A Guide to Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Multiplayer
1. The Basics and Etiquette
Jedi Outcast is a game with a unique multiplayer atmosphere. When you're just starting out, it can be a confusing experience. If you do or fail to do certain things, you might be picked on or even kicked by the denizens of a server, so it is very important to know how to behave. Admittedly, this has turned many players off of the multiplayer experience, but for most servers this is just a fact that must be accepted if you want to really play the game. How and why these practices came about is beyond the scope of this guide, but rest assured that you will learn everything necessary to start out Jedi Outcast's multiplayer on the right foot.
When you first fire up the multiplayer portion of the game, you'll want to immediately head over to the setup screen and configure your player. It's a sad fact that if you go onto most servers with the default white name of "padawan", other players are going to assume you're a noob and they will treat you as such. A few servers will kick a "padawan" player outright. Avoid these baseless judgments and choose a name for yourself before you start. You'll avoid some potential trouble later on. Optionally, you can give some color to your name in the same way as any other game based on the Quake 3 engine: with the ^ character, followed by a number. Play around with different numbers to discover all of the colors. It is also possible to switch colors multiple times within the name, so enjoy personalizing your experience.
When you're done setting up your character, it's time to jump into a game. When you hit "join game", you probably won't see any servers initially. Go and change "source" from "local" to "internet" up at the top of the screen, and then hit "get new list" to connect to the server list. This late in the game's life, you probably won't see a large number of servers, but there are plenty to choose from.
Jedi Outcast is unique in that most gametypes are not actually what you think they are. If you see a server running the map ffa_bespin, chances are it's not actually a free-for-all deathmatch with weapons and force powers where every man fends for himself. Most servers running this map, particularly clan servers - you can tell these by the clan tags at the beginning of the name, naturally - disallow weapons and run mods that specifically disable force powers except for jump, offense and defense. This will apply to other servers running other maps, and it might not apply to every server running ffa_bespin. Still, this is a fair generalization. There are a few other gametypes, but it mostly boils down to duel and not-really-FFA gametypes. If you want to be sure about the details of a server, you can always select it in the list and hit "server info" to find out what mod it's running and who is playing on it. Keep an eye out for servers that have nobody but bots populating them! You'll recognize bot names easily because they sound like characters from the single-player game and they have all-white names. Make sure a server has real people before joining, unless you just really want to kill some bots. But then that's not why you want to play multiplayer, is it?
If you want to play online in a deathmatch with full force powers and weapons, this guide won't be of much help to you. Hunt down a server that allows these things and have fun! Let's briefly cover duel servers before moving on to the main focus of the guide. On a duel server, players are put into a queue as spectators while two players duke it out in a one-on-one lightsaber duel. Typically these don't allow force powers either. On a duel server, when you get your turn to play, you'll want to start out with a bow to your opponent (see below) before beginning the fight. Most servers also frown upon kicking the opponent (doing a wall-flip or side-wall-flip off of an opponent will damage them and knock them down) and attacking an opponent who is on the ground due to a failed saber-lock. Let them get back up and then resume the fight. Aside from that, there isn't much to say.
From here on out, I'll assume you're on a "regular" FFA server. These servers have a lot of unwritten etiquette rules that baffle most new players. For starters, when you enter the server you'll want to make sure you have the right force powers allocated. Max out your jump, saber offense and defense before entering the game. When you enter the game, your lightsaber will be on - turn it off! Running around with your saber turned on conveys a threat to other players and make them feel uneasy. Even though the gametype is called "free-for-all", it is not correct to attack any other player - unless they attack you first, of course. The real point of this game mode is to duel other players.
"Why not just play on duel servers?" you might ask. The answer is that in duel servers, only two players are fighting each other at any given time. On a FFA server, with the help of mods - the vanilla game cannot do this - any number of players can be dueling at the same time. To instigate a duel with another player, you hit the challenge button. The default button is k, although I prefer to have it closer to WASD so I don't have to reach for the button. When you're engaged in a duel with another player, you and the other player get full health and are covered in blue. This means no other players can damage you, and you cannot damage any other player. Of course, other players can still get in the way, because you can not run through them no matter what. It's courteous to avoid duels already in progress at all times, so you won't interfere.
When a duel begins, you have to bow to your opponent. Just hit the crouch button, and optionally look down to simulate a bowing motion. The duel begins when both players have finished bowing. If you don't bow, your opponent might not know you've started, which is unfair to him. Believe me, you'll get yelled at for not doing it, at the least.
At the end of a duel, one player will be dead. No matter which one is you, be sure to say "good fight" or "gf" (to chat, hit the y key). This is like bowing - you just have to do it, or you'll get hell from the other players. Besides that, it's just a nice thing to say. If you're the winner of the duel, remember to shut off your lightsaber! Go challenge some more players to duels and have more fun!
2. Beginning Combat
Want to know how to win a lightsaber duel? You need to start here. There are three lightsaber styles to use in a fight:
2.A. Blue Style Basics
Blue style is the fast, weak style. It lets you chain up to ten attacks in a row with no restrictions. Each hit does fifteen points of damage, which isn't much but can add up over time. The special attack of the blue style is the lunge, probably the most useful special of all the styles. Crouch and hit forward and attack to do a lunge. The lunge is great because it moves you quickly forward and disrupts the other guy's lightsaber, knocking it away and preventing him from attacking. The rear attack is the backstab, and it's good, but other rear attacks are more useful. Blue is mostly used to counter red.
Because blue is so weak but so fast, your strategy needs to be to avoid damage and play very defensively. Dodging and counter-hitting is the only way to use blue effectively. Use the lunge judiciously but try not to be predictable. Crouch during a blue combo, and you can chain a lunge after your combo for a surprise hit. Above all, the main attack in blue is the sway. Swaying is the act of moving left and right rapidly to swing horizontally. With blue, you can do this pretty fast, and it's a good way to rack up some fast damage. Crouch while swaying to get under the opponent's defenses in some situations.
It's dangerous to rely on blue style too much. You could spend half the duel whittling away at the opponent's health with blue, only to be the victim of one solid red hit and be losing the fight just like that. There are also counters to every blue attack, and if your opponent knows what he's doing, you'll have some difficulty executing any good attack against them. As a beginner, my advice is to only use blue to lunge. It's far too difficult to successfully win using blue's regular attacks. When you get more skilled, you might use blue to finish off a weakened opponent with quick attacks. Outside of this scenario, I don't advise using it much.
2.B. Yellow Style Basics
Yellow style is the medium style. Medium speed, medium damage. Up to five attacks can be chained together with no restrictions. Each hit does thirty points of damage, which is pretty respectable. The special attack in yellow style is the death-from-above, or DFA. Hit forward, jump and attack at the same time while facing an opponent at close range to do this move. The DFA does a lot of damage, but it's a stationary close-range attack so it's very difficult to hit with. It leaves you wide open to a variety of damaging counters as well. The rear attack in yellow is a spinning swing, but for the risk involved it doesn't do that much damage. Yellow is used in a wide variety of situations, but typically to counter red or sometimes other yellow users.
Yellow style affords a little more in the way of offensive options than blue. Two yellow hits is roughly equal to most red attacks, so it isn't hard to give out damage equal to or better than what you get. Even so, it's good to play defensively by dodging attacks as much as possible and counterattacking. As with blue, the sway is a great attack and crouching while swaying can get under the opponent's defenses sometimes. There are also other combos to mix up your offense; vertical hits mixed with diagonal rising swings can land an unexpected hit. Experiment with different angles in different situations.
Yellow is very versatile but takes skill to use properly. A good yellow player will time his opponent's swings, and count the number as well as pay attention to the type of swing, and counterattack accordingly. Generally, I don't advise using the special or rear attack in yellow at all. It's not worth the risk in either case. When you get more skilled, you can experiment with setups for the DFA.
2.C. Red Style Basics
Red style is the slow and powerful style. Only three attacks can be chained together, with the following restrictions: The same attack can be chained to itself only once, e.g. two vertical swings in a row at most; attacks can only be chained if they are zero or forty-five degrees away from the previous attack, e.g. "horizontal right > diagonal-down right > vertical" is a legitimate combo, but "horizontal right > vertical > horizontal left" is not valid. Each attack does varying damage based on when during the swing animation the attack lands. The general maximum damage is sixty points, but if the swing lands at the beginning or very end of the animation, it may do less. The vertical red swing does much more damage compared to the others. It varies more as well, but typically it's around one hundred points maximum, making it the most powerful normal attack in the game. The special attack in red style is the red death-from-above or DFA. Begin any normal red swing, and at the beginning of the swing at the point right before your character swings the lightsaber forward, hit forward, jump and attack all at once. You will jump forward and swing downward, resulting in a one-hit kill if you manage to land the attack. The sheer power of this attack is offset by the fact that it is virtually impossible to land against anybody competent. The rear attack of red is similar to yellow's: a spinning swing behind you. It does a good amount of damage and is worth doing when combined with a jump. A jumping rear attack is an advanced technique that will be covered later. Red is great for attacking against any style, but weak for defensive options.
Red is the style of attack so accuracy of attacks is very important. Horizontal-right swings have the most range of any normal attack, and it makes for a good approach. It also has the advantage of sometimes knocking back the opponent's saber, disrupting his defenses. This attack can defeat the sway of both yellow and blue because of this property. The vertical red swing is the most powerful normal attack, but it has its own weakness: it requires a lot of accuracy. A yellow or blue user can be adept at dodging sideways around vertical red swings in order to hit you from the sides. Vertical red attacks are great against other red users though, as you can risk being hit by a single horizontal attack in order to land one vertical attack. It will be well worth the sacrifice of health. The diagonal-down-left swing is also a useful one in red, because it is the fastest attack you can perform. It works well at counterattacking a jumping opponent. Swaying with red is, of course, impossible because of the combo restrictions.
Red requires an aggressive play style and accurate attacks, but you get some serious power for your effort. The special in red will kill anyone in a single hit, but - well, just don't do it. You won't land it and you'll get punished severely by trying. Due to red's ability to counter the other two styles, it's a good beginner style to learn. Typically at least one player in a duel will be using red at any given time, making it useful to know.
3. Advanced Techniques
There's a few advanced techniques that not as many people know/do in the game.
The Running Lunge
The main weakness of the regular lunge is you need to stop running to crouch. If you crouch while running, you enter a roll. Thus, you need to stop running, crouch, and then execute the move, at which point the opponent knows what you'll do. To get around this limitation, you can use the walk button (default left shift). If you crouch while walking, you'll crouch rather than roll. While running forward, hit the walk button and then immediately crouch and hit the attack button. It will be so fast, you will appear to run right into a lunge, surprising anyone who doesn't know it's possible to do that! Believe me, this works, and people still don't know about it. After you learn this, there is no reason to do the stationary lunge except to purposefully trick people.
The Jumping Rear Attack
A stationary rear attack is fairly useless, with the possible exception of the backstab. To make it more mobile, when the opponent is directly behind you, you can jump backward while hitting attack. Time it right, and you'll jump and execute a rear attack in midair! This won't hit often, but it's a safer way to do this attack than standing still like an idiot. Best used with the red or blue rear attacks.
Extended Range Red Horizontal
The red horizontal-right swing is versatile and effective, but sometimes the opponent knows the range and can dodge it every time. If you notice the animation of the swing, your character will end the right-horizontal swing with his right hand outstretched to the right, holding the lightsaber. Take advantage of this animation by turning ninety degrees to the left as the swing finishes. The longer range will catch many opponents by surprise and add some damage.
Want to fake the opponent out a little? Try rolling forward but not actually moving forward! During a forward roll (forward + crouch) simply move backward, and you'll roll back along the ground as if sliding. Not useful as an attack, but can be used to trick the opponent. This only works for the forward roll, not any other direction.
4.A. . . . to blue
Blue offers two main attacks: swaying, and lunging. To counter the blue sway, a red horizontal or even vertical swing with proper aim will make them regret standing or crouching in one spot for long. A blue lunge will adequately counter the blue sway. Yellow is difficult to use as a counter to the blue sway, but doing a yellow sway right back at him can often work. Each of your hits will do double the damage of his, and you'll likely do more damage than him during the exchange, but the element of randomness leaves a risk to be considered. It's possible to use the yellow DFA as a counter - a blue sway typically lasts through ten swings, and the opponent might be surprised enough by the DFA that he will fail to cancel his swaying and avoid it properly. Against a blue lunge, recognize that the lunge is a linear attack. Dodge sideways around it and attack at the exposed rear of the opponent. Most normal attack is adequate for this, although a few red swings are slow enough that it's possible for the opponent to dodge them, or even turn toward you and do a second lunge before he is hit.
4.B. . . . to yellow
Yellow offers more varied attacks, which makes countering difficult. Countering the yellow sway can be done in blue with the lunge. With yellow, you can counter the sway with a vertical swing to penetrate the overhead defenses of the opponent, but this has an element of randomness. A less risky strategy is to count the opponent's swings in the sway. Remember that a yellow combo only lasts five attacks at the most. Wait until his fifth attack is almost finished, and then rush in and attack for one or two hits, before immediately backing off. With red, the horizontal swing is recommended, because a vertical swing is too easily dodged by a yellow user. Yellow swings are slower than blue, so you tend to move farther to the left and right while swaying, compared to blue. Countering the yellow DFA is fairly easy. As long as it doesn't hit you, the fastest thing to do is a running lunge on your stationary and defenseless opponent. If you have the time to wind it up, a vertical red attack is very damaging. It is even possible, with fast reactions, to wind up a red DFA, but this becomes dangerous if you delay too long.
4.C. . . . to red
. . . horizontal swings
Don't get hit by this attack! Jumping and rolling are good ways to evade it. With blue, lunging into the horizontal swing will generally succeed, but there is some randomness and you may take damage regardless. Otherwise, wait for the swing to finish before moving in to attack. The ending animation of the horizontal red swing is long and leaves the opponent open for a moment to counterattack. With yellow this could mean rushing in and hitting vertically. It's also possible but dangerous to use a yellow DFA as he swings. Using red, a vertical swing is a great counter to the horizontal swing, and you don't even have to worry about being hit! Run straight into his attack while winding up your vertical swing, and he'll be left with much more damage than you, provided you succeed. It's also a bit safer to wind up the red swing by running backward first to stay out of range of the horizontal swing, before moving forward on the down-stroke of the vertical hit for massive damage.
. . . vertical swings
Definitely do not get hit by this attack! Fortunately it's not hard to dodge. Move to either side and you'll avoid it, unless he's very fast and accurate. With blue or yellow, follow up a dodge with swaying. With red, you won't be able to respond quickly enough in close-range after a sideways dodge, so just retreat after dodging and begin a new attack. Backing off in a straight line and winding up a vertical hit at the same time can work, but you need to know the range of your attacks precisely.
5. Attacking Options
5.A. . . . with blue
Lunge! Aside from this, blue doesn't have much in the way of offensive options. You must wait for the opponent to do something before running into range and swaying.
5.B. . . . with yellow
Yellow is also a counterattacking style, but it's possible to poke the opponent a little. Run in with a single yellow hit before running back out to avoid damage. The combo "vertical > sway" can sometimes be effective. Running in and immediately swaying might do damage, but if the opponent is smart he'll back out of it and come back with one of the counters presented above. With yellow, feinting is also a smart option to provoke the opponent. Try a fake-roll or even just moving in and out quickly, making it look like you want to attack. When he does something, counter it!
5.C. . . . with red
Any swing can make a good attack in red. Take advantage of the slow speed of red attacks, and launch swings at odd angles while running forward. If you begin a diagonal-rising-right swing for example, you can begin running forward before the swing has finished even winding up. Mix up the direction of your movement and the swing direction to confuse the opponent, such as swinging right while running left. Never underestimate the power of the vertical swing! If you master the accuracy of this swing, you'll win duels quickly and violently. Jumping while winding up a red swing can be a good idea, but don't do it too often. A diagonal-downward red swing or a lunge can defeat any normal jumping attack.
Improving your skills doesn't have to be just guesswork. There are some particular exercises and methods to improve your game at a rapid rate. I've discovered or developed all of these in the process of one-on-one training with several players in the course of my career with the game. These are effective and they work. I've had players progress to near my level of skill in only a month or two of training with these methods. Find a partner or a cooperative player and get to it!
Learn Red Attacks
Practice red attacks against a wall. Learn the exact range of each attack, and learn how far you can run during an attack to land the hit. Use the wall marks from the lightsaber to see feedback of what hits and where.
Learn Red Attacks, Stage 2
With a partner, duel with only red versus red. Learn the timing and range of your attacks and the opponent's. Know how to dodge red attacks and you will learn how the opponent will try to dodge your attacks.
Learn Red Attacks, Stage 3
Fight real duels using only red style. Learn to deal with yellow and blue opponents. Learn how to attack without being counter hit.
A partner will attack you using red, trying their best to hit you. Your job will be to avoid getting hit. If you take a hit, exit the duel and restart completely. You cannot attack. See how long you can survive.
Learn Evasion, Stage 2
The partner will do the same thing. Instead of only dodging, your goal is now to use yellow style to win the duel, without being hit once. If you get hit, exit the duel and restart. Use your dodging skills from the previous exercise to avoid damage, but now you must recognize openings in the opponent to hit once or twice with yellow before evading. It is important not to get greedy by attacking too much.
Learn Evasion, Stage 3
Same as before, except use blue style. No lunging.
Learn Yellow Style
With a partner, fight duels using only yellow style against yellow style. This fight is fast and furious. You'll learn just what yellow is capable of and how to avoid fast attacks. This should increase your reaction time as well.
7. Final Thoughts
To excel at Jedi Outcast Multiplayer, you can not be predictable. As I've shown, every move in the game has some sort of counter. Don't stick to a single style for the entire duel. Remember every option at your disposal, including every special move and every evasive option including rolling and jumping. Keep in mind that you can flip off of walls to get behind an opponent. Sometimes avoiding damage is more important than dealing it. You can easily estimate the opponent's health by keeping track of when you land a hit, based on the amount of damage I've told you each attack does. Keep an eye out for when the opponent's shield drops, as this is the simplest visual cue to his health. If you have less health than the opponent, plan your strategy accordingly. If you have more, you can afford to take more risks.
Get out there and own some people with a lightsaber!