Introduction | What's New? | Commanders | Captains | A.I. | Strategy Tips
Devolution isn't a unit pack or an expansion. It's not about adding units to the game. It's about adding new strategies you won't get in other mods - and it's about giving players totally different experiences if they're playing as Arm or if they're playing as Core.
In fact, Devolution actually has fewer units than vanilla Total Annihilation. Entire tech trees have been cut out of the game. No Vehicle Plant or Submarines for Arm. No Kbot Lab or Hovercraft for Core. No more Seaplanes.
Not exactly a selling point, right? Well give it a try - you'll be surprised at how little you miss. How will you rush without Flashes? You'll quickly find that Peewees fill the same role. Did you ever really need Vipers and Gaat Guns? Fusions and Cloakable Fusions? Turns out a huge chunk of vanilla TA's units are redundant or useless anyway.
Without all the filler, Devolution has room to add units and features that are actually unique. Captains that level up as they get kills. Upgrade modules. Flying buildings. Shields. Teleporters.
There are a bunch of new units in Devolution - including the Captains (which you can find out more about below), the Dreadnought (Arm Super-Hovercraft), Poseidon (Core Super-Sub), Crawler (Arm Artillery Kbot), and many more.
More important than the new units are how old units have been changed with new abilities. As of Devolution 6.0, every Core structure on land can cloak - and every Arm structure has a built-in shield that absorbs damage and recharges. Core's laser towers have a charge-up ability as well, allowing them to fire extremely quickly until their energy runs out. Nearly all of Core's towers (including the LLT and Immolator) also drop into the ground when no enemy is within range, allowing them extra protection from artillery.
Spies now have the ability to shut down radar jammers and to detect and reveal enemy spies. The Warrior now carries a powerful shotgun. Below are the build pictures for a handful of the new units, but there are many others that are unique to Devolution to try out.
Get more details on the new units in Devolution in the Unit Guide section.
One of the coolest things about Total Annihilation is the Commander - and in Devolution, I wanted to make them even cooler. The challenge with balancing Commanders is if they're too powerful they throw off the game by being used offensively - and if they're too weak, they're just boring. Here's Devolution's solution:
The Command Beacon: In order to fire the D-Gun, you must build a Command Beacon and keep your Commander near it. And Commanders are the only units that can build Command Beacons - so taking on new territory means leaving your Commander vulnerable as you push forward. Once finished, the Beacon also serves as a teleportation device for the Commander. As long as your Commander is in range of a Beacon, he can instantly be teleported to any other Beacon. So if you diligently build Beacons wherever you control the map, your Commander can be teleported to exactly where you need him.
Commanders are the ultimate defense - but now, because the D-Gun won't fire in areas that you don't control, they're ineffective at offense.
Commanders also level up as they get kills in Devolution. After 20 kills, Commanders get a 50% armor boost and an upgrade to their primary weapon. After 50 kills, they get an additional primary weapon boost and a new secondary weapon. The Core Commander gets mini-Neutron rockets that deal damage at a distance to mobile units. The Arm Commander gets a close-range EMP blast that stops units in their tracks so you can easily D-Gun them.
Captains are the offensive version of Commanders, and are Devolution's tier 3 units. Many other mods put a lot of work into making very impressive units available at level 3, but only a small portion of competitive games actually make it that far. In some mods, the units themselves are actually overpriced and only show up when a player is toying with a weaker opponent. Vanilla TA's Krogoth is a good example of this - no one really builds these in a serious game.
This is not the case in Devolution. Each side has three different Captains at their disposal, and they are relatively cheap for what they do. They each cost 2,500 Metal (except for the Krogoth which costs quite a bit more), and provide quite a bang for the buck. While they are extremely powerful, they absolutely do not replace the other tech levels. This is because you can only build one at a time - meaning that in most games, both players should be able to afford one (and it is almost always strategically advantageous to build one if you can afford it), but they can't be spammed to take advantage of their relatively low cost. This puts a lot of emphasis on that single unit, and each one has a lot of personality.
Like Commanders, Captains also get veterancy upgrades as they get kills. Each one receives different bonuses, any at level 3 they get a significant boost. The Demon gets a Tactical Nuke Launcher, the Wraith gets a powerful Energy Pulse, the Nova can discharge its gun and fire many shots at the same time, the Maverick gets a chaingun, the Juggernaut gets a Nuclear Riot Cannon, and the Krogoth... well it finally turns into what you expect from a Krogoth.
In my opinion, Captains are Devolution's biggest success - guaranteeing that Tech 3 is accessible while not overshadowing the other levels. It also allows for a few units with personality - single units playing a big role in the battle.
Devolution is really meant as a multiplayer mod, but I recognize that not everyone plays online, so I put together what I think is a solid AI. Computer players do cheat a bit - they get a bit of a resource boost that the player does not get, and because they can't take advantage of Command Beacons, they also are not required to build them to power the Commander D-Gun.
For a new player, the AI could be a challenge, though it really isn't that tough - better than the Cavedog AI to be sure, but definitely not a challenge to an experienced player. When I play vs the AI, I increase the difficulty just by adding more AI opponents. Experiment - play with more and more allied computer opponents until you reach a level challenging for you.
A few strategy tips for players new to Devolution:
- Build Command Beacons: If you aren't building Command Beacons, you are really not taking advantage of your Commander. You can effectively fight off any major early attack by taking advantage of Beacons, so don't be caught without them. Don't let your Commander wander too far out of the range of a Command Beacon, as it will leave both units vulnerable - and as long as your Commander is near one Command Beacon, he can instantly be at any other one with the click of a button.
- Upgrade Your Units: In Devolution, upgrade modules significantly improve your attacking units at a relatively low cost. Players should expect to spend more time at level 1 upgrading their units before taking the jump to level 2.
- Use Captains Wisely: It is important to build Captains when you get a chance - but once you build them, be sure to protect them as long as you can so you can retain your kill count and get them upgraded. Be particularly careful around Sumos and Sharpshooters, as these units are the most dangerous for Captains to be up against.
- Take Advantage of Paralyzation: Spiders and Stunners are great units - capable of stopping your opponents in their tracks. I like to use the paralyzation units in conjunction with Captains, as it means the Captains will get all of the kills, and it will level them up quickly. But beware - certain units are immune to paralyzation, including Captains, Commanders, Dreadnoughts, and Aircraft.
- Scout Your Opponent: Don't get taken by surprise - if your opponent commits to some expensive units early on, it can be the perfect time to attack - but if you let him finish those units, you will pay the price. Be ready to bomb or raid high priority targets - Captain Gantries, Stunners, Neutrons, Big Berthas, Intimidators - and especially Silencers and Vulcans. You must build spies so that you can keep track of your opponent, but also to detect your enemies spies and protect yourself from enemy recon efforts.