Over the past year, some of you have noticed what appears to be a rising threat posed by the Ishvana. In the complete conflict rework, the Ishvana will take a more visible role as the Sector’s main antagonist. While all the pieces are still coming together on that and we’re not ready to talk details, we are ready to reveal the next big content drop which will, eventually, have a place in the reworked conflict systems.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Vihana, they are uncanny creatures who take a wide variety of twisted forms, blending cybernetics with Kith and the science of reanimation, and comprise the bulk of the Ishvana’s army as we know it. Starting this Winterflame, December 12th, 2022, spacers will be able to search out and destroy Vihana Facilities hidden on just about every planet in populated space.
Vihana Facilities are an endgame, roguelike-inspired PvE dungeon crawl for 1-5 players. You will know in what areas to seek out the facilities, but the entrance to the facility itself will be hidden, so it’s finally time to bust out your long-neglected SEARCH skill in Exploration. Assemble a Crew of up to 5 players and get everyone at the entrance, and then enter the facility together.
Vihana Facilities are always-available content. There will always be multiple facilities dotted across the Sector available for you to run with your friends, and once you’ve entered it, that facility belongs to you and your team and no one else can come in to interfere.
On the technical side, we wanted to foolproof this against disconnections, and we’re proud to say that Facilities will offer full reconnection support. The only case in which you cannot reconnect is if all members of the team disconnect. If that happens, or if all players voluntarily leave the facility, the facility will self-destruct as the Ishvana moves its operations elsewhere.
A typical run
Players start in a cloning room and proceed through a series of floors. On each floor you will encounter plenty of Vihana mobs as well as an Overseer. Depending on the floor’s layout you may have the option to skip some rooms and head straight for the exit to the next, lower floor. Here you will find a terminal which you must either hack or use a security keycard dropped by the Overseer on death.
On the first floor, Vihana mobs have 1 random Affix. On the second floor, they have 2. On the third…. You get the idea. On the final floor, you will face a boss. Kill the boss, open the totally-not-a-treasure-chest, and race back up the floors in 30 seconds or go down with the ship.
The mobs and bosses implement a wide range of new PvE mechanics, taking advantage of a giant upgrade to our mob combat backend. So far, you’ve seen one such new mechanic: flying mobs. What you haven’t seen: mobs that pull, mobs that lift you up elevation or push you back down elevation, mobs that guard each other like MWP GUARDIAN, mobs that detonate, mobs that spawn other mobs, etc. Some of this we have seen before in other one-off boss mob situations, but all of these mechanics and more now have proper coded support to make them easier for us to build and less error-prone.
Oh, and the Overseer mini-bosses are PvP bots. They don’t gain affixes, but they do get a harder and harder difficulty with each successive floor.
Facilities can have up to 7 non-boss floors under some very rare conditions, which means 7 affixes on the mobs. If that sounds way too brutal, take heart. The Vihana aren’t the only ones getting stronger…
At the ends of each floor, players will select 1 of 3 (or 4!) Surges. Surges are powerups with a wide range of effects: More damage, more health, chain attacks, group healing, support effects, life-steal, crowd control, you name it. 19 out of the 27 Surges going in at launch have 3 levels. Different surges have different rarities, but once you pick an upgradeable Surge, there’s a strong likelihood that upgrades for it will be offered to you later in the run. The Power Surge, for instance, grants you +30% damage at Level 1, +60% at Level 2, and +100% at Level 3. The Healing Surge, meanwhile, grants you the SURGE HEAL ability to completely restore another player, including subsystems and afflictions, on a 120s, 60s, or 30s cooldown at Levels 1, 2, and 3 respectively.
Some Surges offer powerful, single-use effects that consume the Surge on use, such as the Aegis Surge which fully restores your health, subsystems, and afflictions when you would die. Others simply have no upgrades past the first, such as the Evocation Surge, which causes your hostile area of effect abilities to not hit your teammates. Others are consumed immediately, such as Reroll which will allow you to reroll your selection options, or Data Cache, which instantly grants you a large amount of Facility Data…
Additional study required
Surges are poorly understood, but they seem in some way connected to the very science that goes into the Ishvana’s grotesque methods. Everything you do in Facilities grants you Facility Data which can be spent between facility runs on Surge Upgrades to improve your chances on the next run. Even if you didn’t make it entirely through your last facility, you’ve still probably walked away with some hard-earned data that you can use to improve your chances for next time.
There are 27 Surge Upgrades, a virtually bottomless Data sink with all sorts of effects. 19 of these upgrades are Surge Masteries, each belonging to a particular upgradeable Surge. There are 10 levels of Mastery per Surge, and each level grants you a +10% chance that the first time you are offered that Surge in a Facility, it will be offered at Level 2 instead of Level 1. Other upgrades do not apply to any particular Surge, but instead help you play the odds to get the build you’re after, such as the Scraping Routines upgrade, which has 20 levels each granting you a +5% chance to gain a fourth Surge option. Other upgrades only have 1 level, such as Power Hungry, which grants you a free Surge selection at the start of the facility.
This content is too easy
Great. I get it. You and your friends are the Sector’s most revered facility runners. You know your way around a Vihana’s entrails like none other. Facilities are EASY.
Enter: Mutations. Before entering the facility, you have to option to apply Mutations to it. Mutations are a way of making the facility harder in different ways, but also making them reap more rewards, including more Data. If you’re particularly confident in your group’s abilities, why not disable the cloning room at the start of the facility? This makes the run permadeath, BUT you get +30% Data from all sources. Mobs too easy? Give them an extra affix at the start. Want an extra floor to farm your Data? Then add an extra floor. Think your group is fast? Give yourself 5 minutes from the time you enter before self-destruction occurs, but the boss drops triple rewards.
At launch there are 8 different mutations, and you can add all 8 of them to one facility if you darn well please. Mutations cost Data to apply, but they pay for themselves many times over if you’re successful.
And then, there’s the Crystalline Mutation…
The bigger picture
We took a lot of time and care crafting the big picture design for the Conflict Rework. We, the staff and volunteers, are all long-time players representing a wide diversity of playstyles, and creating the vision was a full team effort. We hope that the finished product will have something for everyone. The journey has been a bit longer than expected, but we hope the results will push the Starmourn experience to new heights.
Vihana Facilities came about to help fill what we perceived to be a gap in endgame group PvE content. Xenos are extremely fun, and have only gotten more so and more geared towards groups in the last month. But we wanted something more, something that fit into the storyline of the Conflict Rework, and something that enabled faction mates to come together to do something non-PvP while also contributing to the factional conflict system, and without having to worry whether the content would actually be available at their agreed-upon time.
A final note. Just because Facilities will fit into Conflict systems does not mean they are in any way closed off to Factionless players. Indeed, only a very small subset of the Facility experience, Crystalline mutated facilities, will plug into faction conflict, and there’s nothing stopping factionless from running those too. And, yes, the Factionless will be gaining a means to acquire Cosmpiercer Powers.
The details, however, must come later. For now, we hope you look forward to combating the rising Vihana threat.