Too Human (XBox 360) Review & Mini FAQ: Too Human To Quit?
Posted by Yogizilla on October 18, 2011
Recently, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about Dark Souls and how it is one of the hardest games ever. Apparently, you die a lot, which would explain the teaser site PrepareToDie.com. This is not the sort of game you want to play if you can’t commit to a few hours of gameplay at a time.. Or just hate losing.
While I don’t have Dark Souls (yet?), I have been playing Too Human and it shares in the feeling of being (mostly) alone and dying lots. Here’s a game I picked up in the bargain bin and initially dismissed over a year ago. After some more extensive playing (and much frustration), I am pleasantly surprised.
I would say Silicon Knights took Halo, Mass Effect, and Diablo, put them in a pot, sprinkled on some Nordic (or is it Celtic?) folklore, and cooked it all together to come up with Too Human. The fighting itself is more akin to Devil May Cry and Diablo, with a nice balance between arcade and RPG feel. The crafting, equipment, and inventory systems feel more like Mass Effect.. Yet the game feels like an MMO, as you may find it necessary to grind a bit to get past certain parts and, really, partying up is key for the group buffs. Alas, only two-player support in this one..
It’s worth reiterating that, though I really love the game now, I find it frustrating that I die so much (I’m dying a lot less now using Soothing items and playing co-op but single player story mode can be brutal). A few explosive hits or direct attacks from an elite mob or leader and I’m done. It seems explosions and ranged attacks are what I am most vulnerable to right now.
My mian character’s armor is at around 300 (actually, 1000+ now at Level 36 and growing), thanks to items that give +percentage armor bonuses yet I am still pretty squishy. Good thing Bio Engineers can heal.. And they have the biggest HP pool, it seems. May be better to go with Health bonuses over Armor bonuses, actually…
SIDEBAR: Support classes and builds are tough to solo so items with Soothing help minimize aggro but it seems mainly effective against aggressive melee mobs. High-level runes are the way to go (purple or higher) to get those stats up but be sure to put them into rare items with high max equipment state (durability) so you don’t waste it on stuff you’ll soon out-grow.
I am working on completing the third world, the World Serpent, and it seems like certain parts are guaranteed to kill you four or five times in a row. Jumping and rolling only temporarily averts disaster. Baldur moves about as if he has a metric ton of crap in his pants (his movement speed and air time is determined by class, too). Rather annoying.
The good news is that you respawn close to where you die (that can be bad at times, though), but only after being forced to sit through a scene in which a valkyrie whisks you away. Each time you die, equipped items take damage. Typically, you’ll want to go back to Aesier if you die four or five times or your items will be less effective.. And you’ll die even more.
P.S. So it turns out every character is squishy except for maybe the Defender and Champion. While writing this, I played online some more and found comfort in knowing others died easily too. YAY!
Getting Started Right
Choosing the right class is huge in this game. 14+ hours in (counting pauses that still run the game clock), I’ve found that the Bio Engineer rocks but is mostly a support character. The good news is that he can heal himself (and allies) using skills or by just avoiding damage for a while. Comes in handy in between big battles but, during battles, not so much.
Here’s a look at the hero/character classes or types in the game:
- Champion – The obligatory jack of all trades (think Crimson Elite in RAGE) hero, the Champion is the best at air combos. His aerial prowess makes him great for flashy Devil-May-Cry-style combatants looking to maximize combo meters and spam more AoE nukes.
- Berserker – If dual-wielding weapons other than pistols is your thing, the Berserker is Too Human’s answer to the Diablo Barbarian equivalent. This guy seems to be the way to go if you like close quarters combat and prefer to stick to the ground.
- Commando – The Commando can optimize all ranged weapons including explosives (if you go cybernetics) for massive crowd control. Alternatively, you can go the human path for increased ROF (Rate of Fire) and fast reloads, amongst other perks. The trade-off is that he kinda sucks at close range and is more of an end-game character. Also, playing the Commando can be boring for some due to low-twitch/button-mashing.
- Defender – No game with role-playing mechanics is complete without a tank. You give up some damage dealing in favor of damage absorption and neat procs (early on, the Defender can be set up to freeze enemies or reflect damage, which is nice). This will likely be my next class to focus on as I prefer high-hit combos over quick kills (they’re rewarded better).. And it’d be nice not to be so squishy. Defenders seem to be super slow so getting max combos will be tough.
- Bio-Engineer – This flavor of engineer is a cleric and support specialist in one. He has some awesome crowd control options assuming you can get your combo meter up with minimal damage taken. I like playing this class but he is easily the most challenging hero to play in the game.
In addition to base classes, you have three branches in your skill tree to develop but, realistically, you can only focus on one path at a time. Each path offers two or three active skills, which map to the X (battle cry AoE ability), Y (spider AoE ability), and RB (ruiner nuke) buttons. Spiders can function as turrets, mines, shields, and wards.
Once you complete the Hall of Heroes missions, you’ll have access to the Aesier home world. Here, you can shop, train, learn new moves and strategies, repair items, and choose between the human or cybernetics path… Or you can hang out with a co-op partner to trade items and sort your inventory out.
- Cybernetics – If your build requires higher DPS (Damage Per Second), cybernetics is the path for you. Commandos and Berserkers seem like they benefit more here because they’re the real damage dealers in the game. Your abilities will also receive longer durations. Cybernetic heroes can also use cannons and tend to handle taking more damage. They also get weapon-based ruiners, which introduces a whole new level of depth.
- Human – If you rely on your combo meter and hit count/efficiency, go human. For most this would seem like the better choice. Abilities recharge faster for humans, which is better for mines and nukes. The human alignment offers abilities that are nice for many classes, particularly Commando, Berserker, and Bio-Engineer, from what I gather thus far. Human alignment makes loot with more rune slots drop, too!
I went human for my first play-through because my guy is not really a damage dealer so the bonuses would end up sucking. More importantly, my combo meter keeps me and my teammates alive so maximizing combo opportunities makes more sense.
I went with the initial build of going with the stasis mine and minor heal but a smart respec for 1000 bounty seems to be working out even better.. And I realized I forgot to hit RT/LT to toggle between the Bio-Engineer (class) and Human (alignment) skill trees.
With the Human alignment, I’m looking to pimp out my ballistic skills since the first skill in the other branch seems mostly useless to me since I don’t really use the Fierce Attacks. Fierce Attacks come in handy when you can keep your distance but that’s not always an option.
On Second Thought: Having a more powerful ruiner will likely help later in the game, especially since the Vakylrie siphons enemy health for me. I still wish Fierce Attacks (same button combination as Finisher) were more easier to execute.. Still, now I’m thinking the bonuses to ruiner and spider abilities are worth it. Hmmmm… What build will you go with?
Cooperative Farming & Trading
I finally got to play online co-op (more now) and I loved it. The lag of self-hosting (versus dedicated servers) and lack of game sessions aside, I found that even beginner areas were still challenging and offered great XP. In an hour of playing with a level 1 newbie, I leveled up three times and still died as much as my pard, though I kept him healed (he was too aggressive as a Champion, really).
The trading system allows you to swap or give four items at a time, including weapons, armor, charms, and runes. I dumped some of my low level stuff to my new Too Human pard. He was super excited too!
Co-op play foregoes story elements in favor of greater battle frequency, adaptive enemy difficulties, and bigger crowds. You can only play with two players at a time, which kind of sucks (I guess it’s to keep mobs manageable and allow for attack chains/combos), but fortunately every class compliments the others well, for the most part.
If you like to farm for loot and/or grind for XP, co-op play is a great way to prepare for tough areas in the campaign. We played with round robin so loot got circulated evenly. You can also choose random or free-for-all loot distribution depending on what your goals are.
SIDEBAR: Loot and enemy levels will be determined by the highest enemy level so you may want to stick to partners within ten levels of you or someone will die often or have to hang back until they power level (and can equip better-suited items).
I’ll likely play a lot more online until I can be better-prepared for the campaign. Currently, I take out enemies fast but do poorly fighting mixed crowds (explosive and ranged attacks can be a pain when fighting aggressive melee hordes). For my character, fighting on the edges and taking to the air works best. It seems Berserkers, Defenders, and Champions do best “in the huddle”.
Loot, Craft, And Salvage
The weapons in the game each have distinct advantages and disadvantages. It’s a lot to get into here so I recommend trying out different melee and ranged weapon combinations to see what works for you. Typically, you’ll have to choose between crowd control, optimal combos, or long-range/edge fighting. Here are some combos that I find work well.
- Crowd Control – When you’re getting surrounded often, a good hammer works wonders. You can slam it into the ground to send multiple enemies flying into the air and buy yourself some time. Staves also tend to have a nice wide arc, which is why they’re the default melee weapon for commandos, but I prefer one-handed hammers combined with plasma rifles. With the plasma rifle, you get explosive seconadry attacks that affect a medium-sized area. Definitely handy for managing large crowds at almost any distance.
- Edge Combat – If you need to keep your distance, rifles are the way to go once again. Plasma ammo will give you a wider damage area while slugs will do more damage. Laser rifles are good for armored enemies but take a while to charge up and do optimal damage. As for melee weapons, you can use a sword or stave to use it’s ranged attack and plow through charging enemies while you widen the gap.
- Maximized Combos – Swords seem to be the fastest melee weapons, especially the one-handed varieties. Speed trumps damage when you’re going for maximum combos. Dual pistols work well to keep your hit counts up and regain your ground but they are limited in range when compared to rifles. Slugs and plasma are the preferred ammo for combo building.
Special Properties: Each weapon types has hidden special properties. You can see the full list in Tyr’s Workshop (the weapon shop in Aesier). What I found interesting is that two-handed melee weapons have a higher proc rate, meaning you get a better chance to root, snare, etc. That will work well for my current build as my Bio Engineer can convert enemies into allies temporarily as a passive ability.
One-handed swords are faster and have a chance to critical strike. A berserker will benefit from this most. They do the most melee damage (especially with a high DPS cybernetics build) and I’ve seen them clear out huge mobs within seconds. BTW, end-game commandos do the same, except with ranged weapons. Insane!
Dual wield weapons have a built-in speed and damage bonus. To see what I’m talking about, locate the first set of robotic arms in Tyr’s workshop. Push A to interact, as you do with any contextual-action-enabled object. This list breaks down AoE, AS, charge-up rates, and other handy information.
Tons Of Guns: Oddly enough, the “gods” of Aesir love gun play so expect many gun drops. I switch between laser and slugs mostly right now but each ammo type offers a nice benefit, as I’ve hinted. Plasma is particularly nice if you can buff the plasma blast radius. This allows you to hit multiple targets at once, which is great against large enemies with multiple armored parts. Lasers seem to be best against heavily-armored units (they take a while to charge up to max damage) while slugs are more balanced but not particularly awesome at anything. All ranged/ballistic weapons have wide AoE secondary fire (except for pistols, which you dual-wield), which can be quite handy against hordes of enemies. Slugs also have a higher ROF.
Salvage: By default, Auto Salvage will typically get rid of the lowest-value items as your inventory gets full. The problem with this is that sometimes you’ll get powerful items that have empty rune slots so try to change your salvage rules or salvage stuff manually after loot-heavy runs.
Blueprints: I’ve found that roughly one out of every 200-400 enemies will drop a blueprint (they can also be found in shops and spires). Typically, the tougher mobs drop the best loot. Elites (the bigger versions of baddies) are especially good for loot. Blueprints can be crafted into items that are the equivalent of equipment five to ten levels greater than your current experience (purple and up in QL).
Elite Gear: Keep an eye out for elite gear. They’ll have the word “Elite” in their names. If you see purple, orange items, or red, this is some of the best equipment around. Elite gear can be used in sets for added bonuses but some fellow warriors tell me you’re lucky if you get a drop in two or three play-throughs (the Too Human community is very helpful and friendly, BTW). For the record, I have yet to complete a set but I’m only about 20% through the campaign with my Bio-Engineer.. And it’s a long, arduous road ahead…
Epic Charms: Tier 3 charms show up in red. They have insane requirements to activate their bonuses (usually +1 to weapon or armor skills). I just got one that requires 3000 enemy kills with a hit counter of 20 or more – and I thought 300 was a lot!! You also need higher QL runes to complete more potent charms.
Combos And Stylish Strategy
Too Human goes beyond the hack-and-slash formula of the Diablo series by forcing you to be more strategic and stylish. If you do not get 20 hit counters or more per battle segment, you’ll find that spamming your abilities will not really be feasible. Understanding the HUD (Heads-Up Display) is difficult at first. There’s a lot going on and it’s not always clear what abilities are available at a glance, which is further frustrating during intense battles.
The most important strategy I’d say is knowing when to stockpile your combo meter and when to cash it in. I’ll explain further as it’s tricky business. Here are some tips for making Too Human a more satisfying experience:
- Ruin Them – Your ruiner is best used when you pull aggro and find yourself surrounded. In the beginning, your basic ruiner will kill all enemies around you but you can use enhanced items and skill points to boost your ruiner – definitely worth it!
- Finish Them – Using the same button combination as you do with your sentient weapon or fierce attack (both analog sticks in the same direction at once), you can unleash a finisher that will OHK many mobs or at least knock down some defenses. This helps you get more combo meter too so you can follow it up with a ruiner, spider, or whatever tickles your fancy! In the air or on the ground, air finishers are awesome for knocking off armor plates and getting some combo meter boosts.
- Back To Back – Since AoE buffs only work within a limited radius, it’s best to stay close to your fellow warriors to keep them covered and spam your buffs when possible. This also keeps your back side protected from rear intrusion.
- Slide And Juggle – Most enemies I’ve encountered can catch you in a roll but slides can help you get away faster. Doing a 2-in-1 slide-juggle keeps enemies off the ground (and off your back). This gives you more space and helps you whittle down enemy health bars. Don’t forget you can air dash, too!
- Roll And Nade – This technique is suggested by many pros but it seems to fail unless you master back rolls and enhance rolling distance. The idea is to widen the gap and cause wide area damage so, when the mobs get close, they’ll be easier to kill. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some knockbacks too!
- Juggling Fodder – Once you can consistently juggle enemies in the air, getting several enemies flying and shooting at them will help you get some nice combos. Slugs seem to be best for hit counters since they have the fastest ROF (Rate of Fire). Laser juggles look really cool.
- Level Three – If you don’t rely on your special abilities, keeping the combo meter at level three will give you some nice bonuses to damage, attack speed, experience, and more (you’ll see the bonuses in the lower left-hand corner of your HUD). Of course, when you’re pinned down, using ruiners/nukes is inevitable unless you like to die a lot…
- Forced Genocide – Enemies like the heavily-armored trolls do AoE (Area of Effect, BTW) damage so getting them to attack their own allies is fun. You’ll miss out on experience points but you’ll get some drops and thin out the mobs, if you do it right and survive.
- Back To The Wall – Sometimes escape is not an option so I find a corner where I have cover from ranged attacks and can hack away at melee mobs as they rush in like fools. This works particularly well with the hammer, as you can spam the ground smash and focus on tougher enemies.
- Worm Roll – Long-range combat is too risky against some of the bigger baddies and, in those cases, try rolling around them while getting a few hits here and there. For slow enemies this works very well as long as you avoid swiping and other AoE attacks. Rolling to set up an air finisher works well too.
- Polar Opposites – Some enemies are immune to melee damage but highly-vulnerable to ballistic/ranged damage (and vice versa). These are polarized enemies and they’re hard to spot at times because they change colors when attacked. They also blend in really well due to poor development choices. It’s best to get your hit counter up to 20 or more. The higher your combo meter and hit counter, the quicker you’ll cut these guys down. For huge, towering enemies, a few air finishers work wonders! Using fierce attacks or finishers against the right polarity is good for greater combo meter bonuses, too.
There are many other tricks and strategies that work well in Too Human so experiment to see what works for you. There are bouts where spamming and button mashing is a must but there’s a finesse to it all usually.
Awesome Game Mechanics, Sub-Par Execution
I love how ambitious the Too Human project was. Once you get used to the control scheme, wacky camera, and HUD, the combos are actually quite intuitive. In essence, if you can point at things, you can play. The poor camera angles and controls (up/down on the D-pad and LB) force you to adjust and re-position yourself often. It takes time getting used to the tap, push, and hold game combat mechanics.
Dying is even less attractive than it usually is since it means you have to wait a bit before you respawn. Sometimes, the game feels rigged as the difficulty progression and balance seem to be stacked against you.
Beyond that, the game is an amazing value for the current street price in most markets ($20 USD via XBox LIVE Games On Demand or under $10 USD used). It’s definitely better played with a teammate as mobs focus on human players more than NPCs. This game apparently bombed upon release, which is a shame.. I hope to see someone learn from this game and at least make a spiritual successor. The ideas here are too good and unique to abandon.
A little fine-tuning with the balancing and controls would make this game a huge hit. I’d throw in randomized dungeons and arenas for extra replay value. Really, the issues with camera control and targeting are what make Too Human frustratingly hard at times. Some enemies randomly perform OHK’s so watch out when you’re exposed.
What’s a shame is that DLC updates never were released. Apparently, Silicon Knights had the stuff ready but Microsoft Studios decided to nix the whole thing. That explains why the online shops are empty. It would have been nice to have easier item transfers between characters and that was the plan, too.. Oh well!
In spite of the glaring issues with the game, that are dedicated players still building up their characters almost four years later. Not many games have that sort of shelf life, broken or not!
Again, I really love the combo system. You will find that you don’t always hit your intended target but, when you figure out the nuances, the combo system rivals the beat-em-up sexixness of Guardian Heroes (one of my all-time favorites). As an old-school Street Fighter fan, I dig games with fluid high-hit combo systems.. To me, it’s a huge rush watching the hit counters go up and up!!
Too Human Has A Story, Too!
I leave the story for last because, really, it’s not much of a story. Your hero, Baldur, is a god, along with familiar names like Loki and Thor.. And you all seem to worship Odin as the ultimate supreme being.
Too Human places you as humanity’s last hope, the Aesier gods, but you’re really out for vengeance and answers. Your loved one has been killed and the truths that surface are a bit unsettling.
Your quest pits you against hordes of mechanized goblins, trolls, and dark elves. You also fight the undead. It’s an interesting take on time-old folk lore but Too Human falls short in the storytelling department. It’s all about gameplay.
That said, campaign play has been mostly satisfying thus far. Cinematic cut scenes include flashbacks and real-time events that give you more background story and gameplay tips. Really, campaign play is great for getting a feel for everything but don’t expect an epic storyline like you’d find in Mass Effect or even Gears of War.
Dialogue is decent as is the voice acting. Characters have facial expressions that almost sell you on the emotion you’re supposed to be feeling, too. Thing is, the characters are mostly flat so you don’t get a feel for immersion as you would with a full-on RPG.
All and all, this is more a game to play for the action, co-op fun, and deep customization. With all the items in the game, there are easily thousands of unique builds you can make for your hero, making the game a good candidate for return visits.. But I have yet to delve deeper there! If you want a brawler with high replay value, give Too Human a try.. Keep in mind the demo is not even close to the full game (many things have changed since the demo released years ago).