Revisiting Elite Enemies

2 years ago

Back when Update 34 was "fresh out of the gate", I surveyed a bunch of people regarding U34's new content and compiled it into a blog post. One of the major topics covered were the newly-introduced Elite enemies. At the time of writing that post, GSG had only pushed out the first two Hotfixes of Update 34. This post is going to be a follow-up on what changes GSG has made to Elite enemies since then, along with a detailed overview of their current stats.

Brace yourself, there are quite a few tables in this post so it might not flow as well for reading. I kind of want this post to double as a "quick reference" for anyone who wants to look up Elites and find useful information as the droppod is landing in a mission with the Elite Threat warning.

The Purpose of Elites

One of the questions of the survey was "Do you think GSG had a reason to add Elite enemies? If so, what do you think that reason was?" Most of the answers fell into these categories:

  • Making the game more difficult
  • Adding variety to the combat loop
  • Countering the overperforming strategies
  • Other games have elites

However, when the devs at GSG read that blog post they answered the question in Hotfix 3 a couple of days later:

"The intention is not to create new enemy variants such as the Oppressor or the Glyphid Slasher and Guard but to instead modify the existing enemies in a way that can occasionally disrupt the flow of combat. Rest assured that we will continue to make new enemy types and variants, the elites are not intended to replace that.

Elites are designed to run with the pack and push through the players defence, or present an immediate and un-ignorable threat, or to displace the players forcing a momentary change in position and tactics. This is not possible without making them harder to kill. We want them to be the last ones standing, the bug heroes going toe to toe with the dwarves (if only for a little while)."

What makes them "Elite"?

Individualized Stat Changes

Of the ten Elite enemies that are currently in the game, most of them share some common changes:

  • Damage Resistance: all incoming damage gets multiplied by this number, so you can divide their health by this number to get their "effective HP" of how much damage it takes to slay them
  • Movement Speed: as you would intuitively expect, this multiplicative stat makes the Elites move faster. Not a lot to unpack here.
  • Warming Rate, Unfreeze Temp, and Temperature Change Scale: Elites with these values have their regular Temperature-related values overridden. I'll explain more about how these values work together in a later subsection.
  • Fire Resistance and Electric Resistance: another pretty intuitive change, these values add elemental resistances to enemies that previously didn't resist that particular element and work like you would expect.
Elite Enemy stat changes
  Damage Resistance Movement Speed Warming Rate Unfreeze Temp TempChangeScale Fire Resistance Electric Resistance
Glyphid Slasher 0.3 x1.5 50 -29 0.1 0.4  
Glyphid Guard 0.3 x1.5 100 -79 0.2   0.24
Glyphid Praetorian 0.7 x1.5 100 -120 0.3   0.24
Glyphid Acid Spitter 0.2 x1.3 150 -49 0.1    
Glyphid Menace 0.8   40 -48 0.1    
Glyphid Bulk Detonator   x2          
Mactera Spawn 0.35   20 0 0.2    
Mactera Tri-Jaw 0.4   40 0 0.2    
Mactera Brundle 0.4   50 0 0.21    
Mactera Grabber 0.5 x5 50 0 0.2    

Specialized Resistance Scaling

By default, small and medium enemies use Normal scaling which is based solely on Hazard level, and large enemies use Large scaling which is based on both Hazard level and player count. Both of those can be found here on the DRG Wiki. In contrast, all Elite enemies (both Normal and Large) use a specialized resistance scaling listed in the table below:

Elite Enemy Scaling Resistances
  1 Player 2 Players 3 Players 4 Players
Hazard 1 0.6 0.75 0.85 1.1
Hazard 2 0.9 1.1 1.1 1.3
Hazard 3 0.9 1.1 1.3 1.3
Hazard 4 1.1 1.1 1.3 1.5
Hazard 5 1.3 1.3 1.5 1.65

All incoming damage gets divided by the current Elite Scaling Resistance value in addition to multiplied by that particular Elite enemy's Damage Resistance value in the big table above. As such, it's pretty easy to calculate all of their "effective HP" (eHP) values by taking the enemy's base health, multiplying by Scaling Resistance and dividing by Damage Resistance because it's the inverse of what's done to incoming damage. For your convenience, I did the math for all 10 Elites to compare their regular variants' eHP to the Elites' eHP at Hazard 5, 4 Players:

Tankiness relative to regular variant (Hazard 5, 4 Players)
  Regular eHP Elite eHP Multiplier
Glyphid Slasher 177.6 814 x4.583
Glyphid Guard 324 1485 x4.583
Glyphid Praetorian 1125 1767.86 x1.571
Glyphid Acid Spitter 144 990 x6.875
Glyphid Menace 1050 1443.75 x1.375
Glyphid Bulk Detonator 6000 6600 x1.1
Mactera Spawn 267.6 1051.29 x3.929
Mactera Tri-Jaw 420 1443.75 x3.4375
Mactera Brundle 720 2475 x3.4375
Mactera Grabber 750 1650 x2.2

Harder to Freeze and Ignite

Like I mentioned earlier, there are three Temperature-related values that Elite enemies can override: Warming Rate, Unfreeze Temperature, and Temperature Change Scale ("TCS" for the sake of brevity). Warming Rate and Unfreeze Temperature just straight-up replace the regular variant's values, but TCS has a nasty interaction. All changes to the Elite enemy's Temperature get multiplied by the TCS value, including both the Heat and Cold done by players' weapons and grenades, and the enemy's Cooling Rate and Warming Rate. If you have a Cryo Cannon that does 106 Cold/sec being used on an Elite Glyphid Slasher with a TCS of 0.1, then it would functionally only be doing 10.6 Cold/sec. As a result of that change, in order to reach Slasher's Freeze Temperature of -30, you would have to apply a total of 300 Cold. Elite Slasher's Warming Rate of 50 would also get multiplied by 0.1 TCS, so it would warm at a rate of 5 Heat/sec. A simpler way to think about the TCS interaction is to just divide the Freeze, Unfreeze, Ignite, and Douse temperatures by the TCS value, and then your weapons and the Warming/Cooling Rate numbers stay the same while maintaining the relative change.

For your convenience, here's a quick reference table of how the Elite stats interact with Freezing these enemies:

  Effective Freeze Temp Effective Unfreeze Temp Warming Rate
Glyphid Slasher -300 -290 50
Glyphid Guard -400 -395 100
Glyphid Praetorian -500 -400 100
Glyphid Acid Spitter -500 -490 150
Glyphid Menace -500 -480 40
Glyphid Bulk Detonator -490 -200 300
Mactera Spawn -500 0 20
Mactera Tri-Jaw -500 0 40
Mactera Brundle -952.381 0 50
Mactera Grabber -900 0 50

The TCS variable also affects how long it takes to ignite enemies and how long they Burn, but I'm choosing not to make a table for that. There's like six tables in this blog post already...

Other Changes

Other things changed by Elites:

  • All Elites have a x0.2 Stun Duration multiplier
  • Slasher, Guard, Praetorian, Acid Spitter, Bulk Detonator, Mactera Spawn, and Mactera Tri-Jaw all have faster attack speeds
  • Slasher, Guard, and Praetorian all had their Courage (aka "Fear Resistance") raised from 50% to 90%, which means that only Minigun T5.A "Aggressive Venting" can reliably induce Fear on them.
  • Praetorians had their Heavy Armor increased from 100 health to 500, they turn around faster, and they had Knockback force added to their attacks (Bite Attack does 125 Horizontal, 100 Vertical; Slash Attack does 500H, 400V)
  • Guards had the Heavy Armor on their front legs increased from 60 health to 350, their Light Armor got increased from 15 strength to 350, and they had Knockback force added to their attacks (300H, 300V)
  • Bulk Detonators have a larger on-death explosion (10m diameter to 17.5m) and drop more bomblets (8 bomblets to 12)
  • Menaces shoot fewer shots, but burrow faster and more often
  • Acid Spitters shoot slightly faster but fewer shots, and move around more often
  • Mactera Spawns move more evasively, have increased attack range, added a second projectile to their attacks, and increased damage of both projectiles.
  • Tri-Jaws have increased range
  • Brundles had the Heavy Armor covering their weakpoint increased from 80 health to 250, and the get closer to players when they attack

Advice for Fighting Elites

Gameplay Tips

I spent a few hours thinking about the stat changes done to each of the ten Elite enemies, and then ran about a dozen missions that had the Elite Threat warning to test out various weapon builds and see what worked and what didn't. Here's a list of tips that I found useful for dealing with Elite enemies:

  • Every Elite enemy has a Weakpoint, so weapons with bonus Weakpoint damage will help chew through the extra eHP.
  • Although they all have Stun durations reduced by 80%, there's nothing that reduces the probability that the stun will happen. Anything that has either long stuns or short stuns with a high Rate of Fire will be helpful.
  • The ground-based Elite enemies move faster, so slows from Neurotoxin, Electrocute, or Flamethrower's Sticky Flames will help reduce that speed.
  • Make sure at least one player on your team has an Armor Breaking mod. It will get the most value vs Mactera Brundles, but it will also really help vs Guards and Praetorians.
  • With the exception of Slashers and Guards, every Elite enemy requires at least as much Cold to freeze as a Bulk Detonator. I would recommend only trying to freeze the ground enemies, and kill the flying enemies with weakpoint damage.
  • Most of the ground enemies highly resist Fear (70% - 90%), but all of the Mactera enemies have no resistance to it. If you find yourself facing a "flying firing squad", lob a PGL grenade into them to make them scatter. Any similar kind of ranged Fear delivery system will help you out, like HE Grenades, Plasma Bursters, Turret Whip, Sticky Grenades, etc.
  • Glyphid Guards and Praetorians both gain 2 seconds of "stun invulnerability" after recovering from a stun. The regular variants take the full stun duration, but the Elite variants only get 20% duration. So, while you could stun Elite Guards and Elite Praetorians, it's not really worth it in my opinion.
  • Mactera Brundles have the second-highest eHP and the lowest freezing temperature (almost double what it takes to freeze a Bulk Detonator), so it's imperative that you use an AB mod to break the Heavy Armor covering their 3x Weakpoint.
  • Mactera Grabbers can still have their attack canceled by damaging them. You need to deal 25 damage in less than 4 seconds in order to make them stop charging a player, or let go of one they're holding. With the Damage Resistance and Elite Scaling, at Haz5/4p you would need to do 82.5 damage to cancel its attack.

Which Crowd Control type works on each Elite?

Between the enhanced Courage, reduced Stun Duration, and increased freezing temperatures due to TCS, it can be pretty dizzying trying to figure out what type of Crowd Control to use on which Elite enemy. The table below is my recommendations for what utility to use on which Elite enemy, but feel free to look at the data and draw your own conclusions.

  Armor Break Slow Fear Stun Freeze
Glyphid Slasher   Recommended Useless Recommended Recommended
Glyphid Guard Recommended Recommended Useless Useless Recommended
Glyphid Praetorian Recommended Recommended Useless Useless  
Glyphid Acid Spitter     Recommended Recommended  
Glyphid Menace       Recommended  
Glyphid Bulk Detonator   Required Useless Useless  
Mactera Spawn   Recommended Recommended Recommended  
Mactera Tri-Jaw     Recommended Recommended  
Mactera Brundle Required   Recommended   Useless
Mactera Grabber   Required Recommended   Useless

Loadout suggestions

Combining my theorycrafting with the dozen missions I played this past week, here are some weapon builds that I would recommend trying out next time you're launching into an Elite Threat mission:

Driller Engineer Gunner Scout

Flamethrower w/ Sticky Flame Slowdown
Subata + Tranquilizer Rounds
EPC + Persistent Plasma

Shotgun w/ Turret Whip
Breach Cutter + Spinning Death w/ Stun
Breach Cutter + High Voltage Crossover

Minigun w/ Stun
Autocannon + NTP w/ Fear

M1000 + Active Stability System w/ Stun
M1000 + Electrocuting Focused Shots

For Cryo Cannon, Revolver, and Boomstick, all builds will be about equal vs Elites so I didn't make any specialized loadouts for them. Don't equip Cryo Cannon T5.A Fragile, and most of Boomstick's Tier 5 is kind of useless vs Elite enemies.

Finally, here are my thoughts on the 12 throwables:

  • Impact Axe: because none of its three damage components benefit from Weakpoints and Elite enemies are harder to freeze, I think that this has a reduced value on Elite Threat missions.
  • HE Grenade: useful for its Armor Breaking and Fear, almost a perfect counter Elite Mactera Brundles if you can hit the throw and account for the 1.7 second fuse.
  • Neurotoxin Grenade: a 30 second DoT that slows enemies by 30%, this is a safe pick for Elites.
  • LURE: if you like it for normal missions, it will work just fine on Elites too.
  • Plasma Burster: good for making Mactera scatter in Fear; middling damage.
  • Proximity Mine: honestly, maybe not a good choice for Elites. All the ground enemies that would trigger it move faster and would only get clipped by the edge of the explosion, if they take any damage at all.
  • Sticky Grenade: solid pick, again primarily for scattering Mactera in Fear
  • Incendiary Grenade: would not recommend. Although it might be able to light some enemies on fire eventually, all of the TCS values greatly reduce its value.
  • Cluster Grenade: not the best choice; provides a solid chunk of damage but its stun will have almost no effect.
  • IFG: excellent utility vs the ground Elites, combining a strong slow and damage amplication for 15 seconds.
  • Cryo Grenade: would not recommend, it only does 250 Cold so you would have to throw two per Elite enemy to freeze them for a moment.
  • Pheromone Canister: more valuable vs Elites than on normal missions, but still just a neutral option.

So, Neurotoxin Grenade for Drillers, Plasma Bursters for Engineers, Sticky Grenade for Gunners, and IFG for Scouts would be my recommendation for Elite Theat missions.

Final Verdict

Comparing what Elites were when U34XP was released to what they turned into since U34's Hotfixes 3-5, there has been a massive improvement. Now that I understand them and I've played a lot more missions versus them, I perceive them to be a middle-difficulty Warning but they still give a beefy +30% bonus. I think that the current ten Elite enemies are in a decent state now, but if GSG wants to keep tweaking them or add other Elite variants that would be cool too. Go change up your loadout, and give them another try!

I didn't cover every aspect of Elites in this blog post (such as the number of Elites active at once, the cooldown between their spawns, etc), but hopefully there's plenty of information about Elites that everyone can learn and benefit from. Sorry for the longer gap between blog posts, my life has been kind of hectic lately and there was a lot of research and testing to do for this post. I'm hoping to get another blog post pushed out in a day or two, so check back soon to learn everything about Driller's Reinforced Power Drills!

Rock & Stone