Natural Selection 2 – Guide to Alien Lifeformsby Steven Bogos
Hey guys. Natural Selection 2 (NS2) has been out for quite a few weeks now, and it’s slowly and steadily gaining a respectable fanbase. If you’re a new fan that just gotten the game, or someone who’s had it for a while but has shied away from the Alien team due to their complexity, this is the guide for you. Today I go into detail about the five unique Alien lifeforms and what they are capable of. Enjoy!
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Natural Selection 2 is hard. Its RTS/FPS blend that has more of a learning cliff-face than a curve. The space-marine ‘Frontiersmen’ are relatively easy to figure out for anyone who’s ever played an FPS, but the alien ‘Kharaa’ are a completely different story. The melee-oriented aliens have five unique ‘lifeforms’ that they can evolve to, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. This can be a bit overwhelming for new players, so today I’m having a look at what each lifeform can do.
Oh, before we start. Press your F key whenever you are using any life form. It’ll give you the neat alien night-vision that I’m using in most of the video.
The Skulk is the Kharaa’s bread and butter. Every respawning alien will start off as a skulk, and only evolve to a new lifeform if they have enough resources, so it’s the lifeform that most people will spend the majority of their time as. The first thing you should know about being a skulk is that you are extremely weak. Starting at just 70hp, a single burst from a marine’s LMG will kill you if they spot you at range. The solution? Don’t attack from range. Your strength as a skulk is that you are fast and you are small. You can climb up walls and scramble through vents. Use this to your advantage. Basically, you don’t want marines to see you until you are literally in their face. The skulks secondary attack is parasite, a ranged attack that deals a small amount of damage and plants a ‘parasite’ on the targeted marine. Alien players can then track the parasited marine through walls via it’s yellow silhouette. Two other abilities, Leap and Xenocide, must first be researched by your commander before you can use them. Leap allows you to leap through the air – handy for covering distances quickly – while xenocide will turn you into a suicide bomber. Every lifeform can also evolve an array of ‘traits’, provided the commander has researched them. For the skulk, I recommend taking carapace for the extra armour, celerity to enhance your speed, and camouflage, so you can make stealth ambushes.
The gorge has changed a bit from its NS1 counterpart, moving from the alien’s primary builder to a type of support/defensive lifeform. What you want to be doing as a gorge is supporting your team, by building clogs to block passageways, hydras to protect expansions, and using your heal-spray to heal allies. The build menu is accessed by pressing the 2 key, and you can use your heal-spray by holding mouse 2. Remember than your healspray can also heal buildings, as well as make them build faster. The gorge is a little slow and can’t climb walls, so be very careful when following your allies into battle – if you have to retreat you might get left behind your faster brethren. What you can do, however, is perform a belly-slide by hitting the shift key, to give you a little movement boost. The commander can research just one ability for the gorge – the bile bomb. Bile bomb turns you from a defensive heal-bot to an offensive siege cannon – it deals massive damage to structures and is ranged. Late game, you’ll want to bile bomb key structures, such as power nodes, while your allies keep the marines busy. I recommended taking adrenaline for the extra energy, camouflage so you can feebly attempt to hide, and carapace which might let you survive just long enough to belly slide away.
The Lerk was one of the hardest classes for me to get the hang of. You can fly by tapping the spacebar to rise, and holding it to glide. You can ‘cling’ to walls and ceilings by holding the shift key, and this is something you’ll want to get used to. The lerk’s mouse 2 is a pin-point accurate needle-like ranged attack, and what you’ll probably be using as your primary form of attack. You’ll basically want to hide yourself somewhere up in the rafters, and then whittle down clueless marine’s HP as they frantically search for you, using your fast flying speed to get out of there if you are spotted. Use your primary ‘bite’ attack only in dire straits, as you are quite a weak class, second only to the Skulk. The commander can research spores and umbra for you. Using spores spawns a damaging poison cloud at your location – this is best utilized by doing a ‘fly-by’ through a marine base or group of marines, spamming a long trail of poison clouds as you go. Umbra ‘disintegrates’ 1 out of every 2 bullets fired into it. It’s a complicated way of saying that it’s a defensive buff for your team, and late game you’ll want to spam it on your onoses and gorges. I recommend adrenaline, as flying costs energy, silence, so it takes marines longer to find you and carapace as usual for the extra armour.
The fade is the closest thing to an ‘assassin’ class that the Kharaa have. He has a high resource cost of 50 res, and while having more health than the gorge and the lerk, it’s still quite fragile, so he is often a source of frustration for new players that spend so much precious res only to die with two well-placed shotgun blasts. First up, do NOT evolve to fade unless your commander has researched blink. Blink is the key ability of the fade, and what you will use for the majority of his movement. Sure, you have ‘shadow step’ bound to the shift key, but it is basically a crappier version of blink that won’t save you the way blink will. Blink phases you out of the physical world and allows to extremely rapidly traverse the map. Use this to quickly blink up to lone marines, take them out, and then blink out. You can also blink into bases, do some damage, and blink out when they realize what’s happening. Fades with blink are easily the most mobile lifeform in the game, use this to harass locations in different areas of the map in order to make the marines spread their defenses thin. The second ability the commander can research for you, vortex, is somewhat of a rarity. It’s usually the last thing researched due it it’s high cost and situational use. You can use it to trap marines in stasis, wherein they cannot take nor deal damage. As blink is your primary source of movement, take adrenaline. Take camouflage so you can hide after retreating, and take regeneration so you can keep coming back for hit and runs.
The onos is the most iconic life-form in the game, playing the role of ‘look at me I’m a huge fucking big gorilla thing with a horn and I’m going to gore you with it’. The first thing you should know is that as an onos, you are NOT invincible. Many people feel that after blowing a whopping 75 res on an evolution, they can just waltz right through the entire enemy team. Concentrated fire will kick your ass – especially if they have jetpacks. Instead, the onos philosophy is to always retreat with plenty of health to spare, and always try to work in groups – either with other onoses or gorges. One or two gorges spamming their heal spray on you makes you quite hard to kill. The onos can ‘charge’, by holding the shift key. This costs quite a bit of energy to use, so you shouldn’t be spamming it unless you want to catch a retreating marine, or make a hasty escape. The commander can also research ‘stomp’, which will let you perform a shockwave causing stomp that will stun grounded marines and disrupt sentries. It has no effect on your greatest nemesis, however – jetpacking marines. For traits, I recommend celerity, as it helps enhance your mobility and allow you to escape and camouflage, as ‘surprise onos!’ is one of the best ways to make marines shit their pants. As for the defensive upgrade, it’s a bit of a toss-up. Previously, carapace was the go-to choice, but regeneration has recently had a substantial buff that makes you almost unkillable as long as you can retreat with enough health. Go with regeneration till they nerf it.
That’s all! Happy hunting!
Natural Selection 2 is available through the Steam store or through GameFanShop. If you liked Steve’s article be sure to check out his “Natural Selection 2 – Alien Commander guide” and his “Natural Selection 2 impressions!“