the level, careful use of missiles, phoenix cannon, very careful tactics etc. Now finished level 9, took couple of days to learn, the boss is nasty (mostly due to it's guards), one mistake and you are dead. Only chance to kill it is using invulnerability, but it requires some luck (well even to reach it). Getting to the boss was not hard if you have good strategy and don't make mistakes. Positive impression - because until now I haven't found entirely luck based not learnable shit that makes you fail 9 of 10. Or even more often like TEW level 25. However I would not recommend coldstarting Obsidian levels to anyone...

About AF - I did it on insane earlier with tons of save-loads, my impressions were - first 3 levels are hardest (as you don't have gauss), then it becomes like usual very long and hard levels of D2. With brilliant design of course. Without saves it would be hell, I think.
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Fri May 05, 2017 4:01 am

Ok, done with S3 finally. Once you learn it, it really isn't that hard, surprisingly. After these dozens of tries that I had to put in, I realized that the hardest part is the very beginning. Once you get your bearings, it's pretty easy to find ample hiding room and whatnot. The upper matcens can be a nasty surprise, but they're not that hard to handle if you tackle them deliberately. With knowledge and practice this at first glance extremely difficult level becomes quite doable and fun.

This run isn't necessarily perfect, but I decided to accept it for the purposes of my challenge - I don't quite manage to get the last super hulk in the trap by the exit, but that's because I got tangled up killing one of the hulks guarding the reactor room - he hid inside the reactor and was therefore impossible to target, and that cost me quite some time. It could have been dealt with much more easily, but I first made the mistake of using homing missiles on him (which pushed him back into the reactor), and later not using Fusion right off the bat, as it passes through everything. But it's abundantly clear from the demo that I did have enough munitions to take care of the entire trap at the end, and had I had more time, I would have managed it easily. (tried out this scenario from a savegame several times to confirm it too, it is indeed no problem if you have at least 2 megas and are invulnerable). I had to exit the mine here because it was already blowing up, so one Super Hulk remained undestroyed.

As for impressions on the level itself: I really like its design, it reminds me a lot of some D2 levels, so it was probably made rather late. I really like how open it is and how much roaming room it gives to the robots. There are flaws such as some areas sticking into other areas for some crude 4D effect of sorts, but otherwise the level is very solid and has a very particular atmosphere about it. Using almost all available robots from Descent in it also spices up the variety of gameplay and makes you need to use many different tactics learned previously throughout the game.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/sism11
Descent 1,5: Level layouts done: 32/54 Secret level layouts done: 1/6
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Sat May 06, 2017 8:18 am

Level 25: A really easy level, got it on my third try with ordnance to spare. Lots of room for error, strong robots placed in far away spots and quite easy to destroy, very few drillers etc. The only thing that might be tricky about this level is the number of plasma drillers in it, it can be somewhat hard to dodge their fire due to the corridors tending to be narrow. The design is really risque and creative for Descent 1, that's for sure.
DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/6q4ari
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Marvin » Tue May 09, 2017 11:28 am

Lol, those supervisors on journey:D. Never happened to me. Btw there is one more invuln in the big room at the end.
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Re: Impressions on D1 Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Tue May 09, 2017 11:49 am

Marvin wrote:Lol, those supervisors on journey:D. Never happened to me. Btw there is one more invuln in the big room at the end.
I know, must have skipped it this time. Not that I needed it tbh. Guess what though, there's news.

Level 26: Tries-wise it definitely took me several dozen, but time-wise it wasn't all that much as you can see. Once I got past a certain portion, the rest went pretty quickly. Guess this is owed to the level actually being quite short. That said, I think it's very, very difficult and punishes the slightest mistakes at every turn. It really does pull out all the stops both in terms of both robots and ordnance, since it spams smarts and megas at a practically unprecedented rate. The part of the level before the blue door is very unforgiving and there are things you need to do if you want to succeed, but it is learnable. The hardest part by far is managing to take care of all the roaming lethal robots after you pick up the first invulnerability - if it weren't there, this level would probably be the single hardest level of Descent (you'd have to patiently lure all those bots to the crossroads area I suppose). The lone fusion hulk in the secret area with the two smarts can also catch you by surprise, as you can see from my demo, but he's the least of your worries. The reactor room is also among the toughest in the entire game, with several drillers and a contingent of super hulks guarding it, but once you make it to the cloak, it's not all that bad, as you can see in the demo. I actually managed to get to te reactor area twice before I succeeded, but I got murked by homing missiles - letting your guard down in this room is death. That said, you can probably relax somewhat for the areas beyond the yellow door, they really aren't bad at all if you pick up the cloak and know whar you're doing, probably the easiest sections of the level. There can be hiccups though, like in my run. Nothning serious, fortunately.

Nice tricks that worked for me and I didn't see Calmarius do them (see the demo): pushing the super hulk guarding the blue key back so that he can be handled with plasma from a safe distance from the tunnel leading directly to him; clearing the area adjoining the hostage cell from inside the secret area, only going to pick them up when the coast is clear (much easier in my experience than trying to go about it the other way round); picking apart the final spawn wave of the fusion hulks once you're on your way for the hostages.

Design-wise, you can probably tell that I really like this level, both in terms of layout, the general idea of grated tunnels, and the texturing. In fact it's some of my favorite in all of Descent, with the exit metal textures being used liberally, it really exudes that air of penultimacy. There probably couldn't be a better choice for the second-to-last level in the game, and that's why I made the Eris level for D1,5 that way, and it also happens to be in the penultimate slot for the Solar System.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/fvibi8

Level 27: Aaaand it's already done. Took me around 10 tries or so to establish a good route and come up with a strategy to conserve energy. Gotta say, thanks to the abundance of invulnerabilities in this level, it's really nothing to write home about in terms of difficulty. The number of fusion hulks looks intimidating, but that's about it. The layout is pretty rudimentary too, but the theme of three keys being close to each other and visible at the same time is definitely a nice touch. Also love the abundance of purples giving the level a distinctly alien look, more so than any other level of Descent probably.

As for this particular run, it's really cool IMO, as I managed to clear every robot in the mine and explore all secrets, while still being able to evade and kill a good number of robots in the boss arena, so the demo is quite informative.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/alt1cv

Welp, done with Descent! I guess I'll re-record the demo for level S3 so that I properly capture the final moment of destroying the robots from the trap, and then I'll go ahead and record all the remaining levels I have no recordings of, just so I have a nice, complete collection (might put it up for download as a whole for those interested). After that it's on to Counterstrike, where I'll finally be able to appreciate the advances in AI and what difference they make for the difficulty. I've already beaten levels 1 and 2 in the meantime, and while 1 is reasonably easy (though much harder than Descent 1's L1), Level 2 can already test you, especially due to the mechanic of infinite matcens.

Impressions about the First Strike campaign as a whole - the difficulty of Descent as a is hard, but manageable, but the curve is far from smooth. Playing the game you can tell that the designers probably either didn't fully know what they were doing, or felt they didn't have enough influence over the game's difficulty beyond robot choice. Sometimes it's things that you completely wouldn't expect that make a level super hard, and some levels are hard only superficially, turning out to be quite easy in reality. That begs the question if there's even a point in introducing some robots later and some earlier if some of the hardest robots in the game get relatively early introductions anyway? Still, completing every level of the game on Insane from cold start has definitely demystified Descent for me. I used to think it was an extremely hard game and pretty much impossible to beat on Insane, turns out it's quite doable to say the least. Good game for sure, after I have a demo for every level I'll probably just try to play it the way it's meant to - one fell swoop and no reloads. I'm quite curious how many lives I'll have left at the end. I remember one time doing the game on Ace with minimum reloads, and then doing the same on Insane and my score on Insane was actually lower due to how many times I died. Right now I'm pretty confident this won't be the case :D
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:55 am

Ok, so now that I've finished Descent 1, it's on to Descent 2. Recording demos for the levels of Descent that I still don't have demos for can wait, since that is no fun. I've just managed to finish level 3 of Descent 2 (finally). But first some of my impressions on Descent 2 in general.

The biggest change is definitely the new AI, which necessitates a whole new approach to dodging robot fire, and takes much more practice to get down than doding the fire of robots from D1. That alone makes even levels populated with weak robots very tough compared to their D1 counterparts. While in D1 playing even the harder levels is more akin to rote repetition and memorization, Descent 2 seems to be much more dynamic and keeps you on your toes more. Dodging robot fire is no longer a simple machinelike process, and infinitely recharging matcens force certain decisions from you as to which sections of the level to visit and which to skip. The robots I've encountered so far cannot be underestimated even though they're the lowliest of them all, especially the deceptively harmless ITD, which can whittle down your shields with relative ease while itself staying out of harm's way. I still haven't felt the weakening of the lasers very much (though noticing that will probably require facing more durable enemies), but I already weep at the weakening of the Fusion - in D1 it was an indispensable way of insta-killing key enemies and handling clumps of robots straight out of matcens, right now its usefulness has been halved, so it'll also be restricted to destroying only clumps of the frailest robots. Still, I guess that's some usability at least.

Level 1: Very easy, even though there is a degree of shock when first faced with the new robot AI, and it can take a failed try or two to get acclimated. Only the weakest three types of robots in here, so it's no big deal. The design shows the leaps and bounds made by the designers between D1 and D2, but that goes without saying. A very good opener of the mission which also showcases Descent 2's new and exciting engine possibilities for secrets. Definitely harder than D1's level 1 though, all things considered.

Level 2: The difficulty is manageable, but high throughout the whole level. You feel pressured and needing to keep on your toes at all times. But still, the low firepower of the robots in here makes it at least somewhat easy to proceed (maybe excluding the Smelters, no one wants to soak up an entire volley from these guys). The design is of course one of the most memorable and adventurous out of all of Counterstrike, and there are some very rewarding secret puzzles inside, but infinitely spawning matcens can take their toll on you (though with skill they can also be abused to recharge yourself). The progression is quite fun as well.

Level 3: This level is quite shocking in terms of difficulty - Descent 1's level 3 was also a big step up in difficulty from the previous levels, not matched until level 6 (if memory serves), but this one here took me a good number of attempts in and of itself. The robots are still weak, but to someone used to playing D1 more, the new AI makes dogfighting feel as if you had an iron ball at your leg. That said, this level rewards slowness and cautiousness, quite unlike most of D1 where firm and deliberate actions were necessary to succeed. It also confirms my general impression from playing the game at lower difficulties - it kills you slowly rather than all at once. I think all things considered, this level's difficulty can be compared to D1's Level 6, though this difficulty manifests differently. The hardest part is definitely dealing with the spawned ITDs when exiting the area where you obtain the Gauss, after that it's not that special. Needless to say, I made it a point to complete this level without help from the secret level, and I intend the same for level 4.

As for the design and texturing of this level, I really like its cold yet sterile futuristic feel. The purples and the cyans really work, compared with dark green ceilings and Descent 2's new trademark all-purpose gray. The X-grates and the yellow tape in the main area also give the level some vague resemblance to D1's more industrial venues, or a logical continuation thereof. I really like this level overall.

DEMOS for levels 1-3, not counting the secret level:
https://www.sendspace.com/file/woi8lc
Descent 1,5: Level layouts done: 32/54 Secret level layouts done: 1/6
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:58 am

Level 4: Initially very difficult, but with some training it becomes quite manageable, as expected of an early level. All the matcens are positioned in manageable spots, so refilling your shields if necessary is quite possible (though after some practice runs it's not really necessary, as it's fairly easy to maintain decent shield levels). Hit and run tactics are necessary for the boss, since there are no cloaks or invulnerabilities to help you. Important trick: the boss will not get released into the main chamber if you enter the arena through any of the upper doors you unlock with the switch right next to the traditional entry with the grated door - that lets you clean up any stragglers and collect some powerups, also from the upper chamber full of secrets. I didn't get the secret with the quad in my run, but It turned out I didn't really need it, same with the converter. The design of the level is cool, though the texturing is bland (but in a good way, kinda like in Descent 1). Of course you could stock up like mad in the secret level too, but I feel that would trivialize the level.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/fpry6b

Overall, for Zeta Aquilae, I'd say the toughest level is 3, but this one follows closely, and is definitely much less forgiving, especially with the Lou Guards, even though it doesn't feature Smelters. Overall the difficulty progression with this system is rather linear, the further you get the harder it gets. But once you get over the initial shock of the new robot AI, it's not that hard to get acclimated. Obviously still way harder than the first 4 levels of D1 though, hands down.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:47 pm

I haven't been making updates recently, because I decided to get back to D1 and properly document my adventures in that game. I had to record all the demos that I hadn't previously recorded, which made for the majority of the game. Basically all levels from 1 to 19; 22 and all the secret levels. Took me long enough, obviously, as many of the levels were super hard, despite being beaten by me on previous occasions. Levels 9, 11, 14, 16, 18 and 19 predictably took me a while to finish. 22 was easy, even with the arbitrary rule of setting off the central room matcens thrice. Secret Level 3 was also beaten by me really quickly this time, along with the robot surprise at the exit. So here you go, folks - the complete catalogue of full level, no-death, insane, 100% runs for Descent 1. Back to Descent 2 for me then, at long last!

A Dropbox link for your convenience, one that will never expire. Take a look at the runs and feel free to give me some feedback about my flying.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/1gccioorwns1r ... s.zip?dl=0
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:39 am

Level 5: Not as hard as some of the hardest levels of D1, definitely, but there is real difficulty to be had for sure. Only playing on Insane can really make you understand that, and I'm happy I had decided to go on this journey .What this level does is make you understand and fear the sidearm modula. A swarm of four in close quarters is enough to keep blinding you right until you die, and there's nothing much you can do to help it, save destroying them before they fire. The new firing AI is also something that takes getting used to, but luckily, the led shots can also be dodged, albeit with more erratic and unpredictable movements of your own. This is definitely cool and adds to the challenge. Level 5 also contains many instances where you get an abundantly clear idea of how frightening melee robots can be in tight quarters. Diamond Claws definitely cannot be underestimated like Descent 1's melee robots, since they do damage surprisingly fast thanks to their four arms, and can neither be repelled in close quarters with energy weapons (plasma defense) nor Gauss (splash damage to yourself). Finally, the most important aspect of this level is one that likens it to level 19 from First Strike - you absolutely require that the two cloaked diamond claws drop cloaks. You need the first cloak to make it to the Gauss, and you need the second to clear out the area with the Helix, otherwise you'll get pounded from behind by a Sidearm hidden behind a waterfall. Once this condition is met though, this level is quite forgiving and has plenty of health boosts lying around, coupled with not many enemies who can do damage too quickly if you;re a capable pilot. Took me several dozen tries to beat, but still I wouldn't say it was as terrible as some of D1's levels.

I've got a demo but I figure maybe it would be better to just post it along with the rest once I have them all, like I just did with D1 a while ago.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:40 pm

Good work on continuing the challenge! I'd say, smth can be done against sidearm modulas. When you break the sidearm itself fire a flash missile, it stops the modulas from immediate attack and often destroys some of them. But you need to time it well. Don't hesitate to retreat to more comfortable position, where you can dodge their flash missiles, also. Anyway flash missile is a great stun weapon against dangerous robots like seekers, lou guards, as it has large blast radius and around 1-2 sec effect.

Also, dodging shots with PREDICTABLE movements is learnable. In general, one can do quick circular strafe (in plane perpendicular to the line connecting you and the robot), preferrably with diagonal movements (as they are faster). The robots then shoot the space around you... This can be combined with backpedaling to give you more time (in case you dodge fast projectiles). Works even against seekers and bulk destroyers if not at point blank range.

WRT to melee robots with plasma defences, one can get used to fighting them with lasers or helix in close quarters. Just need to circle them carefully and time your shots, as an alternative, shoot them while retreating behind the corner. Now I am doing Lost Levels on Insane no death no save, and it quickly taught me how to do it, because on Ice levels you will just run out of Gauss ammo if you fight such robots with gauss. However, D2 counterstrike has enough gauss ammo in most levels.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:17 pm

Guess you and me had the same idea, only you saying it made me realize it. About the circular dodging. That indeed lets you dodge pretty well :D
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:03 pm

Level 6: Calmarius gave this level a difficulty rating of 5 (extremely hard), same as First Strike's level 11. I must say that this level, while quite tricky in its own right, is not on the same level. It definitely took me many, many tries to finish, but after breaking the level in, many were near-successful. The level's compactness makes it a fast run-through in all cases, though there is plenty of fun to be had along the way. This level's biggest problem are the ITSCs. This bot appears to me to almost be the equivalent of the vulcan drillers from D1 - if it jumps you, you're almost guaranteed to take damage, and potentially lots of it. Having to take care of these guys before you get Vulcan or Gauss (so over half of their appearances in this level) is aggravating due to their mobility and nigh-undodgeable fire. Overall I've noticed a pattern thus far - in D1 many bots were very all-or-nothing. If you got surprised or have little skill, you'll die immediately, if you can outmaneuver them, they're of little threat. In D2 it seems things are more towards the middle here - you'll have a hard time avoiding all damage, but with some decent skills you'll pull through without losing too much shields, it happens more slowly too. This presents a more polished difficulty curve - while D1's rising difficulty depended on mixing the ratio of insta-kill bots with the less harmful ones, D2 creates a smoother difficulty curve by lettting you ease into the game more. Still, that's not exclusively thanks to the robot cast, of course the new targeting AI changed things dramatically, so D1's bots are probably even more lethal than these while played against in D2. Anyway, I wrapped up this level much quicker than Calmarius' evaluation would suggest I should have, and I'm really coming to appreciate the usefulness of flash missiles (got a feeling they're quickly going to become indispensable). I like the hexagon-dependent geometry of this level, it does indeed evoke some reminescences D1 L11. I'd say it was about as hard or slightly harder than level 5. Overall, the first five levels of D2 are without doubt incomparably harder than D1's, that much is for sure.

Oh, and also this gives you ample opportunity to play with the Spreadfire. The slow projectile speed compared to D1 does hurt, but it's still not such a bad weapon at all.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Sat Aug 19, 2017 4:22 pm

Indeed a hard level, I tried to play it too, insane cold-start, couple of successful runs (even one 100+ here)
https://www.sendspace.com/file/1kwhur
but I could not do it consistently, safely and without mistakes. Even this time, sidearm near the red key was covered by ITSC and spawned maximum number of modulas, I was just lucky to hit the last one. Very hectic beginning (one error and you are dead), crazy thief you cannot catch easily, fighting diamond claws and ITSC with lasers is of course hard. But at least the level has enough weapons, and after getting the Gauss it becomes very easy. Maybe with more patient play (killing thief at door opening instead of chasing it, sniping diamond claws from the corner, more luring) could make the beginning easier...
It would be interesting to compare your strategy for this level to mine.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Sun Aug 20, 2017 4:12 am

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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:25 am

Thanks, was interesting to see it. Mostly the same strategy, but approaching red key through the yellow door was a better idea maybe than what I did. But I'd still crush the sidearm and ITSC guarding the red key while cloaked. You were lucky that it did not spawn too many modulas. BTW you can check for hiding modulas after the sidearm is destroyed, by firing a missile (flash missile usually) - if you hear a sound, someone is waiting for you... And most time they also show themselves so you can hit them Good way to avoid ambushes, as those modulas and other spawns tend to hide behind a corner and rush on you when you approach.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Thu Sep 28, 2017 9:47 am

Level 7: Holy moly, this took me countless tries to finally get down, and funnily enough, the first time I made it to the red door was the time I succeeded. The yellow area is probably the hardest of them all due to matcens. Overall, this level does have a learning curve and once you practice it enough times it gets manageable, but it's still very, very long (I think my demo is like 20 MB or more). The most important thing to know about this level (that almost trivializes it) is understanding the limitless matcen with FOX bots near the branch where you get the blue key. You can easily recharge to as many shields as you have the patience for after you clear any arbitrary section of the level. If you're not aiming for a good time, you're basically set once you make it to that matcen.

Guided missiles are a huge help in this level and every cloak and invulnerability is quite valuable. Also, it's yet another level where I found myself using Spreadfire a lot. I'm beginning to reconsider the necessity of buffing this weapon back to its D1 projectile speed - it's still quite good as it is! Seekers are a really troublesome new enemy, and the only solace is that their single missiles don't do quite so much damage.compared to say, Medium Hulks from D1. Which is weird, considering that Mercury Missiles are supposed to have larger warheads than Concussions. But oh well, far be it from me to complain :D

In terms of design, this is a very memorable water level due to its sheer size, sprawliness and naturalistic geometry. The secrets are surprisingly few for the level's size, but they're all reasonably easy to collect, and will never be missed again once you get them the first time. So yeah, cool level, and Descent 2 is kicking my ass at level 7 already. I haven't even reached the parts of the game where you have to fight tons of mechs at once, and I can already tell that having good Fusion again would help immensely. Oh well, gotta let those other new weapons shine :D
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Thu Sep 28, 2017 5:17 pm

Well I am surprised this level was so hard for you (especially after the previous one, which IMO is way harder). Calmarius rated it as one of the easiest ones (but he skipped a large portion of the level). I decided to play it to check the actual difficulty (Insane cold-start no death no save), to do 100% run and clear every trap (after running through it once with saves to remember the geometry and robot placement). However, still did not managed to die on my first recording attempt... Even with A LOT of mistakes I made, very straightforward strategy, and not using many of the powerups adequately. . The level gives you too much shields, guided missiles, gauss ammo, mercury missiles (I was nearly maxed out on everything at the red door). But I liked the geometry and the challenge in this level, it is simply fun to play. But my demo was around 25K, really long one, too.
https://www.sendspace.com/file/pmb8tw
I remember that the next level will be much harder (anyway it is a boss level).
I also think that improved Fusion and Spreadfire won't help much, as the worst enemies in Water and Fire units are Seekers and Sidearms, and maybe Lou Guards, and it takes too much fusion shots to kill them safely (where gauss or vulcan is perfect because of the stun effect), and those ITDs, ITSCs and sidearm modulas, which are also best handled with gauss (or sometimes Omega, lately). But at least you have this stun effect in D2 to help you, I don't remember it worked in D1 on Insane.
Despite the quick success on this level, I still wonder how people play missions like Legacy of Chaos on Insane... Tried it today and was quickly pissed off with hordes of flash missile robots when you don't even have enough Vulcan ammo to fight them...
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:22 am

No idea why this level was so hard for me. Most of my deaths were beyond the yellow door, though I also got offed super often by a wandering Seeker at the junction before the waterfall that leads you to the blue key section. Hard to say how much time I actually spent on trying to clear this level, as I only used to try 2-3 times before getting discouraged. It's only yesterday that I tried until I succeeded.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:52 am

Yeah, the seekers around blue key are tough; but 2 of them can be killed from afar, and that last one at the waterfall, I think it can be handled with invulnerability from that small area with afterburner nearby. But I forgot about it, and also took some damage from this seeker (hopefully not direct hits).
The area beyond the yellow door can be handled with invulnerability (to get the red key) and cloak (to get hostages and return to the big room) without problems, after destroying critical enemies with guided missiles. I don't even consider it dangerous except the matcens that you have to clear on return. But there you can use homing and guided missiles to your help and it is not so hard.
It is easy to get discouraged after 2-3 tries in a level like this, if each try takes 30-40 mins (however I did not measured the time but is seems close to this). That's why I am not a big fan of large levels when it concerns Insane no-death no-save runs.
BTW are you still trying to do it 100% kills? Finding and clearing every secret area, too? I think it can make some of the boss levels (including the next one) much more difficult, it is hard to clear the boss room until you are done with the boss, and after you have him dead, you have too little time to escape.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:47 am

AlexanderBorisov wrote: BTW are you still trying to do it 100% kills? Finding and clearing every secret area, too? I think it can make some of the boss levels (including the next one) much more difficult, it is hard to clear the boss room until you are done with the boss, and after you have him dead, you have too little time to escape.
Of course, how else? If you watched my D1 demos you'd know that this is exactly what I'm going for :D
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:31 am

Would be also interesting to add a sort of rule that prevents "matcens farming" i.e restoring shields from infinite matcens, I indulged a bit into this when doing Lost Levels for D2 insane no-death no-save, but it was a really hard mission. To me it's like a "mild case" of cheating. Of course after you played for 30-40 mins in a very difficult level and low on shields, it's hard to resist this temptation... BTW even Calmarius did it a lot in his runs.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:00 am

AlexanderBorisov wrote:Would be also interesting to add a sort of rule that prevents "matcens farming" i.e restoring shields from infinite matcens, I indulged a bit into this when doing Lost Levels for D2 insane no-death no-save, but it was a really hard mission. To me it's like a "mild case" of cheating. Of course after you played for 30-40 mins in a very difficult level and low on shields, it's hard to resist this temptation... BTW even Calmarius did it a lot in his runs.
Not really cheating. In Descent you could only do it three times at best, but in D2 the devs decided to make matcens infinite on Insane (bar one-shot triggers, which are great because they can confuse the hel outta you), so I say it's fair to abuse it. Especially since many matcens' placement and their trigger placement still means you'll be put in harm's way if you try to farm them.

What I do consider cheating though, is using markers to keep doors open. This is clearly a side effect, since I'm pretty convinced markers are supposed to be immaterial. If you really want to keep doors open, use proximity bombs. They last a lot longer in D2 then they did in D1, so it'll definitely be long enought to get the job done, and your cheap strategy will cost you resources, unlike when if you were using markers :D
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:57 am

True, one-shot matcens sometimes are even more interesting, I remember there were many of them in Vertigo.
About matcens farming, still feel a bit of guilt doing it... Also it bloats the demos, and thus makes them less fun to watch. Especially given the fact that you cannot easily skip it like you could do in videos.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Sun Oct 01, 2017 5:09 am

AlexanderBorisov wrote:True, one-shot matcens sometimes are even more interesting, I remember there were many of them in Vertigo.
About matcens farming, still feel a bit of guilt doing it... Also it bloats the demos, and thus makes them less fun to watch. Especially given the fact that you cannot easily skip it like you could do in videos.
I'm not sure if you know, but shift + left arrow and right arrow lets you rewind of fast-forward the demo :D I'm impatient as hell, so I always do that anyway. The speed-up is way more than 2x though, so it's not very good if you want to actually keep track of what's happening.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Sun Oct 01, 2017 5:25 am

Yes I know about fast forwarding the demo, also use it often. About markers, I also use them, but I did not thought about them from cheating perspective, as in some missions (LL and Enemy Vignettes included) you have secrets that require markers (at least it seems to me so); and I considered the marker to be some sort of beacon with built in camera (as you can get it's view on your ship's display), so pretty material. And also sometimes I used markers for tactical purpose, to make retreat easier (where proxbombs obviously won't do).
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:18 am

Level 8: When I was first attempting this level, I thought it was extremely difficult, by far the most challenging of all Quartzon levels and Descent 2 levels so far in general. I'm really amazed at how Descent 2 was capable of creating such difficulty using mostly low-diff mechs + Seekers. This level did get much easier with some more tries, though I usually died at the blue door stage. Today I had a breakthrough, I decided to leave the cloak near the first matcen for later, before I'd always take it to clear out the large room adjoining the small passage with the yellow door.

But overall I have to say that this level didn't feel all that hard during my final, successful run - funny how I went from thinking "I'll never beat this level" to thinking "hey, this wasn't that bad actually". But then again, the perceived difficulty always diminishes when you practice something enough times. The worst thing is that I can't really directly compare this level to the likes of D1 L11, because I can't quite remember the feeling I had when playing that one. I'll still say though that I had been vastly underestimating Descent 2, and this game's first eight levels were incomparably harder than the ones from D1, even though the game can skew this perception (especially on lower difficulties), since it objectively doesn't contain robots as lethal as those from D1 as of level eight.

I'll say the most important thing to remember in this level is that when you're leaving the blue area through the lower door, both the matcen outside and the one inside (making sidearm modulas) activate, meaning you get sandwiched. Best thing it to backtrack and take care of the sidearm modula spawn first, then clear out the outside area at your leisure. I demonstrate this in the demo - I'll put it up this time, as I'm quite happy with this run - the boss went down on my third attempt or so, nothing much to say, there are plenty enough invulnerabilities and cloaks to carry you through if you can get to them and use them wisely.

Stray observations:
- No Thief in this level. I think Robby Station didn't have one either, it just occurred to me.Too early to say I've noticed a pattern, but if so - thank heavens for small mercies.
- This level lacks the Gauss Cannon, so Vulcan gets to shine, as it's very useful in quite a lot of situations
- I'd say the secret with the Helix and the Mega is quite essential for taking down the boss. Having these greatly expedites the process of killing him.

DEMO: https://www.sendspace.com/file/biocg3
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:12 am

I looked at the demo, a nice run! I think most dangerous spot (apart from getting the Vulcan and the blue door), is the red key area (fighting the seekers), if they hide and refuse to go out, you are almost guaranteed to take damage if you will go after them... this time you were lucky however. And the those sidearm modula spawner in the boss room is mean. But I think fighting seekers from the traps in the large room near the start with lasers was a bad idea, after you got Vulcan or Helix it would me much easier to deal with them.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:46 pm

AlexanderBorisov wrote: But I think fighting seekers from the traps in the large room near the start with lasers was a bad idea, after you got Vulcan or Helix it would me much easier to deal with them.
Naaah, I've practiced that part (as you can probably tell) and can do it with a 100% success rate. I occasionally get hit by a single Merc, but these do surprisingly little damage, so it's all good. Playing level 9 now, and I gotta say I find it to be easier than 8 so far. Several attempts in, and I made it all the way to the red key. I was careless with the red hornets there, but I gotta say that this level is pleasant and almost leisurely compared to the Quartzon levels.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by AlexanderBorisov » Tue Oct 24, 2017 5:06 pm

Ha-ha I suspected it was a bit of show-off fight :) Yes, L9 and L11 are (relatively) easy but 10 and 12 are very tough! And among the longest ones, too! Much worse then everything before. However L9 has kind of strange geometry and it is easy to get lost. I don't like it for that reason.
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Re: Impressions on Descent: Insane, cold start, no-death, 100%

Post by Xfing » Wed Oct 25, 2017 3:09 pm

Level 9: Just did this level and I had a comfortable amount over 100 shields. Like I said, it's quite easy. There are no hard-hitting robots in this level at all, so your primary source of threat will be the Diamond Claws. It's way, way too easy to underestimate these vile things, and you definitely need to either fight them in places with enough room to maneuver, or use the Gauss. Gauss ammo is rather sparse throughout the level, so you need to use your weapon wisely not to run out - and this is essential, since you'll be needing the Gauss during your exit run. If you mind the Diamond Claws though, this level shouldn't be too tough, though I have to stress that it does punish sloppy play and underestimating this level. You need to be patient and deliberate while playing this level. The ease of it comes from the fact that there are always places to hide behind to dodge fire, but on the other hand the Diamond Claws can jump you from any direction too. Luckily it contains huge amounts of health boosts to keep you afloat.

In terms of design, the level does have a passing reminescence to the Martian levels of D1, which makes me look upon it fondly. The geometry is of course more advanced, but there is quite a lot of texture variety, with possibly all or most of the fire-themed textures used here, along with lots of reds from D1 here and there. Other than that, I really do like the secrets in this level, since most of them are "old style", sprawling tunnels and corridors relying on just finding secret doors, much like secrets from D1's level 23 or 27 (which is not to say the level doesn't have switch-based secrets of course). Anyway, this level is easy, so I'll put the demo up later.

I had a realization though - the midi music in D1 contributed greatly to the identity and atmosphere of each level, and only having the 4 midi tracks in D2 is hugely detrimental. That's why I liked Calmarius' runs, where he somehow got the D1 midis to play in D2 levels. I unfortunately don't know how to do that, nor do I have access to the D2 CD music, which could also help the experience greatly. Any advice on how to achieve either of these two goals would be appreciated.
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