Although The Last of Us has been out for nearly 2 years on the PlayStation 3, and nearly a year on the PlayStation 4, it is still a massively popular game both in terms of single player and multiplayer. The latter, called Factions, has just started getting a whole new wave of players because Naughty Dog and Sony just launched a standalone package of it this week. No longer does it require a full copy of The Last of Us to play; for $9.99 (US), you can now get the Factions multiplayer by itself in a fully usable form, though you may wish to invest a bit more and get the additional map packs and maybe some of the additional weapons DLC packs. While you can kill with any weapon in the game, some of the DLC offers distinct advantages that are well worth the purchase price.
That said, here are a few important and good things to know.
Factions Has *NO* “Levels”!!
The numbers to the left of a player’s name in the lobby screen are not an indication of how powerful the player is, with one caveat. This number is the number of “weeks” their character has gone through with their colony of survivors. The longer the colony survives and the more parts you earn, the more one-time boosters you earn to help you in the game, and potentially the larger your colony. Initially as you survive to and through a certain number of weeks, 15 I believe, you gain more load out points which enable you to pick up more and/or better skills and weapons, including an in-game “purchasable” weapon that is usually absurdly powerful. But once you hit 13 load out points, you’ve hit the ceiling, the only differences between you and someone with 100 or more weeks of survival are skill and experience. They will have no special advantage over you which is a great equalizing factor. This weeks indicator should imply that the player has a certain amount of experience, and should be better than a player that hasn’t played as much, but in all honesty, it rarely does.
The reason I have to emphasize this is that my buddy was playing in a match recently and after the match got a PSN message that basically read as the following:
you’re an asshole, My friend and i just started playing and you were a dick. level 200’s should have their own areas.
First of all, since there are no levels, there’s no way to protect a new player from vastly superior players that have thousand yard stares; the game just doesn’t distinguish player skill or ability that way. While I’ve played TLoU on both PS3 and PS4 and have gotten a lot of experience in both single and multiplayer, my colony survival length has never been all that high; currently it’s at 22 weeks, which makes me seem like a newer player; I may not be on the same skill level as some of the more dedicated players, but you’d be a fool to take me for an easy mark in this game. Similarly, while my buddy and I were playing a few nights ago, a member of our team had a colony that survived for some 800 weeks; frankly, he played like shit.
While I do mostly agree that more experienced players should be put in games together as opposed to dropping new players into matches against them, it’s the perfect place and way to learn. I hate to admit that this is true, but the best way to learn is from players better than you. Second best way is to learn from players that at worse than you if you have enough sense to figure out what they’re doing wrong.
In short, think it’s unfair some “level” 200 kicked your ass? You may actually might have only caught them on a good night; everyone gets lucky some time. Beware the “level” 5 that has been in the entire match but some how managed to avoid death altogether while racking up 6-10 kills; they’re the ringer you need to look out for.
Think Like a Tactician
Watching my aforementioned buddy play this evening, I saw him make a silly mistake that resulted in him getting killed in one particular match: he walked into a room and went straight towards the exit on the other side. A few steps into the room, he was shiv’ed by an opponent. To taunt him, I wrote a message a little less revised than this one to him on Twitch:
Lest you seek a wake with mourners, always be sure to check the corners.
I think that’s pretty clear; check the corners to make sure there’s no one standing there next to you, wondering how you didn’t see them. It might be a little slow to do it, but it’s far better than having someone kill you a moment later because you didn’t bother to look for them. A lot of the time, if they’re hiding like that, they’re out of ammo, and looking just to get to a supply box to get some ammo; very few players are actively waiting and looking for situations like that, though it does occasionally fall in their lap. Don’t be a statistic!
Related to this idea, is to be mindful of your flanks and those of your teammates. Always keep your eyes open and if you see an opponent moving in a teammate’s blind-spot, mark them by aiming your weapon at them and tapping R3 (press the right stick in). Unless they have Covert Training 3, they’ll be marked and your character will shout out a warning; this works even if you don’t have a headset or don’t feel like talking to the other players, and helps you and your team. In fact, marking an opponent can even be more helpful than shooting at the enemy in some situations. I’d like to say I hate to quote a character or movie, but keep your head on a swivel, always look for your enemy to come at you from the side or back or above or below. Never just approach anything looking in a single direction.
Oh, and one other significant thing… DON’T FUCKING RUN UNLESS YOU HAVE TO!!! And *IF* you *HAVE* to run,DON’T RUN *TOWARDS* your allies! When you run, you appear on the minimap as a red dot that is clearly visible to all enemy players. When you run towards your teammates, you effectively tell your opponents exactly where they are. Similarly, although not necessarily as important, if you get downed in combat, I strongly recommend against crawling towards your teammates as that tells the enemy where they are or what direction they’re in. Crawl away from them or sit tight, and if someone’s nearby, they’ll be able to catch-up with you easily enough to revive you.
There are times in Factions when you can and should run-and-gun, but Factions is not Call of Duty, Destiny, Gears of War, or similar game. It’s a game of strategy and patience. I’m not an expert on it myself, and I usually die more often than I kill in it, but it’s a game that balances stealth with brutality, teamwork with opportunistic action, strategy with spontaneity.
Accept That Your Teammates Are Idiots
Unless and until proven otherwise, accept and expect that your teammates are complete idiots with one exception: you know them and you’ve been playing with them for a while. Playing with strangers has frequently left me speechless, and not in a good way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve actively gone in the opposite direction of a teammate because he or she decided to run full speed across the map, or walk right past an enemy to try to get a supply crate or help an ally up, just to get downed a moment later. In one game, where my best friend was on the opposing team, in the middle of a mass firefight he retreated from the fire I was pouring his way. I took off after him; so did my three teammates who were firing on the rest of the enemy team, so we all got shot in the back because they all wanted the easy kill — the kill I earned.
Which brings me to another minor irritation, kill theft. While it doesn’t really matter if someone else finishes off a kill you started, it’s something you start to take personally in game. The catharsis of downing an opponent, and then executing them is what mainly makes playing Factions worthwhile. I could make the argument for sharing the kills — all participants in a kill get parts (points), after all — but when your adrenaline is pumping because you just faced a [virtual] life and death encounter and lived to tell the tale, you want your points and you don’t want to share them. But what’s REALLY killer about this, that proves that your teammates are idiots, is when they would rather go for an execution rather than fight another nearby opponent or pick-up (revive) you or another teammate.
Your teammates will also lob nail bombs and Molotovs and smoke bombs on the freshly dead opponent you just killed or, worse, empty rooms. They will anger you in many unique ways. Get used to it; this is the world in which we live and play.
All Weapons Are NOT Created Equal
While there was a large range of weapons in the game to begin with, recent DLC has added some particularly wicked ones including the frontier rifle, tactical shotgun, and crossbow. I have only tinkered with the frontier rifle, but it is just about as deadly as the various sniper and hunting rifles, capable of downing a foe at a long distance in a single hit. The tactical shotgun takes a few hits to down your enemy, however it’s rapid fire enough that you can usually accomplish that up close or at a distance with a few taps. Perhaps the most wicked of all is the purchasable weapon, the crossbow. In the real world, a crossbow is no more or less deadly than a regular bow. In Factions, it probably does just about the same amount of upfront damage as the bow as well, however, it also has a bleed effect that can be just as deadly. When hit by a crossbow bolt, the target starts bleeding out, and if they’re not bandaged within a certain length of time, they will be downed even from a single bolt. As of this time, no other weapon in the game has the bleed effect, so it’s particularly nasty and a little unexpected if you haven’t encountered it before. Even if you have, it can still cause you (or your opponent) to waste time and bandages fighting its effects, effectively removing them from the fight for a short period of time. Being a[n in-game] purchasable weapon, thankfully, players just can’t start the game with it, but have to find or earn enough parts to buy it.
While the bow and shiv are the classic silent weapons in game, a number of weapons have silenced versions that require the use of additional load out points. I highly recommend using the silent or silenced versions of a weapon whenever possible in Factions; unsilenced weapons can generally be heard across much of the map, and certainly give away your location. When used in combination with Covert Training 2 or 3, a silent weapon will keep you off the minimap unless you start running.
More to Come!
This will be a post I update as I come up with or receive tips from you and the gaming community at large. I don’t think there’s a single person playing Factions that doesn’t want a challenge; while we all relish the easy victories, they ultimately are boring. We need new players to be ready for and to inspire us. So get cracking.