Post feature RSS The Evolution of Savage 2

Detailed information on the many, many updates that have come to Savage 2 since its release - including balance tweaks and gameplay adjustments, performance and stability updates, voice tips, new units, interface updates, additioanl items, maps, VoIP, and more.

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From the Beginning

Savage 2 had taken the concepts developed in the first game (a unique blend of RTS and FPS gameplay) and expanded on it, creating a game with a lot of potential for epic matches and intense competitive play. While there were initially some bugs and gameplay issues to work out, we were committed to making Savage 2 the smoothest and most stable game possible. In fact, we had invested the resources required to guarantee a full year of post-release support (Savage 2's Dedicated Product Team) regardless of how the game performed financially. Even now, well past the first year, we're still working to improve Savage 2 and its player base in as many ways as we can.

The initial release of Savage 2 is a far cry from the game that it is today, with a host of patches being released to resolve bugs, add additional content, refine the gameplay, and provide more tools for the community.

Balance Tweaks and Gameplay Adjustments

Savage 2 has gone through a long trek of updates to improve the balance between the two factions and improve both the usability and enjoyability of the game. The melee system in particular has been significantly improved, making close combat much more fun and intuitive (although the entire list of changes is far larger than the scope of this article - see the melee combat article for more information). The global cooldowns system made it so that players didn't have to double-fire their ranged weapons (switching back and forth repeatedly) to maximize their damage at a distance - instead allowing players to focus on using one weapon at a time and mix in melee combat for additional damage. The raid bonus added for gold mines encourages more aggressive play and rewards players for successfully dismantling the enemy team's economy. The tech trees for both factions were modified to provide more viable options - particularly in terms of when it was viable to build a monastery/sanctuary or siege workshop/charm shrine.

Many more changes have been made since Savage 2's release with similar effects - giving players more options over the course of a match and making the game more fun, intuitive, competitive, and rewarding. For a full list, see the Savage 2 changelog.

Performance and Stability Updates

Since its release, Savage 2 has undergone a significant amount of optimizations and fixes that have made the game far more stable and perform much better on a variety of systems than ever before. Of course, this is an ongoing effort, and additional changes are already in the works to further improve your Savage 2 experience.

Voice Tips

One of the post-release feature additions in Savage 2 is the voice tips system (initially added in Version 1.4). The voice tips system is a series of audio clips assigned to most of the units and abilities which provides you with information when you first see or use them. For example, if you're a predator and use the carnivorous ability for the first time, you'll be given an audio description of how carnivorous works. This allows players to develop an understanding of how many of the elements of Savage 2 function in-game, while playing.

The Devourer

The devourer (also added in 1.4) is a new hellbourne unit which fits roughly between the revenant and malphas in power and survivability. It's a large flesh golem creature which can consume the corpses of slain enemies to grow larger and more powerful, and also replenish its ranged weapon ammunition (a "gut launcher", which fires flesh projectiles). Generally it's more geared towards long-term battles (feeding on the battle to regenerate health and stay active) rather than being a heavy damage dealer, but by being a persistent threat that doesn't have to worry about expiring, it's very capable of turning the tide of battle.

Weapons and Abilities Overlay

Another feature that improves players' ability to learn about Savage 2 while playing it is the weapons and abilities overlay (added in 1.5.0). This feature is a quick reference which can by brought up by pressing the Y key. From that screen, players can get basic information on how their chosen class works, allowing them to quickly get an understanding of the class's purpose and begin to use it effectively without needing to stop and read a guide, consult a manual, or visit the Savage 2 website.

Enduring Items

The enduring items were a class of items added in version 1.5.0 which didn't expire on death, allowing players to continue to carry these powerful and expensive items and use their benefits through multiple encounters. In addition to moving the ammo pack/satchel, mana stone/crystal, and armor items to this class, a new set of items were added with differing properties to further populate the enduring items group. These items are as follows:

  • Gust of Wind: Makes you immune to ranged weapons while charging or dodging.
  • Power Absorption: Automatically dispels (absorbs) a negative status effect (debuff) cast upon your character and replenishes some mana as a result. Has a cooldown after being triggered before it becomes active again.
  • Shield of Wisdom: Funnels all of your character's available mana into a protective shield which absorbs incoming damage.
  • Trinket of Restoration: Heals all nearby allies and increases their armor for a short period of time. Affects the caster.
  • Savior's Valor: Recalls your character so you can re-enter the battlefield at any of your team's available spawn points.
  • Token of Life: Can be used after death to revive yourself at your current location.
  • Heart of Maliken: Replenishes a small amount of health for every soul collected.
  • Lungs of Maliken: Replenishes a moderate amount of stamina and increases movement speed with every soul collected.
  • Brain of Maliken: Replenishes a moderate amount of mana with every soul collected.
  • Advanced Sights/Magic Amplifier: Increases the damage of your character's ranged weapons.

Later on, the enduring items were modified to only be items which either had passive effects or did not expire on use. The normal set of consumable items were then made to remain in your inventory after death, rather than be dropped. This allows players to more freely spend their gold without fear of being unexpectedly killed and losing a large amount of items that they had invested in.

The Hunter Replaces the Summoner

After a long series of tweaks and adjustments, we had decided that the summoner simply didn't fit into the intended gameplay model for Savage 2. Primarily, it was due to the summoner not being a heavily skill-based action-oriented unit (instead, it was best at attackin from afar and sending its pets into battle to do do damage).

In the interests of adding a better alternative which was capable of the kind of fierce up-close action that Savage 2 is known for, the hunter was introduced as a replacement for the summoner in version 1.5. The hunter is a melee-only class which specializes in up-close combat, and has a variety of useful skills in various situations. These skills include the ability to perform a quick glide across the battlefield (damaging enemies in its path), hibernate using a stone form to replenish health, place sentry bats to locate and track enemies, and enchant its melee attacks to increase its movement speed or deal additional damage with each strike.

The summoner is still included with the game for use in community projects.

Achievements

Added around the release of Savage 2 version 1.4, the achievements system allows players to complete specific milestones such as earning a certain amount of player damage in a match, or reaching a total lifetime kill count. These goals help drive players to excel in specific areas and try a wider range of different roles. Also, completing an achievement awards the player with a random persistent item, allowing them to quickly rack up a full vault of items and have a higher chance of earning the item that they're looking for.

Tournaments

The tournaments system for Savage 2 was added not too long after version 1.5 was released, and allows players to organize a series of matches between clans to determine an overall victor. The tournaments system is almost entirely automated, allowing players to easily organize matches. The system will automatically reserve servers for matches, similar to the clan match system.

Voting

In order to give players the ability to partially moderate matches, a series of voting options were added that will allow players to impeach their commander, move to the next map, shuffle the teams, or elect to concede (granting the enemy team a victory and moving to the next map). That way, players have much more control over the play environment, can ensure that the teams are fair, and resign from any matches that are overly long yet devoid of comeback potential (this is rare nowadays).

OSX (Mac) and Linux support

Multi-platform support is very important to S2Games. We feel that it shouldn't matter whether or you've chosen Windows, Linux, or OSX - you should be able to play Savage 2 on any of those systems*, all on the same set of servers. This is a boon for OSX and Linux as the library of quality games for both systems are quite limited compared to Windows, and Savage 2 makes an amazing and unique experience available to you (and for free, to boot). While they weren't available by the initial release (for a short period of time, Savage 2 was only available for Windows), Savage 2 currently supports Linux (as of 1.4) and Intel Macs (since 1.7), so regardless of what type of computer you have, there's a Savage 2 for you.

* Please make sure to read the system requirements for Savage 2 to ensure that your computer meets or exceeds the minimum requirements, and is thus capable of running Savage 2.

The Clan & Community Panel

The clan and community panel was added in version 1.7, and offers a variety of features geared around managing and communicating with friends and clanmates. By pressing CTRL + TAB, players can bring up an interface which allows them to view lists of friends and clanmates, manage conversations between friends in separate windows, view player statistics, view a list of servers, and configure various notifications which appear to indicate events such as players joining a server or signing on and off. Once a player has logged in, the Clan & Community panel is available at all times, even while loading maps.

Per-Life and Overall Statistics Per Match

A new panel was added in version 1.7 that appears when a player has died. This panel displays a list of players' basic stats such as player damage, kills, deaths, and healing both per life and per match - allowing the player to track their progress across the course of a match and try to top their previous records from earlier in the match. This is a great way to get a feel for how you've been performing across a match, and helps add emphasis to particularly good runs where you've achieved a particularly high amount of kills, damage blocked, etc.

Rune Builder

While it's always been possible to earn persistent items for free, the tickets provided by that system are generated on a random basis, meaning that you may not receive the item that you wish to have. The rune builder, which was added in Savage 2 version 1.5.4, takes care of that by allowing players to purchase the exact item they want. Players can build a rune either on the Savage 2 website or in-game.

Persistent items and runes are also available through various tournaments, contests and events, and a few are included with the Savage 2 collector's edition package.

New Maps

As Savage 2 has an easy to use, powerful map editor that can be used to create detailed play environments, many new maps have been added to the game since the release. Many of these maps were originally created by players, and added to the official rotation. The following maps have been added since Savage 2's release:

  • Lost Valley (By Willow, added in 1.4)
  • Morning, a remake of a classic Savage map (By SKOPE, added in 1.4).
  • Ancient Cities (By Manias, added in 1.5)
  • Desolation (By Mercenary [pre-S2], added in 1.5)
  • Hidden Village (By Mercenary [pre-S2], added in 1.5)
  • Storm (added in 1.7)
  • Kunlun Pass (By Nevvier, added in 1.7)
  • Lost Hills, a remake of a classic Savage map (added in 1.7)
  • Moonlight (added in 1.7)
  • Bunker, a remake of a classic Savage map (added in 1.7.8)
  • Mirakar (by Dark_Strider, added in 2.0)
  • Autumn (by Dark_Strider, added in 2.0)
  • Willow (by Dark_Strider, added in 2.0)

We're always looking for quality new maps to add to Savage 2, so if you've got the talent and dedication required to put forth an amazing new locale, let us know by posting in the mod forums. There you can get critiques and advice from fellow mappers, occasional praise and encouragement from S2 staff, and maybe even the opportunity to have your map included in the official rotation.

Transitioning from Full Game/Demo to Free to Play

With the release of version 1.7, Savage 2 was moved to a free to play model with a Prime Account upgrade and a few purchasable, yet optional bonuses. In some ways, the decision to make Savage 2 free was at least in part due to the fact that we needed to focus on getting a larger audience for Savage 2 more so than worrying about sales. Of course, investing in a prime account and purchasing runes does make it possible for us to continue support Savage 2 and provides funds for future games. Once players have had time to get familiar with the game, they'll naturally transition into upgrading to Prime Account status to get the most out of their Savage 2 experience. The original limited demo accounts (5 hours) gave players the smallest of sneak peaks into what Savage 2 is all about, but Savage 2 has enough depth to warrant giving players additional time to become familiar with the finer aspects of the game and discover why upgrading to prime is completely worth the one-time fee of $9.99.

Additional Voice Commands

The initial release of Savage 2 included a system of menus that could be used to trigger small pre-recorded voice clips with phrases such as "Place a spawn portal." and "I need to be healed." However, the system was limited, and did not have a distinct set of clips for the commanders. In Savage 2 version 2.0, a completely new set of voice commands were added which covered a much larger series of situations and were organized in a much more intuitive manner. Squad member and officer voice command menus were created to allow squads to operate more efficiently. In addition, the commander role finally had a unique voice that players could recognize as the person in charge of their team. Especially important for the commander role is the fact that the new voice commands cover many scenarios that are specific to the commander, such as ordering the team to scout for enemies or secure a gold mine - even praise the team for excellent performance.

Team Manager Panel and MegaMap

Two additional panels were added for the commander in the most recent patches. The biggest was the Team Manager (or Team Admin) panel, which was added in Savage 2 version 2.0. This panel allows the commander to view detailed information for every single teammate, from the squad they're in, to health and mana, to their inventory, gold, souls, etc. In addition, the commander can now distribute gold to teammates, making it possible to keep players supplied, distribute gold for the heavy hitter (legionnaire and predator) assault classes, reward players for completing specific objectives, and even organize epic siege rushes for massive building damage.

The megamap (introduced in 2.0.1) provides a much larger view of the normal mini-map, which commanders can use to give orders and draw out battle plans.

Voice over IP (VoIP)

With Savage 2 being so heavily oriented toward extremely organized team play, being able to communicate over VoIP is extremely critical. Version 1.4 introduced the initial system of commander-only VoIP, which allowed players in the commander position to more easily communicate with their team from above. Action players, however, were still limited to using external programs to communicate (such as Skype, Ventrilo, and TeamSpeak). In Savage 2 version 2.0, we overhauled the Voice over IP system to allow all players on a team to communicate freely, using a much improved system that was clearer, easier to configure, and easier to use.

Future Updates

As always and into the foreseeable future, S2Games be bringing additional improvements to Savage 2, and if the current trend of rising player counts continues, we'll be able to step up our support for the game and further our efforts to make Savage 2 into a better and more exciting experience than ever before.

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