"Get Out of My Stations!"
You heard me, demons, why are you still here? I suppose I'll have to use force, very well. Back to Saturn X E1 has been finished, played through GlBoom+ 188.8.131.52 on UV difficulty. Looks like there's no more bases in sight, so let's see what this is all about.
BTSX E1 is a 27-level (25 main maps, 2 secret levels) megawad built by multiple authors of the community with a gameplay style similar to that of Plutonia or Scythe. It comes with a new menu background, fonts, status bar, intermission screens, music, textures, and ENDOOM screen. The action appears to take place exclusively on techbases in various locations and it's split in multiple episodes.
The difficulty curve is mostly traditional, the megawad starting relatively easy and getting harder as you progress. AV was initially used as the "guideline for difficulty", and although it is nowhere near extreme, it most definitely presents a good challenge, relying on good enemy placement to take down the player and surprising, but not unfair traps. It was primarily designed for pistol starting, but a continuous play of the megawad proves not to trivialize the experience, as it sometimes can happen when carrying your equipment from one map to the next. The maps do not offer large amounts of ammo, with the only exceptions being the more difficult parts, but even after those are finished the player isn't left with lots of ammo in their inventory. As it turns out, ammo management in very important in BTSX, as mismanaging your resources might screw you up when you really need them, particularly the plasma and rockets considering you're offered only as much as you need, therefore the instances you're left with any are pretty rare. Additionally, the backpack appears to be a rarity which is more often than not found through secrets as opposed to regular play. Despite this, it does not descend into resource starvation since a simple, mindful usage of the ammunition is enough to prevail over the enemies. Suicide exits as a way to reset the player's inventory are therefore not missed, and had no place in the megawad in the first place since other than a means to reset the player's inventory they are usually used to mark a major thematic change (ex: from Earth to Hell, or somewhere in space) or a ramp up in difficulty, none of which are present here. The difficulty is also more akin to Plutonia and the first 2 episodes of the original Scythe rather than AV.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about BTSX, particularly in the first and second episode, is the number of barrels. A lot of early maps feature large amounts of barrels, and they prove to be an efficient (and fun) method of damaging or easily taking down enemies while spending very little ammo as resource management proves to be even more important in these maps. They are, however, excessive in some cases, serving no real purpose. The maps themselves are beautiful and detailed, with a gorgeous sky that can be seen on many maps and look pretty futuristic, some more than others, although not on the same level as, say, Stargate of Deus Vult II, which was also enormous and very complex. This is vanilla compatible after all, and yet, impressive in its own right. Others seem to be slightly touched by decay, and these are also the more underwhelming maps since they can be slightly confusing at times. It is impressive to see that the quality is very consistent though, despite being built by different authors, yet this can also be a problem on its own. They somehow manage to remain a bit too consistent (as strange as it might sound) since there's not much to differentiate them. I could easily tell which maps were made by skillsaw or which ones were touched by him since I could probably recognize his signature gameplay anywhere after playing (almost) all his works, but even so, that's the only thing that stood out, since visually, they're the same. Or to be fair, MAP19 "Bingo Hall Pool of Blood" easily stood out from the crowd since the gameplay and design of that level is completely different from the rest of the maps, but it's hard to say what led to this. This is also why I can't say I have a favorite map, but don't dislike any either. The megawad ends with a final battle against Mancubi and Arch-Viles on MAP24, which also presents some slaughter influence.
All things considered, BTSX E1 is a fun and challenging modern megawad that's neither too long nor too short. The only problem on the technical side of things is that some maps have a nasty HOM effect in places (under bridges for instance) when played in GlBoom+. Haven't tested in other ports to see if it's specific to some of them or not. Well worth a shot.
Played on ITYTD with powergun.wad because I'm not good at these things. Cleared in 26 minutes with 2 enemy stragglers left somewhere.
Very solid design. not too big and areas are reused for more battles. Good slaughter map. Quite enjoyed.
Tough Hexen adventure with great architecture/texturing. It doesn't follow the standard hub formula, with a mostly linear level progression. A variety of environments are explored, from a standard fantasy castle to a foggy swamp/canyon to a massive fortress inside in an icy cavern. The wad uses a selection of custom textures (made by the author himself I believe) that look great and fit in with the stock texture set very well, allowing for some very beautiful architecture with liberal use of arches. Each level is quite massive and elaborate (excluding the final map), with a high level of non-linearity, interconnectedness, and optional exploration. The first level will probably turn many people off due to the huge amount of enemies one must face with only the first weapon. It is challenging, but it's doable with the wise usage of items (and the wise choice of not playing as the Cleric). It's probably the hardest level, as the difficulty decreases significantly once you get your 2nd weapon in the 2nd map. The ice fortress segment is split into 3 levels, and requires some backtracking between them. The first part, Lower Tartarous, was my least favorite level (and the main reason why I didn't rate this 5 stars), as there were several annoyances like frustrating platforming, sequence-breaking, and confusing level design that made it drag on for much longer than it should've. The final level, as I mentioned, is much shorter than the others, and as such feels rushed/unfinished. It's not a bad level, but it certainly would've been nice if this was finished. Overall it's a great wad, and what's here is mostly very polished, so I would recommend it to Hexen fans.
Pretty enjoyable map, besides volume of background music. I'm just turned it off and stalk through map in silence, hunting on enemies that waited for me behind each corner. For vanilla-compatible map its very big and complex in structure. Map brings a good survival challenge for player by lack of medikits, forcing to play carefully and without haste.
I remember that i seen boxes with rockets, but not the Rockerlauncher itself. Its strange, but not breaks gameplay.
Overall, its a good example of vanilla gameplay and design.