Part 103: ArcaArca
Here we've got Arca. And that's it. I thought I remembered there being text here, and I blather on in the video about not being able to access it. But apparently there isn't any -- which is weird but my memory must be playing tricks on me, because I can access 'Archived Transmissions' in other systems. Not here, because apparently there aren't any to access. Not to worry, there'll be plenty of blathering on once we get planetside. So last visible system on the map, and only one planet here. Could be problems.
It's a big square with a bunch of circles inside it! And some strangely broken up terrain in most of the corners. Don't recognize any of those structures.
So apparently I lied and I DO recognize these. Except I really, really don't.
'I just do'? Has Skars become one with the Force or something?
That's hogwash, Skars! But it's very, very good hogwash.
Why does it exist? Who made it? Brain hurting ...
It's actually rather amusing to see Lia flabbergasted.
Those aren't exactly the words I would have chosen. Really started to worry about Skars ...
If they didn't know where it was, why is all this stuff already here on Arca?!?
The Arc Eternal is the ultimate weapon - literally. Getting ahead of myself here, but if so, I hope CW4 is a prequel or something whenever it gets finished, because where do you go from here?
The role reversal is complete. Now it's Skars cutting Lia off, ignoring her questions almost entirely, and just generally doing his own thing.
Red beams connect immediately, and creeper splurts out of the middle and each of the six satellite stations. The first time I did this I tried to stop them. I didn't get a single station down. You have only a few minutes. However, this is just like Farbor; there is a hard 'Early' achievement, and a less-hard 'Late' way to complete the level. I imagine the early one is probably much like Olesh described Farbor; the more stations you take out quickly, the more time you have for the others. But I'll let others describe how that's done.
Since this was the re-recording, I knew I wasn't going to be able to stop the stations. So instead, I began to instantly prepare for what happens afterwards. That's also how I did it when I eventually beat this mission the first time.
All three nodes in the southeast, some collectors on the high ground. I tried to get cute and put one of the nodes somewhere else the first time around -- in retrospect I think you need the energy all in one place, or at least it helped me. The start of this mission is frantic. Immediately after this I build a Forge. That'll hurt me initially but I plan on boosting initial energy with Energy Efficiency upgrades to grow out of the massive deficit I'm about to acquire.
Next, I want relays up all the way around the circle. The wall is, I think, 6-high ... sizable but not huge. I want to surround and contain it.
After those are placed, I set down a couple of reactors to start boosting energy, and a relay here in this opening ... where I'm going to put a bunch more. Should have started that before I went around the ring.
The next phase of containment is a ring of Mortars. These are to keep the creeper low enough to contain it within the Ring Wall. I space them out for every two relays.
After that, I do the same for Beams, with the same spacing, roughly in between the mortars. There aren't any spore towers yet ... but there will be. There WILL be. Much of this hasn't even started building yet, because the relays are still constructing. I'm partway through this when, at 2:32 mission time, the stations blow. Which is even faster than I remembered it being, but they don't hang around and discuss the situation in committee.
Nah, you're just the AI Who Cried Creeper at this point.
I care not about a mere Nexus. I've taken down two of them already.
It leaves the middle, where the Arc Eternal apparently is. Thanks Seloi. It doesn't go far though. The fact that it goes anywhere is new; the previous iterations weren't mobile.
WhoWhatWhereWhenWhyHow? Since when are the Loki/Nexus types all friendy and courteous? What happened to YOU SHALL BE UNDONE. YOUR PRIMITIVE TECHNOLOGY IS IRRELEVANT. LIKE ALL OTHERS YOU TOO WILL BE DESTROYED AND UNDONE AND REMOVED AND CLEANSED FROM THIS WORLD. AND OTHER BAD STUFF. ??
Umm ... someone want to tell me what in the name of Platius is going on here?
No need to be concerned, Lia. Skarsgard Abraxis would never listen to a Creeper Nex ...
There we go. Let's not waste time debating, there's Nexus-slaying to do.
My name ... is Skarsgard Abraxis. You would do well to use it.
What the actual ...
Search your feeling Imperator, you know it to be true!
It's not like the Loki to be so delusional. Surely they aren't expecting Skars to believe this manic piffle?
What?!? Sure, this makes perfect sense. We have met the enemy ... and it is us. Literally. The great, malevolent, unkownable and unspeakable evil of the eons. The force behind the Loki and the Creeper who have slaughtered uncountable trillions in myriad of galaxies. Who committed genocide on humanity more times than can be imagined. Who set all of this in motion. Yep, it's me. I'm the guilty party, your honor!
There is only one sane reaction to this. Whatever twisted abomination Skars is, if he has a shred of decency in his soul(if he even has one), he will immediately terminate his life force.
Oh good. The manipulative wench finally unmasks herself. This is the only part I really saw coming. For a minute there I thought I was only going to have one massive pile of happy horse manure metaphysicality-twisting, inconceivable insanity-inducing garbage to sift through. Welcome to the living hell that is my existence ... 'daughter'.
The Anomaly? And what, you're the Architect or something?? So who am I, the Oracle or Agent Smith???
Yes, you really should have. Even I strongly suspected, and I'm just your shell/projection/alternate self/what-the-freak-ever.
You let yourself be decieved. But in your heart you always knew what really had to happen here!
What's worse than unspeakable, incomprehensible, evil? Realizing that you are that evil. That in ancient eons of the universe, you looked through the strands as time ... and chose to engineer this, to make it happen.
And with this final plea, we are brought to a choice.
Before I do this, let's just step back a minute. Early in CW3, somebody told me it would all make sense at the end. That I would understand why I'm here, five billion years past the events of CW2, awakened to this situation. And from that perspective, let's give this plot credit where it's due. It does make sense from that angle. Nothing in the billions of years in between matters. The Arc Eternal is literally everything. Victory here is all there is, defeat here would annihilate all other possible successes. Nothing is even relevant in comparison. This it, the moment when the fate of the universe, not just humanity, can be decided forever. It also illuminates some of the things Platius said in the past games.
Having said that ... yeah. It's such a raging collection of nonsense that I don't know how to add to what I've already said. It's a moment where the english language, or at least my command of it, utterly fails to capture the sheer depth of expression I'd like to make. I've been sarcastic about the story from the time I started this LP, mostly just to try to be funny and entertaining and not just dry 'move-here, shoot-this'. To mix things up. At times I've gone overboard on that just because I can. I do find Creeper World's honesty about it's extremely flexible, to put it mildly, relationships with physics to be refreshing and enjoyable. Having said that, 'you can't be serious' is what went through my mind when I realized where they were going with this. And not in the good way.
Ok, so the choice. Well I'm going to show both, but canon should go first so let's see. Ultimate Evil or rescue the universe from myself? We're definitely going Skars here first. Which, as it turns out, is much the harder path. Loki are holding all the cards. But I'm the impetus behind the Loki, which means I'm holding all the cards, so why should it be harder either way, and I ...
Why?? Seriously, how does that work? The Arc's in the middle of the map. There's a bunch of creeper between us and it. How does our mere continued existence keep them from doing ANYTHING!
Why wouldn't I be able to? If I'm billions of years old, what's a few more?? Why would they be any more able than I to sustain myself? It just said I chose the 'form' of Skarsgard Abraxis, not that I gave up my essential essence or no longer the abilities of ... whatever it is I've been for all this time. And I still have the Anomaly on my side. Honestly I'm just really glad you shut up so I don't have to try to make sense out of what you are spewing from your piehole.
Why am I asking her again all of a sudden?
That's just fantastic news.
11 minutes into the video. Less than 3 into the mission itself. Not that it matters if we're going to be fighting for millions of years.
The Loke Hive, which it calls itself so better than Nexus I guess(THE Nexus?) moves around and does stuff like this. It's not attacking us directly. It builds emitters and spore towers like this one, which is why I put the beams up. And the Arc, under Loki control, continues to spew out a moderate amount of creeper as well. From a gameplay point of view this is an interesting twist; there's a general pattern to what the Hive does but you can't totally predict where it's going to go. Just have to sort of adjust on the fly.
By the way, I've got a deficit of 22 energy on each of the three nodes right now. So it's sort of a race here; I'm building up, but so are the Loki.
There's ore mines as well, one in each corner. I hook up to them despite the energy problems. They are going to be vital as well. I set up a sprayer by each mine.
And we care because ...
Also I'm not your father.
That sounds an awful lot like ...
Well that's where it's coming, and it doesn't take long.
Up to a deficit of 30 now. We know what this is, but let's have the 'heroes' tell it.
It's time to play the finale of the first game all over again! That's the one where we:
** Fight a Nexus with no way to damage it
** Fortify ourselves behind a wall against Nexus with a tide of creeper on the other side
** Mysteriously have the plans for the Thor appear, in a schematic just out of reach beyond the wall
** Have Skars blather on about how it's an unwinnable battle, but even if it's interminable we will soldier on to infinity, we will never give up ...
** Are told the Thor is our only hope of success(and this time, it's actually true AFAIK)
Not everything is the same, but this has all the appearance of 'Golly gee willikers, I don't how to end this game so ... uh ... let's just do what we did in the original! People thought that was cool. I'll just throw in some more metaphysics BS and a couple twists, and wrap it all up in a neat little bow!'.
I was actually really glad CW2 didn't have the Thor. It's just so OP compared to everything else. The idea of having to build an army to take down the Nexus. Slowly. Was more satisfying to me. But it is what it is.
Of course, we are in no position to go after that right now. But it could stay there for another billion years, and like so many other things, the creeper would just look at it and go 'uhhhh ... '. I'm sure the Hive doesn't just come over and destroy it right now for a really good reason. Anybody? No??? Ok then.
Here's the most immediate problem. When the Hive deposits an emitter this close to the wall, overflow is a significant threat. That means it's time to deploy a Nullifier ASAP. All of the emitters it drops produce 75/second, so they're not nothing but any one of them isn't a major threat. Right after plopping down the nullifier, I upgrade energy efficiency twice. That cuts the deficit by a third despite the additional expense.
Meanwhile more reactors slowly go up as we eat into the energy gap. The sprayers are running, and set to always on, deploying a blanket of anti-creeper around the perimeter.
Here's more, but by now I've got another energy efficiency upgrade and actually have worked my way back into a surplus. It's imperative to always be watching. The sprayers really help a great deal, because the Hive likes to drop emitters outside the walls. That screws up the entire ring and it's very easy to get steamrolled as it cuts off part of the network, then without any weapons in that area more creeper flows over the wall, and pretty soon you're overwhelmed. From what I've observed, I don't think the Hive can drop emitters or spore towers directly into anti-creeper, so it's a powerful prophylactic approach. And if we keep them under control it's actually going to help us, because this emitter can be turned into a friendly PZ.
Next up, I start boosting the numbers of reactors being built, and also throw a few cannons in each corner of the map for a rapid-response force. I'm almost ready to push over the wall and go on the offensive.
This would have been much, much worse had it been an emitter instead of a spore tower. The Hive found a gap between the AC and used it. As it was I took it out before it finished, then threw a nearby mortar on top and turned the tables.
Meanwhile the first push has begun back in the east. First goal is just to create enough of a clearing to use that nearby power zone.
Just as I was securing that, the Hive decided to be an arseface, dropping this emitter ... which I think got away from being in a previously AC-covered area because it's technically on top of the wall. Of course I can't put anything on the walls, but the Hive is like super-cool or something so it can. A beam and a couple relays went down, and this is exactly the kind of thing that cause a big problem. The anti-creeper will slow it down and I'll try to fight back with my weapons that were put in these areas for just that purpose.
This is just seconds later, as it places another one on the wall just west of there. This takes out the relay in the area, cuts off that trio of cannons with a mortar, and generally makes my life a lot more complicated. Good example here of the Loki Hive being a royal PITA and I need to handle this, which means I don't have the time to multi-task and keep attacking. I don't know if it's coincidence or not, but the Hive very effectively seized the initiative just as I was starting an offensive.
I evacuated the trapped weapons and got the emitters nullified ASAP, which I couldn't have done without having the firepower in place ahead of time. You can see some AC spilling inside the ring by the SuperCannon at the bottom of the screen; that's because there's now a small hole in the wall where the emitter used to be. So long as I keep weapons there I should be better off than before, using the Hive's attacks to effectively strengthen and enhance my defenses.
This one proved that the Hive could care less if there's AC in the way, setting it down in a nice pool of it right in front of my primary base. I can't emphasize enough the importance of anti-creeper and extra, flexible defensive weapons platforms being in place to mitigate and quickly handle these attacks. You can't get tunnel-vision in this mission either ... always be checking regularly on what the Hive is doing. On the PZ inside the ring, I had a SuperMortar there to clear out the surrounding area for a little bit, and now I'm throwing in my first Bertha.
I lost the Bertha though, as I withdrew cannons to deal with the emitter. Then, a SuperMortar is a fine idea on those locations just outside the wall. And you can see that the energy situation, once handled, has gone against me. Ore as well. Sizable deficits everywhere in that sea of red.
The Hive then moved off to other areas deeper inside the ring, and I used the opportunity to recover energy and push towards the Thor schematic. As we made the connection, I also made use of the nearby PZ for a SuperNullifier. There are a LOT of opportunities to do that in this level, and it makes things much easier. This one just removes a spore tower, but everything you can take out helps -- saving on energy for the beams to shoot them down and creating a future location for a strong weapon point.
One gets the impression here that 'Aliana' doesn't even know about the Thor from the first campaign. Which would be bizarre if Skars never told her that story, never read it in history, etc. Not to mention that she's an infinite being herself of some type, etc.
Guh ... we know exactly what this thing is! Stop pretending!!!
Let me see if I got this. Somebody knew this would happen so they designed the Thor's cannons to damage the Nexus. But the Loki knew that as well, so they designed a shield to protect from the Thor's cannons. Instead of, you know, destroying the plans for the Thor, or adjusting the Nexus materials themselves to be impervious to it, or any number of other timeline changes they could have made which would have prevented this from occuring.
Ok, but how does that help?
I can't take it. I just can't take it anymore. The Loki knew to fortify themselves against the Thor(sort of), but they didn't know about this? The location where the Arc Eternal was to be revealed wasn't worth fully investigating in every detail? Really?? And also, how are ballistic missiles going to be better against a shield that can withstand any bombardment from weapons billions of years more advanced just because it 'wasn't designed for them'. Throwing a rock at a tank won't do much, even though it wasn't designed to stop slingshots.
This is indeed sound tactical advice.
Four groups of four missile sites, one in the direction of each corner of the map, are shown by these green circles. We don't need all of them or even close to it.
We've reconnected the ring around the bottom, and the Thor needs a significant area of open space in order to be built. This'll do. Like the first game, it requires considerable energy to construct.
Gradually our attack extends further, alternating SuperNullfiers to take out nearby creeper emplacements, SuperWhatevers to clear out the nearby area, advances of the supporting weapons, and building more reactors to supply the required energy. The Loki Hive is now completely on the defensive, adding more emitters and spore towers where it can within the parts of the ring it still controls.
A couple of Terps are deployed as we reach one of the silo sites, and they work their way down a few levels through the terrain to the required depth of 1.
Here's one of the things that confuses me. The Hive comes back down in this area, approaches two different locations like it wants to place something, but doesn't. My question is, why not? It did the same movement as before, but nothign happened. Was I preventing it in some way? That's why I thought at one point was an AC thing, but obviously that's not the case as we've shown, so ... I dunno. Start at about 39 mins. in the video if you want to see this.
Also, the Thor is finished, and powering up it's energy. Which is considerable.
It, uh, has a few things it can do. And holds 3k in ammunition. Alrighty then.
Shortly after that, I have the Thor lift off and move around. Important for it to stay within range of a relay, but aside from that it's not quite as absurd as the one from the first game, but close. Stuff goes away quickly when it shows up.
Here's a missile taking off from the site. We have to 'build'(green bar) something or other each one of these silos, then just constantly give them the energy ammo they need. Which again makes no sense because they aren't energy weapons. Also, they apparently have unlimited range which only our Berthas do, but the projectiles fly much faster. And damage something that we can't damage. But they're primitive and obsolete and we wouldn't care about them for any other purpose.
I can't even.
Just throw reactors anywhere. Stupid, insane, crazy amounts of energy.
Each missile impact lowers the Nexus shield by 1-2%. It's just a matter of getting enough of them to fire. Over by the Thor, I get another quartet of silos working to speed up the process.
Eventually, enough hits from the missiles take down the shield.
That was not an idle threat the Hive just made. It now starts throwing out 'Creeper Torpedoes' every few seconds. That cylindrical red thing in the middle is headed towards a cannon, which is on a bed of AC so it doesn't care. First time though I didn't have sprayers moved inside the ring laying down this protection ahead of time, and they caused much more problems. When they hit, kind of like those Phantoms from CW2, they explode into a creeper cloud.
I disable all of the Thor's standard weapons(probably should have done that sooner); Left Cannon, Right Cannon, Beam Cannon, and Sniper Gun. The FIRE MAIN CANNONS thing is all I want. It takes 100 energy per shot to do so, and I had to wait for it to power up.
That white projectile is what it shoots. They are homing something-or-others, so they apparently never miss and I can fire them from anywhere. Another weakness in the Nexus is that it appears utterly unable to even attack, much less damage, the Thor. Those creeper torps can only shoot at the surface. The green bar shows I'm damaging it, so it's just a matter of time until I get enough energy to fire enough of that white shtuff ...
The Hive flies around, doing minimal damage with it's torpedoes but nothing I'm particularly concerned about.
After a few minutes, I've done enough damage to take it down.
The Hive becomes a living fireworks display as red goo falls around the various explosions which happen in rapid-fire succession. And then ...
In a flash of white particles, the Loki Hive is no more.
How? Did you just decide to become finite? Is it like flipping a switch?
And yet you show no signs of not wanting to immediately slaughter me for a fraction of a percent of the things I set in motion. Why??
Interesting word, 'greatness'. Not 'monstrosity'. Not 'unspeakable, unfathomable evil'. Not 'bane of all life and sanity in the universe'. Nope. Greatness. Look who's become a Loki fanboi as well.
'Which brings us at last to the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the Anomaly revealed as both beginning and end.'
What Skars/Platius/Imperator Abraxis has already done isn't enough. He's going back 10 billion years ago, as Platius. And there's no indication whatsoever that he's going to do anything different. No, he's going back so he can start the infinite cycle all over again. Just ponder that for a moment. If you can do so while maintaining a full and firm grip on your sanity, you're a better man than I.
Thus we are taken to the Epilogue/End Cinematic. This begins at about 52:25 if you wish to watch it. There is music that goes along with it. What follows is the galaxy gradually rotating in the background, with accompanying text that I'll screencap here.
This is one of those 'staggered reveal' deals with one line of text appearing at a time, but if you want that experience watch the video.
Another way to reveal the Arc? And the Seloi know of this?
And so, the Creeper World 3 Story comes to an end. Alternate ending, bonus material, all that stuff yet to come.