Welcome to Atlas Reactor 101. Last session we talked about the basics of movement and your freelancer’s stats. This time, we’ll get into some of the essentials behind using cover and concealment to aid in keeping your freelancer alive during the match.
Good Atlas Reactor plays make extensive use of cover. Quite simply, being caught out in the open dramatically reduces your freelancer’s chances for survival. Keeping your freelancer alive is rule number one!
There are two types of cover in the game. Full cover, provided by tall walls or objects, and low cover, from short walls and barriers. In order to determine if a location you’re choosing to move your freelancer has any cover, you can simply move your mouse cursor over to that square and you should see yellow shield indicators showing you the directions from which cover is provided.
Full cover will typically negate damage altogether, but only directional damage that doesn’t have any additional splash damage feature. Zuki’s rockets can still do splash damage by exploding near full cover, if launched properly, while Blackburn’s bullets will simply bounce off of full cover, and various other freelancers lob attacks.
Partial, or low cover, will reduce damage by half. The amount of damage taken while in cover will show inside a yellow shield icon, telling you that your freelancer has received cover damage instead of full damage. The same applies if your freelancer attacks an enemy hiding behind cover; a shield icon will indicate that your attack will do cover damage. Again, splash damage can get around low cover. Should Zuki try a direct rocket shot against an opponent in low cover, she’d do less damage than if she tried to angle that shot to the side and go for splash damage instead.
Some freelancers boast attacks or skill mods that can ignore cover. Whenever an attack says that it will ignore cover this typically applies to low cover. There are also a few unique attacks, such as Nix’s ultimate ability, that can ignore all cover unconditionally, including walls. A myriad of other skills may also seem to ignore cover, even though the descriptions may not say so. Lobbing bombs or grenades, and attack skills that place traps and timed effects also ignore cover. Zuki’s sticky bombs and Titus’ dagger will still stick to an opponent freelancer even if they are behind low cover. Running through Nix’s beam trap will ignore cover, even though the effect is essentially a projectile fired from a rifle drone, because your freelancer is in the process of entering or leaving cover when triggering the trap and therefore takes the full brunt of the trap’s damage.
Adjacent or properly angled attacks can also ignore cover. If an opponent is attacking from a square directly opposite low cover that your freelancer is hiding behind, your freelancer will still take full damage. Imagine it as if the enemy freelancer is simply reaching over the low cover to punch or shoot your freelancer. If they are away from the cover that your freelancer is hiding behind, the cover will apply and the damage is reduced. In similar fashion, if your freelancer is not directly behind some cover, they will not receive the benefit of that cover. Properly angled attacks can also defeat cover. If an enemy attacks from a position with enough of an angle to get around the cover, their attack will deal full damage.
Several methods of concealment can hide a freelancer during a match. The largest, free concealment method, is fog of war, while brush and certain skills can also provide methods of concealment. Concealment provides no damage reduction whatsoever and only acts as a means for hiding your freelancer in order to move around the map undetected.
Fog of War
Maps in Atlas Reactor vary in size, so fog of war plays an integral part in hiding your freelancer from view. The farther you move your freelancer away from enemies, the more fog of war impacts your ability to move around undetected.
Every freelancer can reveal 6 squares of fog around them. Allies extend that area to reveal to you what they also see. An exception to this rule is walls, which can provide fog of war concealment even if an enemy freelancer is on the opposite side of a wall. Some freelancers also come with skills that provide scouting mechanics which uncover fog of war at distant locations. The most notable is Grey, with her pet hawk, Rio.
When fog of war is cleared, and areas are revealed by your teammates or skills, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether the enemies can also see your freelancer through their fog of war. The v key is used to show fog of war from the enemy’s perspective. If you hold down the v key, and the enemies disappear from your view, it means that they cannot see you, as you are effectively hiding in their fog of war.
Another stealth mechanic provided on maps is commonly referred to as brush. These sparkling squares will provide your freelancer with invisibility so long as the squares aren’t red in color. Careful movements into and out of brush can leave your opponents guessing.
If you have hidden your freelancer in brush and activate a skill, you will burn the brush making any other freelancer hiding in it visible. Burned brush will turn red and stay revealed for the turn it is burned until the end of the next turn. While some brush are a single square, others can occupy a number of squares and even go around walls and cover. Regardless of the brush zone’s size or shape, if the brush is burned, all of it becomes revealed.
Whenever more than one freelancer occupies a section of brush they can see each other, even if they’re enemies. For very large areas of brush, fog of war rules apply. For example, if your freelancer shares occupancy with an enemy freelancer in a long stretch of brush that takes up eight squares you will only be able to see each other if you are within six squares of one another. Brush can also wrap around walls, giving another freelancer hiding in the brush on the opposite side of the wall the concealment provided by fog of war. In any case, even if the brush is burned, fog of war still applies.
A number of freelancers have skills that can provide concealment in one form or another, and one catalyst option, Fade, can provide every freelancer with limited invisibility. The most common concealment skill is simple stealth. Several freelancers can activate a stealth skill and remain hidden for the duration of the skill. Nix, PUP, and Kaigin are a few particularly dangerous stealth oriented freelancers, able to move around the map while invisible.
Some skills can also provide concealment in other unique ways. Celeste’s smoke bombs can create zones of concealment around the map. If your freelancer is moving behind or through these smoke areas, you can remain hidden from view. Combining these skills with fog of war and brush, a concealment oriented freelancer can move around the map and into optimum positions relatively easily and safely.
Last Known Location
This is not to say that there aren’t methods for tracking hidden freelancers. Any freelancer who goes into any method of concealment will leave behind a token on the map that indicates their last known location. Of course, counting four, eight, or more squares in any direction can be daunting when trying to track a hidden freelancer, but exercising a little guesswork can sometimes yield positive results, particularly when deploying traps or throwing out splash damage in an area.
Receiving the revealed de-buff on your freelancer, especially a freelancer that relies on stealth, can dramatically impact your choices. We’ll discuss this status effect in the next session. Keep an eye out!
Next Up: Status Effects & Power Orbs
With a basic understanding of the movement, cover, and concealment mechanics, let’s move on to the essentials behind the buffs and de-buffs that you can receive during a match, as well as how to utilize power-ups to your advantage.