2. General hints and tips
If you've played the first Alan Wake, the commands in this game will not surprise you. There are, however, significant differences in the gameplay--both in your actions, and in your enemies.
If you're new, there is little to learn. The three main things you can do with Alan are:
- Run (LB + LS)
- Use the boosted flashlight (LT)
- Shoot (RT; aim by slightly touching LT)
- Use Flares/Flashbangs (RB)
Running used to be a very important aspect of the first game, mainly due to the very strict supplies of ammo. Things are different in this game, since there is plenty of ammo everywhere, and there are even emergency boxes which can periodically refill your ammo stock (and flashlight batteries) completely (then they become unavailable for a few minutes, but they are far more than enough to never leave you without bullets). For this reason, fighting is no longer discouraged, and there will be very few moments where it'll be better to run away instead than fighting.
With the same input of the run (LB+LS in any direction), you can also perform a "dodge" against an enemy's attack. The timing doesn't need to be perfect, but as a general rule we can say that you have to wait until the enemy starts swinging his weapon before tapping LB+LS. If you manage to dodge succesfully, you will get a cinematic slow-motion scene where you can see Alan running away safely. Be aware that this feature is a bit "buggy", and it may not work if you use it consecutively. For this reason, if you have many enemies chasing after you, you should easily manage to perform a "cinematic dodge" on the first one, but you may fail if you attempt another cinematic dodge too soon after the last one. This isn't a big problem all in all (I think 2-3 seconds are all it takes before starting to work again), but it will be very important to keep this in mind while playing Arcade mode. Also, don't forget to move LS in the opposite direction of the enemy: if something goes wrong, at least you have some chance of avoiding being hit anyway.
The flashlight has changed a bit from the first episode, but only just a bit. Your enemies, the so called "Taken", usually have a shield of darkness protecting them (this is not always true). To destroy the shield, you have to use the boosted light of your flashlight (many times in Alan Wake you could just point the light on the enemies to start destroying their shield; in this game you must use the boosted light). Boosted flashlight can also be used to stun the enemies for a moment--if you're in a tight spot (out of ammo, etcetera), you can simply use the boosted flashlight right on the enemies, and they'll be forced to stop for a second. This doesn't work on bigger opponents though. The main difference with the previous game is the speed at which the battery recharges (incredibly fast), which allows you to use the boosted light very often. Then, well, there's only one flashlight (as opposed to different "upgraded" versions available in Alan Wake), but the one you have is more than enough. Remember that you can recharge the flashlight instantly by using batteries with Y (you can have up to 10x batteries at once).
Then we have the weapons, which are what you use to actually destroy the enemies once their shield has gone down. There's a large variety of weapons, compared to those available in Alan Wake, but they are divided into the same "groups" as they used to. There are three main categories:
- Rifles (Pump-Action Shotgun, Carbine Rifle, Crossbow, Hunting Rifle, Assault Rifle, Combat Shotgun)
- Pistols (9mm Pistol, Revolver, Nailgun, Submachine Gun aka SMG, Magnum, Sawed-off Shotgun)
- Flare Gun (this is a category per-se)
You can carry a single weapon for each of the categories (for instance, you can carry a Combat Shotgun, a Magnum and a Flare Gun at the same time, but you can't have a 9mm Pistol and a Revolver at the same time), and you can switch the weapon you're using in combat with the D-Pad: press D-Pad_Up to select your current Rifle; press D-Pad_Right to select your current Pistol; press D-Pad_Left to select the Flare Gun. Remember that you can reload your weapons by pressing/tapping X (and you should always do so, to avoid entering a fight with an empty gun).
In addition to these, there are two more tools to use with RB: Flares and Flashbangs. Flares are used to create intense light around you for a few seconds. You can either drop it (tap RB once), or keep it in your hand (hold RB) while you walk away, depending on the situation (you will just drop it most of the time). Flashbangs, unfortunately, have been seriously downgraded from the first episode. In fact, you will probably never use them, since their effect is that of knocking down the enemies around the area where they burst (also damaging their darkness shield, but making no concrete damage to the Taken themselves). You can carry Flares and Flashbangs at the same time, and you can choose which one you want to use by pressing D-Pad_Down.
The health of the hero is regenerated mainly by Safe Havens--they are spots of light (usually under a light pole) which will completely heal you, but they will get consumed in the process. Differently from Alan Wake, there's no Safe Haven that will last forever, so keep in mind that they are all "temporary services". On the other hand, the light will return again after a while, and this will be an important feature for Arcade Mode.
You can skip cutscenes by pressing B; but this is not recommended on the first playthrough since the plot is the core of the game, but in case you need to replay it for some reason, be aware that you can do so it to speed things up.
Finally, there's an important new detail which can help you when surrounded by enemies. Alan will turn his head in the direction where enemies are coming from (well, within certain limits of course. If they're coming from behind he will just turn his head partially on a side, not completely lol). If, say, you're using boosted light on an enemy in front of you, and see that Alan isn't looking at your target, but he's looking left/right, expect an enemy coming from that direction. You will often have enough time to notice Alan's head and run away, making this a very useful feature, provided that you pay attention to it (which hopefully, now you will).
As already stated, the Taken are the enemies of the game. We can divide them into various groups:
- Regular weak Takens
- Regular fast Takens
- Regular strong Takens
- Woodcutter Takens
- Chainsaw Takens
- Grenade-throwing Takens
- Splitting Takens
- Bird Takens
The three "Regular" Takens are very similar to each other. The "weak" ones are the most typical enemies of the game, which die in a couple of shots of the weakest weapon and are not a threat by any means. The "fast" ones are irritating little runners which can easily surprise you if you don't pay attention to your back, sides, and front. Not only do they move fast, but they also attack fast. The "strong" ones are "strong" only as opposed to the "weak" ones. They also die easily, but it usually takes 3-4 shots of weaker guns to take them down.
The "Woodcutter" Takens are easily recognized by their huge height. They are overall slow, but they can charge at you with a ramming attack--in this case, a dodge can be very hard to time, and it's better to do your best to run away rather than risking injury. They also have more health than the regular Takens, but they usually take low priority (you should leave them for last if you have some fast Takens around). The ramming attack is usually performed when you're boosting light on them, and their shield is almost gone: keep your light on, if you can, and complete the destruction of their shield; at this point you can shoot them with anything you have to stop their charge. If there's not enough room, just dodge instead.
The "Chainsaw" Takens look a bit different from the first Alan Wake: they are really huge, and look a bit like Leatherface dressed up as a butcher. They are the strongest enemies of the game, in terms of health and power, but they are quite rare and predictable. They should always be left for last, since you're going to spend 8+ bullets of your strongest weapons before taking one of them down (besides, they are also very slow).
Grenade-throwing Takens can be the most annoying of all, especially since they can ruin your score multiplier in Arcade. They are a new entry of this arcade title, and they will throw flash grenades which can either damage you (if you're close), or (if you're outside of damage range but still within range of the grenade) you will lose your multiplier (which will be the only way you will know if you were within range of the grenade). On the other hand, the damage of the flash grenades affects the other Takens too, and sometimes this can be an unexpected - yet not so meaningful - bit of help. Although they like to hide and run away from you, they have top priority in any circumstance. If you see one, go after him immediately, and stop the chase only when you get him.
Splitting Takens are also a new entry. They don't have a darkness shield, and they can be recognized by of their tall, shirtless, zombie-like appearence. If you boost light on them, they will split in two different monsters. The splitted units will be slightly smaller and have half the health of the original foe. After the first split, it's possible to use boosted light to further split the two enemies, for a total of four enemies, each with a quarter of the max health of the original enemy. Notice the "max" I've used. If you damage the original enemy, and then use boosted light on him, the halves which generate from him will have their maximum health. For this reason, make your decision--either kill the original as a single enemy (suggested option), or let him split and then defeat the weaker enemies. Pick one, but don't mix the two things or you will just waste bullets. Priority-wise, they should be dealt with as soon as you can, because they are fast, and you can't use boosted light to keep them away from you.
Achievement note: there's an achievement for defeating two "parts" of them with a single shot. It's an easy task to accomplish. Just use boosted light to create four enemies from the original one, then shoot them when they're close to each other. We'll talk about it in Story Mode.
Bird Takens are the third new entry, and have no darkness shield either. These enemies can turn into a flock of dark birds, fly around, and then turn back into a humanoid-Taken on the ground. This metamorphosis is rather dangerous, because the birds usually "land" behind you. Moreover, these enemies are quick and sneaky, and will turn back into birds--which you can't damage, unlike the old darkness birds of Alan Wake--if you use the boosted light/if you don't kill them quickly enough (they don't recover health when turning back into birds, but it's still a nuisance to have them around). They have more priority than the regular fast Takens, since they are really fast, and can surprise you very easily. They are probably the only enemy of the game which you should kill with a Pistol, if you don't have a very good Rifle (like the Combat Shotgun), since the Pistols have a fast fire rate and they allow you to finish them off with a series of shots before they can fly away.
Spiders are the last of the threats, since they will die with a simple boost of the Flashlight. They are just a bit hard to spot in the darkness (easier to hear, if you turn up the volume or are wearing good headphones). Since they don't hit very hard, and they don't come accompanied with any stronger Takens, they won't be a problem. They are basically the equivalent of the Darkness Birds in Alan Wake, only that they are crawling spiders instead of flying birds. They are only found in Story mode.
Considering how easy the gameplay has been made, I think this is all you need to know to deal with Story Mode. We'll discuss in more detail how Arcade Mode works in the page dedicated to it.
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