Last edit: Betabuild 250
This guide does not focus on explaining the game mechanics: it is assumed that you know at least basics when reading it. These mechanics can be learned by browsing other pages of this Wiki, as well as by playing the game.
Instead, this guide intends to explain established techniques and strategies which may not be obvious to inexperienced players.
The main source of these techniques and strategies is game experience.
As a result, one can always argue the actual effectiveness of the listed content.
Still, it can be very useful to know these aspects as they will give you an arsenal of different things you can try and it can also help you to understand why teammates and opponents behave as they do.
The marines and aliens are both fighting for dominance over one another. The early game usually focuses on securing resources, while the late game focuses on advancement of technology for the marines and higher lifeforms for the aliens. There are four ways the game can end:
- All Hives are destroyed - marines win
- All Command Stations are destroyed - aliens win
- All Infantry Portals are destroyed or unpowered AND all marines are dead - aliens win
- All players of one team leaving the game (either quitting or entering the Ready Room) results in a win for the opposing team
The state of the Command Stations and Hives (built or unbuilt) does not affect the win conditions.
There is a button to show the entire map. This does not only help you to find your way to a certain spot (the areas have names), but you can also see the position of buildings, teammates and even enemies (if they are in line of sight) in realtime.
However, keep in mind that the map will cover a lot of your screen so you might not notice approaching enemies.
Especially when you are inexperienced, try to stick to your Commander's orders. If a Commander uses a Distress Beacon (see Observatory), (s)he often intends to gather a group for base defense or for attacking an enemy Hive. Especially when ordered to attack a Hive, try to stick to the group as this is often a difficult task. There is also a button for a menu which allows you to ask the Commander for Medpacks and Ammo. "Asking for orders" (default "H") is often used to signal the Commander that you want to build an Extractor at your current location.
When a nearby teammate dies, his/her weapon will stay on the ground for a short period of time (about 30 seconds). If you pick up that weapon for a very short time every now and then, the time it takes for the weapon to disappear will be reset. This might give your teammate enough time to respawn and recollect his/her weapon. Remember that (s)he might not know you are doing this if you don't mention it.
Alone or as a Group?
When moving out of the base, it is often useful to go as a team or a group. Covering each other can be very helpful as there is no friendly fire. Kharaa are often difficult to defeat when they get close, but you can sometimes help out an attacked teammate from afar. Additionally, powerful Kharaa like the Fade or Onos can soak a lot of damage before they go down, so teamplay is often needed to defeat them.
It can help to always have at least one Marine on guard while the others are building and or welding. His, or her, gunfire will alert the others, so they are less likely to be taken by surprise.
On the other hand, there are specific purposes for leaving the base by yourself.
- Emergencies - e.g. an important structure is about to be destroyed
- Scouting - especially for spotting new Hives
- Building - e.g. an Extractors while the Kharaa are busy elsewhere
- Sabotaging - usually by attacking Cysts or Harvesters
- Harass - to pull some of the Alien team away from your main attack. eg a small team can attack one location while the main force is attacking another
When should I use which weapon?
Switch-Axe: This weapon will outperform most other weapons in damage per second against enemy structures, while also saving ammo; however, unless covered, you may find it difficult to notice an attacking Kharaa in time to live.
Pistol: When attacking motionless targets (e.g. a Skulk attacking a Power Node), this weapon actually has more burst-damage than the Assault Rifle. Because of that, it is also sometimes better to switch to the pistol instead of reloading your primary weapon when it runs empty in combat. The Pistol is also useful against very distant targets, as it strays less than other weapons.
Assault Rifle: Generally good all round weapon (its free). The large clip (50) along with upgrades will make this weapon very deadly, particularly if there is a large group of marines. The high RoF (rate of fire), means if you are trying to track a target across a room, it is best to burst fire rather then keep your hand on the trigger. Reloading in the middle of a fire fight is usually fatal. It might be useful to ask a Commander for ammo before actually attacking a structures in case you running out, as (s)he will take some time to react. Against Skulks, the melee attack (RMB) is a last resort, especially when you lose them from view in melee combat. Killing a fully-healed Fade with a Rifle is almost impossible when you are alone.
Grenade Launcher: While grenades only give a minor advantage against single structures, the splash radius makes them an outstanding weapon to attack multiple structures at once. (In Build 250, the Whip no longer knock back Grenades) However, Whips will knock your grenades back, it is often required to take those out before attacking with grenades. If used by several Marines at once, grenades can be used to "spam" an area (without knowing the exact position of the enemy), making it very difficult for Kharaa to enter that area without serious injury or death. This "spam" can also be used to cover important structures, ARCs, MACs and other teammates. Directly hitting an attacking Alien with a grenade is quite difficult, the Rifle seems more reliable in direct combat. Taking away the melee attack and close-quarters combat ability, this weapon makes you vulnerable if not supported by other marines. It's best to stay with other marines when using this weapon. If everything fails, it is possible to shoot a grenade directly on the ground, hoping that the enemy will die in the detonation. You have a few seconds before detonation (unless the grenade touches the enemy), but this is still likely to harm/kill yourself. Still, this last resort can be quite effective when attacked by multiple enemies. Grenades do not have friendly fire to other marines, but you can blow yourself up if you are near a grenade you "spammed".
Shotgun: Despite the high straying, this weapon is not recommended for players with performance issues when fighting Skulks. You might want to plan the timing of your shots carefully and make them count. The Shotgun has low rate of fire, but it has very high burst damage. This means shotguns in groups can take down higher Alien lifeforms very quickly, however a lone shotgun will want to be very accurate to survive a Fade encounter. The Shotgun is an absolute killer against lower tier lifeforms like the Skulk, Gorge, and Lerk at close range. The effectiveness on close range and the high amount of ammo make the Shotgun useful against single structures, like Harvesters.
Flamethrower: The flamethrower has limited range, and deals damage over time. What sets it apart from the other weapons, is when Aliens set on fire have obscured vision, and do not regenerate energy. Making them easier to kill for your team mates. Beware, as fire deals damage overtime, a burning Skulk can still kill you as it is burning. When the enemy is on fire, time is usually working for you (unless you want to prevent the enemy from escaping alive) so you might want to focus more on dodging when that happens. This weapon is also great for clearing out rooms full of cysts. Another tactical use of the Flamer is that it will burn out Lerk spore and umbra clouds,as well as Gorge Bile Bomb. Usually it is rather easy to set an enemy on fire. Because of this, you might want to move the mouse a lot in combat, as you might even hit enemies you were not aware of. Since your teammates, structures, ARCs and MACs are immune to the fire, it is very easy to cover them with a Flamethrower. In fact, this might be it's best advantage.
Instead of a flashlight, the Kharaa have a yellowish vision-mode in which Marines and their buildings stand out. This mode is very useful for fighting in dark areas and also allows you see through the gas of a Lerk. But keep in mind that it will also render Flamethrower fire invisible.
When spending a lot of personal resources for evolving, consider evolving Camouflage Phantom as a single upgrade first. Evolving in two steps has a minor overhead, but this upgrade will allow your egg to be invisible during the second step, lowering the risk of being found and killed, which would waste all the resources you just spent.
A Useful Experience
Playing as a Commander can give you important insight about tech-dependencies and the actual value of certain buildings, as well as giving you better understanding what other Commanders might expect from you while you are on the field (when not commanding). This is why you might want to give this a try at least once.
However, people might start to complain as it is unlikely that you are doing a very good job on your first attempt. You may want to ask your teammates beforehand, or wait for a match where nobody else wants to be Commander.
Since the Alien Commander has no direct way to spend his/her personal resources, consider evolving into a higher life form such as an Onos to assist the alien team when little need arises for constructing buildings.
Common Terms And Abbreviations
|Kharaa||The Alien race in Natural Selection|
|Frontiersmen||The Marines in Natural Selection|
|'com' or 'comm'||Commander|
|RT||Resource Tower, also used for Harvester|
|'spec'||Spectator or Spectator Mode|
|'beacon'||Distress Beacon, see Observatory|
Map-Specific Terms and Locations
|CR, or XR, or xroads||Crossroads|
|Marine Start, or Sub|| Sub Access
(Marine starting point in older versions)
|Alien Start, or Atri|| Atrium
(Alien starting point in older versions)