We present a handy guide for players who wish to avoid ending up in the belly of the Alien
In case you have yet to pick up a copy, Alien Isolation is out this week and as our erstwhile reviewer Stuart Andrews has revealed it’s absolutely terrifying. Players should accept the fact that in Creative Assembly’s survival horror they are going to die – a lot.
However, after having some time at its controls, we’ve worked out that if players bare a few things in mind, they stand a better chance of not having their face bitten off.
1. The Alien has very keen hearing
While, the titular creature in Alien Isolation has no visible aural cavities – those pipes on its back could be its ears for all we know – it has amazing hearing. In fact, based on our experience with it, the Alien could probably hear a mouse break wind about five rooms away.
If you run, it will hear your footsteps. If you knock over any items in your environment, it will be on its way to investigate the noise. If you overuse your motion sensor, it will hear it. We were told in the previews that the Alien couldn’t hear the motion sensor, but it bloody can – albeit in close proximity; we found this out the hard way when, while monitoring its movements, we were ripped from our hiding place and introduced to its digestive tract.
Furthermore, if you have a cough, noisy neighbours or you’re so popular that you’re phone never stops ringing, we suggest you disable the motion sensor or camera on whatever device you’re using, because the Alien can hear you through that too. So if you’re one of those players who thinks they have nerves of steel and you want the full fat Alien Isolation experience, turn off your phone, tell your neighbours to keep it down and pray that the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t come knocking.
2. Save well, save often
Even if you boast nerves of steel and you’re not afraid of the dark, Alien Isolation has a neat trick aimed at ratcheting up the tension every time you play it. Save points are spread out over the many levels and the game has no autosave function. Because of this if you don’t use the save points often you risk being dumped back into earlier stages of the game.
It’s a canny trick that raises the stakes of every stretch of time between saving – not least because of the fact that players aren’t safe while saving. Before you save your game have a quick gander at your motion sensor, because if the Alien – or any other enemy for that matter – is in the room with you when you do, you may find yourself reloading to see the same death animation over and over and over again.
3. Feel free to sacrifice others
The key is in the name: Isolation. You may have allies offering you tips and directions down Ripley’s comms device but make no mistake – you are on your own in this game so you shouldn’t feel too bad at throwing any NPCs into the Alien’s path.
On your travels through Sevastopol, you’re likely to run into both human enemies and malfunctioning androids – both of which will kill Ripley on sight. If the Alien is close by, however, they can be turned into a useful distraction. Simply throw a loud device – a flashbang or a noisemaker in the direction of some NPC enemies and then move away swiftly as the resultant cacophony attracts the xenomorph who’ll quickly turn them all into sashimi.
4. Don’t hide too long
You think you’re safe in that cupboard? In that cabinet? Under that table? Don’t friggin’ bank on it. The Alien stalks from room to room in search of the player and it’s not above getting curious and investigating if it doesn’t hear or see you for a bit. One of the best ways to stay alive in Alien Isolation is to find the right balance between staying mobile and staying out of sight. Stay in one place too long and you’ll become lunch. Oh, and while we’re on the topic – you’re not safe in the vents, either!
5. Craft well, craft often
Sevastopol is filled with components and blueprints for players to scrounge out and use to construct Medkits, flashbangs, Molotov cocktails and more. Ripley, however, doesn’t have a bottomless carrier bag and more often than not, players will find themselves maxed out on certain items. To that end, it’s a good idea to build items the moment you have the requisite component parts in your inventory. Not only does this keep you well stocked with gadgets and weapons, it also allows you to scrounge for more component parts. Make room in your inventory and keep yourself as well stocked on spare parts as you can.
6. Ripley has more than one speed
For the most part, players will be tempted to stay in a crouch and move very slowly indeed. While that’s perfectly sensible if you haven’t been discovered by an enemy, players can fall into the trap of never raising out of a crouch and this can lead to fatal consequences if you can’t see enemies in you’re environment. While walking does make more noise, you’re relatively safe if the motion tracker shows no movement in your vicinity. Also, since the androids in the Sevastopol Space Station don’t (or can’t run), you can outdistance them quickly if they spot you. Just watch for any Alien drool spilling from the ceiling vents if you decide to leg it!
7. Make the best of bad situations
When the Alien enters a room you’re in, resist the urge to panic. That may seem obvious, but tracking the Alien has its uses. First up, you’re able to best anticipate its move while staying out of its eyeline. Second, while you may be in imminent danger, at least you know where the bugger is and you can plan accordingly. Once the Alien spots you and you find yourself unable to break its line of sight before it closes the gap on you, you’re dead, basically. But there’s a certain freedom in imminent death. For a start you don’t have to worry about making a noise anymore and you also don’t need to keep Ripley in a crouch. So you should feel free to scope out your environment at a sprint, checking the layout, looking for mission goals and blueprints and generally getting a sense of what you’re in for the moment you reload your save. You might be inches away from death, but you can also makes things easier on yourself in the future.
8. Your motion tracker is not infallible
While Ripley’s motion tracker is the player’s best friend – it not only warns of imminent danger, but it guides the player in the right direction – it can also be something of a hazard too. We’ve already pointed out that, if close enough, the alien can hear it and will zone in on the noise it makes. It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t pick up danger that isn’t moving – its’ perfectly possible to walk into a room where NPC enemies – usually androids – are standing stock still and the next thing you know, you’re surrounded by threats. Oh and it doesn’t work in airvents, meaning you can’t depend on it to tell you if you’re about to find yourself in a confined space with the xenomorph. It’s useful, to be sure, but over-reliance on the motion sensor can prove fatal.
9.Take it easy with the flashlight!
Sevastopol is a dank, dimly lit space station and in some areas – particularly the vents – players can find themselves staring into pitch darkness. Ripley’s flashlight comes in handy in these areas, but don’t overdo it. First off, batteries are scarce – even more so on Hard setting – and the flashlight chews through them at a rate of knots. Second, in a darkened area, popping on your flashlight is pretty much the same as holding up a large banner that says “I’M OVER HERE!” and will likely draw you some unwanted attention from any enemies nearby. Use it sparingly to get your bearings.
10. Use the rewire boxes
The rewire boxes on the space station aren’t an instant solution to the dangers facing players but it’s worth messing about with them nonetheless. Air duct systems, for example, can be used to fog up certain areas on the map and you can also disconnect cameras. If you spy an intercom system on the other side of a room, you can ping it to make enemies head in that direction to investigate the noise. Play about with these boxes, learn their capabilities and they may prove to be the boon you needed.
See also: Destiny Tips and Tricks