U32 New Mission Type: On-Site Refinery

11 months ago

With Update 32 releasing on the 22nd, I thought it might be helpful to write up a couple of blog posts about the new mission types being added that can serve as a guide for everyone who hasn't had a chance to participate in U32's Experimental Branch. Spoiler warning: reading this post will reveal the full mission so you won't have any cool surprises on your first playthrough.

Overview

The closest cousin to Refinery missions are Point Extractions, and that's only due to the cave generation similarity and having to bring all of your resources to a central hub instead of having a MULE to deposit into. In terms of mechanics and gameplay, Refinery is unlike everything Ghost Ship Games has added to DRG so far. Prepare for a lot of trekking back and forth and getting to know the cave really well by the end of the mission, because this mission type is all about being aware of the terrain and knowing how to efficiently get from A to B. Your spatial awareness will be tried and tested, and after a couple of these missions you'll be able to navigate around Hoxxes with a blindfold on.

Although Refinery has fewer things to do than Escort, it feels a lot busier because you have to do all of the tasks three times over and often your team will do them simultaneously. Here are the major tasks that your team will have to perform to complete a Refinery mission:

  1. Locate the three Liquid Morkite wells
  2. Call down a Pumpjack on each well
  3. Build a pipeline from the central Refinery to each Pumpjack
  4. Refine enough Liquid Morkite to make Management happy, all while repairing leaks in the pipelines and surviving an unending onslaught of enemies

Mission Flow

Beginning the mission

As your team gets off the drop pod, you'll be greeted with a wave of enemies just like you find in Egg Hunts. Clear them out and then start exploring the cave. I recommend clearing out stationary enemies like Cave Leeches, Spitball Infectors, and Brood Nexuses as quickly as you can so that the terrain becomes safer to traverse during the rest of the mission. As you go around, keep an eye out for dark blue dots on the ground or occasional bright flame bursts. Both of these are visual indicators that you're near one of the three Liquid Morkite wells. Additionally, they make a bubbling sound that can help you hear them from a distance, and they show up as bright purple spheres on the Terrain Scanner if you've passed close enough for the Terrain Scanner to have their location, which makes it easy to find your way back to them if necessary.

In short order, the namesake Refinery will land in the main chamber of the cave, similar to Point Extraction's Minehead. This is going to be your home base for the whole mission, so take as much time as you need to set up and make it a place you can survive future swarms. There aren't any automated turrets on the Refinery, so you're on your own down there. All the minerals and resources that you mine will have to be deposited into the Refinery, so picking up the Deep Pockets perk might be handy for this mission to reduce the number of trips you need to make back to the Refinery.

Once you've found your footing in the caves, go to the Liquid Morkite wells and hold E to call down a Pumpjack from Mission Control. It will fall down through the ceiling like a resupply pod and land on the wells, sealing them up in preparation for pumping. Although it's not required, it's often useful to call down Pumpjacks as soon as you locate a Liquid Morkite well so that it's one less trip to that particular well.

Building the pipelines

This part of the mission takes the most time, but it also provides some of the most interesting gameplay decisions. After a Pumpjack has arrived at a Liquid Morkite well, anyone on the team can go up to the Refinery, locate one of the blinking blue circles that signify the start of a pipeline, press E, and start building the pipeline to a Pumpjack. After the first segment placed is automatically built for you, every segment afterwards that gets placed is only a skeletal mesh. If you don't like where a segment is headed, or realize that you built into a dead end, you can hit the far end of the skeleton mesh a few times with your pickaxe to destroy the segment and try again. You can destroy as many sekeletal segments as you like, all the way back to the first segment placed that can't be unbuilt.

At the time of writing this post, pipeline segments have a max length of 9m, a minimum turn radius, and a maximum angle of steepness. That means if you were building to a Pumpjack 30m away as Bosco flies, it would take a minimum of four pipeline segments to reach it. However, in practice, it's much more common that you need to go around a pillar or over a pit or some other type of terrain obstacle that makes building the pipelines a bit of a hassle. Engineers can provide platforms to let pipelines be built across pits, Drillers can get you through walls, and Gunner's ziplines can help carry you across distances while carrying the pipeline building tool. The better your team works together and utilizes their traversal tools, the easier and faster it will be to build a pipeline from the Refinery to a Pumpjack.

After your team has set up all of the skeleton mesh segments from Refinery to Pumpjack, then your team has to go back to the start of the pipeline and hold E for a couple of seconds on each segment's endpiece to turn the next segment's skeleton mesh into a full-bodied pipeline that can't be destroyed. Neither pickaxe nor C4, not even a Bulk Detonator explosion can break a pipeline once it's transformed from a skeleton into a full pipe. For that reason, I recommend not transforming any of the segments until you've connect the pipeline to a Pumpjack so that if you mess up or think of a better way to build it, you can use your pickaxe and try again. If you transform each segment as you place it, you run the risk of locking in a mistake and potentially having to place even more segments trying to correct the mistake.

This segues into one of the most fun parts of Refinery missions: grinding pipelines like you're the next Stoney Rock. On top of every pipeline segment are two rails than the dwarves can hop on to traverse the caves at speed, one for going away from the Refinery, and one for returning. After completing the pipeline to a Pumpjack, hop on on the pipeline, and let it carry you all the way back to the first segment so that you can start cementing the segments. Because you can build as many segments as you want anywhere on the map, you can make your pipelines as direct or fun as you want! If you've got time, you can make a veritable roller coaster betwen the two ends and spend a few minutes riding it around. Sliding downhill increases your speed just like you'd expect, and you keep your momentum when you hop off a pipeline so be careful how you dismount unless you want to be the next dwarf in DRG's flight simulator program!

Refining the Liquid Morkite

After all three pipelines have been connected to the Pumpjacks and cemented in place, Mission Control will notify the team that you can begin the next phase of the mission: extracting Liquid Morkite from the wells and refining it. Press the button on the Refinery and brace for impact. After that button gets pressed, you have to deal with swarm-style enemy spawns that persist until your team gets extracted at the end. During this phase, your team has to stay alive and fend off the horde of Glyphids that are quite displeased by the racket the Refinery is making. At least twice during the refinery process, one or more of the pipelines will spring no fewer than 2 leaks that will need to be repaired. I often encountered 2 pipes with 2 leaks each, but one time I was hit with all 3 pipelines breaking with a total of around 8 leaks that needed repairing. Although I can't say this with certainty, it seems that higher hazard levels, more players on a team, and longer pipelines all increase the number of leaks that need to be repaired.

When there's a leak in a pipeline, every segment in that pipeline will blink red, and the HUD on the top right will display a "broken" icon on the associated pipeline's number. The leak itself will project a bright red cone of light, spew liquid morkite, and act just like a LURE grenade which draws the aggro of nearby enemies. There's also a beeping sound that accompanies the leaks that gets more noticeable as you get closer. Use the free LURE grenade to clear out the enemies, and then hold E to repair the leak. Once every leak has been repaired, the Refinery will start making progress again and the swarm-spawning will resume.

Finishing the mission

After the Refinery reaches 100% capacity of refined Liquid Morkite, press the button again to launch the Cargo Rocket back to Management. Enemies are still going to be spawning and attacking you, so stay alert. The extraction Drop Pod will arrive a few seconds later (in contrast to Point Extraction's three minute wait), and then all you have left to do is get to the pod and get out.

General Tips

Team Composition

Similar to Escort Duty, this mission was designed to use all 4 classes. These missions generate large caves that have lots of gold and nitra veins up high that need to be illuminated and platformed, there's often hills or walls that a Driller can punch through with ease to make placing piplines easier, and although Gunner's zipline isn't as necessary in this mission his Shields can sometimes be the difference between success and failure during the onslaught of enemies during the refining process. Scout's mobility makes him invaluable for gathering the resources around the cave and bringing them back to the central refinery, but the traversal problem does get slightly lessened once the pipelines are constructed and can be used as "highways" for the other three classes to ferry their minerals back to the refinery.

Refinery missions aren't as dependent on having one of each class as Escort Duty is, but your team needs to prioritize Driller and Engineer for these missions. Being able to construct terrain across pits or drill through walls cuts the pipeline construction time in half. Scout is a big boost to economy and calling Pumpjacks early, and Gunner is great for surviving the onslaught.

Terrain Generation

The developers at GSG have chosen to make Refinery missions use extremely vertical terrain generation to capitalize on the rail-grinding aspect of pipelines. Tall rooms, deep pits, and lots of hills populate these caves. Large sections of flat ground are a premium during swarms, but don't expect to find many that naturally spawn in Refinery missions. Scout's Overclock "Special Powder" and Engineer's "RJ250 Compound" might be very useful to bring along. The Tunnel Rat beer buff will probably save your life at least once as you fall down a pit while trying to kite enemies.

It's important to clarify that Refinery missions' length and complexity only affect the cave generation and how far away the Liquid Morkite wells spawn, but regardless if it's 2/2 or 3/3, there will always be three Liquid Morkite wells and three pipelines that need to be constructed.

Engineers, it might be worth swapping out Repellant for the extra ammo at Tier 3 of the Platform Gun so that you can help create some artificial flat ground or seal off pitfalls to help your team in the early stages. Drillers and Gunners, use your tools proactively to provide easy ways out of pits or from one part of the cave to the next so that the whole team can use them during crunch time.

Enemy Spawning

From what I've been able to tell, Refinery missions seem to spawn swarms about as frequently as Mining Missions do before you press the button. Like I mentioned earlier, after pressing the button it just becomes one unending swarm. The faster you're able to build the pipes, the fewer swarms will spawn on you and the more ammo and resupply pods you'll have available for the final phase. I've seen all of the rare-spawn minibosses spawn in this mission type, so be extra wary of Korlok Tyrant-Weeds. The extremely vertical terrain might make beating the Korlok very difficult.

Solo Mode

Refinery missions take the existing Solo balance problem of "combat is easier, objective completion is harder" and turns it up to 11. No matter which class you play, it can be a struggle to build the pipelines. Drillers can go through walls but not across pits, Engineers across pits but not through walls, Scouts and Gunners can do neither. In addition to it being harder to place the pipelines, you also have to call all three Pumpjacks and build all three pipelines' skeletons. Bosco can automatically construct the pipelines after the skeletons are place and repair leaks in the pipelines, so that helps save a little time. Non-Engineers might have some extra struggle thrown in during combat, too, with how little flat ground is available in the map.

If you're absolutely dedicated to playing this mission solo, I think Engineer might be the best choice. Platforms serve to give you room to fight, seal off and traverse the pits in the map, you have the option of equipping RJ250 to get around faster, and he's strong enough in combat to make it through the onslaught with most of his limbs still attached.

Conclusion

The more time you put in to learning the pipeline mechanics, the more this mission type will reward you. Taking the time to plan out your pipeline routes and using your team's traversal tools accordingly will make this mission type really easy, and you can always choose to make a roller coaster and goof around with the pipeline-grinding mechanic to squeeze in some extra fun. Placing segments roughly in the direction of a Pumpjack will get the job done, but you might find it more tedious than fun. After you've played one or two Refinery missions, you'll have a pretty good grasp on what to do and about what to expect, and then it's just refining your skills with the new pipeline mechanics. For players that like taking the time to plan out what they're going to do and enjoy the pipeline-grinding, this will be a fun mission type to play over and over again with friends. Hopefully this blog post has been informative and helpful for everyone who's taken the time to read it.

Rock and Stone!
-MeatShield