I will not be updating this for a bit still due to the crisis regarding Hurricane Sandy. That being said, I do fully intend to finish this guide in the future. I just want to get back on my feet and spend some time relaxing before I do more tedious writing. Please have patience, and in the meantime I can answer any questions about the guide OR the game.
Use the Table of Contents and CTRL+F to navigate. I've numbered everything here, so it should work, but I don't currently have access to a PC to test.
Hi, all! I'm Cougar, known best around here for my presence in the SARPBC community, and I present to you the first guide to Psyonix's new title, ARC Squadron. The purpose of this guide is to explain the most basic of topics to new players, while touching upon some of the more advanced concepts of the game and detailing the many levels, bosses, upgrades, and explosions this game has to offer. I intend to update this as I see fit, and I will take community suggestions as I have a lot of free time on my hands right now. So, without further ado, let's dive right in!
Table of Contents
1.0 - Version Information
1.1 - Introduction
1.2 - Movement
1.3 - Hangar
1.3.1 - Ships
1.3.2 - Special Weapons
1.3.3 - Skins
1.3.4 - Spending Tips
1.4 - Flow of the Game
1.5 - An Introduction to Wormholes
2.0 - Main Sequence Walkthrough
2.1 - Asteroid Belt
2.W.1 - Wormhole I
2.2 - Plagued Space
2.3 - Dark Moon
2.4 - Junkyard
2.W.4 - Wormhole IV
2.5 - Orbital Waste
2.6 - Echo Station
2.7 - Absolute Zero
2.W.7 - Wormhole VII
2.8 - Frozen Shard
2.9 - Reactor Run
2.W.9 - Wormhole IX
3.0 - Bosses
3.1 - Guardian I
3.2 - Junk Monster
3.3 - Phantom
3.4 - Guardian II
3.5 - Gerwin
3.6 - Centice
3.7 - Guardian III
3.8 - Clock Block
3.9 - Ice Cap
W.0 - Introduction to Challenge Wormholes
W.2 - Cube Challenge Wormhole
W.3 - Obstacle Challenge Wormhole
W.5 - Target Challenge Wormhole
W.6 - Obstacle Challenge Wormhole 2
W.8 - Low Health Challenge Wormhole
4.0 - Closing Comments
1.0 Version Information
•11/6/12 - Started writing the guide
•11/7/12 - Yes, I really have this much free time... Published!
•11/7/12 - A place for everything, and now everything is in its place.
Alright, so ARC Squadron is an on-rails space shooter designed in the style of Star Fox. If you're familiar with that series, then you are fortunate and come into this game with a greater understanding of the core concepts than a complete newcomer. That being said, this game is a totally different monster, so previous knowledge will take you about as far as that '80s driving game at the arcade took you on your driving test.
This game is similar to Star Fox in its system mechanics, but it is considerably different overall because it is a lot more edgy. You can't just pop one of your 20 stockpiled smartbombs if you get into trouble, or DO A BARREL ROLL. You seriously just have to react your way out of everything. The concept startled me at first, but I don't recall any point where I was so overwhelmed that I didn't think I could beat the game. It was just much different than what I was used to.
Now, if you haven't played Star Fox, then none of this means anything at all. Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about anyone! There's a reason that I wanted to write this guide, and it wasn't to help the masters of the genre become even leeter gosu epic godlike pwners. It was to help everyone develop the skills that create an ideal experience in this new, groundbreaking title. So, why not start with the basics?
Ok, so let's start with ship control. Movement is the one common thing that is incredibly important in all video games, and that, of course, doesn't change here. In fact, movement is practically the only thing that's important in this game since the primary weapons are aimed based entirely on your ship's movement. I can't stress this enough, honestly. Movement is the single most important concept in the entire game.
You move by swiping the screen. You can use your fingers, your thumb, or your nose. The most natural way to move precisely is to keep the preferred instrument of war held on the screen at all times, but as you will eventually find out, that isn't always the best way. Sometimes, when you need a little more movement, you can flick across the screen and even remove your finger for a moment while your ship continues to fly in the direction you flicked. Fast movement is pretty important, especially for picking up cubes, so every little bit helps.
Note: Feel free to turn the sensitivity all the way up. Yup, just... Yeah. All the way. It helps so much in so many different ways. Of course, it's a matter of preference.
If you swipe hard enough, you will barrel roll*. This can free you from certain shocking attacks that prevent you from firing until you barrel roll*. Other than that, barrel rolling* is just for style and happens more accidentally than intentionally. After all, if you're moving efficiently, you're moving fast. If you're moving fast, you're swiping fast. And if you're swiping fast, then you're barrel rolling*.
*I had to promise myself to limit the use of "Do a barrel roll!" because that joke is just so easy to kill by repetition.
So yeah, to summarize, just move by dragging across the screen, and swipe/flick when you need to move quickly.
You buy these because they are good. You don't upgrade them until the end because you will buy a new one soon anyway. You wait for me to update this section because you love penguins. Just roll with it.
1.3.2 Special Weapons
Special weapons are those things that suck up your money and kill things fast. You activate these by tapping the screen, sometimes on enemies, sometimes in a direction, and sometimes anywhere. It all depends on the weapon. The more you upgrade these, the stronger they get, and the less cooldown they have.
I'll detail all the weapons more in a future update.
These are pretty colors for your ship. I'd love to say I will update this in the future, but honestly, there isn't much to this. Just buy these last after you've bought everything else, and you'll have plenty of money. Ezpz.
1.3.4 Spending Tips
•As I mentioned before, don't upgrade ships until you have the Z-Fighter. Doing so simply wastes your money.
•Try to stick to one or two special weapons and upgrade them during the first playthrough. All the specials are bad until they're nearly maxed. I, for example, rushed max Laser and didn't buy another special weapon until Blackhole. Whatever you choose to use comes down to personal preference, but please don't try to do too much at once. You'll get killed if you don't have a good ship when you reach Hard levels.
•Don't buy skins until you beat the game.
•If you're willing to farm Hard Wormhole III for a little bit once you reach it, you can skip the Falcon entirely and rush Z-Fighter. Of course, this is optional, but it worked for me.
One last note, so don't open the spoiler if you don't want to know about a neat little post-game thing.
1.4 Flow of the Game
So you finished the training, and are preparing to dive in and make a supersonic acrobatic rocket-powered splash. Or maybe you're somewhere in the middle of Failure Road after buying all your favorite skins before any ships. Either way, you're here, and you should know how the game works.
You start off doing something. A few cubes may appear, or maybe you see a couple Guardian ships that would be better off as debris. Anyway, you play through a level, and you'll face a variety of enemies. There is little to no explanation required, as I believe some things are just more fun to learn through experience. This is a fun game to learn. Learn it.
Cube sections do deserve a special explanation. Every now and then, some cubes will appear. If you collect them all in order, the normal points will get multiplied. This is crucial if you're aiming for high scores. Also, as an interesting little note, if you collect every cube, an extra one will appear and will follow you no matter where you go, meaning you will automatically collect it. Neat, eh?
Also, while we're on the topic of scores, there is one more thing that can greatly increase your scores. If you destroy multiple enemies in quick succession, you just did a combo and will get a multiplier based on the combo length. This is the difference between 3 stars and 4 stars. You have to get big combos if you want to be a true Space Ace.
1.5 An Introduction to Wormholes
Wormholes, meet reader. Reader, meet the coolest thing since ice cream.
There are 9 Wormholes in total, and like all levels, they have 3 difficulty levels. What's important to note is the difference between Main Sequence Wormholes and Challenge Wormholes. Main Sequence Wormholes are Wormholes that are necessary for beating the game. They are found on the main path. You literally can't miss them. Specifically, these are Wormholes 1, 4, 7, and 9. Challenge Wormholes, on the other hand, are off to the side. I recommend doing them all. They are really, really good for income and make an insane amount of money once you make your third pass through the galaxy. These fun little levels include Wormholes 2, 3, 5, 6, and 8. I'll have a section about Challenge Wormholes later!
2.0 Main Sequence Walkthrough
This is the section where I will be adding guides for each of the 13 Main Sequence levels. Each level will be assumed to be on Hard, but the advice may apply on easier difficulties as well. Be patient, as writing takes a while! And it takes even longer on an iPod!
2.1 Asteroid Belt
2.W.1 Wormhole I
2.2 Plagued Space
2.3 Dark Moon
2.W.4 Wormhole IV
2.5 Orbital Waste
2.6 Echo Station
2.7 Absolute Zero
2.W.7 Wormhole VII
2.8 Frozen Shard
2.9 Reactor Run
Surely you didn't think you could just beat up on all the little guys, right? I don't know when I'll update this section, since a proper walkthrough of the bosses would require a restart (I can pretty much OHKO early bosses). I am not writing strategies here for 100% health bosses! I'm simply explaining all the attacks, patterns, and weaknesses to the best of my ability and providing a consistent way to crush your opposition. Some assembly required.
3.1 Guardian I
3.2 Junk Monster
3.4 Guardian II
3.7 Guardian III
3.8 Clock Block
3.9 Ice Cap
W.0 Introduction to Challenge Wormholes
I believe that all games are played in the mind. Thus, the proper mindset and information is the key to success in gaming of any form. In this section, I will try to equip you with the Wormhole skills necessary to become a Sergeant of the Master Sergeants Most Important Person of Extreme Sergeant to the Max!
Err... You had to be there, I guess.
The key to this level, like most things in this game, is control. Just control your ship well. Use the principles found in [ctrl + f > Movement] to fly around the screen quickly and accurately. At some point, you will probably need max or near-max sensitivity and will definitely need to swipe and lift your finger off the screen for a moment or two. The ship carries momentum pretty well, so you don't need to babysit it too much in sections where cubes are really far apart.
So why Wormhole III? Well, I started seriously trying to improve once I saw how much money there was to make. Each run takes somewhere around 2 minutes, and on hard that equals somewhere in the range of 80,000 - 140,000 if memory serves me right. And once you're decent, the 80,000 is pretty much guaranteed, so you make insane money even if your run failed. Then I started to realize I had a shot at the WR, so that's when I started inadvertently farming like mad.
But what is this beast of a level, anyway? Well, it's a series of moving objects that slide out from walls and do spinny things and try to stop you from progressing. I'm going to start explaining how to farm hard Wormhole 3 starting next paragraph. This will apply to earlier W3's as well, but the timing-related tidbits will be off by a bit.
Caution: The following information contains timing-based advice that may only apply to Hard W3. If you intend to play on some other difficulty, which is recommended for record runs but not farming or practice, then take the following walkthrough loosely.
Tap the screen to start as soon as possible. If you don't do it within a second or so, the initial timings won't be as easy. You start off in a long chamber of broken fans and rotating objects. Immediately steer toward the top-right of the screen. The ideal position for your ship is as far to the right as possible, and just above the middle of your screen (read: not the middle of the wall that is marked by the line, the middle of your screen.). Now make a sammich.
As you pass the last + shaped obstacle, don't forget to steer a little away from the wall so the door doesn't hit you in the tooshie.
You'll come into an open area with some beams and broken structures. After going over the first beam, fly to the left and pass the first fan, then drop to the bottom of the screen and pass the second. You'll get through this room very easily. As you enter the next tunnel, start toward the bottom left, then fly top-left, top-right, and top-middle. Then drop to the middle, and react to the four upcoming sliding doors. It's worth note that the first door will never come from the top. It's not like you can't react to it anyway, but it's still worth knowing. KNOWING IS EVERYTHING.
Tip: Doors that come from the right and especially the top will appear a little slower than left and bottom because the part that comes out to the middle of the screen is empty. On left and bottom doors, there is a little semicircle-ish thing sticking out, so you can recognize the movement quickly by looking at that.
After you pass the last of the four doors, fly yourself over to the top right of the tunnel and hug that wall. You'll fly through a fan thing and over a pipe. After the pipe, keep hugging the right wall and drop down a little so you're just above the line on the wall. Just stay there. The door at the end of the corridor will open, and a couple of obstacles will naturally be there to greet you. Just stay on the right, and then do a barrel roll (!) to the left to avoid the... Thingies. I don't know what to call this stuff. :/
After you avoid said thingies, fly to the center of the bottom to avoid the first fan, and hug the top-left to avoid the second fan and the next two stationary structures. You can optionally dodge the second of the two structures to the right, but I prefer the top left since it helps me react better. Two doors will appear quickly, the first coming from the left or right and the second coming from the top or bottom.
Migrate to the mid-high right area of the screen when you reach this second open area, and pass by the first circular obstacle and over the first beam. After that beam, drop down and pass by two more circular obstacles, then prepare for a 1337 legit maneuver! Start near the right from the fan, barrel roll (or just move quickly) diagonally to the top left, then to the bottom left after you pass the first beam, then back to the middle! I hope that's how it's done, anyway. Alternatively, you can start at the top right and drop to the middle. I'm just used to the former more, so I don't ever mess it up.
Here we go. Most important section for a high score. By now, if you've practiced this a bit, you should still have all 7 hits available or 6 if you messed up a little or got a bad break. Depending on your focus, you can come out of this either unscathed or dead. I will warn you that if you fall behind the curve and start taking hits, this will snowball very quickly because you have a total of 10 doors to react to.
Note: From now on, I will refer to door pairs as HV or VH for Horizontal-then-Vertical or Vertical-then-Horizontal.
You're still moving a bit slow during the first HV pair. If the first door comes from the left, you're on easy street. If it comes from the right, you're a bit screwed since you're blinded by it for quite some time, but if you have good reactions it's still ok. Move to the mid-high left immediately after the second door, then prepare to dodge a VH pair. After that, head mid-high left again followed by mid-right and another HV pair. After that, mid-high left followed by a diagonal pair, then mid-high left (surprise!) followed by one final HV pair.
Upon exiting this tunnel, which I simply call Red, dodge the incoming fans at the top, followed by dodging a rotating half-wall at the right, and doing the beam drill I described before Red (top-left, bottom-left) and moving over to the bottom-right.
Eventually you'll enter a blue tunnel, where you should stay near the bottom until you pass the first beam. After that, get to top right and stay there. After two more stationary beam obstacles, there will be three half-walls in quick succession. Start top-right, barrel roll left, then stay at the top. Watch out, because an HV pair is coming right up! After that, dodge a stationary door to the right, then get ready! It's a big corridor with lots of stuff that lines up perfectly for you to make another sammich.
Just dodge to the bottom-left then move to the bottom-right.
You'll come to the end and...? It starts all over again! You start back at that first open room. The only change to note is that the timings are different, so the second dodges after the four doors in that next corridor are a little different. You have to dodge that first blue fan high, then get to the right as usual. In the grey area, just get to the top right. You'll start taking hits like crazy, so just try to dodge things. Unfortunately, I can't reach beyond this area consistently enough yet to write more on it! But reaching this area of the second run, while extremely difficult and requiring a lot of practice, will net you a lot of cash and an extremely high position on the leaderboards.
As for dodging doors, aside from knowing whether it's an HV pair or VH pair, it's all about reaction time. Just practice, practice, practice, and you'll not only be able to breeze through Red with only a scratch or two, but you can buy everything with all the money you made!
Final note: If you're going for record runs, do it on easy. It makes everything so much slower and easier to react to.
4.0 Closing Comments
Well, you've reached the end of my guide! I'd like to thank you for reading this, thank the forum for being supportive and friendly people, and, most importantly, thank Psyonix for making this amazingly addictive game. I was affected by Hurricane Sandy, and this game has given me something to do to pass the time. Can't say I expected anything less from you guys.
This guide is NOT even close to being finished! I just wanted to get this out here before anybody becomes confused or bored and gives up. I will update as time goes on with in-depth weapon descriptions, and level guides that rival the detail of my Wormhole III guide that is currently in place. Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere!
Thanks again for reading, and I would greatly appreciate feedback on what the community feels is a high priority for updating ASAP!