Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 6 - Dreadworks and Secret Lair

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 6 - Dreadworks and Secret Lair
(Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
Shortly after you enter the Dreadworks, Van Helsing will hit level 14, which opens up the third tier of skills. These generally cost a lot of Mana, so be careful about relying too much on them unless you want to drink Mana Potions like water. For our playthroughs, we aimed to use no potions and to this point have not used a single potion. Our build and play strategy continued to focus on recovering Health. In the worst case, we ran from combat, knowing that Van Helsing's health would be fully recovered in a few seconds via strong HP Regeneration. And instead of Armour and Resistance, we focussed on Dodge, which stops all incoming damage if successful; and can defend against bleeding and damaging area effects. Essences help when gear had Essence Capacity, but we hadn't yet bought Capacitative Essences to greatly expand the usage of Essences.

Mobs are bigger than before, and in some cases a lot bigger (such as Rat Thing mobs in the sewers of the Secret Lair). A single level of Embracing Flames and Ice Blast are good for all builds as the powerups either give you a high damage reduction (10% to 30%) or immobilize enemies (2-6 seconds), and we can still use them to activate healing via the Hidden Reserves aura.
  • Starting in the Dreadworks, there are elevators and upper/lower levels on the map. If the enemy is close enough but on a higher level, you can use Ice Blast or Embracing Flames. These area effect blasts ignore how high or low the target. If the enemy is in the radius on the (x,y) plane, they will be affected.
After the Orichalcum Mine, you are hopefully good at kiting and keeping your distance, because (on Heroic Difficulty) there are a lot of sudden-death situations in the Dreadworks, especially if you try to melee. Bombs and mines start to appear a lot in the game, as do some rather tough mobs. Shooters start to scatter if you hit them with anything, so melee can be very frustrating. It is recommended that you respec to an Occult Hunter ranged build:
  • Switch Explosive Shot for Poisoned Shot.
  • Improving Icicle Shot or Poisoned Shot will also increase their Mana Cost, leading to possible Mana shortages. Blood for Mana in place of Hidden Reserves may be an option, but a potentially tricky one because you will then have to rely on Arcane Healing for emergency healing.
  • Rage-healing via the Hidden Reserves Aura is still viable since you can activate Power-Ups on Ranged attacks at range (and a level-3 Power-Up with Poisoned Shot can easily cost about 20 Rage for over 40% healing).
  • Ghastly Shape (the special trick to dash through enemies that you learnt after the Drill Worm) will come in handy until you can train yourself to kite more effectively away from enemies that can suddenly pull you in, but is not necessary.
  • The Ethereal Embodiment trick (a few seconds of invulnerability) is probably better than Ghastly Shape for situations where you are pulled into vast damage or just need to get out.
Notes on Enemies
  • Dreadknecht Grenadiers:
    • These throw a lot of blinking, beeping mines that can be hard to shoot out. They aren't hard to deal with unless you have no room to move.
    • Back off and try to locate and kill the Grenadier first. The problem is sometimes you are too busy moving and shooting to pick out the correct one, and carefully target it amongst the other soldiers.
  • Strongmen (and MouthBeasts):
    • Basically Lesovik Shamblers with chains. They each get to use their chains just once, but once can be enough. Chains stun you briefly after you are drawn in, during which time various things can occur:
      • If there are several Strongmen, they might all use their slam attack at once and flatten Van Helsing before you can activate any healing against the overwhelming combined damage.
      • If there are Grenadier mines in between, just getting dragged past or near mines may set them off before the stun wears off.
    • Generally you can still keep the Strongmen on screen without being in range of their chains. If you do get drawn in, dash out immediately or hit everyone with Ice Blast with the immobilizing powerup.
  • Batrachiantaur (immobile grenade launchers)
    • Depending on your health total, they can one-shot you. If you are in melee, they do only about half damage.
    • Running sideways instead of directly away from their grenades seems to work better. They fire infrequently, so watch for the attack animation. They will track you before firing if you are moving, but the grenade once fired won't follow, so with some practice you can watch for them to fire and start running.
    • Since they require attention to handle, try to pull their supporting troops away and deal with them first.
    • If you are having trouble approaching, try dashing in with Ghastly Shape, but beware if you haven't already cleared the area of minions since you could end up pulling more enemies.
At the very start of the Dreadworks, head south to activate the store, and also to give you room to back off from the mob to the north if you have to.

Answering "Death" gets you an Essence that adds +5 damage for 15 Essence Capacity, which is a 1:3 damage ratio instead of 1:7 from other non-Epic essences. Also, the effect applies to wherever the Essence is imbued.
In the mid to late game when you need a lot of points in defenses to make a tangible difference, use this Essence on Armour to boost damage. Combined with an area effect attack and a Heath Drain item (+x% damage to Health), it gives you a combination of damage output and additional healing that is generally better than a couple percentage points on Defense, Dodge, or Resistances.

Main Square
The Main Square is tight with enemies all around. If you are having trouble here, lead them to the south where there is an electric fence they cannot pass. Teleport back to base, then using the base exit, run back to the fence on the other side and shoot at them. Only the teleporting rat champions will be able to reach you.

A cheesier way to thin out this area is to go to the other side of the electric fence (stair side). Go down the stairs and around to the left. You will be on a path below the Main Square. You cannot shoot the enemies above, but you can still hit them with spells because most spells ignore vertical distance. Once you have the attention of a clump of enemies, go back to the electric fence and safely shoot them because they can't reach you.

Secret Lair
The first defense of the secret lair has a clump of slug-like creatures to the south. Mouthbeasts are nearby and can pull Van Helsing in. Circle around and approach them from the direction of the Mouthbeasts instead.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 5 - Orichalcum Mine and Hauling Station

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 5 - Orichalcum Mine and Hauling Station
(Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
Starting with the Orichalcum Mine, combat shifts away from melee toward ranged because there are dangerous melee or close-range situations that can be suddenly lethal or difficult to escape. Watch for these and keep your distance when possible. Your basic level 1 shooting skill does not have to be enhanced with powerups or by choosing a higher-tier shooting skill, but obviously that can speed things up.
  • Shrieking Gargantula: These shoot arcing bolts that inflict a brief but stacking vulnerability.
    • They are not smart enough to keep their distance, but they are placed behind a lot of cannon fodder on the map.
    • If you have a lot of vulnerabilities on you, your health can suddenly drain very quickly. If you have strong HP Regeneration, it is probably best to just run for it and avoid combat for a while, until your Health recovers and possibly until the vulnerability statuses clear.
  • Mini-boss spiders
    • These can be hard to spot because they aren't always the biggest, and can blend in with the rest of the swarm. Especially dangerous if you are unaware of them and you have a large stack of vulnerability.
  • Webspinner Spiders: These shoot a beam of webbing that sticks to you and slows you down.
    • They are not dangerous on their own, but the map placement tends to have them with a LARGE swarm of other monsters, plus Shrieking spiders.
    • They typically get close enough to spin, then stand still, so you can just shoot back.
    • If you see them or are hit by a couple, start retreating before you pull too many other opponents. Shoot them instead of closing for melee because a horde of monsters is likely right behind them and if you don't clear them quickly enough you'll have a hard time getting clear if you need to retreat.
    • They are particularly dangerous when there are stalactite drops (caused by creatures with the Tremor special ability) because you might not clear the danger zone quickly enough, and a stalactite can be a one-hit-kill depending on your Health total.
  • Kikimores: These drider lookalikes can cause Tremors to drop stalactites.
    • Stalactite drops will hurt enemies as well, and generally kill anything it falls on, including Van Helsing.
    • There is generally a lot of time to run out of the danger zone, unless you are webbed and too slow, or swarmed and surrounded with no way to push out. For this reason, it is generally safer to retreat and draw them out until you are clear of the main swarm and in no danger of being stuck.
    • The Lightning spell generally has enough range that you can use the power-up to paralyze them, buying you time to kill them before they drop cause Tremors. Several Kikimores causing Tremors can be trouble, especially if you also pulled webbing spiders that slow your ability to get out.
Once you are used to these hazards, the Orichalcum Mine is actually an easy area. There is just one boss on this map: the Arachnid Leviathan.
  • The cheesy way to kill it is to stand slightly behind the lamp to the south. Beyond a certain range, the Leviathan won't spit even though the poison bolt can follow you farther than this range. Your guns can shoot farther than that, so just shoot it to death. Periodically you will have to deal with the spiders erupting from the ground.
  • If you run a ring around the Leviathan, you will draw the larger spiders that descend from the ceiling. Clear them first, then if you like you can melee the boss. It will no longer spit but will make a slam attack that is easily evaded by running out of the radius before it hits.
  • It is recommended that you DO NOT kill the Arachnid Leviathan. There are spawn points for endless swarms of not-very-dangerous small spiders. These can be used to farm potions, or activate dormant powers on epic items. If you kill the Arachnid Leviathan, these spawn points will cease.
    • Remember that for power-up use to unlock epic item powers, you do not need a target for the power-up use, so you can accumulate Rage however you like first.
    • To trigger the Bloated Gargantula spawns, try shooting the Arachnid Leviathan a couple of times, then backing off out of range of its spit, but not too far.
Hauling Station (and Drill Worm)
Before you get to the Hauling Station, getting 1 level of Bash and the Crushing Blow power-up is advisable, even if only to get past this stage because the boss here is hard to cheese and will otherwise take forever. It can have over 7,000 Health and strong resistances: You will die of boredom if attrition from the spiders don't kill Van Helsing with frustration first.

The objective is to hit the boss with level 3 Crushing Blow power-ups until you can finish it off. As soon as it dies, all spiders vanish. The huge swarms of spiders chasing you are the main problem. You need to kill some to get your Rage up, but get clear of the rest so you don't get killed by the stacks of vulnerability from the spitters.
The Drill Worm periodically drills, sending out Tremors that in turn drop stalactites. This is actually helpful because the Worm drops several, always at Van Helsing's current location but with a short time delay before the stalactites actually drop. If you run Van Helsing into or past mobs of spiders, they get squashed, saving you the trouble of having to kill them, and releasing Van Helsing from any slowing webs as well. You just need Van Helsing to survive.
  • Look for web spiders first, then shooting spiders. Start running away when you have too many vulnerability stacks or once you have enough Rage and are ready to hit the Drill Worm. Try not to get surrounded because you will have to avoid stalactite drops.
  • Once the stalactites start dropping, head back to the boss. The spiders behind you will mostly be crushed by the stalactites, leaving you relatively free to land a few blows before repeating this process.
    • If you get there early enough while the worm is still drilling, you can get in hits without the risk of getting slammed by the worm.
After the Hauling Station, you enter the next chapter of the game, which is the city of Borgova. You will not have access to the regular conveniences of storage, respec, and teleporting to previous places until you find the Secret Lair in Borgova (or unless you want to use Scenario Mode).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 4 - Gallows Bog

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 4 - Gallows Bog
(Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
Gallows Bog is still melee intensive, and the enemy mobs are much larger. Kiting is dangerous to do without having already cleared areas you can retreat to, as you can end up pulling a huge swarm. The Lesovik Shamblers are generally too dangerous/tedious to melee, so kite them.
  • If you don't have much room to run, start running early and circle around your pursuers. The AI seems to not be able to quickly recalculate a switch from moving to attacking so this is actually a moderately safe thing to do.
    • Also, some might break off to chase Katarina, who is better on Ranged in this tactic to try to break up the mob. Or, if her health is high, let her tank briefly while you shoot at range (preferably with a HP per hit weapon) or take out stragglers.
    • Obviously, this works better if you still have health enough to wait for your healing trick cooldown, or if you have HP Regeneration items.
  • Leshovik Shamblers hit an area right in front of them. When they start their big swing, you can just click behind them to run around and to safety. In this way, you can handle them without needing to retreat too far if you are tight on space.
Things are pretty obvious on this map except:
  • Frog statues you can rotate: Face them at the big four-armed frog statue to summon two bosses. You can snipe one boss at a time to draw it away and fight it solo.
  • You have to fight four bosses to get four skeletal hands to feed the Gluttonous statue.
    • There are more hands later in the game, in a temporary Ink map. If you forget to use those skeletal hands there, you can come back to the statue here.
  • Look for the dead goat by the river. You must have talked to the drunk in Markovna for the goat to be searchable.
  • The bombs with red wires do not explode. Grab only those for the Explosives Expert achievement. You can zoom in to your current cursor location with "N".
  • Crates: These can be really hard to spot, but don't contain good loot anyway.
Essence of Electricity
The soldier minions protecting the Essence of Electricity can be troublesome as it's a lot of them shooting at you all at once and with good range. Keep them clumped so you know where they all are, and retreat to heal. Or, you can wade right in, if you have a proper build:

Huge Vila Flock
There is a very large flock of vilas just to the west of the bridge to the north side of the river. If you are having trouble because of the massed electric shocks, try running in a zig-zag pattern. That is, instead of fleeing directly away from the flock, run diagonally or sideways, forcing them to turn. High HP Regeneration really helps here. Otherwise, if you are relying on HP per hit to recover, do hit and run. If you run far enough, some of the flock can get left behind and sometimes stop following.

Final Bosses
The bosses protecting the Ink Gate to the next level are pretty easy to defeat as there is a lot of room to move. The main problem is not having minions to kill to recover your Rage -- One reason why I tried not to rely on Bash and Crushing Blow to quickly tear down Health from a boss.
  • The Alchemist can heal the others, so kill him first.
  • Try to keep the Judge in view because his grenade launcher does a lot of damage. Instead of running out of the blast radius, run around to his flank or rear before shooting at the Alchemist. This way, the Judge has to turn, which takes a long time -- this is safer than trying to run away from grenades.
  • The wolf that regenerates quickly will flee when its health is low. At that point, shooting it is easier. Remember you can shoot off-screen by simply holding down the attack button even when it has run off screen. As long as you still have it targeted, its health bar will be displayed.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 3 - Croakwood

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 3 - Croakwood
(Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
With kiting and careful strategy, you can actually clear the Croakwood overland map without having spent a single Attribute or Skill point since the start of the game.

There are enemy clumps in Croakwood. The wolf packs are not too dangerous, but the veteran and boss packs can be if you do not have any where to retreat or if you can't split them up. Katarina should tank in the early game until you can stack healing skills and auras on Van Helsing. Generally if you run far enough, enemies will eventually fall away far enough to stop pursuing.

Giant Footprints and Wolf/Soldier Skirmish
As you approach the western path up to the hill with the giant's footprints (western side of the map), you will trigger a werewolf/soldier skirmish. However, if you approach the werewolves very slowly from the south, you can snipe them and pull a few to you at a time. You can in that way clear all the wolves, then proceed up the hill to clear the soldiers -- instead of letting them kill each other.
  • If you click on the well and the sword before getting the prerequisite items, you get different banter from Katarina and Van Helsing at all stages.
After securing the field to the northwest, you can go for Excalibur by first getting an old coin (off a Lesovik Methuselah), dropping it in a well, and then using the oil to draw the sword that is on a hill just to the left of the valley with the well.
    At the well, as soon as you click on it to drop the coin, run out of the narrow valley before you are swarmed and possibly trapped by a bone wall.
    • You can safely unlock some of Excalibur's bonuses by grinding in the Werewolf Cave, which resets every time you exit Story Mode and return to it -- unless you have completed the entire sequence and rescued the mayor, in which case the Cave is marked as done and will not reset.
    Since Excalibur is a guaranteed drop, you can edit its stats in cfg\Artifacts.cfg and give yourself an obscene attribute bonus for "god mode".
    If you have trouble with the enemies in Croakwood, then aim first to secure the scarecrow in the field to the north east -- Just run there, avoiding enemies, if you really have to. All enemies on this map turn away from this wheat field (even though Katarina only mentions the wolves disliking the scarecrow), so you can retreat Van Helsing into the field and quite safely shoot at enemies. In this way you can so clear all the large packs and large boss packs.

    The Ink location here is all but impossible to do without area effect attacks to handle the near-continuous raven spawns.

    There are two possible non-violent solutions for the Wisp which result in unique jewelry drops. Katarina chooses the ring ("Hearthfire"; +5 Fire Damage), but if Van Helsing says "Begone...", he can choose between the ring or an amulet ("Lifespark"; HP regeneration). Fighting the Wisp typically gives only a few common essences that you could easily buy if you sold either of the uniques.
    • Neither unique has great utility beyond the next few character levels, but the ring is more interesting for the bonus skill level, which is a very rare enchantment. The amulet, however, is better if you kite a lot, or for Katarina because in the midst of combat you can switch her to an invulnerable ghost mode to heal.
    • Each non-violent solution is a separate count toward the Riddle Me Wisp achievement. If you have one character choose the ring and another choose the amulet, this advances the achievement by +2 out of 4 required answers.
    Werewolf Lair
    • If you are farming this area for loot, you can clear the initial wolves, then run around the boss and his entourage to the chest near the unconscious mayor. Open it and continue running. If Katarina is in ghost mode, she will pick up all the items (assuming you set her Behavior to do so), which invariably drops a rare item.
      • There is also a crate behind the meat rack nearest to the mayor.
    • In phase two, the wolves endlessly spawn from the totems, so this is a fairly convenient way to rack up damage and kills to fully activate Excalibur. Very little treasure to be found, however.
    • The safest way to defeat the boss is to put Katarina on Ranged and concentrate on the wolves that the boss spawns -- and keep running from the boss area effect attacks. Shoot the boss whenever you can, switch Katarina to ghost mode if she is cornered or at low health. Eventually attrition will defeat the boss.
      • There is only a small window of opportunity to engage the boss before it uses its powerful area effect attack, so unless you are playing on a low difficulty level and can go toe-to-toe with him, it is best to use ranged attacks on the boss once you have cleared the summoned wolves.
        • Bash and Crushing Blow is of course an excellent way to cut down the boss's health by 30% with each blow quickly, but you don't really need it until the Drill Worm boss later in the game. I recommend you trim wherever you can and take skills that will globally be useful, such as the healing auras.
      • If you melee the boss, the summoned wolves might surround Van Helsing and block his ability to run away from the area effect slam.

    Friday, November 1, 2013

    The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing - Walkthrough - part 2 - Markovna

    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 2 - Markovna
    (Hunter, Heroic Difficulty)
    When Van Helsing first enters Markova, completing the task to talk to the guard should bring Van Helsing up to level 4. This qualifies him for second tier skills. Changing already allocated attribute and skill points isn't available until Croakwood is mostly cleared, but if you have the Scenario Mode DLC you can go to that HQ, sell some items for the required gold, and respec there.
    • Kill a chicken with a sword for the achievement. Only one character needs to do this since Achievements are common to your profile rather than your individual characters.
    • Catch a white chicken. You can't actually attack it, but if you get close enough and swing your sword at it, it will vanish and drop an egg.
    • Read the notice board outside the church.
    • Listen at the door of the house to the far east.
    • Talk to the man seated near the statue on the hill to the east.
      • The three gems for the statue are in the Croakwood roma/gypsy camp, the Markovna Ink Well, and Gallows Bog.
    • Repeatedly click on the two-headed cow and Nutty Stefan.
    • After the curse is lifted from the Alchemist, he offers a quest to get something from the well.
    Initial Builds
    It's still the early game, so experiment a bit (then restore an earlier save) with your skills, talents, and auras. Croakwood also offers you the chance to respec your character, so this is a good time to figure out what you want to do.
    • For all builds, prioritize HP-per-hit and HP Regeneration items and Essences. Try to get a bit of Mana Regeneration as well and you can probably swap Icicle Shot for the basic Shoot. The Diamond Essence (% damage taken is converted to Mana) works well in the mid-game if upgraded to 20% or so spread over a couple of items.
    • It is important to quickly get some sort of area-effect attack quickly as mobs can be quite large.
    • For all builds, get Lightning with Thunderstruck.
      • The cooldown is less than 6 seconds, which is the maximum duration of paralysis with Thunderstruck.
      • The range and area it covers is basically to the edge of the screen. Just retreating will generally cause enemies to converge into a convenient column for you to zap all at once.
      • Leave it at level 1 to reduce Mana cost.
    • Don't worry too much about Magic Find. The chances of getting an epic are extremely slim.
      • If you do get 2-3 epics, the game can get too easy on Heroic. In many ways, you really don't want random epics.
      • Instead, focus on Essences. If you want an easier start through to Borgova, farm the Werewolf Lair and load up on Capacitative Essences and respec your attributes to unlock very good perks. Otherwise, focus on HP Regeneration and HP per hit, then Dodge.
      • I recommend modding your C:\Program Files (x86)\The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing\Cfg\Artifact\loottypes.cfg file to make stores always sell rares. This saves some reloading to get a decent item to buy. Also tweak the Essence chances so you get more Capacitatives showing up. Finally, change the gambler to sell only epics. This way if you get an epic you can't use (e.g., a Thaumaturgist mask while playing a Hunter), you can buy another epic to replace it and that way won't feel so frustrated/cheated.
    Blacksmith / Essence of Electricity
    You can keep it and get an Electrical Essence, which is probably better overall since you can slowly upgrade it and split it to get even more, although the cost to do so is great (Capacitative Essences required) and it is really only of use if you are focussing on lightning spells and Spellpower.
    If you give it away, you get the unique Scientist's Lightning Sword, which doesn't have the same potential.

    BunnySlayer / Irrational Essence
    After the mayor is rescued, the Blacksmith the blacksmith offers two quests: To get an electrical essence, and the use of his forge for 100 gold. Keep the blade you make and talk to Nutty Stefan about it. He offers either a BunnySlayer blade or an Irrational Essence. You can have both if you do an inventory duplication cheat.
    • Neither are really a great reward so don't agonize over your choice. The Irrational Essence bonuses can be gotten from other Essences you can create with non-Epic Essences. Since the Irrational Essence is Epic level, only other Epic Essences, such as Capacitive Essences (which cost over 16,000 gold) can upgrade it.
    • The BunnySlayer is an inferior sword that will come in handy later in one particular instance. It is necessary for a particular achievement.
    Night Defense
    After the mayor is rescued, you can receive a quest from the mayor to defend the town at night. From that night-time Markovna map, if you exit to the menu, when Van Helsing returns you will have to start all over again.
    • You can therefore farm this map (which is very dense with enemies and elite enemies) for experience points and loot. There is no merchant on the map, but you can exit the game and use the merchants in Scenario Mode.
      • Prior to receiving this quest, the only other place you can farm is the Werewolf Cave in Croakwood.
    • By farming for gold, you can eventually collect enough Capacitive Essences when they show up with the merchants. Or, you could shortcut the process by using an inventory item duplication cheat.
    • Even with gear loaded up with Essences, the clumps of minibosses encountered on the maps can still be troublesome, so this is not as game-breaking an exploit as it seems. However, overall the game is quite easy even on Heroic difficulty.