Playing through Darkspore makes me wonder if this is a precursor to a larger sequel, in which Maxis will expand on the concept. It feels like the linear level design is a kind of trial balloon that Maxis put up to help it gauge interest in a new game with more open worlds. Likewise, the limited customization options game me a sense of Maxis getting its feet wet in a Diablo-type game before bringing out a larger game that allows players to create Spore-like creatures from the ground up. Darkspore left me feeling like I’d had the appetizer for a grander main course. As excited as I may be for that to come out of the kitchen, I couldn’t quite fill up on Darkspore.
There’s a new patch out today and you can get it by updating via the launcher.
Here are the fixes. Thanks to SimsGalore for the info.
* Fixed an issue where players that disconnected would bypass the tutorial.
* Fixed an issue that could result in progression being reset if you dropped out of a game right after joining.
* Removed the Show Pickups (Enemy) game setting in the Options menu.
* Fixed an issue causing heroes to freeze after activating a health obelisk.
* Squad bindings now properly refresh in game.
* Heroes can now turn in place while rooted.
*Fixed various crashes that occurred during missions and improved the general stability of the game.
* Fix for heroes becoming invisible due to baking timing issues.
* Fixed an issue where blood could be drawn on top of mutation agents.
* Made health and power capsules easier to pick up.
* Added and fixed some particles to enemies in Scaldron levels.
* Improved black smoke appearance.
* The black hole in Zelem’s Nexus now shakes the screen even more.
* Laser Tank damage zones now sync up better with the beam visuals.
* Fixed a bug where the initial hit from Laser Tanks was always instantly hitting twice.
* Increased the effectiveness of Ragetusk’s damage buff.
* Resistant Elites now show “Immune” when they resist an attack.
* Fixed an issue where NPCs could get stuck in the second cave on an Infinity level.
* Protoplasm NPCs now grow stronger at the correct rate.
* Increased the size of the shields from the Shielded affix slightly in Invasion and Apocalypse.
* Reduced the amount of healing from Regenerative in Invasion and Apocalypse, but it now ticks more often.
* Ghostly and Reflective are now 25%/50%/75% in the various difficulty modes, down from 50%/70%/90%.
* There is now a buff icon for the self-rez ability that can be stolen from Pouncing Stalkers.
* Arcturus and his variants now have more health.
* Arcturus’s saw blade attack now completes more quickly.
* Arcturus now spawns Scarab enemies more often.
* Improved pathing in Merak’s boss area.
* Elites with the Carapace affix now have a higher cap on the damage they can take.
* Fixed a bug with Voltroids where they would prefer to continue charging each other up in a corner rather than chasing down a hero with a full charge.
* Darkspore diseases now deal more damage in Invasion and Apocalypse.
* Reduced the damage of Charging Grendel’s charge.
* Suppression Mechanoid’s aura now shows up at the feet of heroes that it’s suppressing and now clears more quickly if the player moves out of range.
* Fixed a bug where the Spirit Drifter wasn’t applying suppression.
* NPC affix auras no longer affect destructibles.
* Nova enemies now drop more mines when they die in Invasion and Apocalypse.
* Crisis Weeds will no longer attack when they aren’t quite in range yet.
* Fixed the DNA costs displayed in buyback tab.
* Fixed creature portraits so there are no awkward cut-offs.
* Detail parts now have their own limit and don’t count against the inventory limit for stat parts.
* Added additional PvE, PvP stats in the Helix window under Profile > More Details.
* Improved style and positioning of party invite pop-up.
* Settings screen now scales correctly at different resolutions.
* Aligned in-game inventory window to the side so it does not obscure view when exchanging loot.
* General improvements in icon readability and consistency.
* Fixed an issue causing hands and feet to scale parts improperly.
* When selling, it is now more clear that an equipped item is locked and cannot be sold until unequipped.
* Fix for flair parts that share the same ref id – only one was showing up in the palette
* Detail parts will no longer show their old genesis type restriction.
* Tweaked animations and effects on mechanical arms.
* Matchmaking will now always try to find at least one additional person before ending.
* Cooperation stat effects are now slightly weaker.
* Cooperation stat effects now more smoothly transitions between on and off in the 4-8 level range.
* Fixed issue where hero feet were clipping into the ground in Scaldron PvP arena.
* Several fixes to camera clipping and visibility issues on Scaldron.
* Fixed a floating rock in the Scaldron arena
* Fixed players clipping with broken columns, and made the totems in Orcus’ boss area non-destructible.
* Removed some inaccessible destructible objects.
* Made some obelisks easier for sentinels to interact with.
* Cleaned up various texture, shadow, and lighting elements on Scaldron, Verdanth, and Nocturna levels.
* Daily objective is now labeled as such in the Objective window.
* The destructible object objective is now available again.
* Removed the obelisks collection objective from daily objectives.
* Fixed an issue with objective messages not displaying when a gold medal has been achieved.
* Tweaked the message for using a health obelisk to make it more clear that it’s not beneficial for your medals.
* Andromeda now has better quantum-themed sounds.
* Meditron now has better tech-themed sounds.
* Fixed various SFXs and added new music stings for operatives.
* Added a sound for the Maser Tank’s cleansing effect.
* Increased the base amount of Health on Defense items.
* Slightly decreased the base amount of Power on Utility items.
* The Benevolence suffix (Health and Pet Health) can no longer show up on Quantum, Cyber or Necro items.
* Parts with the attribute ‘Immune to being pulled by Darkspore’ now only work in Campaign mode.
* Attack speed bonuses now increase attack frequency by a percentage rather than reducing the cooldown between attacks by a percentage. (Previously, +50% attack speed made you attack twice as often, but now it requires +100%.)
* Increased the attack speed cap to +150%.
* Increased the amount of attack speed granted by loot and other buffs.
* Increased the attack speed bonus of overdrive.
* Fixed a bug with attack speed affecting movement animations.
* Squad abilities no longer share a cooldown if multiple variants of the same hero are in a squad.
* Charged Fist now requires a target.
* Affliction Bolt can now pass through terrain.
* Lifeforce Siphon’s cooldown has been increased slightly. The casting range and channel break distances have been reduced.
* Homing attacks no longer follow heroes who are stealthed.
* Charge abilities cannot begin while rooted.
* Arboreal Might now increases damage by 20% in PvP but only stacks twice.
* Elemental Guardian’s health has been greatly increased.
* Plasma Spray minimum channeling time has been reduced to 0.8 seconds.
* Goliath’s heal debuff should no longer be applied multiple times.
* Web Transfusion now deals more damage at higher gear levels as intended.
* Spirit Catcher no longer returns power when killing destructible objects.
* Fixed an issue where Magnos Beta could not be saved if his eyes were replaced.
* Reconstruct’s power cost has been increased.
* Reconstruct no longer gives extra health if you swap while Reinforced is active.
* Revenant special loot that modifies Terrifying curse now affects NPCs only, and not players.
* Revenant special loot that modifies duration of Terrifying curse now works properly.
* Fixed a bug for Savage getting a defeat in PvP when he still has a self-resurrection left.
* Greatly increased the health of Auto Turret.
* Auto Turret can no longer dodge or resist attacks.
* Auto Turret’s health has been greatly increased.
* Shadow Sting now has a cap on the amount of damage increase it can provide (the cap scales with Skar’s Dexterity).
* Rampant Growth now has the correct ability icon.
* Venomblade, Thornado, and Toxicity now have the correct ability icons.
* Thornado now deals physical damage up front, followed by energy damage from the poison.
* Death’s Embrace is now affected by diminishing returns.
* Death’s Embrace can now be cleansed by Tork or transferred by Meditron.
Darkspore does have a couple of nifty metagaming ideas thrown in. For example, after completing a level, you’re presented with a choice: Go back to the home base screen, level up, equip new loot, and get stronger… or go right into the next, more difficult level for a bonus multiplier in loot rarity and frequency. But, if you die, you lose it all. It’s kind of a double-or-nothing deal, pushing you to push yourself. And to that end, this game really wants you to play with friends — constantly ramping up the challenge on lone wolves until it becomes very difficult to go it alone. On the plus side, it’s easy to hook up with other players; on the minus side, interaction and real cooperation is virtually nonexistent. I never spoke one word to my two random teammates, let alone chained combos or specials or anything. The main thing you get from working with other guys is that they take on some of the workload. It’s necessary because of the single-player difficulty level, but it isn’t going to rival, say, Portal 2 or Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light for real co-op gameplay.
Although there’s an interesting sci-fi story, Darkspore doesn’t have much of a personality. While the campaign is long and surprisingly challenging, there aren’t any NPCs to interact with or side quests beyond fulfilling a handful of bonus objectives. There isn’t even a way to replay cutscenes. It’s also hard to get too invested in your characters when you’re switching between them all so frequently.
There are a few major bugs, like one that made my characters inexplicably unable to attack or move. There’s also the issue of requiring an constant online connection. To the game’s credit, it will place you at your last position if you lose connection with the game server, but it doesn’t pause the action while you’re out of commission – not even in a solo game. So, if you happen to be fighting a boss or fending off a horde of beasties, your hero is likely to be wiped out before you reconnect.
This system is clearly intended to promote strategy and diversity as well as risk-taking, but all too often it means sighing resignedly, returning to the Editor and laboriously upgrading your squad or assembling a new one. As the game progresses, you unlock the option to have additional squads to hand, which mercifully frees things up, but it leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. Is the game artificially withholding key features like this (other ‘upgrades’, play modes and even player-versus-player are treated similarly) until several hours in, purely to create a veneer of evolution?
The solo campaign is compulsive enough, built as it is upon the perennial allure of splatting monsters and collecting items with bigger numbers. But as the game wears on, it increasingly feels like a treadmill. There’s some aesthetic variety to the levels, and a slow trickle of huge bosses fitted with interestingly brutal powers of their own, but behind that it’s the same experience recycled and not blessed with the sense of escalation and place that helps the Diablo games rise above their simple mechanics.
I’ve played the Darkspore beta, and while I had good intentions, I just didn’t get hooked like most people are when they play – it’s not that its a bad game or anything – I just don’t have a lot of time to dedicate myself to gaming as I just have too much on my plate at the moment. However, I’ll revisit this game when I have free time as I had very fun during the beta period!
If you are already playing, then perhaps the following article from ZAM will help you out with sharing PvE and PvP tips!
Remember to check your objectives tab on the bottom center-right of your screen. Getting gold medals in objectives increases your chances of getting rare loot after the level is complete, so you should always be going for gold!
Sometimes objectives are time-based, but they often end up being the last “hidden” objective, so you don’t know that you’re being timed until the middle of the level. If you’re going for gold medals, your approach to the level should be based off of fulfilling your objectives quickly without distractions.
Don’t be afraid to run away! If you’re low on health against a boss or some enemies, remember that you’re not obligated to stay in their face, taking all the hits. It’s possible to “kite” a boss with some ranged heroes by walking in circles and occasionally turning around to take a pot shot.
Use your squad switches to create powerful combos. At the early levels, I loved walking into crowds with Revenant, using his area-of-effect fear, switching to SRS-42 and then doing a missile barrage on that spot. There are hundreds of other great combinations you can use in PvE, and they should become an integral part of your strategy.