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This is the vanilla GOG version, no mods or remakes. I'm playing the game in the insane (hardest) difficulty level, currently in the mission "The Hammer and the Anvil" where you are supposed to escort three transports carrying the new shield technology, at least one of the transports must survive. I believe this is the last mission without a shield (I hope).

I've once made it to the last part where the Vasudan forces come to "help" you, but I was already quite beat up at that point and died there. Otherwise, I usually die at the latest to the fourth Shivan wave where the enemies again target you, and not the transports. If they decide to target me, it usually takes mere seconds that I die, especially as I don't have a shield so every enemy shot brings me closer to death.

My main problem seems to be those couple of waves which target you, being the first and fourth Shivan waves I believe. I am able to avoid the first encounter by speeding away from them and letting my wingmen take the beating (and possibly lose at least one of them in the process), but usually the fourth wave is the end of the road. Like said, I once got beyond that, maybe I got lucky, not sure.

Am I banging my head to wall trying to play the game in the Insane difficulty, or is it doable? I've finished e.g. Wing Commander 1-5 and X-Wing + Tie Fighter games in the hardest difficulty, I had to lower the difficulty for one mission in Tie Fighter though. I'd say Wing Commander Prophecy was mostly quite easy (and enjoyable) in the hardest difficulty, so these space combat games are not created equal it seems.

My main problem seems to be that I don't have a shield so I can never e.g. recover from enemy shots, and sometimes it seems quite hard to avoid getting hit if several enemies decide to target you, and some missile manages to hit you. Do the missions become at least a bit more humane as long as I get the shield technology?

Any extra tips for this particular escort mission (The Hammer and the Anvil)? I've read the FAQ in Gamefaqs, and also in youtube I've tried to find a walkthrough video, but they are usually for the modded version (and someone suggested the mods might have difficulty changes, e.g. due to different enemy AI), and I have no idea at which difficulty level those videos are made.
Post edited January 14, 2016 by timppu
This question / problem has been solved by Bookwyrm627image
A bit off topic but you said you played the "the vanilla GOG version" and was wondering if you have looked at Freespace 2 Open? It is a huge improvement over the stock game as well as a ton of new campaigns like Blue World

There is an installer now so setting it up is pretty easy now.
Phew, I finally finished this mission ("The Hammer and the Anvil") in Insane difficulty, including the Bonus objective of saving all the three freighters. I had mere 3% hull integrity left at the end, and only one wingman (out of five) survived to the end.

Trying to fight the Shivan ships which target you is pretty much a suicide because you have no shields and they will kill you in no time if they get a bead on you (so fighting them head-to-head is a definite no-no). This is what worked for me, plus some luck (ie. lots of retries):

1. When the mission starts, tell all the fighters to attack anything they see (C + 3 + 9), and stay ahead of the freighters, close to them.

2. The first enemy wing will come (Arjuna Wing?) in two waves (2 + 2 ships I think). If you are close enough to them, they will target you as the primary target, so act as a bait and let your other fighters kill them. Just keep flying in circles at full speed and afterburner, and pressing X (countermeasures) if and when there are missiles coming at you, and pray you don't get much damage. Don't run away from them though as then they will attack your wingmen instead, and you're probably bound to lose a couple of them. Hence, fly in circles near the freighters.

If you lose any wingmen at this point or your hull integrity goes below 60%, I suggest you restart the mission. You definitely need as many wingmen and as much hull as you can muster for the rest of the mission.

This is also the only time you really have time to ask for repairs and more missiles/countermeasures, so call the resupply ship (C + 5) and stop your ship until the resupply ship has performed any subsystem repairs and resupplies. Note that unfortunately your hull will not be repaired, only any damaged subsystems (which repair themselves anyway over time, unless they are fully destroyed at 0%).

3. A Vasudan ship appears and calls for help. Don't go to his aid, and tell your wingmen to protect freighter Gamma (target Gamma, and C + 3 + 5), just so that they don't go to aid the Vasudan ship either, and will try to protect Gamma when the next Shivan wing comes.

4. The Hammer of Light Vasudan ships appear a long way from you, attacking that Vasudan ship which called for help. Tough, don't help him, remain close to the freighters. Stay a bit ahead of the freighters.

5. A bit later Krishna wing will appear in two waves (4 + 4 I think). Both waves will try to destroy the Gamma freighter first, they will not fight you. Race towards the Shivans head to head shooting as much as you can, and maybe sending missiles too. If you get close to them, press M so that your speed is set to their speed and you don't collide with them.

6. After killing both the Krishna waves, the Vasudan battle far from you has probably ended and there are no Vasudan enemies in the vicinity (e.g. pressing H will not accidentally make you target those Vasudan enemies far away from you anymore). At that point tell all your fighters again to attack any enemy (C + 3 + 9). The next wing will attack the Alpha freighter, even if Gamma freighter is still alive from the earlier wing attack.

7. Rama wing will appear in two waves, attacking the Alpha freighter. Kill them similarly as soon as possible. These seem to be easier to destroy fast, maybe there were less of them (2+2 or 3+3), and they start from a greater distance so you a few seconds more to damage them.

8. Hopefully you still have a good hull condition and all your 5 wingmen are alive. Two wings of Basilisks (4+4) will appear (not at the same time, there is a delay like 1 minute or so between the two waves), and you are their primary target if you are in their vicinity. Act as a bait flying in circles at full speed, afterburner and pressing X for countermeasures, and hope your wingmen are able to kill them while you evade the enemy fighters. To me it seemed impossible trying to actually fight them, you will die if you do, period.

At this point I took extra damage so my hull integrity was mere 3% after this fight, even though I merely tried to evade the enemy fighters. I think I lost two wingmen too probably. I also had the Comm subsystem destroyed so I had to race back to the supply ship, get repaired/replenished, and race back to the freighters (the fight mentioned below was just about to start when I got back to the freighters).

9. Go close to your freighters, and at some point some "friendly" Vasudan ships will appear, A bit later you will find out they are enemies (Hammer of Light), but even before that shoot one or two of them down, while they are still acting friendly. This is a bit tricky because if you shoot too much at them, they will instantly turn hostile and you probably die as they all instantly attack you. So you want to kill/damage them just enough so that they don't become hostile yet.

10. Another Vasudan will come in to warn you they are in fact the Hammer of Light, at which point they turn hostile. I think their main target are the freighters, so try to kill the remaining Vasudan enemies as fast as you can, use all your remaining missiles etc. As long as the freighters can still withstand some beating from the enemies and you have some wingmen left, the enemy Vasudans should be dead quite soon.

Great Success! Being able to finish the mission with one or two freighters alive seems quite doable with practise, but I feel being able to save the third freighter as well takes some luck as well, meaning retrying the mission several times. I am unsure if reaching this bonus objective affects any later missions, sometimes they seem to. E.g. I think if you fail some bonus objective in some earlier mission (scanning enemy freighters or somesuch), in this particular mission the last Vasudan enemies will be hostile as soon as they appear, making the last encounter even harder. As I had finished that earlier bonus mission too, the Vasudans first acted friendly, allowing you to prepare and even kill 1-2 of them before they turn hostile.

The funny thing is I read in some Freespace walkthrough that if you are playing in the easier (easiest?) difficulty levels, you don't even have to play at all. Just go away from the freighters and your wingmen as far as possible, and your wingmen will kil all the enemies and save the freighters. :) I didn't try that in practise.
Post edited January 23, 2016 by timppu
It is odd how many of these missions seem to play out. Quite often it is sensible just to escape fights as far as you can.

Take e.g. the next mission, "The Darkness and the Light". You have the objective of disabling and capturing an enemy Ramses ship, but apparently that is just a bogus objective, you can't achieve that because a Taranis ship will teleport in and destroy Ramses, no matter what.

I think this mission is madly difficult if you indeed try to disable Ramses. Knowing that is merely a red herring, this is what I did in Insane difficulty, achieving also the bonus objective:

1. Instantly tell all the friendly fighters to attack Turtle 1 (freighter), and you can attack it too. The idea is to kill it as fast as you can, without going too close to Ramses because then the enemy ships will attack you and your wingmen. It might be some enemy fighters will attack you and your wingmen, try to kill them.

2. As soon as Turtle 1 is destroyed (bonus objective achieved!), tell all friendly fighters to form on your wing, and speed the hell out of there. Go very very far. The enemy ships will not follow you, they just stay close to Ramses, protecting it from your capturing attempts (which you can't achieve anyway, so don't even try). Hopefully all your wingmen, or at least two of them, are still alive. I managed to escape with all my wingmen alive, without major damage to any of them.

3. Then just wait. Taranis will arrive, the Vasudans and Shivans will fight and Ramses will be destroyed, and Taranis will teleport out. You are just watching it all from far away.

4. After that, any remaining Shivan fighters will come to attack you. They will come in three pairs, 2 + 2 + 2. You are their target, so just stay in the background and tell your wingmen to attack them, maybe even one Shivan at a time (Attack my target). You just watch from afar when your wingmen kill the Shivans, who are outnumbered (3 vs 2).

5. Rinse and repeat for each Shivan wave (pair), until all of them are destroyed. I lost only one wingman in the process, I think it helps that the Shivans don't care about your wingmen, until they actually receive damage from them. So you are using the game's enemy AI against itself, quite stupid not to target your wingmen who are approaching you. :)

6. All you need to do now is to go destroy all enemy crates without any opposition, and you are done.

I once tried to fight those Shivan pairs alone (all wingmen dead), but I found it futile, at least in the Apollo fighter. They just zip here and there far too fast, if you try to get a bead on one Shivan, the other one will shoot you from the back. So, the key was to have your wingmen alive, and let them kill the approaching Shivans.

Then take the next mission after that, "First Strike". After you have disabled and disarmed Taranis, and after Halkins arrives, just speed away from the fights. The enemy fighters seem to care only about you or your wingmen, so as long as you just avoid them by flying away, they will follow you until Taranis is captured and you win.

Interesting how avoiding fighting seems to be the key to winning these missions...
I'm doing better now, near the end of Act 2, so yeah so far it seems doable even in the Insane difficulty.

It helps that now I have access to more powerful fighters (or bombers) that aren't so damn fragile (especially without a shield), so dogfighting feels more like dogfighting, rather than "Oh died again for a few stray shots.". Also quite luckily in many missions there seems to be an option to first kill all enemy fighters, then concentrate in peace in your primary objective (e.g. destroying some enemy capital ship etc.). No need to try to fight both the fighters and the capital ship at the same time necessarily.

One thing I've learned about dogfighting: earlier I was always wondering how the heck I should control my speed, both when dogfighting and when e.g. scanning enemies or crates. Earlier I'd try to mess with M (maintain same speed as the target) or even Alt-M (automatic maintain speed), but now it seems the best option is just to have full throttle all the time, and if you need to slow down or even stop, press Z for awhile. Release Z when you want to speed up again.

That helped especially with those Shivan fighters which run circles around you, and you never seem to be able to get a bead on them because you never turn fast enough. Press Z for awhile so that you turn faster, and you get them on your sights at least momentarily. Then release Z so that you are not a sitting duck for long.

Also it seems to be generally a good idea to order all your friendly fighters to attack one enemy at a time with concentrated fire, rather than telling them to fight anyone they see. This works well especially if the enemies are beelining either towards you or some friendly freighter, and don't mind your wingmen until they get hit by them. So if there is a concentrated fire at one enemy from several wingmen, quite often it is too late for the enemy already when it recognizes your wingmen as a threat. Rinse and repeat for each enemy fighter, one at a time.
Post edited January 27, 2016 by timppu
To answer the question in the subject: I have. :)

Damn the last two missions. So this is what seemed to work the best for me (and lots of repeat especially in the last mission, as it is partly based on luck on the insane difficulty):

Second last mission (The Great Hunt), I selected these ships and weapons:

A wing:
1x Ulysses (me) with Prometheus + D-Advanced primary weapons, and Hornet missiles
- EDIT: On a second thought, maybe D-Missile or Interceptor missiles instead of Hornet, in case you will not use missiles until you face Lucifer, which is advisable; read the next message).
3x Hercules with 2x Prometheus, and both Hornet and Interceptor missiles

B wing:
4x Hercules with 2x Prometheus, and both Hornet and Interceptor missiles

Important: don't use any countermeasures in this mission yet, I think they are not replenished for the last mission, and you need them there. Also don't use missiles, if you can avoid that.

Tell all fighters to engage enemy freely (they probably do this anyway), trying to help them the best you can. If during the first enemy wave any of your wingmates die or get severely injured (red), restart the mission because you can't really afford them to get into bad condition that early on. You want all your wingmen to the last mission alive, and in a good condition hopefully.

After the first enemy wave, tell all fighters to form on your wing and go close to Bastion, as there your folks seem to perform better against enemy fighters, Bastion helps a bit too. You might even go to the opposite side of Bastion than where the enemies appear so that the enemies might even target Bastion instead of you or your wingmen. Bastion can take their beating better than you guys, and might even manage to do some initial damage to them before you engage them. When enemies get close to Bastion/you, order all fighters to engage enemies.

I think it is during or after fighting the Rama wing (fourth enemy wave?) when the friendly Delta and Epsilon wings appear. As soon as that wave is destroyed, say goodbye to fighting and speed towards the jump node as fast as you can. Set engine power to max by pressing Page Up several times, set your speed to max and keep using the afterburner. You might even tell your wingmen to e.g. protect Bastion so that they stay close to it, while you speed to the jump node.

Hopefully all your wingmen (Alpha, Beta, Delta, Epsilon wings) are still alive and in a relatively good shape. If not, I suggest you restart the mission because you do want them all to the last mission, in a good shape too. I had all wingmen alive, one in Alpha and another one in Epsilon were in red (bad) condition, but that was good enough for me.

While you speed towards the jump node, more enemy waves should appear. Hopefully (probably) they target you and not your wingmen, so just avoid them, run past them towards the jump node. Keep using the afterburner too and you should be able to outrun them in the Ulysses fighter. If they shoot at you, do some circle movements to evade their shots, still racing towards the jump node.

Near the node an enemy ship (PVD Prophecy) appears in front of you, but just go around it towards the jump node. If it sends missiles at you, just outrun them, don't use countermeasures. Enter the jump node, hopefully with 100% hull strength.

The last mission (Good Luck):

Important: Don't give any specific commands to your fighters in the beginning. While the Delta bomber wing is not supposed to listen to your commands, I think some commands may confuse or affect them. At least I noticed that if I told any of the fighters/wings to ignore Lucifer (so that they concentrate on enemy fighters instead and stay alive longer), it seems that made Delta bombers ignore Lucifer as well. And you can't command them specifically to attack it. At least it seemed to me they never managed to destroy even one reactor if I gave the ignore command to anyone. So give no commands for now, just to be sure.

In the beginning of the mission, put engines to full but stay behind the Epsilon wing (the slower Hercules fighters and Ursa bombers will come behind you, don't wait for them, you are in a hurry before Delta wing starts its bombing). You want the first enemies to fight with the Epsilon, not you, as you are busy doing something else. Target Lucifer (press H many times) and target its Weapon Subsystem (press S a couple of times).

When you feel it is safe to do so (enemies are fighting the Epsilon wing), put engine power to full (press Page Up several times) and use afterburner to get as fast as possible in front of the Lucifer, where the Weapon Subsystem is. Go below Lucifer as your target is at the bottom, and I think there are less autoturrets and missile launchers there too. Make sideways or circle movements to avoid fire from the autoturrets.

When you get to the front of the Lucifer where the Weapon Subsystem is, slow down with Z and park as close as possible to Lucifer's hull, near the tip where the lone autoturret gun is, just behind it. You may collide a bit with it, that's fine. Be in the exact middle because if you are a bit to the side, some autoturret will fire at you.

At this point you also need a bit of luck, hopefully you are positioned so that any nearby enemy fighters can't get to you, and/or your wingmen keep them busy. You don't have time to try to fight the enemy fighters now. If an enemy fighter finds you and starts shooting at you, it is pretty much game over for this mission, in which case restart the mission.

From this position, you want to destroy three things, in this order:
Weapon subsystem (already targeted with S)
The missile launcher behind it (that dome behind it, you can select it with K if you want to)
Reactor 5, which is in front of the Weapon Subsystem (use S several times to find it).

Use all your missiles too for the weapon subsystem to slightly speed it up to get it to 0%. Shoot it constantly with Prometheus + D-Advanced in twin mode, maybe setting weapon power to full (press Insert repeatedly) if you run out of weapon power constantly. When the missile launcher dome launches missiles at you, don't move but just use countermeasures (X) sparingly to avoid at least most of them.

When the Weapon Subsystem is down to 0%, hopefully that helps Delta bombers a bit in their task. Now target the missile launcher (press K until it is selected), and keep shooting at it until it is down to 0%, as it is still a major nuisance to you. Try not to move from your position because then any nearby enemy fighters can find you and you have to waste time trying to fight or avoid them. However, if you are low on hull strength and out of countermeasures, it may be the only possible thing to do to avoid incoming missiles, making circles with the afterburner and then shooting at your target again.

After the missile launcher is out, start shooting at the Reactor 5. Delta wing bombers were never able to destroy it on their own, maybe because apparently the other reactors are on the other side of Lucifer. If everything went right, Delta wing bombers were able to destroy the first four reactors one by one, and the remaining task for you is to shoot reactor 5 to 0%. When that is done, you win the game.

If you have problems destroying Reactor 5 alone for whatever reason (like avoiding a loose enemy fighter) and there are still wingmen alive in either Alpha, Beta or Epsilon wings, you may want to tell them to attack Reactor 5 too at this point, just to be done with it. C + 3 + 4 (when you are targeting Reactor 5).

However, if the Delta bombers were not able to destroy all the other four reactors, your only option is to try to destroy the remaining ones yourself with your lasers after Reactor 5. Usually at this point I found that quite hard, all my wingmen were probably dead so I'd have to fend off one or several enemy fighters constantly, while trying to shoot at the reactors. Not easily doable in my opinion.

Next to the Silent Threat expansion pack, I guess...
Post edited February 19, 2016 by timppu
I think I came up with some improvement to my tactic: the Hornet missiles I was carrying apparently do only minor damage to subsystems, hence they are pretty useless when you are trying to destroy Lucifer's Weapon Subsystem and/or Reactor 5. So it is advisable to replace them with something more potent (against subsystems).

Unfortunately the Ulysses fighter can't carry the best anti-subsystem missiles like Stiletto or Phoenix, so I think these would be the best choices:

- Interceptor missile: this does average 75 damage to subsystems. Not too great, but at least better than Hornet.

- D-Missile: this doesn't do practically any damage, BUT it is supposed to disable the whole ship for 10 seconds, including its turrets and such. If it works as promised, it would probably be the most useful missile for the last mission, immensely helping Delta wing bombers to do their job, and also I presume you wouldn't have to worry about missiles from the missile launcher as long as Lucifer is disabled 10 seconds at a time, which will save you lots of countermeasures as well.

I'd like to retry the last two missions with that missile, but I am unsure if Freespace lets me re-run already finished missions, especially now that the campaign is over?
timppu: That helped especially with those Shivan fighters which run circles around you, and you never seem to be able to get a bead on them because you never turn fast enough. Press Z for awhile so that you turn faster, and you get them on your sights at least momentarily. Then release Z so that you are not a sitting duck for long.
Was rereading to see how you were doing, and I noticed this.

I found that I actually had two separate turning speeds, depending on how I tried to turn. I usually used the mouse (slower) when trying to track or look around, but found that I could turn very, very fast if I used the keyboard to turn. In some missions, I'd use the keyboard to try and keep up with the circling enemy ship I was trying to track and destroy.
timppu: I'd like to retry the last two missions with that missile, but I am unsure if Freespace lets me re-run already finished missions, especially now that the campaign is over?
I seem to recall reading about some kind of training simulation option or something. Try looking around the Flight Deck and see if you can find it.
timppu: I'd like to retry the last two missions with that missile, but I am unsure if Freespace lets me re-run already finished missions, especially now that the campaign is over?
Bookwyrm627: I seem to recall reading about some kind of training simulation option or something. Try looking around the Flight Deck and see if you can find it.
Yeah somehow I missed that. Somewhere in the depths of the flight deck there was a mission simulator where you could run either finished campaign missions, or separate single missions (I need to try those too, good thing I found them).

The only problem is that the mission simulator apparently doesn't let me choose the fighter or the weapons for the last mission. In the campaign, it was a red alert mission where you use whatever fighter and weapons you had from the earlier mission, but in the simulator they appear as disconnected, separate missions, I think.

In that simulated mission, you are given a Hercules with twin-Banshee weapons. One missile bay does have D-Missiles though, so I guess I could use that to test their effectiveness against Lucifer. I would have preferred though I could select everything freely in the simulator. Or if there is an option for that somewhere, I didn't see it...

Oh, and for your suggestion of using a mouse or a keyboard for steering, I'm actually using a flightstick (Microsoft SideWinder Precision 2) for the game, it works well. Sometimes you just can't turn fast enough, especially if you are flying a bomber or even Hercules and a fast and nimble SF Manticore of SF Scorpion zips around you.

The tactic how to get a bead on such a fighter seems to differ somewhat in different space combat games. In Wing Commander Prophecy, I would fire up afterburners and turn in order to get on enemy fighter's tail. In Freespace, slowing down even to a halt seems to be the easiest way to get an enemy fighter on your sights.
Post edited February 20, 2016 by timppu
Reading my earlier messages what problems I had with earlier Freespace missions, these I would do differently (to what I said earlier) as I've learned more of the gameplay after those missions:

- For the most part, forget about using the "Maintain target speed"-option. It just becomes too hard to control in the heat of the battle, constantly looking for the M key.

Instead, fly at full speed all the time, and if you feel you need to brake, hit Z for awhile. Release Z when you need to speed up again. To me this seemed to work the best during fights, Z is also far easier to locate from the keyboard without looking at it, than M.

- After you receive shields, keep pressing the Q (Equalize Shield). It makes a great difference to avoiding hull damage when fighting an incoming enemy head to head. Just keep pressing it repeatedly if you are being hit. Also occasionally transferring energy from weapons to shields might make sense (press Scroll Lock).

- Normally, I decrease gun energy by one notch (press Delete) in order to increase shield and engine energy levels a bit. Usually there is quite enough gun energy for you, it is the shield energy you should be normally more concerned about, and little extra speed always helps too of course.

The only exception usually is when you are e.g. trying to destroy some bomber or bigger ship ASAP, then you might want to transfer more energy to guns, especially when using the high energy weapons like Prometheus and such.

- You don't always have to use countermeasures (flares, X) against missiles. Most of the missiles seem to lose their track quite easily if you just hit afterburner and circle around a bit. Countermeasures were more useful if you didn't want to or can't make those flight moves, like when parking near a big ship to destroy it (like the last mission), or trying to fly in a straight line in order to get a missile lock on something.

So save countermeasures for those cases where you actually need them. I originally just kept throwing them around like candy because in some other space combat games they are the only sure way to avoid missiles, and I assumed the same for Freespace.

- I didn't learn until the end that you can disable even enemy fighters, so if in some mission it is possible to avoid new enemy waves from appearing by keeping one earlier enemy alive, equip some of your Ulysses-flying wingmen with a D-Advanced weapon and tell them to disable that lone enemy fighter.

Ulysses is needed because it is the only fighter that can carry the D-Advanced weapon. In theory the Distruptor weapon should work too for disabling, but for fighters it seems to cause so much hull damage that the fighter will get destroyed before it gets disabled.

Also I feel it is better to order your wingmen to do that disabling, than trying to do it yourself, as apparently you are supposed to have some inhuman capabilities to target the engine and/or weapons subsystem in that fast and nimble enemy fighter.

Your wingmen are not really humans (but computer AI), so I guess they have that needed inhuman capabilities to disable a fighter, albeit it can take some sweet time for them too, but at least there are several of them trying at the same time. And at least they keep that enemy busy all that time too while you scratch your balls.
Post edited February 20, 2016 by timppu
Let me you in on a secret that can help you on higher difficulty levels like Insane: the Avenger is a better weapon than the Prometheus.

The Prometheus has a slightly higher hull DPS (and I do mean "slightly"), but the Avenger has more shield DPS (which is more useful in general, and especially against high-shield-low-hull Shivan fighters), an extra 100m range, and the projectile even travels faster, which makes it easier to hit fast-moving targets. To top it all off, it consumes less energy, which is especially important on higher difficulty levels, because you have less gun energy available.
MageKing17: Let me you in on a secret that can help you on higher difficulty levels like Insane: the Avenger is a better weapon than the Prometheus.
Thanks for the tip, I wish I had known that earlier... I thought (and some walkthroughs also suggested) that for general use dual-Prometheus is as good as it gets. Against maybe some heavy bombers, something like Banshee or Shield Breaker maybe. Oh well...

I am now in the last mission of the Silent Threat campaign. The fourth last mission (Exodus) was a real bitch. You were supposed to protect eight escape pods as they fly towards the jump node. The main problem is that it is VERY hard to catch all enemies who are after them, as enemy fighters are quite fast, and all your wingmen are flying slow-ass Hercules fighters. You have Ulysses which is quite fast, but you can't be everywhere at once with it.

I don't understand why walkthroughs and gameplay videos of that mission suggest that you have a (even faster) Valkyrie fighter with dual Prometheus guns in this mission, but that wasn't true for me at least. I had that Ulysses fighter with one Prometheus and one D-Advanced gun (the latter is pretty useless in this mission). Why is that? You can't change the loadout as this is a Red Alert mission, and I don't think the earlier mission affects the loadout either, because I played the earlier mission in an Ursa bomber.

Anyway, here is my suggestion how to try to clear the "Exodus" mission in Insane level. One will probably have to play it dozens of times before everything falls in place correctly with a bit (a lot!) of luck too:

- Hurry towards any enemy fighters (engine energy maxxed out + afterburner) and tell your wingmen to attack (any) enemies. Don't target the Buri wing fighters, they will shortly jump out anyway after Krios is destroyed, so there are five Bragi wing and four Hrid wing fighters you should fight. I usually targeted Bragi 5 or such first, just because it was the closest enemy and usually flying somewhat towards me.

- 70% of the time, one of the Bragi wing fighters (Bragi 4 I think, the one you automatically target at first) will die on its own, not sure if it is hit by Krios defenses or if it collides with Krios or what. Since every kill counts, I suggest you restart the mission if he doesn't die before Krios blows up. Up to you, more fighters to catch if you don't.

- Line yourself behind the Bragi fighter before starting to shoot, then let it rip (I used Prometheus + D-Advanced, not sure if the latter gun helps any, I felt it did a bit) and some Hornet missiles at the same time so that it gets destroyed before it starts circling around.

- After that, try to target enemies that your other wingmen are not fighting already. So if you see your wingman is already on the tail of a fighter you are targeting, forget that and target another one, UNLESS you think you are able to kill that fighter in a matter of seconds. Especially look for any Hrid (or Bragi) fighters who have possibly slipped by and speeding towards the pods, towards the jump point.

- Keep doing that. Hopefully all the Bragi and Hrid fighters are dead quite fast without heavy casualties to you. Usually though, a couple of Hrid or Bragi fighters did slip by and are already far away from you destroying the helpless escape pods at a fast rate. That sucks, it may mean it is time to restart the mission unless you are able to save a couple of the pods. It is very important that all or most of your wingmen are still alive to succeed in the rest of the mission.

- When the enemy fighters are down, tell your wingmen to either form on your wing or protect one of the remaining pods (so that your wingmen will not leave behind, but also hurry towards the jump point ASAP), and hurry as fast as you can towards the jump node, closer to the pods.

- New enemy fighters + a Vidar ship come in. You can't fight the enemy fighters yourself because otherwise Vidar will destroy the remaining pods in the meantime. So, you rush towards Vidar, and pray that your wingmen can fight off and kill the four enemy fighters. Tell your wingmen to ignore Vidar so that they concentrate on those enemy fighters.

- Get quite close to Vidar (just 100-200 m if possible), on its side, to the same side where most of your escape pods seem to be passing it. Then simply start flying in a circle beside Vidar (engines and shields at max power, gun off because you don't need guns for this). Vidar will hopefully keep shooting at you and escape pod(s) can slip by without getting hit, and hopefully your wingmen keep the enemy fighters busy. Keep pressing Q to equalize your shields, in case Vidar or enemy fighters occasionally manage to hit you.

Some walkthroughs suggest you should fight Vidar at this point, but I found that futile on Insane level. You make very little damage to it with your guns and missiles (or even its subsystems) and you are at a constant fire from its massive cannons, not being able to get a clear shot at it without taking heavy damage to yourself. Plus, you probably have a couple of enemy fighters on your tail too, so it is better just to act as a decoy and fly in circles. If you want to destroy Vidar afterwards after the pods are safe, fine, but it will take a lot of time with your weaponry, and your Hercules wingmen are quite useless against it too, dropping like flies if they try to fight Vidar.

- If everything goes fine, some pods escape and your wingmen have killed the enemy fighters. Then just tell your wingmen to jump out (before they get too close to Vidar and die fast), fly away from the Vidar yourself to a safe distance, and jump out yourself. After like 100 retries of this mission, I managed to get ONE escape pod (out of eight) to reach the jump point, and its hull was down to 21% or so. So it was a very close call.
Post edited March 08, 2016 by timppu
I'm actually quite intrigued by the last mission of Silent Threat ("Secrets Revealed"). It is one of those missions where it seems you can take your time to come up with a working strategy (no time limit etc.), and it feels almost like a puzzle. Plus, unlike in the last mission of the main campaign, you get to choose your (and your wingmen's) ship and weapons, freely trying out different tactics.

The idea is first to destroy the Jotunheim base, and when Hades jumps in, destroy it too. I'm still figuring out the first part, destroying Jotunheim. What I've learned so far:

- The enemy fighters near Jotunheim will not attack you nor your wingmen unless you get closer than 4000 units or so of Jotunheim, and the fighters.

- It seems the best idea is try to get into the hole inside Jotunheim, then you should be relatively safe from enemy fighters. Then just keep shooting at Jotunheim inside its stomach, and hurry away when it blows up.

- If you let your wingmen + bombers freely engage enemies, they will mostly be dead by the time Hades shows up, mainly because apparently Jotunheim will just send new fighters in case they are able to destroy existing ones.

So how I am approaching this mission now is that at the start of the mission I tell all friendly fighters to form on my wing, and head _away_ from Jotunheim, to a safe distance. The enemy fighters will not follow as we are far away. Then I call in the support ship, and tell all my wingmen to protect it. Neat, the support ship babysits my wingmen in a safe place while I am elsewhere, so that the stupid wingmen don't wander around near Jotunheim and enemies. :) I used this "support ship as a babysitter" tactic also in some earlier Silent Threat mission.

Next, I just need to figure out how to get into that Jotunheim hole alive. Hence I am flying the fastest fighter, Valkyrie, equipped with 2x Prometheus guns, and Phoenix V missiles (because they have the best range 1750m and seem to cause heavy damage also to mothership subsystems without autoturrets being able to shoot it down; less suitable against enemy fighters though).

So far I haven't quite gotten alive to the hole (unless I let my wingmen harass the enemy fighters, but I don't want to do that now as I want to keep them alive against Hades), but close. I'm trying to find the correct angle to approach Jotunheim so I could hurry inside it without the fighters killing me. Even though my fighter should be faster, they seem very persistent in killing me once they get on my tail.

I once did so that as soon as the enemy fighters noticed me and went after me, I made an U-turn and hurried back to my wingmen. When the enemy fighters got close to us. I told my wingmen to engage. An easy kill, the enemies were very overpowered. However, then a new wing of enemy fighters appeared near Jotunheim, so I'll need to check if I am able to e.g. slip to Jotunheim while my wingmen are still fighting the first fighters, before new fighters appear. All about timing.

Still trying out that... Let's then later see what to do about the Hades. If all my wingmen are still alive after I've destroyed Jotunheim alone, I suppose they could be a lot of help trying to bring Hades down. If not, I try the trick suggested in some walkthroughs where you hide in some small cranny near Hades hull to avoid autoturrets and enemy fighters, similarly like with Jotunheim.

Damn, I can't wait to get back home try some tactics on that mission...
Post edited March 08, 2016 by timppu
God damn it, I was already certain I could report Freespace: Sllent Threat as completed today, but no, I got too greedy after I had already finished all the primary (and I think secondary?) objectives of the last mission, and all I really needed to do was to jump out...

The last mission ("Secrets Revealed") is not that hard, but it is very time-consuming (if you want to use the trick to make it easier for you). I think I played it for two hours or so last night.

So, you can tell all your wingmen to go guard the support ship somewhere far from the enemies (and Jotunheim), hence they will not engage enemy and die. Then you circle around a bit far from the Jotunheim enemy base, and speed towards the hole in its center in a fast Valkyrie fighter, with several enemy fighters on your tail who hang around near Jotunheim. If and when you make it alive inside that hole, just stay there very near to a wall, and you should be fine. Just keep shooting Jotunheim with your guns, and if you see enemy fighters circling around from your hole, you can take potshots at them too, to take out some of them. They don't seem to shoot back, either they don't see you or are afraid to hit Jotunheim instead.

When the Jotunheim hull gets to critical, Hades ship will teleport in with more enemy fighters, and also a friendly Epsilon wing who tries to fight Hades and the enemy fighters. I tried to tell Epsilon wing to also retract and go far away to protect the support ship, but I didn't do it fast enough so they engaged the enemy, and died quite soon. Oh well.

Then I just went on destroying Jotunheim, and got as far as I could at top speed + afterburner to escape the explosion. Some enemy fighters started to pursue me but I was faster than them (much later they would finally give up and turn back, if I just kept going).

At that point I foolishly told all my wingmen (also bombers) to engage enemy, hoping they could actually destroy Hades. Fat chance, they all died while fighting both the enemy fighters and Hades. Pffft. I was alone, with 5 or so enemy fighters still near Hades.

So I speed up again towards Hades. When I get closer to it, the fighters start targeting and shooting at me, but I was barely able to reach one of those "arms" that reach out from Hades' arse, specifically the one which is shaped like a 7. You want to get to the cranny of the 7 so that the Hades hull is all around you. There the enemy fighters can't reach you, and also if you are positioned right, autoturrets can't shoot at you either.

After that it is merely about shooting Hades' hull until it reaches 0%, but daaaamn that takes a long time! I think I had to shoot at it with dual-Prometheus guns for an hour before it went from 99% to 1%. I ended up putting a weight (my phone recharger) on top of the Ctrl key so that it kept shooting, and I went to do other things in the meantime.

One tidbit, apparently the Hades engine subsystem is near that "7" where you are, because Hades got disabled (engine 0%) after awhile while I was shooting at the hull. I am unsure if that matter to your success, e.g. would Hades otherwise try to jump out at some point if its engine is still working? I presume not, but doesn't matter, its engines got destroyed while I was there.

When the hull finally reached 0%, I put engine power to max and speed up with the afterburner as far as I could. At least one enemy fighter was on my tail, almost succeeding to destroy me, but I managed to escape it. However, the huge blast from the Hades explosion still reached me, causing me major damage (Nav went to 0%, hull went from 95% to 23% or so etc.), but at least I survived. Two fighters (also that one on my tail) also survived, barely.

I continued escaping the enemy for awhile, and after awhile it gave up and went back near the other remaining enemy fighter. I called in the support ship (it was faaaaar away, like 25000 units away) to repair the Nav subsystem, just in case.

At that point I should have just jumped out... but since there were still two enemy fighters around in bad condition, and they were still listed as unifinished (bonus?) objectives, I figured I still want to destroy them. Shouldn't be too hard, right?

So I approached the one whose hull was down to 3% until it targeted me, and luckily the other fighter didn't care for me yet so I could fight them separately. I went a bit further away and engaged that 3% fighter.

BUT GOD DAMN IT IT STILL MANAGED TO DESTROY ME IN A MATTER OF SECONDS!! LOL WTF? I thought it should have been a piece of cake considering its condition, but its weapons did massive damage to me (was it maybe using a Shield Breaker, as my shields went down almost instantly from its shots?), and no matter how much I tried to turn around to different directions, it just kept hitting me until I was dead.

Oh well, I will retry again today, wasting another 2 hours for that mission. The only thing I will do differently is not to tell my wingmen to engage enemies, until I have destroyed both Jotunheim and Hades. Then I should have a great backup from them against any remaining fighters.

Failing that, I will just jump out without trying to destroy the remaining fighters, they are not needed to finish the mission.
Post edited March 09, 2016 by timppu
Silent Threat finished. Yeah, the tactic mentioned in the earlier message worked, but since it was quite hard to get inside Jotunheim with 9 or so enemy fighters around, I modified the tactic a bit:

First of all, make all your wingmen in all wings e.g. Ulysses fighters, even the ones which are Ursa bombers by default (double-Prometheus is ok weapon to them I guess). You don't need the bombers, but you need fast and agile wingmen to fight enemy fighters for you. Also as all the wings are of same fighter type, they will also reach enemies etc. about the same time (instead in waves where the slower fighters/bombers come later to the scene), which increases their chances of survival.

I personally was flying a Valkyrie because it is the fastest fighter, but I don't think there were enough Valkyries for all wingmen, hence they all got the second-fastest option, Ulysses. Ulysses is also more nimble (maneuverability) than Valkyrie which helps them also in dogfights.

When you have all your wingmen (three wings) parked about 7000-10000 units away from Jotunheim (by telling them to protect the support ship you have summoned there), go alone near Jotunheim so that the enemy fighters target you, and hurry back to your wingmen. When the enemies get close to your wingmen, tell your wingmen to engage (C + 3 + 9). To make sure any of yoiur wingmen don't go after Jotunheim, target Jotunheim and tell wingmen also to ignore it (C + 3 +6).

The enemies are a bit stupid in that way that apparently they are so keen on getting you that they don't care about your wingmen, until your wingmen get shots at them. So your wingmen should have easy time killing them. When they have done that, tell them to guard the support ship again.

One thing: it seems that if you get further than 10000 units away from Jotunheim, the enemy fighters will stop pursuing you, and head back. You can even use this to your advantage by trying to time it so that your wingmen attack them just around when the enemies make the U-turn and head back. Then the enemy fighters are even more vulnerable as they can't fire from their arse.

Six new enemy fighters appear. Do the same as before, but try to lure so that only some of them start pursuing you. I managed to do so that 4 out of 6 started following me, while two stayed near Jotunheim. So when I got those 4 killed by my wingmen, it was quite easy to get inside Jotunheim with only two enemy fighters around.

Another option might be to give your wingmen (at least one wing) e.g. D-Advanced weapons, and tell them to disable one of the enemy fighters instead of destroying it. I presume that would work just as well, if it prevents new enemy wing from appearing.

As Jotunheim gets to critical condition, first Hades and more enemy fighters (Indra wing?) appear, and later also another friendly wing (Epsilon). I had already anticipating this by targeting my support ship, and then I told all wings (also Epsilon) to guard it (C + 3 + 5), but I think Epsilon was already so close to enemies that a fight was inevitable. Right after Jotunheim was dead, I told all wings to engage enemy but ignore Hades.

While all your wingmen and enemy fighters were fighting, at that point it was a good time to head towards Hades yourself, as enemy fighters were busy. Get to one of those "7" like arms on Hades to the cranny so that nor enemy fighters nor autoturrets can't get a bead on you. It is near the Hades' engine subsystem at the back.

Your wingmen will all die eventually as there is apparently and endless supply of fighters from Hades, but as long as you are safe from them. it is fine. Then just keep shooting at Hades' hull (I shot also at the engine subsystem because I was next to it, disabling the Hades engine; not sure if that matters to anything).

This will take a looong time, I didn't time it but probably at least around 45 minutes of constant shooting at the hull with double-Prometheus guns, maybe even an hour. I counted that it takes around 75-76 shots from your double-Prometheus guns to bring Hades hull down by 1%, so that gives you and idea how long it will take. :) I put a weight (my phone charger) on top of the Ctrl key so that it would keep shooting without me having to press the joystick button all that time, and I could even go do something else in the meantime. Max out your gun energy levels for this time because Prometheus takes lots of energy.

When the hull gets down to 0%, you have to get far very fast, so instantly max out your engine energy (press Page Up several times) and head away towards the rear of Hades with your afterburner, as you are at its rear anyway. Don't e.g. head towards Hades front side as then you can't get far enough from the explosion, and also because the enemy fighters are that way.

A couple of enemy fighters are probably following you, so make sure you get far away from them (at least e.g. 3000 units) before you jump out. Mission accomplished.

Ps. There are individual extra missions in the Freespace mission simulator. Are they any good, to pay on top of the campaigns?