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Squad Following, is a function featured in every game of the Half-Life Series where the player can recruit friendly NPCs to follow them.
- "Let's get the hell out of here!"
- ―Security Guard
Half-Life, Blue Shift, and Decay
Prior to the Resonance Cascade, all Black Mesa Personnel will not follow the player. When pressing the "USE" key on a scientist or security guard in Half-Life, the scientist may say quotes such as "Please, leave me alone till after the experiment". Meanwhile, a guard may say "Hey! Catch me later, I'll buy you a beer!".
After the Resonance Cascade, the player can lead Scientists and Security guards (unless they are scripted not to or an obstacle is in the way).
In some chapters, leading NPCs is required to continue the storyline. If an important NPC that the player must escort is killed, the game ends with a message, stating that the player failed to protect the NPC and the game reloads from the last save point (i.e. Barney must lead Rosenberg safely to the Teleport Lab while fending off HECU soldiers).
Leading Scientists will not only allow the player to use them to open locked doors but they can also heal the player for 25 Health with syringes if the player's health is below 50. Moving too far of them will cause them to refuse to go any further until the player goes back to recruit them again.
Leading Security Guards and Otis guards uses the same tactics as the Scientists. However, instead of healing the player, they will provide backup fire for the player with their sidearm. Each guard carries a handgun or a Desert Eagle. The guards are usually fine with dealing enemies at long range, but are not effective against enemies at close range.
In firefight, when a guard sees an enemy, he will pull out his Glock 17 or Desert Eagle out of his holster and will shoot the target constantly until they are dead. If the enemy hides, the guard will flank the enemy in order to kill it. For the Scientist, they will run and hide from enemies. When following the player during a firefight, they will panic but still follow the player. If the scientist is injured while following, he will stop following the player and will attempt to run away from enemies. When a grenade is throw at his position, both Scientist and Security guard will run away from it.
In Opposing Force, the player is a part of the Hazardous Environment Combat Unit and other Soldiers will assist the player by killing Xen aliens, Race X aliens, and Black Operators. The Marines use the same tactics as the Security Guard but they carry powerful weapons instead of a 9mm handgun. They are usually armed with the MP5 and the SPAS-12 but some may even be armed with M249 and grenades. Unlike Guards, Marines will reload their weapons and they are somewhat less effective and less aggressive compared to cooperated Guards when engaging groups of enemies. Unlike in Half-Life, the soldiers will speak to the player directly instead of using the radio.
Other than standard Marines, there is also the HECU Medic and HECU Engineer who provide additional support. The Engineer uses a Welding Torch to break down locked doors and when they appear, there is often a door nearby in which an Engineer is needed to gain access to reach supplies or continue to proceed. The Engineer is always armed with a Desert Eagle which is very useful in firefight. However, the Engineer always carries a gas 'canister' on his back and if shot, it will explode.
The Medic carries health supplies and use syringes to heal any wounded Marines when not following the player. If idle, a wounded Marine will often yell "Medic!" and the Medic will heal the wounded Marine. For the Marine, if the he is heavily wounded, he will hold his right leg with his left hand and have the other hand to hold the weapon, which is useful to know that the Marine is close to dying. As for the player, the player must approach the Medic and hold the "USE" key to restore health. Like the Engineer, the Medic can also assist the player by fighting enemies with his Glock 17 but it is not advised because he has low firepower. Although a Medic is seen carrying a Desert Eagle in Military base, in the Black Mesa Incident, he is seen carrying a 9mm pistol instead. Like the Health Charger, he has limited health supplies. If the Medic uses health supplies repeatedly, he cannot heal the player or other Marines anymore but he can still provide minimal support for the player.
In firefights, soldiers use a variety of squad tactics when engaging hostile targets. These tactics include flanking, providing each other with covering fire, and effective use of grenades. When shooting, soldiers are almost always in crouched to engage enemies. When enemies hide, the soldiers will either flank, throw a hand grenade, or launch a grenade from the MP5 to kill or flush an enemy target out. If the enemy is at the point blank range, the Soldiers will kick as a melee attack. When the player is injured by enemies while soldiers are following the player, all soldiers that are following by player will be alerted and will start to fire at the attacker, except the Medic where he will only be alerted when he sees the enemy. When a grenade is thrown at his position or someone else (whether it's an ally or an enemy) or when a Soldier launches a grenade, they will run or commence the cover position.
The new security guard, Otis, is introduced in this game. Instead of using a Glock, he uses a Desert Eagle. It's far more effective than the aforementioned pistol as it has higher accuracy and inflicts more damage. Unlike Barney, Otis won't attack the player if he sees the player kill another Guard or a Scientist; he'll just simply comment about it. Otis also makes up some jokes such as "My mom will be worried when I'm not at her house tonight" and if the player injure Otis, he will say "I don't want to die like a virgin".
In the chapter Unforeseen Consequences, there are three members that can be 'recruited'. The first member that the player must 'recruit' is Eli, he will open the locked door using the scanner to the Anti-Mass Spectrometer control room. The second member is a security guard at the elevator. Upon approaching, he will comment what the zombie wear scientist uniform are. The player can recruit the guard to assist the player to kill zombies and headcrabs, as the player doesn't have any weapons. The third member that can be recruited is a scientist, he can be found near the secret office as he hides from the zombies and headcrabs, he will open a semi-secret office that contain 15 hand grenades and 3 Glock 17 magazines along with a Health Charger in the Chapter Unforeseen Consequences, this scientist is optimal.
In the chapter Office Complex, there are four security guards that can be found and recruited. The first guard can be found at the end of the hallway where the Shotgun is first found, a Zombie will approach. If the player can save him, he will open the door allowing Freeman to get supplies and more Shells. The second guard can be found at the stairs who was fighting the headcrabs. The third guard can be found at the cafeteria who is telling the soldiers that arrived to rescue them. And the last one, can be found at the stairs who was looking at the dying guard.
In the Chapter Questionable Ethics. There are four members that can be recruited, one guard and three scientists. Here, there's a security guard the player meets early in the Chapter, who can help to fight against some HECU Soldiers and Alien Grunt. Further on, after activating the Tripmines and blowing up the wall in the testing room, the player comes to a small room with three scientists. The player must then turn off the surgical unit, and then the player must lead one or more of the scientists to the lobby, where they will open the doors that lead outside. Before going outside, the scientist tells Gordon to be careful outside.
In the Chapter Surface Tension, there are three security guards that can be recruited. The first security guard is seen after the player passed through the room that is fully loaded with Tripmines. Upon approaching the guard, the guard will run away from HECU soldiers. However, the player can still recruit the guard to fight back. The second Guard is hiding in the dorms. He will open the storage room if the player leads him to it, where a large supply of ammo is kept. If the player can lead them to the door under the M198 Howitzer, the semi-storage door will also be opened, both security guards are optional and both can open any storage door, which means if one or all dies, the game will not reload but it also means player cannot enter the storage room. The player can lead them until at the point where the M2 machine gun can be found. At that point, Large group of Vortigaunts will start coming from the portal. The security guard will defend Gordon until the Vortigaunts stop spawning. The third member is another security guard, this guard is found in a damaged building near a garage, when approaching, the guard was about to shoot the player. After that, the player must lead this guard to the garage door in order to open to continue the story.
In the chapter "Forget About Freeman!", there is only one security guard that can be recruited. He can be found in the parking lot under the Ceiling turret, if the player wants to use this turret, the player must kill the guard, and if the player wants to keep the guard, the player must ignore the turret. He can assist the player until the player enters the sewers.
In the chapter Lambda Core, there are three security guards that can be recruited. The first one can be found at the Maintenance Station at the Lambda Reactor Coolant System. The second one can be found in one of the checkpoints, the player can recruit him to assist the player to kill some Vortigaunts and Alien Grunts, the player can lead them until they get to the Teleportation zone. The third guard is at the supply depot in the teleportation chamber, the player can recruit a guard to assist the scientist and the player from Alien Controllers.
Half-Life: Opposing Force
- "Alright Corporal, I'll be right behind you!"
- ―HECU Marine
In the Chapter Welcome to Black Mesa, there is a security guard named Otis who must be recruited in order to open the door that is secured with a Retinal scanner. However, he only open the door when the player has acquired the PCV suit and he won't assist the player to kill any enemies.
In the chapter We Are Pulling Out, there is an Otis security guard that can be recruited to assist the player to kill some of the Houndeyes, Zombies, and Vortigaunts. He can also open a storage door that is located near the lift and although difficult, the guard can follow the player until they have reached the elevator.
In the chapter Missing in Action, there is an Engineer and a Soldier armed with a Shotgun. They appear when the player uses the radio. As there is a inoperable door that is blocking access to the elevator, the Engineer use his Welding Torch to cut that door and all three will enter the elevator. Soon, there is another door that's locked and inside, there are some supplies. The player can lead the Marines until they reach the office where the picture of Gordon Freeman can be found.
In the chapter Friendly Fire, there are four Marines that can be recruited. The first Marine that the player can be recruited is a Medic, he'll stand next to a locked door, the Medic informs the player that he need an Engineer to cut that door. The Engineer can be found in the warehouse where the Rocket can be found. After killing all the Black Ops inside. The player discovers the Engineer is badly injured and needs medical attention. The player must lead the Medic to the Engineer. After the Engineer is healed, the player must lead both Marines to the locked door so the Engineer can cut the door. After that, the player meets yet another two Marines, one armed with Shotgun and another with M249, and they talk about that sector that's fully guarded by Black Ops. The player can lead them until all Black Ops are eliminated, at that point the player must use the Black Mesa Tram and he must leave the Marines behind. Note: Sometimes, there is a glitch where the Engineer cannot pull his Desert Eagle out, if this happens, the Engineer can only attack enemies by kicking them.
In the chapter Crush Depth, there is one Scientist that wears a cleansuit that has to be recruited. He tells the Player that there are some Pit Drones attempting to kill him so he uses teleporter to trap himself. The player must now kill all the Pit Drones and rescue the scientist in order to advance in the story, the player can lead this scientist until at the second scanner, at this point, he will be killed by getting shocked by electricity when he attempts to use the second scanner.
In the chapter Foxtrot Uniform, there are five Marines that can be recruited. prior to the explosion, two Marines can be found in a supply room, one armed with an MP5 and one with a SPAS-12. Upon approaching they will say about the area being fully controlled by hostile Black Ops. They can follow the player until at the ladder where it leads to the canals that is filled with Voltigores. After the player leaves the canals, three soldiers can be found above the barrier, when spotted, the Engineer will break the barrier allowing Adrian go trough to the surface. One is a normal soldier armed with M249 and one Engineer and one is Medic. The player can lead them until at the blast door at the Hydro dam.
In the chapter The Package, there are two Marines (armed with MP5s) that can be recruited. Upon approaching, they say again, the area is fully guarded by Black Ops. The player can lead him until at the point where the Black Ops Apache appears.
Half-Life: Blue Shift
In Blue Shift only three Scientists and no other security guards are seen. All scientists are found in the chapter Captive Freight. The first one is found inside the boxcar inside the warehouse. The other one is outside. Though they aren't needed, they can heal the player or draw the attention to force the Marines to focus on the scientist first. Then, Dr. Rosenberg can be found in another section of the freight yard, where the player must first let the boxcar hit the wall and the door opens, allowing the player to see him. But when inside, the doors are locked by hostile Marines, but the Dr. Rosenberg first tells about himself first and then give Calhoun a hand to allowing escaping the boxcar via the ceiling. Later the player must clear the path to the lab, when arriving at the Old lab he uses his old hand scanner to open the door. Dr. Rosenberg must be protected at all times, or the mission will fail after being killed.
In Decay there are only two recruitable security guards. In the chapter Domestic Violence the player(s) must find a security guard with clearance codes in Level 3 Dormitories and escort him, fighting with the aliens and the HECU soldiers, to north wing entrance alive. Later in the chapter Code Green, there is a security guard fighting with a group of Marines. If the players are enough quick they can save and recruit him. The players can lead him until the Osprey appares.
- In all of the Half-Life games, shooting and killing Scientists, Security Guards, or Grunts will cause them to either flee (Scientist) or shoot at the player constantly (Security Guard and Grunts). This is also the case when the player kills friendly NPCs while in the sight of another friendly NPC, except in Half-Life: Source where only the hurt NPC will be hostile to the player.
- The maximum numbers of the NPCs can follow the player is two. In Opposing Force, up to four soldiers can be recruited. However, the Black Mesa NPCs is still limited to two.
- In Half-Life: Source, there is no limit of how many Security Guards the player can recruit. Also, the AI of the NPCs have improved: Security Guards will stop chasing the enemy and return to the player when he is ten feet away from the player. With the High Definition Pack, Half-Life: Source, the guards have a better firing rate.
- All of the Half-Life games have their own unique quotes when approaching or spawning a Scientist or Security Guard. For example: In Opposing Force the security guard; 'barney' will say: "Wow! A soldier, great!" and in Blue Shift, a security guard will say:"How is it going, Calhoun?"
- The Soldiers are still coded to fight Black Mesa Personnel in Opposing Force. However, this can only be seen via console commands.
Half-Life 2 and its Episodes
The Squad Following members are Resistance Soldiers, some of which are trained as medics. They are usually armed with a MP7, and will replace it with a Shotgun or a Pulse Rifle if they find these weapons on the ground.
Like Security guards in Half-Life, they will provide backup fire.
Like the HECU Medic, the Medic member will automatically heal themselves and the player can "use" them like a Health Charger since they can carry unlimited supplies. Wounded regular soldiers will pick up the Medkit or healthvial if medics are not around.
A HUD icon also appears to help the player check the team. The HUD displays icons indicating the status of the squad:
- Yellow without "+" logo= Standard Rebel
- Yellow with "+" logo= Medic
- Red; disappears after 5 seconds= Rebel killed
If the words SQUAD FOLLOWING are not present, that means the squad is not currently following the player. This usually happens when the player orders them to move somewhere, as detailed below.
In Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, up to four members can join a player's squad. They can be sent to a specific location by pressing the C (by default) key, which tells them to go to where the cross hair is pointed, although they will only stay for 15 seconds and the player cannot travel far before they follow him again. The player can also call members to regroup by pressing the C twice. Unlike in Half-Life and its expansions, the player cannot force the rebel to leave the group.
Alyx and Barney do not count as a squad members, since they use scripted entities to follow the player.
Resistance Members will automatically follow the player after the City 17 uprising.
Unlike Half-Life and its expansions, friendly fire has been disabled in Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, making it easier to attack enemies without injuring the squad members.
Unlike Half-Life, in Half-Life 2, none of the Resistance members are vital and the player doesn't have to worry if they lose them. However, if Alyx or Barney are killed, the game ends and restarts from the last save.
In Half-Life 2, during the City 17 uprising, if the player does not have any followers, they will spawn at certain points, but if the player has four Resistance members, no one will spawn.
The first recruit-able member is attacking two Shield Scanners and another three are attempting to destroy a Breencast screen. The other ones will spawn in some other area if the player's maximum limit is not reached. Players can lead the members until the point were Alyx is kidnapped. When the player jumps down the broken bridge, the citizens will stop following player.
After The Underground, one of the members tells Gordon that Snipers have pinned down Barney in some warehouse. The player is now able to lead the Resistance Members again. The Resistance Members will spawn faster than the previous area. The player can lead the resistance members until all Striders are defeated and the player will lose all his team members when they jump down into the bombed building. However, another two resistance members will briefly join the player's squad until the player meets Barney and Dog.
Half-Life 2: Episode One
In the chapter Urban Flight, one resistance soldier is armed with a RPG on the street; he will briefly join the player's squad. When the player enters the Resistance safehouse, he will stay behind.
In the chapter Exit 17, it is required to escort four groups of citizens. A combination of unarmed civilians and armed Resistance members,carrying MP7s, across a courtyard to the Technical Trainstation to board an escape train. Unlike the soldiers in Half-Life 2, the player cannot command them. If one citizen dies, another citizen may use some unique quotes that were not used in Half-Life 2. There is at least one armed soldier and one medic that has the same weapon in each group. In each wave (except the first one) Combine Soldiers and Civil Protection will spawn and they may be armed with better guns like the AR2 or Shotguns, which means citizens have to rely on the player to defeat these enemies, especially soldiers armed with shotguns since they can fire in semi-auto and does high damage to citizens as well as the player. Each wave contains different citizens:
- First wave: Two unarmed citizens, one soldier, and a medic. No enemies are present.
- Second wave: One soldier and one medic.
- Third wave: Same as the first one, but with enemies.
- Fourth wave: Same as the second one, except Barney will leave for the train station as well.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
During the attack in White Forest, there are at least three Resistance members that are attacking Hunters. If players are fast enough, they may able to save them. They only assist the player for a brief period. When the player climbs up the ladder, they will stay down.