As it stands currently, the Surveyor is an amazing and rather unique concept for a new zombie boss that was implemented (in my own personal opinion) rather poorly into the public Mall Of The Dead server.
Put plainly, he fills in the roles that other bosses used to fill and does almost everything better in that regard as well. Some of the older bosses now feel redundant, and at times, almost detrimental to your team if you aren't playing Surveyor instead.
Likewise the human team can struggle very much so against him due to his almost complete invisibility, high damage output, reasonably tanky health, and movement speeds that can keep up with Butcher. The boss just has too many benefits going for it all at once and often creates a feeling of unfairness and frustration towards those who enjoy playing as a human on this server.
I know many other people playing on the server share this same sentiment, and while I cannot be the one to fix this boss or implement some of my own suggestions listed further down in this post, I'd like to create a thread here where we can openly talk about and discuss potential changes we all would like to see added to this boss.
What does this boss do?
Combine research and development has created the ultimate scout.
It hunts with state of the art Combine stealth tech and an ion powered retina.
Used by Overwatch officers to survey areas of interest and locate rebel outposts.
- He is completely invisible while running and jumping, only ever revealing his position whenever he attacks or is dealt damage over time. (Bleeding, fire, ect.)
- He has a base movement speed that is on par with Butcher, Surveyor only being very slightly slower.
- He has reasonably tanky health, sitting at a comfortable 2781 when I tested the boss with 33 human players.
- His claw attack deals 35 damage consistently to humans and props alike.
- His laser attack deals 12 damage on a headshot, 6 damage on a bodyshot or against props, and 2 damage when shooting someone's feet. This attack can hit 3 separate times and has a small chance to light humans on fire for 1 damage several times a second. This attack cannot be blocked by a force field generator. (For comparison the Stalker's laser attack deals 8, 4, and 2 damage respectfully in each regard.)
- He also has an unorthodox tertiary attack: the Surveyor can spawn a single decoy backpack at will that blinds, slows, and damages the human who picks it up, potentially leaving them vulnerable to further attack. The backpack gives no loot and is otherwise completely indistinguishable from a normal backpack dropped on death.
What's wrong with that?
As stated previously, he fills in the roles that other bosses used to fill and does almost everything better creating a power gap that's felt between both teams alike. The boss just has too many benefits going for it all at once and often creates a feeling of unfairness and frustration for almost everyone except the person playing as them.
Some examples of this are:
- Runner Bosses (IE: Butcher, Devourer, B-Zine, etc.)
Butcher is a high speed, low damage runner boss that can often catch human players off guard if they are too far away from their team. Despite being able to run down almost anyone with relative ease, he has little in the way of actually dealing damage to cades and the people behind them. He is a glass cannon that really shines at forcing the human team into their cades early on in the game so that nests can be properly set up, allowing the zombie snowball to start rolling.
Surveyor can do all of that just as well, if not- better than the Butcher in his current state. Because he's invisible, the humans have very little in the way of detecting him from far away, this causes callouts to be a guessing game and to be ultimately pointless as he can travel the map extremely quickly and have his footsteps go unnoticed due to the often hectic and chaotic nature of this gamemode. He also has a consistent way to deal damage to the cades and the people behind them without taking as much damage, because unless the humans are wasting their ammo by preemptively shooting everywhere the Surveyor could be, at least one attack is almost guaranteed.
- Human Poke Bosses (IE: Pukepus, Ticklemonster, etc.)
Pukepus is often the go-to ranged poke boss for when the humans are hiding behind a thick cade with few medics. He easily devastates crowds of people by shooting out poison projectiles that deal very high damage over time without a medic nearby to cure them of it. Left alone, he could easily tear through a cade by himself, but where he really shines is by forcing those who are repairing to fall back to heal up so that his team can destroy barricades almost completely unopposed. Humans can purchase a force field generator to tank some of the damage for them so that repairs can still continue, but unless constantly refueled with pulse ammo and repaired with a wrench, it will eventually break down leaving the humans once again exposed.
Surveyor in this scenario also outshines most of the other bosses in this category because of one simple fact: no one can see him until it's too late! Unless he's caught in the crossfire, already revealed himself, or is the only thing making sound at that given moment- no one is going to notice him until he's already dealt a potential of 36 damage to someone who is then promptly lit on fire for even more damage. By the time the humans realize what just happened, the Surveyor is already out of the line of fire and could either be planning to strike again the moment they let their guard down enough, or attacking another cade entirely doing the exact same thing to someone else. Even when you're playing extremely conservatively as this boss, unless humans are throwing themselves onto the other bosses, you will almost always will out-damage them against humans. There is no item you can by to counter this laser attack, you just have to be outside of his range or obscured by something else.
What are some ways we can go about fixing this?
While the only way to know for sure if the boss is "fixed" is through tedious trial and error, the boss in his current state doesn't feel ready yet for the Mall Of The Dead server until some serious changes are made. Below I have written some suggestions for anyone's consideration. Please feel free to civilly discuss your own ideas and pick apart mine in the comments of this thread and let us all know why or why you wouldn't want to see them added into the game.
- Reduce the Surveyor's movement speed. Maybe not by much, as he is supposed to be a scout bioengineered by the Combine after all, but Butcher's whole gimmick is that he's the fast one- We shouldn't have a boss that does his shtick just as well with added bonuses.
2a. Make the Surveyor as visible as the wraith but visually distinct from it, of course. Something like the further you get away from him, the harder he is to see. He does lose out on actual invisibility, but for a boss that's able to come out of seemingly nowhere and kill you in 3 hits, I think he'll still be able to do just fine. Besides, wouldn't the Combine have already crushed the rebels if they perfected cloaking technology? Maybe they just have something really close to it!
2b. OR make use of things already implemented into the game! Remember night vision goggles? Why not make it so that they completely reveal Surveyor to the user whenever they're toggled on, allowing humans to actually see the boss without difficulty. Since flashlights and night vision goggles already share a battery that drains over time, this might encourage humans to be more conservative with it and save the charge for when they'll need it the most.
2c. OR let the surveyor keep his invisibility with some minor tweaks, those being that: whenever he attacks with claws or a laser beam he is revealed for about 3 seconds and slowly fades back away into nothingness if he refrains from attacking during this time. On top of that whenever he's close to survivors, he plays the old Devourer ambience noise to alert them! This way he gets to keep his invisibility and that the humans at least know whenever he's nearby!
Give the Surveyor a unique laser attack. If the Combine were making state of the art technology for use by only the elites, wouldn't they equip them with better gear than the common Stalkers? It doesn't have to be anything too fancy, it could be as simple as changing the laser's color to blue and adding a cryo debuff to chill humans instead of lighting them on fire, or if that doesn't sound good, maybe the laser's range is increased but can no longer pass through force field generators! But either way, I don't think it should ever be visually confused with another zombie's attack.
Change the playermodel to something other than a black Stalker. While it is true that other bosses do share playermodels with other zombie classes, usually they are distinct enough to be able to tell them apart. For example: Ghoul and Butcher both share the same playermodel. You're able to tell that they're different zombies visually because one has a gimp walk and is one of the slowest zombies in the gamemode, while the other is fully sprinting at you going mach speed with a cleaver in his hand. Likewise the Wraith, Stalker, and Surveyor all share the same playermodels, except this time the only difference is that: one is invisible, one is visible, and the other is fully sprinting at you going mach speed AND invisible. They all share the same footstep noises, so the audio doesn't even help differentiate them any. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, maybe it's something that looks like a robotic Combine Synth that you download from the workshop, but either way, having another boss be pitch black and share the same silhouette as the others can make telling them apart harder for newer players and can cause unnecessary confusion.
Reduce his starting health. When I played as him earlier today on a realistic server population, I started with almost 3000 health. Seeing as how he's an invisible boss zombie that deals respectful damage and is almost just as fast as the butcher, I think that might be an issue. While I'm against bosses being able to die just as quickly as a normal zombies, I think a small tweak is absolutely necessary. In my eyes, I see this boss as being a frail glass cannon able to surprise unsuspecting runners and devastate solocaders; maybe the Combine had to sacrifice using some better armor plating so that they could make their perfect scout mobile and nearly-invisible..?
I'm very happy to see new major updates still being released for this server and genuinely do appreciate all the hard work that the FWKZT developers do for us to produce the content we all love and enjoy.
I've been with this community for almost two years now, and here's hoping for a third!
I'm never typing something this long ever again...