Map Review of arena-hyperion-preserve

by dunkelschwamm | June 19, 2022 | 5414 characters

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Hyperion Preserve is an arena map for Sven Co-op with very ambitious presentation and some wacky ideas. From the brushwork to the textures to the scripted weapons to the silly progression systems, this map tried a lot. Does it all come through?

First thing you'll notice is that the map looks very good, and quite a bit like Borderlands. The environment looks great for Sven Co-op, and is lit, textured, and brushed very well. Even the buttons glow and read very clearly as interactable, fun decorations litter walls- everything looks great.

The gameplay itself is an arena wave defense wherein players last round for round against all sorts of aliens (and, at one point, robots). The map steadily escalates in difficulty, from headrabs to eventually a kingpin and Tor. There's a lot of Sven's monster catalog on display here, of particular note baby voltigores, houndeyes, stukabats, and bullsquids. Vortigaunts, headcrabs, gonomes and the such also appear- but alien grunts and alien controllers in particular really gum up the works and cause a chaotic no-win situation in the late game. Alien grunts hit me from anywhere so perfectly even whilst running away from me, and any moment I wasn't personally keeping the alien controller population to zero they'd flood the map and knock us down with their homing attacks. Eventually things devolve into such outright chaos that the best strategy is to have one person camp the top of a climbable structure to take out alien controllers while the other fighter runs repeatedly to their doom in a mad dash to apply some DPS. It's kind of a grind later on, but I found as long as it wasn't alien controllers and alien grunts weren't insta-ing me out of my teleport, it would be fine. Unfortunately, that's what most of the final round was, so it wasn't fine.

The weapons are nonsense. There's two ways to get weapons in the spawn area: you either unlock some scripted weapons over time, or you unlock Half-Life weapons, armor, health, ammo, and upgrades from a gambling machine which also sometimes blows you up. The gambling machine seems great at first, but with how often players throw themselves into the grinder of the arena, the thought of standing around trying to gamble to just find the one shred of armor you need for the Kingpin to not insta you the moment you spawn into the incredibly open arena, it's a hinderance more than anything. The gambling method can get you anything from a crowbar (the only way to get a non-ammo using weapon, btw) to the displacement gun. The whole thing is pretty silly, and early on my comrade and I were often gearing up heavily before battle. Later on, we just used two of the unlockable scripted weapons and throwing ourselves at the enemy. The weapons come in three flavors: Pink burstfire gun, blue and useless, and a flintlock gun that deals massive damage and fires pretty quickly. We used the latter a lot during quick suicide runs, as despite it having six shots per reload we'd often die before we got the chance. To the map's credit, we did beat it. However, by the end it was quite a slog and our appreciation for the arena's mechanics had worn very thin.

Along the way the map offers to sell you upgrades to the arena using a currency I didn't understand with a vote we accidentally voted no to which locked off these upgrades to us permanently. I don't know if this had anything to do with how I unlocked the weapons. Honestly, a lot of these systems weren't conveyed super well. I understood how to launch the next wave, but between waves enemies still spawned from the sky and from sewer pipes below. When the scripted guns unlock, they don't flip from green to red on their digital force field but instead just remove the red icon and expect the player to understand they can now interact on the forcefield wall to obtain the gun. Conveyance is an art which this map has no understanding of.

After taking on six waves, the map ends kinda just ends. The presentation is great, but with only one new weapon really finding itself of much use, the frustratingly over-the-top difficulty toward the end which the map doesn't feel balanced around, and the odd delivery of player goods, made this more of a frustrating experience than anything. That said, I think it's very creative for a horde map and may even play it again if prompted.

If you're looking for a challenging arena map to play with a friend or host on your server, give this one a try.

Pros:

  • Looks absolutely fantastic
  • Lots of fun scripted stuff and little events and everything kinda works
  • Some really fun battles, especially in the mid-tier waves
  • Some of the new scripted weapons are really fun

Cons:

  • Gambling for resources is a shortsighted idea
  • I'd say that one and a half of the three scripted weapons were kinda useless
  • Some of the battles are really rough to be fought in such an open arena, especially the last battles
  • The first battle against headcrabs is kind of just a short, annoying egghunt
  • The map does not explain its rules well to the player ingame at all
  • Enemies just keep respawning after the wave is over
Score: 7 / 10
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