Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 1 - Gorgon Pass

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Part 1 - Gorgon Pass
(Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
When playing a Hunter, in the early game let Katarina tank while Van Helsing shoots. Once you have a good amount of "HP per Hit" enchantments and have collected skills and auras that heal Van Helsing (generally around the time you clear the main map of Croakwood), you can tank instead. Until then, examine your map for fallback positions so that you can kite enemies if they overwhelm Katarina. And give her the best gear even at the very start (e.g., Van Helsing's starting armour).

Gorgon's Pass is generally an easy map even on Heroic Difficulty using no potions. You can sometimes melee here with Lightning Strike with the Lethal Jolt or Shocking Strike power-ups.
  • At the first bridge, the cutscene focusses on the destruction of the bridge. If you press [ESC], the cutscene camera reverts to normal and you can watch Van Helsing (harmlessly) flung back by the shockwave of the explosion.
  • To get the "What's in the Bag" achievement of looting 20+ items from the Domovoi, use your power-ups to slow it or stop it. A power-up level 3 Shocking Strike can stop it for 6 seconds, for example. Leading up to the domovoi, keep your Rage at maximum. Also, be careful not to move too far north because you may get the attention of the bosses there.
  • The bosses to the north just before the bridge can pull Van Helsing to them and briefly stun him. To avoid this, try to keep moving and let Katarina draw them away.
    • In earlier versions of the game, Van Helsing could go to the other side of the river and shoot them because they couldn't find their way across the river. This exploit is no longer available in more recent versions.
    • Clear the area beyond the bridge first and start shooting from that side. Use the cover, the bridge, and the river to try to keep some sort of impassable barrier between them and Van Helsing so that they cannot grab and drag him.
    • Keep Katarina on ranged attack as that tends to draw at least some of them away. If she is cornered, switch her to ghost until she repositions by floating closer to Van Helsing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - General Tips

This post has general tips and tricks for The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing played on the PC at Heroic Difficulty. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

General Information

  • Throughout the game, you can skip cutscenes by pressing ESC. Some cutscenes move Van Helsing and Lady Katarina. Pressing ESC will abort this, so you may see things you wouldn't otherwise.
  • You can also skip dialogues by pressing ESC. You will jump to either a decision point in the dialogue or the end of the dialogue. Enable the all messages option to see a log of the dialogue (even the lines you skipped by pressing ESC) in the lower left corner of the screen.
Scenario Mode
  • Scenario Mode can let you access services pretty much anywhere during Story Mode. Simply exit back to the main menu, then choose your character from the roster and choose Play > Single Player > Scenario. When you are done in the Scenario Mode headquarters, exit back to the main menu and Resume the Story Mode game.
    • This also means that even before starting Story Mode, a character an enter Scenario Mode and access the storage there, to pick up items left for them by other characters you have played.
    • When you enter/leave the Scenario Mode HQ, your current character state is transferred. So, theoretically if you were in trouble in combat, you could exit the game, enter Scenario Mode, wait to heal and buy supplies, then return to Story Mode.
  • You can shoot off-screen (and enemies off-screen can shoot at you). There are two ways to do this:
    • Target one creature and keep the attack button pressed down, but do NOT hold Van Helsing's position. When you finally lose track of the target, the health information will disappear from the top of the screen.
    • If you don't know exactly where the enemies are, you can fire exploratory shots. Listen for the sound FX of a shot hitting a creature (or just wait for them to converge on your location).
  • You can lead clumps of enemies away, then teleport back to base and make a long walk to attack them from another direction if you are having trouble evading or if you are getting hemmed in.
  • If your Attack Rate becomes too high, your default attack might fire while your special attack is on cooldown.
    • For example, at an Attack Rate of 2.00 (as reported by Detailed Info), you will start to see the default Shoot skill in between Icicle Shot if you just hold down the attack button. At an Attack Rate of 2.08, Shoot can be as much as every other shot fired by Van Helsing if you are using Poisoned Shot and just holding down the attack button.
    • This results in a reduction in damage and special effect output.
    • Generally it is quite hard to get this Attack Rate, but possible with a combination of Lady Katarina skills, Perks, and equipment.
  • Pay attention to which weapon enchantments apply to both weapons, such as Critical Hit Chance and some damage bonuses. Watch for enchantments that cannot be duplicated with Essences, such as Attack Rate.
  • Treasure chests drop loot based on Van Helsing's current level, so if you delay opening them until you have cleared all available enemies to maximize Van Helsing's level, you will get slightly better loot. This optimization is, in the long run, rather minimal however, unless you have modded the drop rates to get better items. Even then, you will likely sell most of your drops anyway.
  • Don't worry about Magic Find to get epic gear since the base chance is around 0.2% according to the .CFG files.
    • Even on Heroic and +1,000 Luck, the chances of seeing epic gear is minimal. Also, there is no epic gear until around level 6.
    • Instead, focus on Essences to make any gear useful by choosing the enchantments you want.
  • Epic Items often have requirements to unlock effects, such as killing creatures or Mana use.
    • You do not have to use the item, you only have to wield it. e.g., If you are wielding a sword that requires a certain amount of Mana to be used, you can cast spells to fulfill that requirement.
    • A good place to find concentrated amounts of easy-to-kill enemies is in the Orichalcum Mine, near the Arachnid Leviathan. If you do not kill the leviathan, there are spawn points that generate Bloated Gargantulas indefinitely.
  • When you break down Essences, the game engine tries to give you the same type of Essence. Therefore, you can duplicate Essences you have instead of trying to buy the components to make one from scratch.
    • E.g., Instead of trying to craft another Absorbent Essence, upgrade it with other Essences, then break it down to get two Absorbent Essences.
  • Use Mercurial Essences for enhancement since they are the cheapest to buy.

Lady Katarina
  • Lady Katarina (but not her mirror doubles) will try to keep her distance when on Ranged attack mode and kite enemies (keep her distance while occasionally shooting at them) if she is taking hits. This also means you can sometimes split a horde or keep your distance to avoid being targeted and safely shoot them. Her tactical retreats are not reliable, however, so watch her health.
  • The range at which Lady Katarina will engage is quite short. If you are trading ranged fire with enemies, she may hover around idly instead of closing for melee. Switch her to ranged combat and/or move closer to the enemy.
  • Manage her by switching her to her non-attackable ghost mode if she is low on health. Letting her recover health this way is faster than letting her fall in combat and waiting for her to "respawn".
    • Also, she won't always run from special attacks and area effects (like damage-aura totems), so if a boss is about to use a powerful attack on her or if she is in a damaging field effect, switch her to ghost mode, which will also encourage her to move toward you.
  • Once Van Helsing can tank for Lady Katarina (and she can support him with her abilities to restore a percentage of health and mana per hit), you can respec her to have more attack and healing support skills and de-emphasize her own defenses. Pull her out of trouble by switching her to Ghost Mode and give her HP Regeneration gear or Essences.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Cheats

This post will outline how to do various simple cheats with The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, by manipulating the save game directories. For a list of all our Van Helsing posts, click here.

Find The Save Games
You first need to find your save games. Start by creating a character, then exiting the game. For example, if your character's name is "Ritter", the game will save it on your computer as Ritter.sav.

Now, do a search on your computer for the savegame -- in this particular case, we would search for the file "Ritter.sav". There should be two locations -- one primary location and one backup location. They look something like this:

C:\Users\ ... \Documents\NeocoreGames\Van Helsing\SaveGame\...
C:\ProgramData\Steam\ ... \storage\save

The game will automatically restore data into the Documents folder (even if you erase all data there) from the Steam folder, so we also need to manage the save\ folder in the Steam folder.

In C:\ProgramData\Steam\ ... \storage\save\common\ there are two files: "achievements.sav" and "storage.sav". These are files common to your computer profile. If you want to reset your achievements or clear your shared character storage, erase the files here.
Do NOT put either of these files in the \save\ directory because the game tries to read .sav files as character files. If you do, the game will crash before it reaches the main menu.

Backing Up and Restoring Save Games
To back up your current game state, make a copy of the save\ folder in C:\ProgramData\Steam\ ... \storage\ .
If you need to restore from backup, you need to first delete these two directories:

C:\Users\ ... \Documents\NeocoreGames\Van Helsing\SaveGame\...
C:\ProgramData\Steam\ ... \storage\save

Then, restore from backup in the in C:\ProgramData\Steam\ ... \storage\ directory. When you start the game, it will automatically restore data from this directory into the C:\Users\ ... \Documents\NeocoreGames\Van Helsing\ directory, rebuilding the entire folder tree if necessary.

If you simply delete data from the C:\Users\ ... \Documents\NeocoreGames\Van Helsing\ folder or try to overwrite it, it will restore data from C:\ProgramData\Steam\ ... \storage\save, overwriting your changes.
If you do not delete data from the C:\Users\ ... \Documents\NeocoreGames\Van Helsing\ folder, the game will read from that directory first and ignore any changes in the C:\ProgramData\Steam\ ... \storage\ directory.

Now that we know how to restore from a backup file, we can do some cheats.

Roll back your game
Van Helsing periodically saves your progress, so you cannot normally undo your progress to, for example, choose events and dialogues (like the wisp encounters) differently. Using the process described above, you can.
You really only need to restore the character .sav file, especially if you don't want to undo any progress made toward your achievements.

Redo an area / Farm an area for loot
Items in your storage chest in Markovna are recorded in the storage.sav file. Since you only need to restore the character .sav file to undo your single player story progress, you can do that to re-play areas several times. Before restoring your game, put items in the shared storage chest and do not overwrite the storage.sav file when you restore the character to a previous backed up version.
  • In this way, you can get multiple copies of unique non-quest items (quest items cannot be dropped or put in the chest), such as Excalibur. You can also farm an area for loot, or get a different random item reward.
  • You can duplicate epic items, but only one copy can be in use by either Katarina and Van Helsing. Even if you have multiple copies of an epic ring, for example, only one can be used.
  • Note that you can farm certain locations, like the Werewolf Lair in Croakwood, which will reset each time you load a game until you successfully defeat the boss and talk to it.
Clone Gear
There are two ways to clone gear:
  • Clone from character - Put items in shared storage, then restore the character .sav file.
  • Clone from storage - Take items from shared storage, then restore the storage.sav file. 
Simply making a copy of the character .sav file and putting that character's gear in storage does not work as there is some kind of link to the original .sav file.
Get more money / "Free" respec
By re-doing an area several times, you can accumulate money quite quickly and re-spec your character at the gypsies in Croakwood.
Another way to quickly get money is to load up your shared storage, then make sure you have a copy of the storage.sav file. Then, have your character take everything out of the chest and sell it. Exit the game and restore the storage.sav file to get all your gear back.

Modding Files
.CFG files in ..\SteamApps\common\The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing\Cfg\ control some aspects of the game. They are plain text files that can be edited. One of the files controls loot drops.

Loot drop rates are controlled by the "None" and "Chance" values. The basic chance before modifiers for game difficulty and Magic Find for an item to drop is (that item's Chance value) / (sum of all None and Chance values for the entry). Therefore, by changing the "None" entry to 0, you can force drops to occur.

Something you can try is to change the "gambler" entries to drop epic items with more frequency. This way, you can see what epic items (uniques and set items) are available at Van Helsing's current level. Once his level advances, lower-level epic items will no longer be available, so if you want to come back for an item later, be sure to make a copy of your save game whenever Van Helsing levels up. Note that epic items first show up around level 6.
Also, when you buy an epic item from the gambler (e.g., in the Scenario mode HQ), it's sell-back value is almost always higher than the price you paid at lower levels (up to around level 8). This is therefore an easy way to generate gold without grinding or inflating Van Helsing's level.

Another tweak to try is to change all "trophy", "champion", and "epic" entries in the loot drop tables so that "None=0" and the chance for gold is also zero. This forces item drops, and you have a much higher chance of seeing rares and the occasional epics, as a reward for killing a powerful mini-boss level creature.