What is a mask to you? Could it be something used to hide your identity? Is it something that simply protects your face? Does it make you look cool? A mask can be all of these things, but in history and the legends of old, a mask is usually something used in rituals — donning such an accessory is said to give you powers beyond your imagination and only a few of these people are chosen to wear them.
You’re among a group of warriors far from Earth called the Chosen. In a mysterious planet, you and many others will struggle to survive its harsh denizens. From reptilian ravagers to herculean hulks, from bipedal behemoths to land that quite literally lives, you only have your wits, your skills, your gadgets, and your guns to rely on to keep yourself alive. Apart from these are mysterious masks that grant you the powers of the Primals — ancient spirits with immense power from days long past. Find your place in this mysterious planet or die trying — welcome to Catalyst Black.
Developed by Super Evil Megacorp, the same folks who brought you Vainglory, Catalyst Black is a frantic top-down shooter that features quick battles and chaotic gunfights. Being a game that’s great to play with friends, it also features an interesting “Drop-In” system where you can instantly join an ongoing match that a friend of yours might be playing. You might catch your friend in a bind, but that’s where you’ll be able to help!
Despite the game having all sorts of fancy features, its playstyle is quite easy to pick up but difficult to master. Playing similarly to early titles in the genre such as Killzone for the Sony PSP and recent titles like Brawl Stars, players new to Catalyst Black will definitely feel some familiarity when they hop into the game.
But many other players who are new to this genre could feel lost and frustrated (especially since PvP doesn’t sit too well with a lot of people). Don’t worry! For we at LevelWinner are here to tell you that any new Chosen is worth their salt… Yes, that kind of salt. With this guide, you’ll learn a couple of easy tips and tricks to be ahead of your opponents anywhere in the game.
While we are aware that the game has many game modes, this article will highlight a generalist strategy that’ll be easy for any player to adapt. Think of this as you would a martial arts weapon — there are many techniques and schools that teach you how to wield it and where you learn additional techniques is all up to you!
Are you ready to shake some salt or shrug it off in Catalyst Black? Brave Chosen, read our guide below and get ready to fill the enemy with holes!
1. Don’t Get Reckless
You’ve dropped in and you started blasting. Each enemy you meet was mowed down by your gun. Their teammates are on the run and they make their way into the underbrush. They scatter. You give chase and pick up lots of Heavy Ammo and Primal Energy (more on these in a bit) along the way, readying yourself for the next attack. You charge in while the rest of your team recuperates.
In the underbrush, you finally see the enemy open fire, and it’s just one of them. With confidence instilled in you, you charge in only to get vaporized by the whole enemy team. You now have to wait a few seconds to respawn. You respawn and you keep doing this, giving points to the enemy team instead of raising the score of your own.
To fight in a game like this deserves a thick side of caution. While this game is a shooter, having played mobile MOBAs like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Onmyoji Arena, Marvel Super War, or Thetan Arena, Catalyst Black’s experience can be similar in a lot of aspects. The main difference being that this is a shooter — it’s the tactics and the fighting in them that might put you in a mindset of caution. If you aren’t familiar with this, read on and we’ll explain. You may otherwise skip to the next bullet if you’re a well-seasoned player.
First notice in some maps, there are bushes or the underbrush. These are tall patches of grass and foliage that you may use to jump your enemies with. Do not fire while you’re in them as you’ll give your position away to the enemy. Retreating into an underbrush could help you strategize on how to surprise your enemy.
Once you enter one with an enemy on your tail, take the first few steps in a straight line. Then, if they still persist, make a sudden turn in an attempt to confuse them. If they start firing at the underbrush and they don’t happen to get hit, shoot back and throw them off.
Take note that this all happens in an instant, so you’ll have to be quick with your aim. The enemy might wantonly open fire at the underbrush, thus it pays to always be prepared for a fight. Don’t hesitate either because it’ll take the enemy a millisecond to figure out that you’re lost in your decision. You’ll be a sitting duck.
Secondly, this is a team shooter (most of the time). Your key to scoring kills and surviving is by sticking to your team and helping them out with kills should be your main strategy in almost any game mode. Traveling and fighting with your friends makes you a more difficult target to take down and you have a higher chance of scoring some kills. Apart from that, you’ll be able to help your friends out with your Ability if it’s on the ready.
Thirdly and lastly, tying into the last paragraph, we know that adrenaline rush of getting all the kills and carrying your team. Don’t let this get to your head. Observe before you strike as some enemies might just come up from behind to kill you off. It also pays to keep an eye on your health bar because it should tell you when you have to retreat. Live to fight another day, as they say. You have to work as a team if you want to win.
With some basic knowhow out of the way, let’s talk about some advanced tactics.
2. Neutralize Immediate Threats and Weak Links
When you’re in a firefight, it’s important to pay attention to what’s happening.
Sure, you could get distracted by all the chaos going on and gunfire raining from all directions. But it really pays to figure out what you should do next. The worst part you can do is get lost in your thoughts and hesitate. What you should be doing in any situation is be on the lookout for anyone who is an immediate threat or a weak link.
Let’s go over what they are first and why they are so important. An immediate threat is anyone within your vicinity or near a teammate in distress. Having them take your teammate out (or you) could be another step for the enemy team to claim victory. In other game modes, like Hydra for example, these are the enemy Chosen that are attempting to clear an objective like destroy your Overseer. Seek them out and stop them with your friends. Perhaps they’ll think twice when messing with your team.
The weak links on the other hand are those struggling and reeling from a fight. If you don’t deal with them immediately, they will have regrouped themselves and come up with a way to turn the fight around.
Catch them off guard by using jump pads if the map has them or by aiming your weapon (either primary or heavy) accurately enough that you’ll manage to hit them. Remember that weak links will always be on the run and it’s safe to also be cautious if you notice that they aren’t attacking. They might be readying to put their mask on!
Dealing with immediate threats is simple enough. You see them harassing you or your team, try to drive them off by opening fire or fighting back. Of course you have to retreat to your friends if the worst happens and your target seems more prepared than you thought. In that case, back off and fight someone else. If the immediate threat leaves, don’t give pursuit as they might lure you into a trap (see item number 1 in this guide).
Weak links are a bit more easy to manage. While they aren’t to be underestimated, it’s best to take advantage of them when you feel that they’ve let their guard down. This usually happens when they’ve run into the underbrush and nobody is seemingly pursuing them. Don’t immediately give pursuit — wait until you see them pop out again and strike while they thought they got away. Their low health should be their undoing.
Conversely, you will always become either of these in the eyes of your opponents. The best solution to this is to not let greed take hold of your judgment (see item number 1 again) or try fighting alongside your friends. Being around your buddies makes you much harder to kill and you’ll have the firepower to prove it.
Both principles of immediate threats and weak links also apply in the Colosseum mode. If you see your friends struggling against one big enemy that seems to be on the ropes, help them pile the damage on and take it out first. Loosening up the enemy’s pressure on your team will help you breathe and, in turn, help you earn more stars.
Meanwhile, if one of the monsters leaps into the fray to harass your friends, try to pull it away from them. All in all, try to see who among your teammates seem to be in trouble and send help their way.
All of this shooting isn’t just about pulling the trigger. There is that matter of dodging and weaving through enemy attacks.
3. Move and Shoot
Run and gun!
The best part about Catalyst Black is the running and the gunning. It’s almost reminiscent of shooters from days long past like Unreal Tournament or Quake, but played in a different perspective. What we can learn from these older titles is that moving around the map is quite important.
Apart from finding opponents to frag (or pwn, whichever you prefer saying), making your rounds will also help you keep an eye on the enemy and gauge what they’re doing. You’ll be able to be one step ahead of them if you know that they’re sticking together or if they’re scattered.
Observing your opponent aside, there is the ability to dodge. Dodging is a very important skill in Catalyst Black — it’s a move that your character makes where they roll and gain a burst of distance in a moment. The dodge button is located to the left of your fire button. Upon dodging, your character won’t be able to do this in a couple of seconds, so use your dodge as sparingly as possible.
Learning how to dodge and executing these well is one thing, but masterfully dodging just enough for you to juke* out of a furball of raging Primal opponents is another. To properly dodge an opponent’s attacks, you can try dodging beyond their weapon’s maximum range. They won’t be able to hit you and they’ll be forced to give chase (if they intend on killing you off).
Another way to dodge is to dodge into the nearby underbrush. Being in the underbrush will make you unpredictable, so you should take advantage of this strength. Remember that assessing your situation is important and that thinking of your next move can make or break the game. Near the underbrushes of some maps, are two distinct items:
- Heavy Ammo – Red pickup, adds rounds to your Heavy Weapon.
- Primal Energy – Blue pickup, reduces Primal Mask cooldown time.
Picking these up when you’re in a bind will help you greatly. Heavy Ammo, for one, is very important since your Heavy Weapon is a part of your bread and butter when you’re in a gunfight. Heavy Weapons (like the Hailstrom mortar from the tutorial) are essential in scoring quick bursts of damage to your enemy.
They take practice to use properly, but when you understand how they work, they’ll be an invaluable asset to your loadout. Primal Energy, on the other hand, lessen the time your Primal Mask is ready for use. The bigger the pickup, the more time is reduced from the cooldown.
That said, you can spend time looting the map while picking off any wounded opponent along the way. The danger here is that you’ll be alone. You are usually safest when you are with your team. Unless you’re confident in your skill that you could outsmart the enemy, give this tactic a try. Otherwise, save it for when you have had sufficient amounts of practice.
Eventually, you may also notice that simply running around your opponent and shooting at them may be a viable tactic. Running in the opposite direction they might be aiming should also help minimize the damage you take from gunfire. This is what you should do at least before deciding to ultimately dodge away.
Try running in different directions and never sit still. If there’s cover anywhere in the map, use this to fool the enemy into wasting their ammo and then pop up with some returning fire to catch them off guard. They’ll surely be on the run. Movement means survival — keep this in mind.
If you’re out to keep yourself alive or even make the enemy’s match hell, how about learning how to properly use your Ability?
*(Juke — A term referring to one’s ability to slip right through obstacles or enemy attacks. It also refers to the player’s ability to narrowly escape certain death or ambushes.)
4. Use Your Ability When You Need To
While Catalyst Black is a shooter through and through, it shares some similarities with MOBAs. Where your Primal Mask is your Ultimate* or Ult for short, you are not without your other skills like your Heavy Gun or your Ability.
The Ability comes as an item. Your basic Ability that everyone starts with is called the Catalytic Heal — a green trinket that possesses rejuvenative properties. Upon use, your character and any nearby teammates will have their health restored. Naturally, it’s pointless to use Catalytic Heal when your health is full, thus knowing when to use such a powerful item is tantamount. This goes for any Ability that you might have.
What you initially need to observe is the purpose of your ability. Is it for support purposes and keeping yourself or your friends in a fight? Is it purely for offense where you hurt anything in front of you upon use? Does it help you escape? All of these can be found in your Loadout screen when you are in the lobby. Upon tapping your Ability, that is where you can find out what it can do for you. This is where you can think of ways to put it to great use.
Next, experiment. If you have the Colosseum unlocked, we recommend that you try it out there first. Once you have your Ability ready and you’ve decided to try it out during any crucial moment, take some mental notes on its effectiveness. In the above example used in live PvP, the Leap Attack can be used both offensively and defensively.
It can be used to hunt down a fleeing opponent and it can also be used to jump over walls. Use it to escape when your health is low or use it to take down opponents who are in dire need of paying the respawn tax (a cool way to say that your target has to go).
Once you’ve successfully decided if the Ability is for you or not, wear it as a badge of pride. You’ll continue to learn and appreciate it with every match that passes. On the flipside, you’ll also learn how to work through this if the enemy possesses the same ability as you do.
They have a Catalytic Heal? Expect their life to go back up when they’re wounded. Are they using Blink Strike? They will be slippery. Get ready because some Chosen will be more skilled than you in using such Abilities. They’ll definitely bring your health down to a sliver in the blink of an eye.
When your health is indeed but a sliver left and your Primal Mask is ready for use, there is one thing that you should certainly do.
*(Ultimate — A skill in a MOBA that is a hero’s most powerful. This is usually what defines them in a fight.)
5. Wear Your Primal Mask at Low Health
The enemy is on the attack and you find yourself backed into a corner.
Your life bar is being whittled down profusely and there doesn’t seem to be any good way out of this… until you see that glimmer of hope on the right side of the screen: the Primal Mask icon is aglow. Will you die where you stand or will you put the mask on?
Using the Primal Mask in dire situations may help turn a fight around. Usually, the best time to use it is when your life is low. What happens here is that after your Primal form has diminished, your health will be back to full and if you happen to have injured anyone as a Primal, you’ll be able to weed them out with whatever strength you have left in you. This also isn’t to say that using your Primal Mask makes you completely invincible.
Becoming a Primal makes you a huge target. This doesn’t mean you can still hide in the bushes — you will be visible at all times and a lot of the enemy team will want you dead. Basically going Primal makes you a priority objective and if any of your opponents happens to be a Primal Hunter (more on this later), you’ll definitely think twice before turning into one. Even as a Primal, it pays to not be reckless at any given time.
As a Primal, your job is to assist your friends in wiping out the enemy. Just as much as it is your job to help your friends win when you aren’t transformed, being a Primal doesn’t change your purpose much. Your attacks and movement will drastically change, sure, but you should treat your transformation more as a tool to help friends instead of an excuse to wander off on your own in a rampage (of course you can do that when you’re with them).
Doing the latter will definitely shorten your time being a Primal and we can’t stress this enough: remember item number 1 on this list. In fact, the enemy will follow this very same tactic, so be on your guard!
Now that you’re mostly aware of what you should and shouldn’t do on the battlefield, how about learning how to think on your feet?
6. Stick to the Objective
The battlefield is chaotic.
Bullets fly everywhere, you and your teammates falling one by one with your opponents following suit. An enemy goes Primal and so does one of your buddies. What’s actually going on here? Is there something that you aren’t paying attention to? What’s at stake and how far are you from winning?
As you leap into a match, it always pays to keep in mind the objective of the game. For example, being in a Hydra match means you have three objectives: destroy the enemy Overseer, collect all the Shards, or kill each opponent three times and their Paragon.
Slayer is a lot simpler, but that also means you should be careful and not die in any crossfire. Eventide is one of the most complex modes and will require a bit of trial and error before you get good at it. Pay attention to what your team is doing and try to help them in their pursuit for victory.
Likewise, it pays not to be a hindrance to your team. Following item number 1 on this list, minimize your death count by keeping an eye on your health and knowing when to retreat should be your priority in any match. When your teammates are in trouble, give them a hand and maybe you’ll be able to win much sooner. This also heavily applies in the Colosseum mode where your teamwork will be tested and thus it could not be a more perfect example for this item.
The Colosseum mode has you and five other Chosen fight through an army of beasts. These monsters come in waves, each one being mightier than the last. While the objective here is to survive and clear waves in record time, it’s having to reach the objective that gets progressively difficult.
If you’re equipped with a Support loadout, expect that your team will rely on you for heals or buffs, especially if you’ve shown them that you are a Support. If you’re a more damage-oriented Chosen, kill more and die less. The sooner the monsters die out, the better your rewards. In other words, keeping in mind what you have to do or what you should be doing will help you win.
But what are these, you say: Primal Hunter? Support? Check out the next item!
7. Study Your Loadout
While Catalyst Black is indeed a shooter, it also holds a class system similar to titles like Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch that are somewhat reminiscent of MOBAs.
There are classes in Catalyst Black? You bet your sweet bippy there are! Where you find them isn’t in a selection screen, they’re actually found in your loadout. You can find out what class you’re currently running by seeing the banners on the lower left portion of each gear icon. Your gear is anything that you currently have equipped — this means your gun, your heavy gun, your ability, and your trinket.
All of these but your Primal gear affect your class. The more of these you have with matching banners, the more effective your class buff will be. In each class description, the buff increase values are written as (1 piece/2 pieces/3 pieces/4 pieces).
As of this article, there are 9 classes available if you manage to unlock their gear from chests:
DISCLAIMER: The numbers featured in the class items below may be subject to change in future patches of the game.
When you are within 6.0 meters of an enemy, you deal increased amounts of damage.
Overall Damage Increased:
(+8% / +24% / +32% / +40%)
- Primal Hunter
You deal increased damage to Primal enemies. This includes opponents in their Primal form.
Damage to Primals Increased:
(+25% / +75% / +100% / +125%)
You make the most out of your Primal form. Your Primal itself, its attack, and its power cooldowns are greatly improved with each piece equipped.
Primal Cooldown Reduction:
(+6% / +18% / +24% / +30%)
Primal Attack Increase and Power Cooldown Reduction:
(+4% / +12% / +16% / +20%)
You’ll be a little bit harder to take down due to your increased health.
(+10% / +30% / +40% / +50%)
Getting inside a bush will increase your movement speed and after leaving it. The speed increase lasts for 1.4 seconds.
Move Speed Increased:
(+10% / +30% / +40% / +50%)
You gain Heavy Ammo when you pick up Primal Energies and vice versa.
Pickup Values Increased:
(+20% / +60% / +80% / +100%)
You deal increased damage when there are no enemies within a radius of 9.0m.
(+6% / +18% / +24% / +30%)
Your cooldown for your Ability decreases drastically.
(+7% / +21% / +28% / +35%)
With every hit you deal, you steal life from the enemy. This works well with shotguns and rapid-fire weapons like assault rifles and miniguns.
Health Stolen per Hit:
(16 / 48 / 64 / 80)
Having any one of these banners will instantly make an effect happen. But depending on your playstyle, you may also double-class your loadout. For example, having 2 pieces of Sniper gear and 2 pieces of Ranger gear will turn you into a mobile cannon that never sits in one place.
Conversely, try not to combine two classes that might be redundant or contradictory. For example, using 2 Sniper gear pieces and 2 Assassin gear pieces will only make you deal a total of 24% bonus damage. Assassin requires targets closer to them whereas Snipers require targets far away from them. There are many ways you can combine sets, but nothing beats a full set of 4 pieces.
Naturally, you will have to upgrade your gear pieces using Dust. Dust is obtained from chests (more on that later) and is the main ingredient in making your duds stronger. Notice that each piece of gear has a bar that needs to be filled. Using Dust will instantly fill the amount needed.
Let’s suppose you have some Dust on you and your gear piece is at 50/100. You will only need to use up 50 Dust to level it up. If it’s at 0/100, then you will have to use 100 Dust to level it up. Save your Dust and upgrade your pieces when they have a sufficiently-filled bar.
Unlike Dust, these gear pieces don’t come easy, but you can always try focusing on gear that you already have and learn how to play them. Learning how your gear set works and how to play it will make you a more formidable opponent. This is if you have the gear at all.
Are you looking to find more gear? Try the Quint shop!
8. Be Selective When You Spend Your Quint
We all go shopping once in a while, but what is it exactly that we go shopping for?
Are you trying to get the latest duds so you could fit in with your friends? Do you buy things that only make you happy? Do you buy the most luxurious items only to be hit with buyer’s remorse a week later or two? These are all valid questions, but we all know that some of us buy things that we need.
The difference between needing and wanting something is that the former means the object that we purchase is something that we cannot live without or that we require immediately while the latter is something that we simply desire but may be able to forego or postpone its purchase for another time.
Having the two terms distinguished, take a look at your loadout — which of these would you like to focus on? Would it be your Northern Warmth? Your Primal Eye? How about your Belt of Phasing? Time to pay the Quint Shop a visit!
First and foremost, what is Quint, you say? Quint is an illustrious, purple, crystalline material that is considered a currency in this realm. These precious materials are used in the Quint Shop — a place run by a portly, jolly merchant looking to sell you his high-quality wares. The items in his Quint Selections are usually duplicates of items that you already own.
Secondly, you spend Quint on items that you want to build. Are you trying to make your Northern Warmth more powerful? By all means, buy its duplicates. Want to do the same for your Catalytic Heal? Grab its duplicates if they’re for sale. The stock available is at random, but it refreshes after some time, so check back often and maybe you’ll have something you need. Being selective with your Quint will make saving up for future purchases a breeze as opposed to upgrading all sorts of items you own but don’t always use.
Thirdly and lastly, Quint can be earned from opening chests. Chests are opened using Shards that you earn from participating in any match. Of course winning the match nets you more Shards, so trying your best in every match really pays off.
Even if you lose, you still get a fair amount of Shards but that doesn’t mean you should aim for less all the time. The more Shards you get, the more chests you’ll open. The more chests you open, the more Quint you’ll have. Get out there and earn your Quint!
This opens up another question: where do chests come from?
9. Keep an Eye on Your Quests
In most fantasy settings, a quest may involve slaying a dragon or rescuing monarchy held hostage. In MMORPGs, you need to kill a couple of things and go back to the quest giver or take a bunch of things from this location and do the same.
Here in Catalyst Black, a quest can vary in objectives. Each quest is segregated into the following:
Dailies are quests that you can accomplish within the day, Weeklies are quest that may take a whole week to complete, Campaign quests are long-term quests that you will complete in eventuality, and Companion quests are those that require you to finish with friends.
The difficulty of the objectives of these quests are arranged in descending order from the list above. Daily quests are the easiest to complete and the simplest one would be logging into the game and the toughest one could be dealing a maximum amount of damage with a certain weapon. Weekly quests, on the other hand, are intermediate and may take some time to complete. These could range from logging in for 5 days straight to finishing a specific number of matches.
Campaign quests take the most time to complete and are long-term investments. They could vary from scoring a number of double kills to raising a piece of gear to a high level. Companion quests aren’t necessarily the hardest, but claiming rewards will require you to have certain social media accounts.
Anytime these objectives are completed, you gain a number of Shards. Trying to complete multiple quests at a time will net you a lot of these and you might be able to open a chest or two… maybe even three. These chests are your primary source of gear. Just remember that completing your quests is a quicker way to earn Shards and find yourself duplicates of gear you use, or better yet, gear you have not yet found.
After all is said and done, you will eventually find yourself playing with people who might send some friend requests your way.
10. If You’re Playing With Friends, Communicate
Playing alone can get boring sometimes.
Sure, it’ll help you get better and find ways to look out for yourself, but it could get lonely. Sometimes you might find out that your team is underperforming due to the lack of communication. Catalyst Black does not have a dedicated chat system, but it does have voice chat channels for those who prefer to fight in teams.
This is quite familiar to those who remember the days of Ventrilo, Mumble, or the various voice chat services on gaming consoles. Most recently, many of us use Discord voice chat, but Catalyst Black made it much simpler for its players. You don’t need a Discord to get on the voice channel.
First, make a party and invite your friends by telling them your party code (if you have a messaging application or any other means). This also works for people you haven’t added as friends yet. If you have people on your friends list, tap on the plus icons in the empty slots to add them to your party.
If you’re the one joining a party, you will need to copy the party code of your friend and join them using the Join Party feature. Otherwise, you can ask the leader of the party to invite you personally. You’ll all be talking in no time. But what do you talk about exactly when you’re on voice?
Alert them if there are enemies in the bushes, tell them if an enemy went Primal, give them a sit-rep if you’re playing Hydra — anything and everything. Tell them things to look out for or call them close so you can heal them (if you have a healing Ability). These are all simple things that a team should hear. Coordination will help you win.
On the other hand, don’t get carried away and berate them if they get themselves shot down. Keep it all in good clean fun. They are your team, and you’d want to win. Calling them names or undermining them might only cause them to resent you or even do the complete opposite of what you ask them to. They are human just like you — treat them as though you expect them to treat you.
Wrapping this up, Catalyst Black has a lot of tactical gameplay beneath the mayhem of a match. It’s important to remember what you learned thus far from this guide:
- Don’t let greed control you. Back off when you are low on health and don’t pursue enemies if you don’t know where they’re going.
- Watch out for weakened enemies or enemies that may seem like immediate threats to you and your team. Try to neutralize these when the opportunity arises.
- Never stop moving. Roll, run through bushes, do anything and everything to dodge enemy gunfire while you return yours.
- Your Ability should be used sparingly. Consider when and where you should use it.
- When your health is low, put the Primal Mask on if it’s ready for use.
- Keep your wits about you. Knowing what your objective is and doing it will help you get closer to your goal.
- Your loadout matters in this game apart from your skill. Maximize its usage by equipping gear of the same banner.
- Upgrade your favorite gear using the duplicates you find in the Quint Shop.
- Completing your quests will help you unlock newer gear or more duplicates faster.
- Communication is important while you play with your friends. Don’t forget to play nice!
And that concludes our guide for Catalyst Black. Suit up, grab your favorite gun, and prepare to show your enemy who’s boss. Before you go, don’t forget to join the Official Catalyst Black Discord server. May the strongest of the Chosen be ever victorious!
Are you a veteran Chosen? Do you have your own pearls of wisdom to impart on the new recruits? Send us your thoughts through the comment section down below!