For this update we wanted to talk about the Crag, the first of four different alien structures the alien commander will be able to build in NS2. It will be available in the next patch update.
Alien tech/upgrade structures are now built by the Commander instead of the Gorge. This means they can do a lot more than those in NS1. Right now every alien structure has three abilities – a "passive" ability that is always active or that players can use, a "triggerable" ability which is an area of effect ability the Commander uses, and a "targeted" ability which the Commander triggers on a target. These structure abilities are designed to allow the Commander to support players on the ground, without taking over the actual combat. Most commander abilities won’t deal damage and most will help teammates instead of affecting enemies.
The Crag fills the role of the Defensive Chambers, from NS1, providing Commander-researched, player-purchased, defensive-oriented upgrades. For example, Carapace (late game armor) and Feed for Skulks (health for eating corpses) and Bacteria for Gorges (upgraded health spray). The Crag’s bony shell helps serve as natural protection, making it one of the toughest alien structures to kill.
Unsurprisingly, the Crag’s passive ability is Heal. It automatically heals nearby alien players and structures, ala the old DCs from NS1. Its Triggerable ability is Umbra (sound familiar?), which when activated by the commander, creates a particulate cloud of gaseous smoke which pours from the holes in its shell, and fills up the surrounding area. This temporary cloud intercepts and disintegrates bullets, allowing through only half of the shots fired by Marine ballistic weapons (doesn’t affect flamethrowers, grenades, MASCs).
The Crag’s late-game "targeted" ability is…Babblers! If you played early versions of NS1, you may remember this fun but unrefined feature that allowed Gorges to spew out small creatures (they were scaled down Skulks running the Half-life Snark code!). Well, we are bringing those back, but making sure to give them their own model this time around. In NS2 they are controlled by the alien commander, who will unleash a multitude of these small cat sized critters from the various openings in the Crag’s shell which swarm around Marines, obscuring their sight somewhat, slowing them down and inflicting a small amount of damage.
Below is a sketch page showing a variety of possible designs for the look of these small creatures. We’ve narrowed the choice down to a few favorites, but have yet to decide on the final direction to go in, so we would love to hear your thoughts:
Of course the Crag is still in development and subject to change as we see how it works in-game, but we think we’ve got a good start. We hope you enjoyed this update and stay tuned for more alien structure reveals!