Natural Selection 2 is a complex game, which might be overwhelming for newcomers. On one hand it means that many things may be confusing at first, but on the other it makes the game very interesting, so it can surprise players with new experiences even after many weeks.
It is very important to go through the tutorials in the Main Menu, it helps immensely to take the first steps in the game. Tutorials for commanders are optional, but they allow to grasp more of the basic concepts.
You are not alone!
NS2 has a vivid community everyone can join. People there are usually very helpful, there are many experienced players who can offer some support, but also newcomers to group with to learn together.
Jumping into the game
There are two basic ways of beginning the game. To quickly start playing one can simply pick the option Quickplay after choosing Play in the main menu. This option will automatically choose a server with matching ping and skill. Until a player reaches level 15 (see Ranking system), they are likely to be directed to a 'bootcamp server'. Bootcamp servers are playgrounds where no veteran players can join.
The Scoreboard can be used to check the name of the server one is playing on, so the next time the same server can be rejoined with use of the Server Browser. In the Browse, the names of Bootcamp server appear in green. It is important to remember that a new player will not be able to get back there after reaching level 15.
Skill and shuffling
Most of the servers use team balancing mechanisms, one of the most popular being ‘shuffle’, which reassigns players to marine and alien teams basing on their Hive Skill. Therefore, choosing a team does not guarantee playing the next round on this team.
Balancing is crucial for good games. It uses custom Hive Skill system to predict the possible outcome of the round and to make sure that the no team will crush the other, spoiling the fun for both sides.
Playing with your friends
NS2 currently has no lobby system, so getting to play with friends may sometimes be troublesome. There are, however, ways to alleviate it.
When a group of friends wants to play the standard (vanilla) NS2 together, they first need to make sure they join the same server. Using Quickplay is therefore not a viable option, and the group should pick the server using the Server Browser.
On the server the group should join the same team. This, however, may not be sufficient, because of team balancing mechanisms. To avoid being separated by such a mechanism, the group may try to use scoreboard to make a friend group. If the server runs Shine Administration (as most of the servers do) players can use scoreboard to mark their friends, by clicking their names and picking the option “Join friend group”. After doing this, the server will try to place all of the members of the group on the same team.
Getting in touch with server community
The majority of NS2 servers are community servers, which means they are run and moderated by NS2 players. Contact with them is usually possibly also outside of the game, many of the servers have their own Discords, which are listed in #community-discords channel of NS2 Discord.
Reacting to Abusive Behavior
Natural Selection 2 is a game which incite emotions, and sometimes not everyone is able to control them. First of all, never respond to agression with agression. If you feel someone's behavior is inappropriate, report them in the server's discord community. Remember that you can always mute the person being offensive both in voice and chat channels.
Understanding what other people want
Natural Selection 2 developed its own language of terms and acronym. Most popular ones are gathered below:
- cc - Command Station
- rt - Resource Tower
- ip - Infantry Portal
- obs - Observatory
- weld - using a Welder to heal the armor of a fellow marine
- scan - using Scan ability of an Observatory to reveal hidden aliens
- med - Med Pack (used primarily to ask for one)
- mist - using Mist ability by the Alien Commander to hasten the evolution of aliens
- flash - to flash means to lose a Lifeform very quickly
Improving your gameplay
There is a comprehensive collection of guides available on the Wiki which could help you improve various aspects of your gameplay. Also remember to visit the page about settings, arguably most important being those about the mouse (sensitivity) and graphics (resolution etc., with large impact on fps).
There are no bad questions! You may find some explanations here.