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first person - not a gimmick

When you first start playing Machines, you may think that the first person mode is a fancy toy of little practical use when it comes to serious gaming.
Do not be fooled.
First person control in Machines has been designed to be a seamless and integrated part of the game, and will find several missions from the campaign much easier with suitable utilisation of 1st Person. Without it, you are hampering yourself strategically, and are missing a major element of the game.

Much of the game AI's design evolved in tandem with the first person control aspect of the game. If you have played a number of RTS games before, you may feel rather nervous about the idea of controlling one unit exclusively while the rest are left unattended. This is probably because the AI in those games left your units rather dumb and unresponsive when unsupervised. The AI in Machines is both reactive and proactive - if you have idle units on one side of the your base when units on the other side are attacked by enemy forces, you will see that they will leave their positions (unless specifically ordered by you to stand ground), and move to aid their comrades in a counterattack. Experiment for a while observing just how much your forces will do without your supervision. They won't win the game for you on their own, but they can defend themselves and call for assistance from nearby reinforcements with a degree of competence you may not have come to expect from units in previous RTS games. You will notice that they will refrain from blindly pursuing units they have put into retreat, call off the chase, and return to the places where you had last left them. Likewise, units that were called away from another operation to help nearby comrades under fire will attempt to resume the task or move they had previously been engaged in.

This all gives you much more licence to use first person control than you might have thought initially. First person offers you a greater variety of combat tactics, as you are constrained only by your imagination and the physics of the machine you are controlling. Used shrewdly, it can help turn the tide of a battle against superior forces.

first person tricks and tips

  • Instruct a number of machines to follow the unit you are about to take first person control of. When you move out, these other machines will become an escort force, automatically moving to attack hostiles who assault you. This is particularly useful when you instruct groups of agile infantry units such as reapers to escort an assault unit that has difficulty with close quarters combat, such as the Eradicator and the Goliath.

  • A first-person controlled Eradicator is a formidable threat. Manually aiming the detonation point of a vortex singularity facilitates some very effective forms of attack, such as an airburst vortex over the crest of a hill, or a vortex which will expand around a corner of a hill, building or corridor to strike enemy units that are not in your current line of sight.

  • When you have a range advantage over an enemy unit that is attempting to close with you, first person control allows you to keep reversing while shooting your opponent, extending the length of time for which you can strike the hostile unit but it cannot yet hit you. A reversing unit is a tell-tale sign of an experienced human opponent utilising first person control in a multiplayer game.

  • An extension of this tactic is to face your unit's torso away from your target in first person, but rotate the upper body around so that you can fire at them. You can then use your full speed to continually move away from the enemy, rather than the restricted speed of reversing. Using such "tailgunner" tactics can allow weak units with long weapon ranges such as plasma reapers to do serious damage to enemy units who will find it difficult to get sufficiently close to you to bring their ordnance to bear upon you. Even better, a player who has mastered 1st person will be able to keep on the move in a circular path around a target, keeping the target firmly in the crosshairs by turning the upper torso through 90 degrees, and causing considerable damage to the target. The AI will cope with these attacks to some extent, but it is especially effective against more lumbering targets such as the Goliath and Gorilla.

  • The ease with which you can keep a unit moving continuously in first person mode facilitates some excellent decoy tactics. While your AI-controlled units press home an assault upon an enemy unit or force, take control of an agile unit in first person and concentrate on distracting the enemy and drawing his fire. This distraction tactic works even better if you can continually grab your target's attention by hitting it with gunfire. Used in this manner, even seemingly-obselete scout and grunt units can continue to be of some tactical value in the later stages of a game.

  • Switching in and out of first person mode is a seamless way of playing for the experienced Machines gamer. A common tactic is to order a group of machines to move towards a combat area from zenith view, then taking control of one member of this group in first person, and riding into battle with them. Remember that your troops will automatically initiate attacks against hostiles (the degree of proactivity being dependent to some extent on their defcon modes), so you won't need to move back into zenith mode to order attacks if enemies are encountered in the target area. You can form part of the vanguard of raiding teams in first person, then switch back out as soon as you feel the skirmish is under control to concentrate on matters of global strategy elsewhere. A good example of this tactic's usefulness can be seen in the opening stage of the first Talon Prime single player campaign ("Military Fortress"). Command your initial team to move to a point a few hundred metres south of their start position, then take control of the Crusader assault tank in first person. Ride this unit into battle manually, with the others galloping along in front of and beside you, and use it as a strategic archer to knock out key enemies and then the satellite uplink while the other 5 units automatically engage the enemy troops and draw their fire. This goal is much harder to achieve if you attempt to do so commanding purely from zenith view.