Auto Assault Diary 3


posted 8/21/2006 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
I sit idling outside of a Pike encampment, just north of the mutant city of Tocado. The encampment’s a lengthy industrial zone with a couple smokestacked buildings, some railing leading into the hillsides, and a whole lotta auxiliary structures hastily shod together, Pike skull graffiti spray painted on their walls.
I switch on combat ‘attrition’ mode, giving me a significant boost in my ability to commit sustained combat operations -- my weapons won’t be overheating as much, in other words, but this is at the expense of speed. I can only drive at a rate of 50 percent, but that suits my purposes for tanking through a densely structured area.   I also click on an ‘offensive’ stance, slowing me down even more, but shoving that much more punch through the canons. I don’t want to give these Pikes much time to respond. I’ll be coming at them slow, but I’ll be hitting them hard. They’ll know what hit ‘em…
…But only for a second.
A couple lookout towers flank the front gates. I take those out with splash damage tearing away at their fences and other adjacent structures. Some ‘old world’ VW Beetles with mounted machine guns scramble as I come through the gate, but I’ve already excelled too many levels past them. In the last couple weeks, through honest-to-goodness casual storyline play, I’ve gained a dozen levels with no level gaps. NCsoft’s no-grind policy holds its ground.
I pour out damage from multiple angles. I prevent my turret from auto locking on the VWs, which doubles up firepower aiming straight ahead with my forward weapon. I’ve also come into possession of a melee weapon: a front mounted set of blood spikes that dump a serious can o’ hurt on anything I run into. It won’t serve me at full capacity here (since I’m moving at fractional speeds) but I’ve found it to be an invaluable addition to my arsenal. Buildings, railings, infantry -- all things that give lower level vehicles pause -- are rendered into a more putty-like substance at ramming speed. Once you mount a melee weapon on your vehicle you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one.
I spend a full ten minutes plundering the Pike camp. Buildings exploding everywhere, fences shredded, towers toppling, and guard vehicles spraying hopelessly at car.
Harvesting materials should be this good in every MMOG.
This is something Auto Assault gets very right. Gone are the days of clicking random bushes and tree stumps. Gone are the hours scouring for random rocky outcroppings for tin. Materials useable in crafting drop from virtually everything you destroy, and the materials list is long. You’ll be stacking piles of salvaged nuts and bolts, weapon barrels -- even blood -- just by going about your regularly scheduled program of destruction. While drops are random, they’re not completely random. As in, certain “loot pools” (buildings, ruins, plants and animals, infantry, and vehicles) drop certain salvageable items.
I’ve been saving up my salvaged materials for some time in anticipation of commencing craftwork. There was no need to sell it. Missions handed out all of the money, weaponry, and armor I could utilize, given my level. And with so many slots available in my inventory I was never hurting for space.
Over time I’ve allocated points evenly throughout the research & development categories. Which is a mistake, I’ve heard. It’s much better to specialize your abilities, since (even considering specialization) a character will likely hit the level 80 roof before they max out their crafting skills. Creating objects at the higher levels requires hundreds of materials and, naturally, the patience of a master craftsman to create those high-end valuables.
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