The Let's Play Archive

Descent II

by Star Man

Part 56: Features, Weapons, Accessories and Items

Descent II retains all of Descent 1's gameplay mechanics. The game can be played in one of five difficulty modes: Trainee (easy), Rookie (normal), Hotshot (medium-hard), Ace (hard), and Insane (very hard). As the difficulty increases, robot AI becomes more intelligent and they will fire more projectiles and more rapidly and have better evasion. With increasing difficulty, your starting count of concussion missiles will decrease (seven missiles on Trainee, three missiles on Insane). Energy and shield boosts have diminishing yields with higher difficulties. Meltdown countdowns decrease with incresing difficulty. Beginning with Hotshot, a skill bonus is granted at the end of each mine.

This is what the default Heads Up Display (HUD) looks like:

Lives - You begin the game with two lives to start with. If you die, you will lose all of your rescued hostages and all of your weapons and accesories will be dropped, but you will retain your access keys. After you die, you will respawn with your laser level reset to level one and the default number of concussion missiles for your difficulty level. Losing all lives will result in a game over and will take you to the high score screen.
Score - Whenever you destroy a robot, pick up a hostage, or blow the reactor, a number will appear below your score. This indicates that you've earned points. This is a great way to tell if you've destroyed a robot from a distance. Extra lives are granted for every 50,000 points.
Reticle - The circles on the left and right indicate which bank your missile will fire from. In this screenshot, the right circle is glowing, so the missile will launch from the right side of the Pyro-GX. Some missiles fire from the center of the ship, and will be indicated with a circle belot the crosshairs.
Weapon Energy - Your primary weapons (except for the Vulcan Cannon) will deplete weapon energy. You may have a maximum of 200 energy. Entering an energy center will recharge your energy to a maximum of 100.
Shield - Your hit points. Shields can be maxed out to 200. You can have a reading of zero shields and still survive, but this isn't likely.
Primary Weappon - Indicates your current primary weapon. Will display your current laser cannon level and remaining Vulcan ammunition. Number keys 1-5 select your primary weapon.
Secondary weapon - Indicates your current secondary weapon and how many missiles of that type remain. Firing a missile will change this screen to a missile-view camera.
Enemy Weapon Lock - This will alarm if you are being targeted by any seeking weapons. Homing missiles, smart missile pellets, and mega missiles will sound this alarm.
Afterburner - Displays the amount of power remaining in your afterburner.
Access Keys - Indicates which access keys you have.
Bomb Counter - Displays how many proximity bombs and smart mines are remaining. A red number indicates that proximity bombs are selected. A gold number represents that smart mines are selected.

New to Descent II is the option to change the weapon screens to cameras. Shift+F1 changes the primary weapon screen and Shift+F2 changes the secondary weapon screen. You can cycle through rear view, marker cameras, and the point of view of the Guide-Bot.

In Descent II, you may toggle your HUD by pressing F3 between three different modes:

Mode 1 (default)

Mode 2

Mode 3

From what I've heard, Mode 2 will provide you with the most complete view of the game. I don't know if I buy that or not. Remember that when using Modes 2 or 3, your LOCK indicator will flash text on screen for the alarm instead of using the icon in Mode 1. In Mode 3, whenever you fire a missile or if you are using one of the additional cameras, a window will display that camera on the bottom-center of the screen.


The automap will help you navigate the mines, but don't be surprised if you find it still confusing once you have a lot of the mine explored.

In Descent II, you can now plant up to ten markers in each mine to mark locations that you can find on the automap. By pressing the corresponding number key, the marker will be highlighted on the automap. You can delete markers on the automap screen.

Key locations

- Energy Center

Energy centers will replenish your weapon energy up to 100 units. There is at least one in every mine. Not all energy centers have yellow tiles, but always will have the energy particles.

- Robot Generator

Robot generators produce robots in a number of waves according to your difficulty level. Generators are inert until you approach them from a certain distance or after moving through a certain point in the mine. On Insane difficulty, generators will not stop producing robots once they are activated.

- Force Field

Force fields are barriers that will repel energy-based projectiles and players when they make contact. Touching a force field will damage your ship, as will any projectiles that are repelled by the force field. Force fields are usually deactivated by destroying a control panel, but sometimes they will deactivate as you fly toward them.

- Control Panel

Firing at a control panel will activate a trigger of some kind. Triggers are unlocking locked doors, opening hidden doors, disabling force fields, and erasing walls. Some control panels will also create walls or force fields. Several doors that control panels can open will only open when triggered once. Not all control panels will resemble a computer chip. Many monitors and displays also serve as control panels.

- Reactor

The reactor is the lifeline of every mine. The reactor will defend itself by firing at you in your current direction. The reactor is only accessible after obtaining the red access key in every mine. Destroying the reactor will activate the meltdown counter and open the mine's emergency exit.

- Exit

Once you destroy the reactor, you will have 20 to 60 seconds to find the exit. The door will only open when the reactor is destroyed and the countdown begins. Make sure to locate these before you blow the reactor. If you do not reach the exit in time, you will be incinerated with the mine and begin the next mine with only your laser at level one and a few concussion missiles and you will receive no bonus scores.

- Teleporter

This is a teleporter. Teleporters lead to secret levels and are found in one or two mines of each system that you will visit. They can be entered any number of times and at any time as long as the secret level's reactor is intact. Teleportets can be used as alternate exits when the mine's self-destruct countdown is active. If you enter a secret level from a teleporter in a mine that has been incinerated, the teleporter will transport you to the next available mine. If you try to use a teleporter and the secret level has been destroyed, you will enter a cube with teleporters on all six sides and a message saying that the secret level is no longer accessible.

Secret levels contain a cornucopia of powerful weapons that you can acquire early or easily replenish. The robots in secret levels usually behave very differently, such as ITDs laying proximity bombs and dropping powerful items when they are destroyed. There are also many doors that can only be opened once and grates will materialize behind you as you move closer to the reactor.

Lastly, you cannot save your game inside of a secret level. In order to retrieve all of the items and destroy the reactor, you will have to do all of it in a single run. You can still save outside of a teleporter, so you still have an unlimited number of opportunities to explore every secret level and learn its secrets.

Weapons, Accesories, and Items

Descent II retains all of the weapons and items from Descent 1. In addition to Descent 1's inventory, Descent II adds ten new weapons and several accessories for the Pyro-GX to the game. In order to select one of the new weapons, press the corresponding number key for that weapon twice to select it. Most of the accessories are activated with a hotkey. The hotkeys to select weapons or activate accessories are listed in parentheses in the item descriptions.

- Primary Weapons
Primary weapons are your main source of firepower. These weapons draw their power from your weapon energy reserves or with vulcan ammunition. Picking up additional primary weapons will boost the type of ammunition that weapon uses. The ammunition reserves of the vulcan and gauss cannons can be doubled with the ammo rack. The first number is the default ammunition maximum and the second number is the maximum with the ammo rack.

Laser Cannon (1) - the laser cannon is the default weapon for the Pyro-GX. Picking up additional laser cannons will upgrade the power of the weapon at up to four levels. The color of the bolts will also change color.

Superlaser Cannon (1) - this weapon will upgrade your default laser cannon to level five, no matter what level your laser cannon currently is. The superlaser maxes out at level six and laser levels below five cannot be re-selected.

Quad Laser - this item will increase the number of bolts fired by your laser or superlaser from two bolts to four.

Vulcan Cannon (2) - the vulcan cannon is a rapid-fire machine gun that uses vulcan ammo instead of weapon energy for ammunition. Vulcan ammo and extra vulcan cannon pick-ups provide an additional 1,250 rounds. Maximum ammunition of 5,000/10,000 rounds.

Gauss Cannon (2) - the gauss cannon is an upgraded version of the vulcan cannon that fires explosive rounds. Each shot uses less ammunition than the vulcan cannon. The explosive rounds will damage the player if they are too close to the target. The gauss cannon shares the same reserve of ammunition with the vulcan cannon.

Spreadfire Cannon (3) - the spreadfire cannon fires three blue bolts that will spread out as they travel forward. The spread of the bolts alternate between horizontal and vertical spread fire.

Helix Cannon (3) - the helix cannon is an enhanced version of the spreadfire cannon. This weapon fires five bolts instead of three and the spread fire alternates in several more angles.

Plasma Cannon (4) - the plasma cannon is a rapid fire energy weapon.

Phoenix Cannon (4) - the phoenix cannon is also a rapid fire energy weapon, but the projectiles will ricochet off of walls. Ricocheted shots will cause damage to you if they hit you.

Fusion Cannon (5) - the fusion cannon is a high-powered energy weapon that fires large projectiles that travel through any enemies it makes contact with. Holding down the fire button will charge the fusion cannon to deal double damage, but the charge is very noisy and charging for too long will cause damage to your ship. The fusion cannon's damage has been cut down by half of what it was in Descent 1.

Omega Cannon (5) - the omega cannon fires an arc of energy that has a short range. The energy arc will seek out any enemies that are within range. The omega cannon has a separate charge that draws from your weapon energy. Depleting the charge will disable the omega cannon until it has recharged a certain amount of power.

- Secondary Weapons
Secondary weapons are your heavy ordinance. The first number listed for the maximum capacity listing is the default maximum and the second number is the maximum after the ammo rack has been obtained.

Concussion Missile (6) - concussion missiles are the standard secondary weapon. It is a dumbfire missile, so just point and shoot. Found in singles or in packs of four. Maximum capacity of 20/40 missiles.

Flash Missile (6) - flash missiles deal very little damage, but will blind the target and any players or enemies nearby and will create a ringing sound on detonation. Found in singles or in packs of four. Maximum capacity of 20/40 missiles.

Homing Missile (7) - homing missiles seek out targets and deal slightly more damage than concussion missiles. Found in singles or in packs of four. Maximum capacity of 10/20 missiles.

Guided Missile (7) - firing a guided missile will open a window in your missile-view or main view (toggled in the Misc. Options screen) and can be controlled. You will have control of the missile until it detonates or if you are fired on. Press the fire button again and the guided missile will function like a homing missile. Found in singles or in packs of four. Maximum capacity of 20/40 missiles.

Proximity Bomb (8) - proximity bombs are dropped behind your ship. Proximity bombs remain in place until a player, robot, or projectile hits it or self-detonate after a short while. The proximity bomb's blast radius is very large and deals a lot of damage. Bombs can be dropped by pressing the drop bomb key (B key by default) or by selecting it as a secondary weapon. Found in packs of four. Maximum capacity of 10/20 bombs.

Smart Mine (8) - smart mines are dropped behind your ship. Smart mines remain in place until a player, robot, or projectile hits it or self-detonate after a short while. The smart mine itself will not deal damage, but instead releases several bomblets that seek out enemies upon detonation. The bomblets will not harm the player or robot that dropped the mine. Mines can be dropped by pressing the drop bomb key (B key by default) or by selecting it as a secondary weapon. Found in packs of four. Maximum capacity of 10/20 mines.

Smart Missile (9) - smart missiles are dumbfire missiles that will release several bomblets upon detonation. The bomblets will seek out any enemies that are nearby. Found only in singles. Maximum capacity of 5/10 missiles.

Mercury Missile (9) - a dumbfire missile that travels at a very high velocity. Found in singles or in packs of four. Maximum capacity of 10/20 missiles.

Mega Missile (0) - mega missiles are very powerful warheads with limited homing capability. They have a very large blast radius and usually destroy their targets. Found only in singles. Maximum capacity of 5/10 missiles.

Earthshaker Missile (0) - the ultimate weapon. Earthshaker missiles release an explosion that is much larger than the mega missile's. Earthshaker missiles release several bomblets that will seek out enemies that are nearby and produce blasts as powerful as the original missile. The explosion is so powerful that it will shake the mine and cause lights to flicker. Found only in singles. Maximum capacity of 10/20 missiles.

- Accessories
Accessories are tools that you can use to upgrade the Pyro-GX's capabilities. Most of them are activated with a hotkey, but some have a passive effect. Picking up extra accessories will boost your weapon energy.

Afterburner (S) - the afterburner provides a speed boost to your ship for as long as it has power. When not in use, the afterburner will draw power from your weapon energy until it is back to a full charge. The afterburner will leave behind a visible exhaust and it is also noisy.

Ammo Rack - the ammo rack doubles the amount of vulcan ammo and secondary weapons that you can carry.

Energy-to-Shield Converter (T) - this accessory converts two units of weapon energy into one shield unit for your ship. This can only be used when your ship has at least 100 weapon energy.

Full Map - the full map will reveal all unexplored areas of the mine on your automap. Unexplored areas are drawn in blue wireframe. The full map is only usable in the mine that you are playing in. Not all mines have a full map to pick up.

Headlight (H) - the headlight illuminates the space in front of you and is a better source of light than flares are. The headlight will slowly consume your weapon energy while it is turned on and it will reveal where you are while cloaked.

- Items

Energy - replenishes weapon energy. Energy power-ups yield 27 points in Trainee, 15 in Rookie, 12 in Hotshot, nine in Ace, and six in Insane.

Shields - replenishes shields. Sheild power-ups yield 27 points in Trainee, 15 in Rookie, 12 in Hotshot, nine in Ace, and six in Insane.

Cloaking Device - renders the Pyro-GX invisible for 30 seconds.

Invulnerability - renders the Pyro-GX invulnerable for 30 seconds.

Access Keys - access keys open security doors marked with the corresponding color. These keys are found in the order of blue, yellow, then red.

Extra Life - you get an extra life. Extra lives are also awarded for every 50,000 points that you score.

Hostage - hostages provide you with 1,000 points on pick-up. Rescuing all of the hostages in the mine will earn you a full rescue bonus after exiting the mine. If you are killed while any hostages are on board, you will lose all of them.