This guide gives general guidance on how the mechanics of Generation Zero work because much of the game is learned by frustrating and sometimes irreversible choices.
Guide to Mechanics
The Design of Generation Zero
I do not work for Systemic Reaction so their explanation of this might be entirely different from mine but I want to explain a little bit about how Generation Zero is designed so you can understand if it is the right game for you. This game goes on sale often for very little money at the time of this publication so lots of people are trying it. There’s nothing wrong with that, and for some it just won’t ever appeal.
Generation Zero shares technology with another game Avalanche Studios has produced called Hunter: Call of the Wild. If you have this game and you like it, then GZ is likely to feel more at home. It is worth noting this precursor because many of the mechanics of GZ rely on hunting skills: Lures, trapping, misdirecting, and obstruction.
To be effective at these mechanics GZ also requires some tactical thinking and patience. As you learn from battle after battle how the robots behave, you can start to approach each encounter a little better. Gear certainly helps as you would expect…but in GZ especially I’ve watched countless players with high-end gear get pummeled because of poor execution of an ambush.
If you’re coming from the typical standing toe-to-toe twitchy paradigm that most first-person shooters rely upon, you are going to be quite frustrated particularly in the beginning. If that’s your kind of game and you can’t make the adjustment to a slower and more forward-thinking pace, it will be a long uphill battle for you to get the most from GZ. It is just not designed like that.
That is not to say GZ can’t give you moments that are frantic, scary, and raises your pulse. It can do all these things, but you will not reach those highs if you are killed 2 minutes into a fight. I encourage anyone to try this game and enjoy it but understand it just may not be what you like, despite from the outside looking in that it appears to be a very interesting looking first-person shooter.
Solo, Co-Op, and Skills
Generation Zero can be played solo or in co-op with up to 3 other players besides yourself. I will immediately start with this understanding:
- GZ was intended to played in co-op.
You can play the game solo. Most everything works just like it would in co-op but playing solo adds a layer of difficulty to the game just by making that choice. Combat has to be approached a bit differently and skill choices can really put the bolts to you if you make the wrong ones. One key note about co-op play is that progress in the game other than earning XP is only saved to the game of the host. If you want to progress your missions and exploration, you have to host the game in co-op and your friend(s) then only earn XP.
- You get 29 skill points. You can’t re-spec (as of this publication).
If you know you are always going to play in co-op, then you can specialize your character a bit more to a particular discipline in the skill trees. If you are solo you the focus needs to be on skills that have a more global effect on how you play. The guidance is to look at the skills and consider if they apply in every robot encounter. If they don’t, then it’s probably not worthwhile to enable those skills or only enable them to the first level so you can buy into a skill that will help you. A few universal things to help you:
- You need bullets to kill robots. A lot of bullets. Lures and traps can help thin out numbers or give a big damage reduction at the start of a fight, but eventually it will likely come down to you getting bullets on the target. There are skills that increase general damage and component damage. Those skills are applicable to every robot in every fight. Skills that positively effect weapon sway and recoil work on all weapons.
- Every robot has components that can be damaged or blown off. Knowing this makes almost every fight winnable short of running out of bullets.
- You will loot a lot of stuff and won’t have a lot of capacity to carry it or store it. You can increase your carry capacity and the crafting economy can help you turn junk into things you can use.
- Until very late in the game, the odds are always against you. The robots come in bigger numbers, they are more accurate, and they can take way more punishment than you can. It is safe to assume you never have the advantage.
Some general points about the robots and the GZ game environment:
- Robots can only attack one target at a time.
Some robots have AOE weapons, but they still only fire that weapon at one target. If there’s more than one robot then the two of them can engage the same target or different ones.
- Robots cannot strafe-shoot.
But you certainly can. In order to fire at a target a robot must have acquisition and be stationary. The less of a stationary target you are, the harder it is for them. Even if you aren’t strafe-shooting, moving from cover to cover in rapid succession and hitting robots from different angles keeps forcing them to reset their tactical position. If they are having to reset their position to fire, they cannot shoot at you. This is very exploitable in one-on-one scenarios but lesser so when you are outnumbered because multiple robots will have acquisition on a single target. Still, it minimizes the amount of robots firing at you at any one time.
- Other than the seeker, every robot has a close-quarters attack.
Most of the CQ attacks by the robots are decently devastating. It is not to say you cannot engage with robots at close quarters because the closer you are you are very likely getting most of your bullets on the target, but, you need to be mindful that when you are close enough most of the time the robots will try to harm you with a CQ attack.
- The environment is littered with bombs.
Unburned vehicles, electrical panels on buildings, propane tanks, and red barrels can all be used with impressive effect. Please note, explosions do have splash damage and it will hurt you. But luring robots to these things with radios or comm arrays and watching the ensuing carnage blast them to bits doesn’t get old.
As you successfully kill robots in a given region of GZ, eventually you’ll see a big warning that a some robot with a name became a rival. This is GZ responding to your continued success. Rivals spawn as you kill more and more robots. They are are sort of like a boss, but you can have many rivals at once, so there isn’t exactly a hierarchy.
- The same strategies work for rivals as for regular robots.
Rivals simply hit harder and sponge more bullets. Whatever is your formula for winning fights against regular robots, also works for rivals.
- Increasing levels and rivals makes a region more difficult.
In addition to the rivals, more success means you get more robot spawns and bigger ‘battle groups’ of them. It is one way to ramp up difficulty without setting the difficulty on the highest level.
- Rival hunting is a solid way to get high amounts of XP, better loot, and also to reduce hostility.
Need to get to a skill point sooner than later? Go to a region with a lot of rivals. Kill them. The rival itself nets a lot of XP and often they have friends with them. The entire rival battle can net you XP equivalent or greater than most missions give you.
Go Forth and Slaughter the Scrapheads
I hope you may find some of this information helpful. It is not intended to be an end-to-end guide to Generation Zero, I left a lot of things out. I wrote this because the start of the game is hard for new players, and the lack of even some basic tutorials turns many people off to the game before they get into where it hits stride and delivers a really unique experience.