16. DLC: Underground hints and tips
The "Underground" can be very frustrating and unforgiving! Every mission, no matter what the setting, is dubbed as a "no respawn zone". Once you die, it's game over! Communication with other players, teamwork, and a variety of skills will help you to succeed in your long haul in the "Underground".
After you've finished the first mission (which I cover in the walkthrough page for the DLC), you'll be able to set up your own missions or matchmake to join others or have others join yours. You'll need to level up to unlock more options and you'll also need to collect Directive Intel to use more Directives in missions.
Hard difficulty missions will be enough of a challenge to begin with if you're not geared up properly, but if you're attempting hard missions with other players, you can easily fly through the missions in a group. Once you're geared up better, and the modes have been unlocked, you'll be able to attempt Challenging mode for more XP and better rewards.
Despite possibly not being levelled up amazingly well just yet for the Underground, the harder modes and difficulty-effecting directives sensibly become available as you level up more. As and when you obtain more gear that you want to keep, try not to sacrifice too much of one statistic (firearms, toughness, electronics). Toughness is ultimately the most important as obviously, if you die, it's game over. Skills become a much more important factor Underground as there's no room for error, and the likes of Pulse and First Aid become much more relied on that in the outside world of New York. Firearms, I'd actually go as far as saying could be the least important statistic as your skills such Pulse and Smart Cover will buff your damage.
I have four level 30 agents. One is focused on high DPS and the other with high skill power. The high DPS is great and looks good statistically with the damage my weapons do but my Skill Power agent can be an invincible all-rounder purely thanks to his Skill Power. He does have the Tactician's Authority 4-piece set that takes my skill power to around 70-75K once the bonus reaches 100%, but once I use Smart Cover for example, my agent can be almost invincible and do healthy damage at the same time.
Don't forget to use the core-game's features as well so you can re calibrate your gear if necessary and craft gear or weapons mods for small improvements.
The matchmaking for the Underground works the same as it does everywhere else. However, if you are made the leader of the group, then it's your job to set up the mission and enable Directives if you want them on. If you're low-levelled, consider speaking with other member of the groups to see if they are levelled up higher and can add more to the mission.
You'll soon come across pretty decent weapons too. ALWAYS carry one of each weapon type (Assault Rifle, SMG, Marksman Rifle, LMG, and Shotgun) regardless of the quality of weapons you'll eventually come across! Surprisingly, I still find people in the Underground trying to "help" their team with just an SMG and AR. Then when they run out of ammo, they try to contribute by blocking your line of site and trying to take on Elite enemies with just a pistol.
Since update 1.3 when the Underground first unleashed, Assault Rifles have become the strongest weapon type to use followed by SMGs. I'd recommend using an Assault Rifle as your main, and then start off with an SMG as secondary for the close-range battles and switch to your Rifle when necessary.
Skills and Talents
If you're riding solo, I'd highly recommend using Pulse, First Aid, and the Survivor Link as your skills. The Pulse helps with locating enemies as well as doing additional damage to those who are pulsed, First Aid keeps your health in check, and Survivor Link can be used for emergencies.
When in a group, I tend to change my skills dependant on what character I'm using and what skills the group are using. I ALWAYS use First Aid with Overdose no matter what, unless I'm using my Toughness character who uses the Reclaimer set that gives 100% healing speed with the Support Station. My other skill will either be Pulse. If someones using that then I'll use Seeker Mine's with the Airburst mod. If someone has that then I use the Sticky Bomb with Flashbang mod. If that's being used then I'll use a Turret with the Dragonbreathe mod.
In a group of four, there will be four agents with two skills and a signature skill each, bringing the total to eight skills and four signatures. Here's the list of skills I'd recommend in order of priority:
- First Aid with Overheal - Keeps health in check
- Pulse with Tactical Scanner - Locates enemies and deals extra damage
- Seeker Mines with Airburst - Locates the closest enemies and has a great chance to set multiple enemies on fire
- Sticky Bomb with Flashbang - Immobilizes enemies if they are weak enough to the flash
- Turret with Dragonsbreathe - Sets enemies on fire, temporarily immobilizing them
- Smart Cover with Heal - Heals agents on the cover, cools down skills faster and grants extra damage
- Support Station with Ammo - Heals agents, provides ammo and agents can use the station to revive themselves
- Another one of the above skills
For the Signature, I'd recommend everyone uses the Survivor Link. I only switch to the Medic special if all players have gone down but not out and I never bother with the Tacticians link at all. The Survivor link comes in handy for skipping areas that don't need to be cleared out, falling back quickly, or reviving a player quickly without going down yourself. Besides the mentioned perk, the Medic link is also useless. The Tactician's link depends heavily on each agents DPS to be useful. It doesn't do anything at all for your Toughness so unless you have a tough agent, trying to take advantage of the Tactician's link is hopeless.
Update 1.5 - Since this update, the other two Signature skills are much more useful now.
Lastly, save your Signature skill for when it's absolutely necessary to use them! It brings a tear to my eye when I see agents either accidentally using them or just panicking too soon and popping their Signature. A good time to use a Signature is if you have an enemy that's rushed where you're holding up and he's taken down one or two team mates, or, if enemies have spawned dangerously close to you and you and your team need to quickly escape or fall back, or, if you only need to investigate an area, and the objective hasn't changed to eliminate all enemies, you could pop a Signature and the whole group can run past the section.
For Talents, use Adrenaline for the extra boost of health. Use Triage for extra skill cooldown when healing other agents. This also counts when healing JTF Officers too. If you're hold up in cover fighting enemies and the JTF is nearby or annoyingly taking a good spot of cover from you, you may as well pop your First Aid next to them and cool down your skills quicker. Use [Talent Name] to cool down skills when your at critical health. This can obviously pay off and save you in close calls. Lastly, use [talent name] to keep a skill going for longer like Pulse, Smart Cover, or Support Station, or use [Talent name] to go with Seeker Mines or the Turret.
At first, Hard difficulty will actually be pretty hard if you've not played the game since completing the core part. Once you gear up a bit and become stronger, you'll easily be able to fly through Hard missions on solo. If you don't feel that confident, you can still get through the hard missions easily with just one or two other players. Unless you're doing two or three phases though, you won't earn gear or weapons of amazing quality.
You'll definitely need a group to complete any missions on this difficulty. All enemies here will be Level 34, much tougher than the 32's you'll see in Hard. I've completed missions on this difficulty with just one other player after others quit or got disconnected. It's definitely do able, but luckily I had a decent player alongside me who knew what he/she was doing! Even in teams of four, missions can go sour very quickly! Chargers are easily the biggest threat throughout the Underground as they can down you in one or two shots and over-power the group very quickly. All enemies hit ridiculously hard in this mode so you have to be super-patient throughout missions. Rushing ahead will get you no where and you'll just end up either dead and having to spectate someone else, or your team will try to play hero and die trying to save you.
This will probably be the difficulty you will play on the most unless you have a super-coordinated group you roll with. If that's the case, I'd personally hammer Heroic difficulty as much as possible.
Update 1.4/1.5 edit - Since these updates, this difficulty is actually much more manageable on solo.
Heroic - Removed with Update 1.4
I've only personally only completed a couple of 2-phase missions on Heroic. I don't constantly roll with a dedicated group Underground so I end up having to matchmake with randoms almost all of the time. It's safer (to a degree) to just play Challenging difficulty in this case. When I did attempt Heroic (through matchmaking) it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. The enemies had only gone up to Level 35 (I thought they'd go up to 36 for some reason) but they still hit SUPER-HARD. However, the team I was with played very slowly and patiently and all three of them had mics to which obviously helped massively.
It took a bit longer than the average Challenging mission but the rewards were much better. However, the risk is a bit greater as the heavier amount of time put into missions can be wasted if you all die.
Five directives will be on offer to use in missions. Not all of them will be unlocked straight away and even when they are available, you'll need Directive Intel to activate them. This Intel can be collected as loot from dead enemies anywhere in the game. The Directives are as follows:
- Fog of War - Disables radar
A nice and easy one to always add on. The loss of radar isn't massive in my opinion as you'll always have an eye on enemy positions and Pulse should always be in someones skill slot anyway.
- Mad Skills - Once one skill is used, the other also goes on cool down. If one agent in the group uses their Signature Skill, all other agents Signature Skills go into cooldown.
Despite being the second Directive you unlock, this one is the worst to use by far! Unless you have impressive Skill Haste, the cooldown for both skills is killer and having this directive on really makes you appreciate what you won't be able to constantly use anymore! If an agent is willing to perhaps use Smart Cover or Support Station to cool down skills quicker, then this Directive isn't as bad. The worst part however is the Signature skill part. To my horror, I've played in groups where an agent with the Medic Link would use the Signature just because everyone's health was slightly low or one agent had gone down. There's absolutely no need to do this when everyone has medkits to use or/and can heal each other with their First Aid, and if someone's gone down, assess the situation first and see if they can be picked up by an agent before popping the Signature! Try to avoid using this directive if you can. If you end up in a group where you're not the leader, I'd go as far as leaving the group if no ones speaking and this Directive is enabled.
- Waste Not Want Not - Any ammo left in a magazine when reloading will be lost
Another easy one to add on so long as you have a couple of pieces Lone Star and a Police backpack to use. Just be aware that upon starting missions, sometimes you will automatically lose half of your overall ammo. Thankfully, there's always a restock box to use at the start of any mission. Play as normal but just don't reload unless you have to. Your Pistol is obviously not effected as it has unlimited ammo. If you're using a consumable that effects ammo (Incendiary or Explosive bullets), your agent reloads the current weapon automatically, wasting the ammo left in the magazine. Switch to your Pistol before using a consumable or activate the consumable part-way through a reload to not lose additional ammo.
- Special Forces - Enemies have special ammo types
Each faction will come with unique types of ammo when this Directive is enabled. A good counter to this is the Support Station with the Immunization mod. Rikers will make you Bleed, Cleaners will set you on Fire and the LMB will constantly Disrupt you. None of the ammo types are massively mission-changing but in moments of crisis they can be the decider between success and failure.
- Sickness - Health drains at a constant rate
I personally don't mind this one but from my experience in the Underground, a lot of other agents don't stick around when this one is enabled. Your health will slowly go down right from the start up until the very end of the mission. Again, this only really hurts you in moments of crisis when your down to your last bar of health. However, as your health is constantly going down, the medkit doesn't heal you as effectively and obviously the same can be said for the Support Station and Smart Cover.
Individually, besides the Mad Skills Directive, none of these will impact your missions massively. Put together with others however, that's when things can get very interesting! I personally tend to run all of the Directives besides Sickness and Mad Skills.
The more Phases you have, the better rewards and XP you'll get at the very end of the mission. A 2-phase mission is just basically two missions one after the other. There's nothing special that goes on in between phases besides everyone goes into a lift at the end of the first phase rather than back to the Tactical Operations Centre. The restock boxes found next to the train at the beginning of a mission will still be available at the start of the second phase but you wont be able to restock on grenades or medkits.
If at any point you and your team all die, even right at the final fight at the end of the third phase, then it's game over for the entire operation.
If you have the time, always try and do more than just one phase for the better rewards and XP.
Hirsute Dave has listed the different types perfectly in his solution for the Objectively Experienced achievement.
Critical InfrastructureDefend three generators against increasingly difficult groups of enemies. A named boss will arrive to attack the third generator
Fight your way through to a JTF officer and then defend him for two minutes. A named boss will appear towards the end of the timer.
Recover the Report
Eliminate three groups of enemies to recover data pointing to the location of a JTF officer. A final group of enemies including a named boss will arrive after speaking to the officer. He doesn't need to survive the encounter/
There will be three supply caches to be destroyed (they look like a pile of ammo crates and will have an orange objective halo if you get your crosshairs over them). Each one has a timer (four, three and two minutes) so they should be the priority over any enemies. A named boss will guard the final cache.
Kill two lieutenants of a named boss and then the boss themselves. Identical to the Bounty side missions of the base game.
Target of Opportunity
Similar to HVT missions, you'll have 20 minutes to locate a named boss. Once found, the timer stops.
The mission types are straight-forward but the Critical Infrastructure and Supply Depot types can be the most troublesome. The difficulty of Generator missions depend on level layouts. I've found the more-closed in, smaller type rooms in a mission can be troublesome when trying to defend the generators but this can also depend on the faction too. The Supply Depots are easy enough up until the last cache you need to destroy as the timer here really puts the pressure on you and your team. You may even have to go as far as sacrificing a member of the team by charging in just to destroy the cache.
Once you're all set, the approach for each mission should always be the same - SLOW AND STEADY! It's so annoying to spend five or so minutes matchmaking, loading into the mission, switching gear to get stocked on ammo, and then heading into the first section to see two of your team mates already down and out as the result of rushing and not being prepared for the Shotgunners that will have more than likely absolutely destroyed them. Always Pulse or wait for another agent to Pulse as soon as ISAC tells you enemies are in the area. Identify where the Chargers are and then prepare to aggro/trigger the enemies to attack and let the Chargers have it FIRST. This will be the theme for every section. Chargers must always be dealt with first unless they are not part of the enemy group, or they are distracted by another enemy faction or the JTF.
Once clear of Chargers, find a good spot of cover and chip away at the rest of the enemies. Medics will be your next biggest threat here. Their Support Stations are constantly a nightmare to deal with as they can sometimes be unreachable and if they have more than one deployed, it becomes nearly impossible to kill anyone within the Stations healing area. The Medic/s must be killed or the Station needs to be destroyed. However, as you'll more than likely be on Challenging difficulty or higher, you can never happily run around in the open. No matter what Toughness you're rocking, most enemies can take you down in a matter of couple of shots or a few seconds if you're really tough. Remember how I told you about cover-peeking? This comes in handy ALL OF THE TIME in the Underground. Sometimes, you can end up with enemies just stood out in the open looking at you and doing nothing while you shoot them over and over with only your gun sticking out of cover.
As enemies hit so damn hard in the Underground, if you go down, you wont be bleeding for long as enemies will quickly end your life while you're trying to crawl to safety. If you was in good cover to begin with, just stay put. Another agent should be able to look where you are and use to run from cover-to-cover to get to you. Any agents out in the open are as good as dead unless they have the sense to crawl into cover quickly. Unless you have a Signature skill to spare as a group, don't bother running out in the open to save the agent. In extreme circumstances, dead agents can actually quit the game and join back in alive and with full health. However, this doesn't always work and can be a massive waste of time if the other dead members of the group don't stick around or the last agent alive dies.
You'll square off against either the LMB, Cleaners, or Rikers in the Underground each with their usual array of defensive and offensive options just like in the core game. The Rioters wont be the main faction in any of the missions but they do pop up very rarely in some missions in very small numbers fighting against the main faction.
Be careful and aware of your surroundings in every mission. Although it doesn't happen everytime, Cleaners can sometimes spawn in Riker or LMB-based missions and completely ruin your day. Annoyingly, they can spawn behind you from an area you've just cleared too and if they are within "aggro" range, they will sandwich you in with the main gang pressing you from the other side. The Cleaners, in my opinion, are the deadliest group to go against simply because the flamethrower wielding enemies are on par with the deadliest Shotgunners if not even worse. One lick of their flamethrower and you're pretty much done for. It wouldn't surprise me if it also insta-killed you as well. Your Toughness won't do you any favours against Flamethrowers as they are classed as Exotic weapons, this means you need a heavy amount of Exotic Damage Resilience to stand a chance of standing up to them. Always try to keep your distance from The Cleaners.
Stay Calm and Play Smart
Take your time! I can't stress this enough. Should the rest of your team die and your the last man standing, this can be a pressure-filled situation in which most agents I've seen in this position have cracked, badly. Dependant on how the last man standing situation has come about, the first thing you want to do is fall back! Pop your Signature if you can and if you need to unless your already in a decent position.
From here, make sure your skills are set to Pulse and First Aid or Support Station with Revive mod and you have Survivor Link as your Signature Skill. Locate nearby enemies and your fallen comrades and decide on whether its going to be better to go for the revive or take some enemies out first. If it's the latter, then try not to expose yourself out of cover. Shoot around cover with just your gun hanging out if possible. Don't try and fight enemies from cover like you normally would using to pop out unless you have really strong Smart Cover or a Support Station to pick you up, and definitely do not try and take any types of enemies on in the open. Even Snipers can drop you pretty quickly with their Pistol/SMG.
Lastly, you don't need to be actively shooting to help your team. In some of the level layouts, the entrance into a section may be a disadvantage to your team as there may only be a couple of cover positions. Instead of trying to get a few shots off out of the doorway and just end up annoying the the rest of the team by blocking their shots, kick back instead and provide pulses and heals to the guys up front. When the coast looks a bit clearer, see if you can get into a cover spot in the next section.
All in all, you just need to think about what you're doing. The missions themselves are not exactly hard but some players make the missions much tougher than they need to be.
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