For those of you who picked up Blacklist in the recent Steam sale, let me welcome you to the world of Spies vs. Mercs and the triumphant return of Splinter Cell’s multiplayer component. If anyone’s been wondering where the SvM content’s been for the past weeks, know that me and WiNG haven’t been slacking on the spying, but we’ve got a project in the works. It’s a complete guide to Spies vs. Mercs, Classic Mode. I won’t say much more, but content will be ramping up again to bridge the gap between now and Assassin’s Creed 4, Watch Dogs, Battlefield 4, and others.
Jumping back in after a while away
I haven’t played much Blacklist in the time since the last article on SvM, and one thing about Blacklist is, when you’re rusty, it shows. The number of maps is low enough that you won’t lose too much in the map knowledge department, but the nuances of play, your precise timings, and skill at predicting enemy tactics will all have taken a hit. Mine certainly have.
The question, then, is how to recoup lost time? The simple answer is to just get in and play. Get your ass handed to you and learn as you go. Here at TopTierTactics, though, we like everything that complicates the simple answer, so you need to do more than just play. You need to experiment.
One of the strange things about rust is how it changes your playstyle. While certain games are like riding a bike, success in Blacklist is always contextual. If you’re at all like me, you’ve been playing other games in addition to SvM, so you need to let those experiences inform your decision making. If you’ve been playing shooters, try using shooter logic to approach a hack site. Rush in, eyes twitching this way and that, shooting everything that moves, your teammate included. Your haste might throw off your Spy foes, and while it will probably get you killed, if your teammate’s in on the game, he’ll get the kill.
By contrast, play aggressive as a Spy, using the objective as a means to draw Mercs to you and nothing else. Hiding is for suckers, ’cause it makes you a camper. Rushers are where the real skill is, so rush. In all seriousness, Blacklist requires a level of aggression not seen in Splinter Cell’s past, so while your K/D might suffer initially, you’ll eventually learn how to properly attack rather than defend. Flashbangs, smokes, sticky cameras, even EMPs — these will be as much weapons as your knife.
While it might not be your cup of tea, Team Deathmatch is a great way to hone your reaction times and practice your takedowns. Since the latest PC patch, Mercs are less vulnerable to frontal attacks, so use it hone your reaction time if the Spies feel a little too cheeky. Use it as a means to familiarize yourself with different goggles and weapon setups, especially stun crossbow-stab combination kills. Since the only objective is murder, if you can fine tune your crossbow aim, Spy on both Blacklist and Classic modes will become a much less daunting task.
Use your the racing beat of your heart
When my Blacklist sessions end, it’s usually because my chest hurts. For the two minutes I waited, moved, sliced throats, my heart was trying to beat its way out my chest, and I have to take time to breathe. What I need to learn to do, and what you can take from my failures is this: use your heart to spur you to greater heights.
The great thing about adrenaline is it heightens your senses, strengthens your muscles, and speeds up your reaction times. When you feel the thump of your heart going a mile a minute, don’t sit there and let that energy go to waste. Instead, start taking the fight to the Mercs, especially if you’re in the first five minutes of the match. While dying as the hacker is always frustrating, the best players I’ve played with, and against, are just as comfortable being aggressive as hacker or defender. In Classic mode especially, if you aren’t prepared to defend yourself as the hacker, you’re a hinderance.
There’s a trick to getting yourself going, and it takes a lot of conscious effort. When the beating starts to hurt, take your hands from the controller/keyboard and mouse just for a moment, and get in one good breath. Close your eyes and slap your face if you have to, and make sure there aren’t any Mercs too close. When you’ve got the controls well in hand again, open your eyes or refocus them, and go. Let your instincts take you where they will. If the terminal’s live, be the predator the Mercs aren’t expecting. They’ll know your coming, just like a tiger’s prey does before the kill, and that’s the whole point. You’ve made the Merc’s heart go crazy, but he doesn’t have the chance to steel himself. He’s vulnerable and scared. Use your control to win against his panic, and when it’s all said and done, take stock of what worked and what didn’t. Not every hunt’s successful, and not ever terminal gets hacked. Ready up, respawn, and try again.
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