Welcome back. Today we’re taking a second look at Depth, and trying to figure out why exactly I didn’t like this game. Could be anything: design flaws, me being terrible, other players being terrible, etc. So let’s dive right in.
So, my first observation is that sharks are a lot easier to play than divers. No matter how upgraded you are, or how late in the game it is, your strategy never wavers: pick off stragglers, attack the main group with your shark buddy, heal as needed. Upgrades make specific parts of this pattern easier, but it’s the same general idea. The most variety you’ll get is the different kinds of shark, some being better at quickly returning to the fray, others being better at not dying once they’re there.
Now, look at what divers have to learn. First off, the weapons. Even if I lump together everything with remotely similar characteristics, there’s still 5 weapons to choose from if you count the bangstick and sea mine. Second, there is resource management in playing a diver. You need to track your ammo, your supply of consumables, and your money. The money becomes something you need to seriously pay attention to over the course of the game, and decide whether scavenging away from your teammates is worth the risk. The only reason to split up from your shark buddy, meanwhile, is so you can attack from opposite directions, which is worth the risk 9 times out of 10.
Next is consumables and other gear. Some will float exactly where you place them, others need flat surfaces to rest upon, some will slowly fall to the sea floor, and each has its own effective lifetime. You also need to know where to place them such that you get as much advance warning as possible without leaving them so far away that sharks can easily destroy them.
And now the hardest part: proper coordination with your teammates. Ideally, you need to work together such that you have complementary weapons, weapon mods, consumables, and placement around S.T.E.V.E. That is a lot to ask of players, much less four that were randomly tossed into the same lobby. And it shows, as everyone more or less does their own thing. Sometimes it works fine: Everyone’s playstyles gel together is a way such that all the bases are covered, and you can do a number on the attacking sharks. The rest of the time, you’re missing a major component of the defense and you get destroyed.
The game just doesn’t do enough to encourage the right behavior. Players get points for detecting, injuring and applying debuffs to sharks, but it doesn’t compare to the points granted for killing one outright. So instead of being happy that their dual pistols with tranquilizer rounds slowed down the enemy Great White long enough for the team’s heavy hitter to land a harpoon, they’ll just think “Gee, that harpoon guy is doing way better than me… I’ll get a harpoon too!” Kind of like how everyone on Call of Duty wants to snipe until they get steamrolled by the more balanced team. Proper shark technique is just instinctive: “My friend is attacking, I should attack too”,”The sub is in the open. Charge!”,”That diver is alone, attack him first!” Yes, you only get one buddy, but it’s much easier to work together that way.
Frankly, playing as a diver isn’t fun as fun as the other side. You are completely dependent on the sharks not knowing what they’re doing to make any measure of progress. You’re also quite reliant on your teammates being the opposite, as 1 good player is not going to carry a team for the divers, but I’ve seen plenty of games where 1 good shark and 1 mediocre shark easily win. I know, I’ve been the mediocre shark.
Also, Makos and Threshers are still fucking impossible to hit. Fuck Makos and Threshers and everyone who plays them, you lag-dancing motherfuckers.