Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beat Hazard Pre-Ultra Update

Beat Hazard Ultra, the $5 DLC for Beat Hazard, the game I've previously written about, is coming out close to the end of this month (on the 27th, to be precise).

In preparation for this, we were told that there would be a score/rank reset, which Cold Beam Games wisely pushed out in an update a couple days ago.  Along with this update is a fair amount of content, even without having Ultra available.  Pushing the update now means most people who play the game regularly will have time to get back on their feet from the stats/rank reset before Ultra comes out.  It also means that the leaderboards are reset and people like me can easily claim a 600-something rank on the 4-minute to 5-minute leaderboard.  Wheeeeeee...

This list obviously doesn't reflect any of the Ultra content, so it makes no mention of the new powerups that Ultra will be adding.

New Stuff:
  • Perks - Kind of like in Call of Duty.  You can unlock, purchase, and upgrade various perks that change the gameplay around.
  • Powerups - +5 and +10 multiplier powerups, as well as $10 cash powerups.  Cash is used to purchase and upgrade perks.
  • Controls - Additional buttons for the additional stuff that Ultra will add.
  • Music - More music in the default Beat Hazard album.  Sadly, most of it seems to be generic techno, but I guess you gotta take what you can get with the money you have to license music...
  • Achievements - More achievements have been added, taking the game up from 25 to 42 achievements.  Some of these can only be unlocked in Ultra.
  • Audio - New sound effects for various things.
  • Options - You can turn off the RSS bar at the bottom, and the Steam community stuff so it can't pop up over a corner of the screen and get you killed.  There are also toggles for some of the sound effects, should you wish to turn them off.
  • Bosses are actually challenging now.  In that you can no longer just circle strafe around them to kill them easily.  Many of their attacks now expand out in a circle around the boss.  The dreaded cheerios now have a different pattern, and there's some new boss weapon turrets to help you see the capabilities of each boss as it comes out.  The most interesting change though is the bosses' laser cannons.  Occasionally they will just fire straight, but when they actually track you, they will now lead you, meaning if you keep moving you'll get hit.
  • I can't say for sure, but it seems like there are new enemy waves as well.
  • Enemy movement speeds seem to react to the music now, I can't remember if they did that before or if I'm just seeing things or what.
  • Ranking up no longer upgrades your ship, it looks like you'll have to use perks for that.
  • Seems like the ship coasts a lot less, even with a gamepad.
  • Regular enemy shots are now red, to try and help them stand out.
  • Visual intensity and difficulty can now be adjusted independently.  This means you can play on Suicidal and actually be able to see what's going on now.
To clarify, the game will not re-lock any achievements.  I was at 25/25 when the update hit, I was at 25/42 after the update, and now I'm at 27/42.  One of the achievements I now have is for maxing out a perk, and the other is for visiting the website of one of the musical artists in the credits.  There's a few more you can get without having Ultra (getting $10000, for example, which isn't cumulative, by the way), but I haven't unlocked them yet.

Perks!  Perks are the replacement for upgrading your ship as you go along, so it seems fit for me to talk about them.  I'm not sure how the game decides when you get perk unlock points, but occasionally after you complete a song, you'll have one and must spend it right away.  Thankfully, the game tells you which perks require Ultra to be unlocked (your clue is that they all have a graphic next to them that says "Ultra").  Without Ultra it seems the maximum number of perks you can have active at once is three.  With Ultra, you can get one that will let you have up to eight.

Some perks are better for certain players than others, or perhaps may be better for getting specific achievements, or even to ease the difficulty of ranking up.  The three I bought right away that you'll probably want to get as well are the Goodie Pack, POW at start, and VOL at start perks.  Maxing out both the POW and VOL at start perks takes the place of ranking all the way up to Elite, granting you the Beat Hazard weapon right away.  It's an interesting choice, and one that's sure to spice up the gameplay.

Graphically the game has changed slightly.  I mentioned that the regular enemy shots are now red, but powerups are bigger and the bomb powerup graphic changed.

The sound tweaks are interesting.  Some changes I'm indifferent towards, some are cool, and there's one in particular that I wish there was an option for.  The sound effects are all changed now, plus there are additional ones for when your ship fires and when invulnerability wears off.  The one change I don't like is that now, regardless of how many VOL powerups you have, the music always plays at maximum volume.  I miss the old behavior.  It added a little extra punch to deaths, as the music would get really quiet.  It was a neat effect, and it's no longer there.  I don't play the game to listen to the music, I play the game to play the game.  If I wanted to listen to the music, that's what I've got foobar2000 for.

Last but not least, the level generation has changed, so you'll have to relearn all your music.  I was saddened when Galneryus' Owari Naki, Konoshi didn't trigger a boss immediately when the quiet part at the beginning ended, like before.

Speaking of quiet parts, quiet songs have reportedly been made more possible to play.  I haven't loaded up any Bush to see yet, but I'll take their word for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I moderate comments because when Blogger originally implemented a spam filter it wouldn't work without comment moderation enabled. So if your comment doesn't show up right away, that would be why.