Unnatural darkness

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Unnatural darkness is an event added by the Anomaly DLC. After a short warning, all unlit tiles in the map will become shrouded in near-total darkness and lingering within it will cause damage to pawns [Does this affect all pawns or just friendlies?].

Summary[edit]

When the event begins, the map will gradually grow dark no matter the time of day, and all colonists will receive a −5 Unnatural Darkness mood debuff. [Details needed] However, this is only the first phase. Several hours after it reaches the equivalent of standard nightfall, several Noctoliths will appear at random unlit locations and the map will be rapidly covered in darkness, rendering objects which are not within range of a light source difficult to see. Any pawn that spends time within these dark areas risks being randomly injured by an unspecified claw attack, inflicting sharp damage and bleeding. These attacks do not originate from any particular entity, and are instead inflicted by the darkness itself. Throughout the event, Noctol raids are triggered, containing large swarms of extremely powerful entities. However, Noctols are significantly weaker if exposed to any amount of light, suffering +15% pain, +200% melee cooldown, and −50% movement speed. As such, it is important to keep one's colony well-lit to keep the Noctol attacks manageable.

The Noctoliths that spawn do not take any direct action against you, but the only way to end the darkness early is to destroy them all. However, when attacked, a Noctolith will summon a group of Noctols to defend itself. Alternatively, if you can endure several days of being sieged, you can simply wait it out. Within 6-8 days, the Unnatural darkness passes naturally.

Analysis[edit]

The Unnatural Darkness event can be an enormous pain if encountered in early game. The random damage dealt to pawns that wander outside lit areas can be debilitating or even deadly if endured long enough, and the Noctols which periodically raid the player pose a significant threat. It is important to note that most other events may still occur during this time: for example, there is nothing stopping a Pit Gate from spawning during a Noctol raid. Solar flares specifically are disallowed from occurring during the unnatural darkness.[1][Others?] While it is entirely possible to wait out the event, relying on your food stocks and well-lit fortifications to fend off the Noctols, you increase the chance of disaster if you allow the event to last longer than it needs to. Unnatural darkness can be especially dangerous if you rely on outdoor farming or solar generators, neither of which will function without light. Sun lamps and hydroponics basins can overcome this limitation to farming, but ideally you should have several days' worth of food stocked regardless.

Although it will likely be too late to fix if one is surprised by this event, keeping one's base well-lit is a live-saving preventative measure, as it both prevents the spawning of Noctoliths inside the base, and ensures that the Noctols will be weakened when they approach. It could be theoretically advantageous for a Noctolith to spawn within one's base as it drastically shortens the journey required to reach and destroy it, but because the spawn locations are unpredictable, this strategy is not recommended.

Keeping pawns from wandering is crucial if you want to avoid needless deaths. Consider adjusting work priorities to keep your pawns inside, researching and cleaning rather than going outdoors. They might not enjoy these tasks, but it's far safer. Another option is to assign areas and restrict your pawns to these safe zones. Alternatively, you can attempt to destroy the Noctoliths. This is risky, but can significantly hasten the end of the event and rewards you with shards.

Sending out teams of builders to create a path of torches is sufficient to reach a Noctolith safely. Managing haulers to bring wood to the front line as it creeps forward can speed up the process significantly. Even faster is to use disruptor flares or the solar pinholeContent added by the Royalty DLC power to quickly create a path. A riskier but admittedly quick option is to command a pawn armed with molotov cocktails or other incendiary weapons to start fires by targeting the Noctolith from a distance. Noctol raids will almost certainly occur while you travel, but a crew of well-armed pawns can easily shoot down single Noctols before they can enter melee range, even in darkness. Noctol raids announce the direction they will come from as soon as they spawn, allowing you to retreat to a well-lit part of the map and give yourself even more of an advantage.

Also remember that you don't need to travel all the way to a Noctolith to destroy it. Pawns with long range guns like the bolt-action rifle or sniper rifle can pick away at them from a distance in relative safety. Alternatively, mortars can very effectively destroy a Noctolith without leaving a base with about 5 hits from high-explosive shells, though the cost of doing so should be evaluated: the ammunition cost and mortar deterioration will likely be much higher than 5 shots per Noctolith due to missed shots. Even so, the relative safety of this option makes it worth considering for late-game colonies which can afford to spend the resources. In addition, as the Noctoliths themselves generate several tiles of light, a ghoul can be sent through moderate stretches of darkness to deal with it in melee. It can regenerate the damage from any hits the darkness delivers, and once it arrives at the Noctolith, it can gradually punch the structure to rubble in relative safety. Alternately, a melee pawn with fast movement speed, the skip psycast, or a jetpack can sprint through the darkness and rapidly tear down a noctolith, especially if they're wielding a breach axe for the extra building damage. Consider sending them immediately after finishing a wave of enemies to reduce the chances of them getting isolated and surrounded by a fresh wave of Noctols.

Anomaly Endgame[edit]

In addition to spawning as a unique event, Unnatural darkness will also occur once the Void monolith is awakened. In this case, the darkness requires defeating two waves of Void structures rather than Noctoliths, but the darkness' damage mechanics remain the same.

Version history[edit]

References[edit]

  1. Dev comment on a bug report "Cynapse — 05/06/2024 3:42 PM Unnatural darkness overrides a solar flare"