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Natural Selection 2: Unearthed Update

I honestly can’t believe that Natural Selection 2, the asymmetrical alien versus human multiplayer game released in 2012, is still getting updated. This was my main multiplayer game for at least a year, and I recently got back into it and was surprised to see it still gets updates thanks to a community development team.

So whats in this new patch?

A lot actually! This new update to NS2 includes a new map, changes to existing maps, new skins, new models, new sounds and new gameplay and balance changes. All told the changelog for build 327 came to be 10+ pages once we included everything. There is so much in this update to sink your teeth into, read ahead for all the details or just jump in game and figure out all the changes in battle. People playing on the new map Unearthed will receive a new alien commander skin and if you like that you might also check out our Catalyst DLC Pack, which has many other skins and now includes a new Sandstorm skin for the updated machine gun model. Remember all sales of NS2 and DLC directly affect our development budget and allow our team to continue work on NS2.

Check out the full changelog below to see all the goodies contained within.
Follow the NS2 development roadmap to see our plans for future updates.

https://unknownworlds.com/ns2/build-327-unearthed/

Changelog

Gameplay

  • We’re excited to shake things up and address some fundamental gameplay issues that have bothered us for some time, so strap in for major changes this patch! We have such a long list of changes that have been tested for months, that we have to link it in a separate changelog. Additionally we have grown to recognize the importance of explaining our reasoning for changes over the years, and with so much changing this patch we felt having a separate blog post was the best method to do so. We’ll be keeping a close eye on these changes, and welcome everyone to participate in providing feedback in our Discord.
  • New map: Unearthed, by Kash!
    • Descend into Neo-Caligo, a former mining facility that is now a high security research and harvesting base for a rare and mysterious newly discovered crystal compound with anomalous mutagenic properties. Even more ominous, a possible Kharaa outbreak was reported in the area… What lies in wait? What exactly has been Unearthed?
  • Ranked Server requirements have been lowered to a maximum of a 10 v 10 playercount (to include reserved slots)
    • The goal with this is two fold: First, to provide a better gameplay experience with the new balance changes, as we feel both game and map balance are improved with these numbers. Secondly, it will by proxy reduce stress on servers and net performance gains and a smoother experience for all players.

 

Tweaks / Improvements

  • Added Unearthed Commander skins! You can obtain these after you play at least six rounds that are at least five minutes long on the new map!
  • Player Status Icons

    • This should assist new and veteran players with knowing how they are being affected by multiple game events at once, especially during chaotic moments. Or learning the impact of specific mechanics, as well as their range.
    • These are tied to two separate in game options: Hints On (for a few mechanics that newer players may not understand just yet) and High HUD Detail for the rest.
  • New Skill Tier Badges!
    • Rantology felt it was time to update these badges to something more appropriate for the NS universe, and at the same time make them more readable so that the uninitiated could instantly recognize which is better. We love em, and we think you will too.
  • Added a new amazingly detailed model for the HMG with default skin and Catalyst skin.  (Thanks Vlaad!)

  • Infestation should no longer “streak” and appears more crisp than before.
  • Map Decals no longer streak
  • New Alien Health and Energy HUD. They are clean and fresh, easier to read and have better fidelity!

 

  • Improved Lerk and Gorge hitboxes so there are less gaps. The proportion or size of the hitboxes remain unchanged, we just felt that there’s nothing worse than shooting at a target and having your bullets go through them.
  • Tweaked how reflections are used, to ensure that rough surfaces do not appear shinier than they should.
  • Commander toggleable friendly health bars for structures. Default is off, and default binding is H key.
  • Marine commanders can now see what location an Observatory will beacon the team to when placing a ghost structure, or even after it is built.
  • Phase Gates and Tunnels now show a destination nameplate without having to look directly at them.
  • Reverted the Axe animation to the one that existed for years prior. Instead of jabbing, you will slice again!
  • Added higher quality Marine weapon world models as well as commander dropped Jetpack models. (Thanks RuneStorm!)
    • In addition to being higher quality and more closely matching the first person model, this change also makes skin creation for said models much more straightforward. (Also no more upside down, stuck in the ground Jetpack model!)
  • Improved Welder target prioritization. You can now more accurately weld the target you are aiming at (Thanks Katzenfleisch!)
  • Drop and Pickup keys for Marine weapons are now separate keys. Pickup is now the Use key, and Drop is kept the same.
    • This means the Drop key auto picks up whatever is beneath you as it is now, but the Use key picks up whatever you are looking at regardless of what is beneath you. Let the piles of weapons commence!
  • Marines spawning on Infantry Portals now show their model and skin variant
    • Because you know you’re pretty and you want others to know too.
  • Improved Damage Trigger Feedback. (See Editor section below)
    • Lava now sets a player on fire, Marines cough when in gas, electricity effects will show on Alien view models, etc.
  • The Bloom graphics option is no longer over exposed, and is now slightly faster due to elimination of an extraneous framebuffer. Bloom is now pleasant to have on and we recommend trying it out.
    • It is no longer akin to viewing the world through a greasy sauna window.
  • Ghost players who crash no longer remain in the server for ~2 minutes, but instead are removed in 15 seconds. This should help players get back into the action if something unfortunate happens.
  • You can now reverse Phase Gate directions by selecting any Gate and clicking the Reverse button!
    • This can be used to help counter base rushes if timed correctly, and allows for the Marine team to be more adaptable on a quickly changing battlefield.
  • Added Team Join bindings for Marines, Aliens and Spectate. Default keys are F5, F6 and F7 respectively.
    • No longer are veterans the only ones with this classified binding knowledge
  • Added Request Structure binding (No default key). You can open the Request Menu in game as well and select Request Structure. The commander should get a sound alert like normal, as well as a new alert icon that states a structure is being requested.
  • Changed Marine Commander Observatory motion sensor “blips” to be red colored so that they are more visible on most surfaces. (Thanks Nin!)
  • Improved Skulk Xenocide implementation to be more reliable.
    • Instead of line of sight being from skulk feet to marine feet, it’s from engagement point to engagement point. This generally means if you can see the marine’s center of mass, you will deal damage. Additionally, delayed the Skulk from dying slightly to prevent various errors.
  • Reduced some Lua GC spikes that could occur from the atomic GC phase checking many userdata finalizers.
  • A secondary Infantry Portal will automatically spawn whenever a 9th player joins the Marine team, regardless of the time in a round (Thanks Nin!)
    • This should remove the need to reset rounds or wait for that 9th or 10th player to join.

 

Fixes

  • Fixed crash on client start-up due to late sound system initialization
  • Fixed an issue that caused important emissive elements to be refracted by things behind them (e.g. welder display being refracted by water).
  • Fixed an issue where a new Command Station being built would be stuck closed, preventing marines from ever using it.
  • Fixed a bug with Marine dropped weapon physics which made them behave inconsistently. All dropped weapons now behave the same.
  • Fixed an early-game hitch caused by lights, reflection probes, and emissive props not being properly cached.
  • Fixed Round Start Music not playing
    • Added four short music tracks that play at random and are more exciting
    • The music now fades out quickly so as not to interfere with gameplay
    • You should really turn your Music Volume slider to 100 for this patch
  • Lowered the “Danger Music” volume when a techpoint is low.
  • Danger Music now only plays on the last Command Chair or Hive
    • We didn’t like being fooled, and we’re pretty sure you didn’t either.
  • Mute Text or Voice icons on the scoreboard no longer overlap with skill tier badges
  • Fixed that alt-tabbing out of the game while a sound was playing could sometimes make it loop indefinitely until you leave relevancy or the entity was killed. No more torturous rifle firing sound looping forever!
  • Fixed Discord Invite link in main menu
    • So you can bug IronHorse about bugs and Rantology about balance!
  • Fixed an exploit allowing a low population server (seeding) player to successfully Votekick another player if they left the server, preventing a server from seeding.
  • Fixed negative player count numbers being shown in the server browser.
  • Fixed that the Exosuit with dual miniguns showed a description for minigun and claw
  • Fixed that Focus did not work for Gorge Spit
    • For I think the 3rd time now? That Gorge really needs to *focus* on being consistent with its saliva amount.
  • Fixed that Whips would sometimes not attack Phase Gates (Thanks Katzenfleisch!)
  • Fixed Babblers not being able to be attached to lifeforms again after losing them in specific edge cases. (Thanks Katzenfleisch!)
  • Default option for menu background will now select the most recently added menu instead of duplicating the Random option.
  • Fixed Arcs shooting outside of their max range, if a structure was moved during the wind up phase of the Arc firing animation. (Thanks Katzenfleisch!)
  • Fixed exploit with Catpacks and Axing that allowed an insane DPS to occur if the player knew how to time their attacks just right.
    • Catpack the Musical has ended its reign of terror
  • Fixed incorrect Biomass Scaling calculation to be more accurate
  • Fixed exploit with Axing that allowed you to attack faster than intended.
  • Fixed Mod textures not being unloaded when a Mod was unmounted.
    • This caused players to carry over custom server player skins from one server to the other, often in a broken state. (the black rifle curse)
  • Fixed Line of Sight calculation causing ambushing Aliens from being detected on the map or minimap when being too close to a Marine, even if they did not actually see them.
    • As a result, if an Alien is behind a somewhat transparent prop such as grating where a Marine may see them, they still will not be “spotted” on the map until an unblocked Line of Sight is achieved.
  • Fixed some wstring Lua objects leaking memory when they are destroyed.

 

Sounds (All from Sweets!)

  • New HMG deploy, reload, and firing sounds.
    • A badass new model deserves badass new sounds
  • Added new ambient sounds for Unearthed such as the laser scanner, mining buckets, furnace fire, broken door and more.
  • Continued minor optimizations and improvements in all sound areas (too many to list here and are minor changes that will not impact gameplay).

 

Maps

Tram (Thanks pSyk!)

  • The goals of the new Tram changes are to improve Shipping as an Alien Start location, make it harder for Marines to lane-block Aliens and to improve gameplay in certain locations.
    • Moved res node in Ore Extraction more into the middle. Harder to arc from Hub / North Tunnels, out of Observatory range.
    • Added a little flanking corridor in Ore Extraction coming from Warehouse.
    • Added more obstacles around Northtunnels and a little wall hole next to the tram door to make it harder to arc Warehouse.
    • Moved res node in Server more into the middle of the location. Harder to arc from Mezz, out of Observatory range.
    • Moved the power node in Observation around the corner out of LOS of the vent exit.
    • Added a vent between Elevator Transfer and Mezzanine.
    • Added more obstacles around the Elevator-Hub area to make it harder to arc Elevator Transfer.
    • Added a little vent from South Tunnels to Observation.
    • Added a vent from South Tunnels/Hub to Repair entrance (door).
    • Added a vent from Shipping (exit) to Logistics.
    • Added more obstacles and cover to Logistics.
    • Tons of QOL changes to improve gameplay and movement in certain locations.

Veil (Thanks pSyk!)

  • The goals of the new Veil changes are to improve Pipeline as an Alien Start location and at the same time make it easier for Marines to hold Pipeline against an Alien Subsector Start. Also to make Nanogrid easier to hold for Aliens in the early game or re-take in the late-game, and to make System Waypoint less powerful when Marines are holding it.
    • Moved Pipeline and Neck closer to the center of the map (removed Utility location).
    • Removed vent exit into pipe (next to the res node).
    • Lowered the vent entrance leading from Pipeline/Dome to Cargo.
    • Created more space in Dome to the north to improve that PG position compared to System.
    • Lowered the entire half ring around the C12 res node area to improve that area for Marines.
    • Added and moved Crates/Containers in Cargo to improve gameplay for both teams.
    • Moved res node location in Cargo.
    • Made the Cargo vent exit less powerful for bile bombing Gorges and added a ladder for Marines to enter the platform and vent.
    • Added more cover in Sub Sector.
    • Added and moved crates in Overlook for better Tunnel spots and defense.
    • Added a vent from System Waypointing to Overlook.
    • Changes to System Waypointing geometry and more Terminals on upper level for cover.
    • Lifted the upper floor in Y-junction more to be on level with System Waypointing, which enables Gorges/Oni to jump onto the platform in System.
    • Added a new corridor from Y-Junction to System/Sub connector. Improves cysting to Sub and combat around Y-junction/System.
    • Increased space in Skylights and slightly moved the res node .
    • Added crates below Skylights vent exit to improve Marines boosting each other into the vent. This improves Skylights against being endlessly harassed by a powerful Alien Subsector Start.
    • Added a straight connection from east to west vent below the Nanogrid floor.
    • Added a middle platform into Nanogrid for cover.
    • Changed the two-door entrance into Nanogrid into a 4-door entrance.
    • Tons of QOL changes to improve gameplay and movement in certain locations.

Docking (Thanks Kash!)

  • The goals for the docking changes are to make Generator less Grenade Launcher friendly without making them useless and make holding generator naturals less frustrating for aliens.
    • Increased height in the Pressure Control to Stability Monitoring vent to prevent marine rotation.
    • Added a Generator entrance to the Pressure Control to Stability Monitoring vent.
    • Relocated the entrance from Stability Monitoring to Generator to the lower floor with the intention of making that area more alien friendly to defend.
    • Added 3rd pipe in Generator as ceiling cover to make utilizing them for cover more user friendly.
    • Moved the Generator RT slightly north towards the back wall, due to the new pipes making its previous location unusable.
    • Fixed the Ladders from Generators lower floor to be more user friendly.

Descent (Thanks Zavaro!)

    • Fixed all locations to remove areas without power
    • Also fixed light in the SW of Plaza between both upper and lower level
    • Updated reflection probes
    • New Plaza based on community feedback and testing, including removal of upper level
    • Minor changes to Plaza-Club entrance, reversed wall inclination, now slopes northward to help prevent ridiculous tunnels
    • Added some visual-physical obstructions from west Grav entrance to Grav-Shipping vent
    • Added some obstructions to south Hydro-Shipping hallway for lifeforms
    • Added “scrubber” machine to Security-Plaza hallway
    • Added “clean” terminals (now with red dots!) throughout the map
    • Increased Club visibility by lowering reflecting probes and removing one of the woman holograms at the Plaza entrance
    • Untied lights outside the Launch Control window, Shuttle Bay window, Observation window, and Satellite Relay window from being power controlled
    • Set miniature globes in Launch Control hologram to be the correct aspect ratio
    • Added reflective glass in Drafting hallway
    • Added collision and pipes to Shipping-Hydro room
    • Added a ton of railings throughout the map and tables in Club to have their emissives not tied to power. This means that they’ll be visible in the dark

Caged (Thanks Zavaro!)

    • Added additional collision geometry to fix multiple stuck spots

 

Tools

  • All Tools
    • Fixed a crash caused by moving panels in all tools
  • Viewer
    • Fixed that editing an enum-type animation input would cause it to appear duplicated in the list of inputs.
    • Added Render Stats to provide a means to examine the render-time cost of the viewed asset.
  • Editor
    • Fixed a crash caused by right clicking while resizing a decal.
    • Fixed crash on start-up due to sound system late initialization
    • A new damage type option is now available on damage triggers and you can specify the type. “Normal”, “Fire”, “Gas”, and “Electric”.
    • Added map occlusion geometry group for sound occlusion. This gets rid of sounds being muffled by small/medium obstacles within maps that are covered with occlusion geometry. Fmod will fall back using the normal occ-geo group if there is no special sound occ-geo group, to remain backwards compatible.
  • Cinematic Editor
    • The Preview pane now has some rendering statistics (similar to r_stats) available to help optimize cinematics. Click the top left portion inside the window pane.
    • Fixed multiple crashes associated with opening a cinematic.

 

SDK

  • Added all of the previously unreleased Discovery art assets to the build.
  • Added “asin” and “acos” intrinsics to hlsl parser.
  • Color cdata objects can now be multiplied together (performs a per-component multiplication)
  • Added two new functions for Dynamic Physics Body models.
    • Model:SetModelMass and Model:GetModelMass provide a means to set the mass of a dynamic body that is factored along with its velocity. This provides a means to have better control of dynamic physics objects in script.
  • Improved rendering console command usage. (commands starting with “r_”)
    • They no longer require parameters to be toggled. You can type r_wireframe to toggle it on or off, for instance.
    • r_stats improved to be better formatted and now displays more specific data, to include the number of occluders shown.

 

Known Issues

  • You cannot enter a Hive until the deploy animation has completed, despite the prompt to utilize the Use key. This is a byproduct of fixing the closed Command Chairs. It’s planned to be fixed in the next patch.
  • “r_lights” and “r_decals” are currently disabled, for now. They’re used to visualize all Lights and Decals respectively in-game.
  • Some damage trigger types are not yet set up for both teams. For instance, Gas effects have Marines cough, but Aliens do not. Electrical damage will show up on the viewmodel for Aliens but not for Marines.
  • Status UI icons have some lingering issues in regards to specific resolutions, sorting position bugs (which can occasionally make an icon appear not ordered to the left side of the screen) as well as not showing Lerk Gas or Gas grenades. This will be improved in the future.
  • Occasionally the Marine spawning on an IP will not display the proper “filling in” shader effect that shows a Marine being “built” from nothing. This was a result of showing the skin variant, but we are looking into a way that may preserve the old visuals.
  • There is a benign script error that will occur when playing the Alien Commander tutorial.