Spunky Cola review


Uber Entertainment's free DLC has finally been released, and it's a doozy. The DLC is over half the size of the game itself! I spent most of yesterday checking it out, so here's a bit of an examination over all of it.
Spunky Cola Arena
This is definitely the meat & potatoes of the update. The initial impression was that this is a very open map, but it only has a couple open areas. You'll notice that each base has a walkway to the left that connects each base. Just under said runway, there's a small tunnel letting you move from your base to the other's open area... or from your open area into their base. This place has a lot of hidden areas, so in practice it's actually not that open. It does get more simplistic, though. You're either going for pros or pushing bots in the single lane. One Firebase works wonders here.
The turrets are rather awkward. The turret to the left of your base is your primary defense against incoming bots, while the right one is just redundant. The two right turrets are there purely to counter players, because they're to far away to do any damage to bots. The rightmost turret isn't even good for a hacked longshot unless you really need to take the fight to the upper walkway. Now on the left, the one furthest in makes an excellent spot for a hacked rocket. It works for bot control and sees so much around it. It's also the most vulnerable. The turret just outside the center of your base is probably the best spot to make a longshot aimed at turrets, but it's directly in view of the tiny tunnel.
All in all, this is definitely an interesting map. It has its own feel with something for everyone.

Super Sudden Death Blitz
Holy crap, this thing's intense! It will make for a great subject of study. There are three ways for bots to come in and two elevated areas. For the normal entrances, bots come in far more rapidly than ever before, making even Slims threatening. Right around the 80s, you get continuous streams of purely Buzzers, and I gotta tell you they're really effective at keeping you down once they've got you. Still, it's the elevated areas that are the real threat. Try getting in the 100s sometime. I've encountered literally a dozen Gapshots from just one of them. Oh yes, and you will have Jackbots appearing there, too. You really have to time your approach to them, or else they will slam you the moment you hit the ground. I look forward to dissecting this thing and many good blitzes.

Balance
It seems like everybody but the Assault got nerfs, and I really don't feel that's necessary to do. I won't go over all of the changes like I did last time, but just the ones I feel are the most significant.
* For the Gunner, I'm really upset that I can't multitask while reloading anymore. That was an essential part of my Gunner gameplay. I'd do some work, reload, taunt if I got a kill (my inability to do that anymore now feels like they've taken money from my Gunner), maybe even use my slam or grab. At least I can still keep reloading while beginning to deploy.
* My Support now has to wait a lot longer to get juice, because the HH gun get nerfed in that regard. I can probably still work with my old strategy, but it'll require a lot more patience. In the meantime, the other players will get to juice on us long before I do. I fail to see why they felt a need to nerf the recovery for air strikes. On the plus side, the HH gun gets to totally ignore cloak. I can heal my Assassins that cloaked coming in out of battle (seriously guys, you really overuse the cloak when it's not appropriate to use) and easily get Gremlins coming in. I don't really care about draining cloaked Assassins, since they can just go away before they die. It's better to just work my shotgun on them.
* The Sniper has definitely lost some effectiveness, but he's still a worthwhile class to play. One of my more defeatist friends claims there's no reason to play it anymore, but these nerfs have been very necessary. He can't snipe the moneyball for ridiculous amounts of damage anymore, allowing the opposing team to actually do something about him. He also can't make huge barriers of ice traps that will freeze just about everyone on the team that tries to get him other than Assaults. Now one trap = one frozen player, so a swarm of players can realistically take him down. Really, isn't that just right for a sniper?

Miscellaneous
As you can see, the new [something tasty] is churros, which are far more common than bacon. I still haven't seen any bacon since the update, but I've gotten plenty of churros. I kinda predicted what would happen with it. It gives you a burst of health regen and skill regen. This has been especially handy as a Support in blitz, so I can realistically have 4 turrets hacked instead of 3. For the record, this did not replace bacon.
Rockets are usable again! It used to be that everyone wanted level 3 lazers instead of rockets, unless they planned on making at least a level 2 rocket. Now with lazers being less effective on players (Tank says "thank you") and the base rocket cost down $50, a level 1 rocket is almost strictly superior to a level 3 lazer. A level 3 rocket is also realistic now, with the total investment coming to $1050 rather than the $1400 we had before. That means if you want to outfit your base with 6 level 3 rockets, the total cost is $6300 between the 6 of you (or again, $1050 per player). Sounds quite workable to me, and rockets themselves received no nerfs at all.
Ammo Mule and Steel Peel got a lot of glass walls added, undoubtedly to reduce the effectiveness of the Sniper. Of course, a Sniper is still going to do just fine, but it'll take more work now. Most notable is that they supposedly blocked the Sniper from being able to hit the other base's left rocket from your right side, but it can still be done. Placed just right, there are a few pixels where it's vulnerable. Now all I need is faith that my teammates can keep the other team off me while I go to work on that turret, because it takes some really precise aiming to get that done. LazeRazor added a little extra spot with a jump pad on the left side of the base that really just changes how you use it rather than making it better or worse in any way. It makes camping on top of it harder, but camping in the tunnel easier (you can use the jump pad to quickly get out of it to a place you can handle better from people intent on chasing you). Simultaneously, it makes tunnel-camping harder to defend against a Support with his Air Strike leveled, since he can cover a lot of new territory in the tunnel with that new spot. Stages overall are a bit more expensive, since no jump pads are automatically active anymore (but props on making more convenient jump pads for Ammo Mule).
My local play group is gonna love the new options for private matches. It'll allow us to make things more balanced for varying experience levels. I figure what's going to happen will be to force random base classes without an option to change classes, limit 1 of each class, no juice buying, maybe no mascot, and playing a lot of Spunky Cola initially so we can get used to it. Of course, I don't support any of this at higher-level play, but stuff like this shows a lot of faith in the community that we can handle these things.

The Takeaway
All in all, this is a really great thing Uber has done for us, especially since we didn't have to pay for any of it. The new cinematics are all great, they have an active interest in balance (even if I don't agree with all of it). I'd support it even if it cost something, but since it doesn't, there's no good reason for you to avoid it if you have the game!

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