Just a little history to set the stage. I started playing Shadowrun on Day 1. Yes, yes, I know that makes me a dinosaur. Whatever. But back on release day, I was down to my local BIGBOXBRANDNAME store with months of anticipation built up. I played everyday for a hour or two. Now, just under 10 years later, as I am enjoying the backwards compatibility announcement of Shadowrun and as I stand on my front porch shaking my fist and yelling “Get of my damn lawn kid!” I turn to you and say this.
“This sure ain’t the game I grew up on.”
Yes, yes everything was better, the weather was always nice, the cars were badder and the women all gave blow-jobs, but most of all Shadowrun was a game that stood out from the rest.
Unfortunately, for probably a few reasons, that game is hard to find nowadays. No, I don’t mean that it is harder to find people to play the game, I mean every night, when I go on to play a match or two, the current etiquette has neutered this game just as completely as if I put in a Halo disc by mistake.
I am talking about two very specific game strategies that are frowned upon now, and if you use these tactics might even get a vote called on you or a wave of team killing pointed in your direction.
The two game mechanics I am talking about are Running the Artifact and Clearing Bodies. For those of you new to the game let me explain them one at a time.
RUNNING THE ARTIFACT
In two of the game modes, Extraction and Raid, there is a magical artifact. It looks like a glowing canoe oar with flames. It is what everyone is fighting about. (I am not going into the backstory, check out the full details here.) In these two modes The Artifact is the goal and the Extraction Point is the Objective. The difference between the two modes is important. In Extraction both teams want The Artifact and both teams have an Extraction Point. In Raid, only one team, The Lineage, is seeking The Artifact. In Raid, RNA Global has possession of The Artifact and must defend it at all costs.
That may not sound like much of a difference but it is a huge difference in strategy for both teams. Do you rush The Artifact or do you rush the opposing team and try and whittle them down? Do you set up a defense and wait for the other team to try and extract The Artifact or do you go after The Artifact and hope the other team isn’t defending. Now add in the fact that you have a minimum of 6 rounds, max of 11 rounds. Do you stick with the same game plan every round or do you change it up right in the middle? Your team has run The Artifact with no resistance two straight rounds because the other team is rushing your base, will the other team change their tactics and be waiting for you this time? Should you instead all go sniper and pick them off while the wait stupidly in their base for you to come running through waving some glowing stick at them?
Not to mention that Running The Artifact (which is the copyrighted title of my memoirs by the way so don’t even think about using it)…Running the Artifact is true skill all its own. When you are Running The Artifact you are defenseless unless the enemy is within Katana distance. If you think you are just going to run the shortest route from your base to The Artifact to their base and score, you are sadly mistaken and about to be cleared. (more on that in a second) You need to have intimate knowledge of the map, and a fairly good sense of where the other team is, and how they are going to be defending their base. Are you going to go high and drop down on them? Are you going to double back twice and slip in the back? Are you going to show yourself to them and get them chasing you and leaving the front door wide open? Oh it is a skill believe me.
In all game modes you can eliminate a player after only one death by Clearing Bodies. “What the wha?” you say? One of the best things about Shadowrun is the magic spell Resurrection. When you die, you fall to the floor and your body lays there not bothering anyone. If you are patient, and you teammate is quick enough, they can cast Resurrection and you will come back to life ready to fight anew. Then when you die, because your buddy ezzed you while you are surrounded by filthy RNA Jackbooted Thugs so they all just started lighting you up like a tree at 30 Rock and you violently shudder and give up the ghost, then you really are dead and have to sit out the rest of the round. (unless you got some serious Karma happening)
But you can eliminate that second chance life if you fill that corpse with lead. Eventually it will disappear and the enemy will be out of the game until the beginning of the next round. Kinda sucks for that guy I guess but all of a sudden 8v8 is 8v7 and once I am done ventilating this Troll 8v6. There is no doubting that is good strategy. I must admit this part of the game was controversial even when I was playing in its heyday. People just couldn’t wrap their head around it. They called it cheating. “UHHH it is in the game and you can do it too, how is that cheating?” However it was a thing and we all did it. It was an integral part of the game.
THE NEW ETIQUETTE
When I found out Shadowrun had become backward compatible I lost my mind. My favorite game, maybe I could find a match or two! Lo and behold there is still a strong pool of players out there. So excited! After a run through the tutorial to get my mappings back and I dive online for some real action. I very quickly find out that if you are Running the Artifact you are a dick loser scumbag and if you are Clearing Bodies you are taking all the fun out of it. “What the wha?” I say. So you mean instead of taking this guy out of the game and increasing my odds, I am supposed to just let him lie there? To just get Resurrected? And even the whole point of the game is to extract The Artifact so I can help usher in the 6th Age of Magic in the manner my ancestors and their ancestors before them did going back to the 1st age? (sorry just getting in character) Even though the whole point is to extract The Artifact I am just supposed to walk right by it looking for a Troll to attack? Ok, it has been almost 10 years since I have played, and ….whatever…I just want to play so I go with the flow.
I think about it and I remember how hard it was to find a game before I was distracted by some new game, BF2:MC probably. So maybe with a dwindling pool of players sitting out watching was intolerable. They wanted to play and make the games last as long as possible, so no scoring by Running The Artifact. I guess I see how it could have evolved into the status quo.
BUT it is really very, very detrimental to the game. It fundamentally changes the way the games play out. Back in the day, you would go in guns blazing to get The Artifact and find out their Elf was faster and got their first. Do you double back and defend defend defend? or hope you can catch him/her in mid run and pick him/her off? Too late “Lineage Scores” So this time are you going to put up a stout defense and strangle all the doors? You can’t teleport in with The Artifact you have to run it in! So just load up on the strangle and then snipe through the crystals when they finally show up. Or are you sending your fastest mutant baby only a mother would love in after The Artifact as well?
The problem with Ignoring the Artifact being the new Running The Artifact is all those strategy choices are gone. All that extra added pressure is gone. I gotta tell you being down to 3 bullets and my heart beating through my chest knowing one more hit and I am gone and then suddenly my attacker quits shooting at me and peals off to go defend because one of my teammates has picked up The Artifact and is on the run….man that is the life. I can tell you who is getting my spare change the next round. NO QUESTION.
But now, we might as well be playing Death Match Doom for all the fun it is. Yeah there is all the different Tech and Magic to make it….different. Different than any other shooter just be means of attack, but The Game…at the heart of the game play isn’t any different. Layer in Clearing Bodies and Running The Artifact and you add 4-5 more layers of strategy on top of the 4-5 layers the Magic and Tech put on top of the few layers any death match game inherently has and now you have a seriously complicated game. One were TEAMWORK is a natural part of the game. When you play without those extra layers every game turns out the same. You can go out and take on the world by yourself like the lone wolf you are, or you can definitely do better by sticking together and supporting each other. But you COULD do it either way. With all those other things you have to deal with as part of the game, you couldn’t win without acting in concert.
It just made you work together. Everyone had a mic. Everyone was barking out positions and commands. Everyone fell back when told and pushed when needed. (well not everyone but it sure seems to me that there was much much more strategy chatter back in the day then today)
Not to mention, the wishy-washy attitude to The New Etiquette. Sometimes you don’t clear, but the other team does so boom you are down a game outta nowhere. Sometimes teams don’t clear until they get behind a round or two. Sometimes people clear but only after they have been cleared, but I never cleared anyone so why am I getting cleared? How can you play 5 rounds without running The Artifact and then all of a sudden they win two quick ones by extraction?
I wish I could set up a server where Running The Artifact and Clearing Bodies were encouraged. Used as an important part of the game. Yes it does lead to quicker rounds. And yes you do spend some time watching other people play. But that is part of the fun. Your mic is still functional and you can all cheer on that one-person wrecking crew who is literally turning the tide single-handily on our fight to keep this magic in the hands of The Corporation! RNA GLOBAL O.G.!
Sorry, as you can see I get a little passionate about this game. I guess what I am trying to say is, Shadowrun is getting its second chance Ressurection spell cast. Let’s try and give it the FULL life it deserves. Let’s play the game the way the developer intended.