Sven Co-op – Hardcore Servers Guide (How Not to Die)

A guide designed to teach new players how to play in Hardcore servers, how not to die too often, and how not to accidentally make other people angry at you.


Heyo! I’m sure quite a number of Sven Co-op players have seen these servers in the list that have the word “Hardcore” in their title and either were intimidated by it, or decided to join out of curiosuty. For the latter, I’m sure that you were surprised when the enemies instantly killed you in just one hit. Well, that’s the “Hardcore” part.

Hardcore servers have several things that make them stand out:

  • The damage dealt by enemies is dramatically increased, enough to instantly kill you.
  • Most levels have anti-rush features implemented.
  • The game is in permanent Survival Mode.

As a reminder: Survival Mode is where if you die – you can only be revived if another player revives you with a medkit (as long as your body is intact – you can’t revive gibbed players); if a Respawn Point is reached; and at the start of each level (you are given a 30-second grace period where you can respawn, before the Survival mode is activated).

So what is this guide about? Well, I wrote this guide to (hopefully) teach new players the basics of Hardcore servers: how to play, what not to do, tactics in different situations, et cetera. This is the purpose of this guide: to teach and reduce the lack of knowledge. I highly doubt this is going to be best guide ever, and I definitely don’t know everything since I’m not a pro. I’m simply sharing what I know in hopes that this knowledge will be useful to others.
So, let’s begin!

Guidelines to Follow

To start things off, here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind when you are in Hardcore server:

  1. Avoid rushing. Remember: this is a Hardcore server, where everything kills you in one shot. Running in guns blazing may be a valid strategy for other servers (particularly XP servers), and I know it’s a great feeling to be like a action movie star and mow down your enemies like they’re copy paper, but if you do that here, you’ll just quickly die. So please save your enthusiasm and be careful.
  2. Be considerate of other players. Hardcore servers are often played by various people – almost daily you can bet you’ll see someone in the servers. Sometimes these players are knowledgeable, or even pro players. So messing up their play, accidentally or not, is a good way to earn their ire. Some are patient and understanding, others not so much. So, in short, if you see them snipe something from behind the cover, or are throwing their weapons at the start of the level – do not try to rush out and gun down whatever they were shooting at, or collect said thrown weapons (we’ll talk about that later). In former case you’ll aggravate the enemy and cause them to charge you, thus getting other players killed, and the latter case will get you labeled as the thief. Basically don’t be a jerk and use common sense.
  3. Healing is situational. Another thing that is different for Hardcore server is that since nearly everything instakills you, healing is not as important as you’d like to believe. In fact, there are only several times where health even matters, and that’s when something doesn’t instantly kill you. Such things are: fall damage, explosives, select few level hazards, Voltigore shots, and some other things I’m probably forgetting. And in certain servers it is outright made useless, since your health could be set to 1. But while healing is not useful…
  4. Reviving is not straightforward. Like I said, you can only revive intact bodies of players. How to do that? Hold the key for Alt. fire – usually it’s the Right Mouse Button, or MOUSE2 as the settings say. Now, remember that the more players, the better chances you have to succeed. But, there are also nuances to it. For example, Respawn points. Yeah, those floating silvery Half-Life logos? You might have an urge to go grab it, but don’t. First check how many players are actually dead. If only one or two are alive among 10, then you can go ahead. However, if it’s not necessary, and most players are alive – don’t. Save it for when you need it.
  5. Listen to experienced players. Like I said, some players are pretty knowledgeable, or even pro players. So as a rule of thumb, if they tell you not to do something, then in 9 out of 10 cases it’s a good idea to listen to them. On a side note, pay attention to the chat. You missed something? Check the console, the chat log is also there.
  6. Don’t be a jerk. I know, I already said it in guideline number 2, but I saw many outside cases, where this particular rule must be specified. Nobody likes jerks. Nobody likes people who deliberately block other players, and/or intentionally lure enemies to them, among other things. Ruining the fun for everybody involved is bad. Don’t be that guy. Others will not remember you fondly for that.

Hardcore Tactics (Part #1)

This is the basics that every person who wants to play in Hardcore servers for a while should know. They will improve your playing experience by quite a bit, so remember them well!

Third Person Spy Camera

Sven Co-op has a feature where you can press a button, and it switches you to the third person mode. Default button is ‘J’. This feature is a very important tool for you to spot danger without risking the enemies charging after you and murdering you and anyone who is unfortunate enough to be near you. Use it to check around the corners, behind cover, etc. Believe me, it will greatly help you when you know where the enemy is, and if it’s coming or not.

Take Cover!

Yeah I know, that callout is often taken for granted, but you need to remember that, again, enemies can instakill you. So it is important to take cover if you face ranged enemies like grunts or alien slaves/vortigaunts. Also that callout is a good short indicator that something is coming and you must run the heck away. Default key is ‘X’, so make sure to use it when necessary.

Know The Enemy

Make sure you learn what kind of enemies you are dealing with. There are aliens and there are humans. As a rule of thumb, humans – military grunts, security guards, Black Ops, – are harder to deal with, because it’s next to impossible to dodge their shots. You aren’t Neo, nor you are Boris the Bullet Dodger. Luckily, however, they don’t gib players – unless they use hand grenades or AR grenades. Thus, players can be revived from being struck by a bullet. Aliens, on the other hand? They will gib you if they hit you. Zombies, Vortigaunts, Alien Grunts, Controllers, Headcrabs, Shock Troopers, Pit Drones – every alien will turn you into a chunky salsa if you are not careful. Even LEECHES will instantly kill you and gib you if they bite you. However, you can save yourself from being gibbed: you can commit sudoku by pressing ‘K’ – and your body will drop, intact, and revivable by other players. Unless you are in Sudden Death mode where everything gibs you, then I’m afraid it won’t work.

Know The Weapons

In Hardcore servers, some weapons become situational. The crowbar is mostly useless, only used as a box smasher, and can only be used as a fallback weapon if you don’t have anything else (you can throw it by pressing Middle Mouse Button, but it’s easy to lose it). Wrench is more useful because you can one-shot a number of enemies with it, but it’s not much better overall. But some become very very important. Pistols suddenly find much more use. Crossbows become much more valuable. Slot 5 weapons become very important tools for enemy killing. That’s not to say that other weapons become obsolete – they still find their use. For example, you can use an SMG to prevent Vortigaunts from attacking (shooting them enough interrupts their attack), shotguns are good against Houndeyes, Zombies and sometimes Headcrabs, and explosives can clear out smaller nasties. Baby Headcrabs won’t stand a chance against a solid AR grenade or an unscoped Crossbow round. Slot 5 weapons, however, take the spotlight. Grenades are useless if you just throw them haphazardly, but if you learn to ‘cook’ them – as in, hold them in your hand for a few seconds before throwing, – then they will become a much more useful tool in your arsenal. Tripmines can be used to bait enemies. Snarks, believe it or not, become very viable on most servers – not only enemies get a buff in damage! Since snarks don’t attack you, unlike in original Half-Life, you can use them to deal with enemies you don’t want to face. It’s preferable to use them against aliens, since human enemies have a next-to-perfect accuracy with their hitscan weapons. And satchels… I will get to them later.
And don’t forget the Hivehand! They still have infinite ammo, and if you aim them correctly, you cna take out plenty of enemies that you don’t like! Just don’t expect the bees to cooperate most of the time.

Observing the Enemy

You may think that if you die, that’s it – you have to wait in boredom until you come back to life. That’s incorrect: observers have an important role in this too! They can do what living players can’t without difficulties: spy on enemies. They can tell how many are there, what type of enemy is it, and their current state. Observe the enemy, watch what it does, and inform others. Conveying information like that is important in Hardcore servers, and it will help save the player from suddenly dying.

Hardcore Tactics (Part #2)

These are the skills that require more thought put into them. It’s still important to know them, as they will help you deal with a large variety of enemies while avoiding putting yourself into risky situations.

Slow and Steady

Did you know that you can slow yourself down by crouching (‘Left Ctrl’)? Did you also know that you can walk slowly by holding ‘Left Shift’, and that you can walk even slower by holding the Use key (‘E’)? If you do, great! But did you also know that you can hold multiple of those keys together to be super slow? In this server this is a very, VERY, useful trick in order to sneak up on enemies, which leads me to my next point:

Assassination Sniping

Sniping is a technique, where you shoot and kill the enemy without them even knowing that you are there. There are several enemies that you can safely take down without attracting their attention – Headcrabs, Zombies, Bullsquids. It also works on other enemies, but you need to be careful: Vortigaunts, Alien Grunts, Human Grunts, Black Ops and Shock Troopers tend to move if they are damaged, and in that moment where they move, they will spot you. So if you see them flinching – move back to a safe spot and wait until they stop moving. I don’t know exactly when they can see you in order for them to be aggro’d, but here’s my personal rule of thumb: if the enemy is facing you, AND their head is in full view – then it will see you. Keep that in mind when you snipe them.

The Satchel Stunlock

Satchels are the kryptonite of Human Grunts, Male Assassins, and to a lesser extent Shock Troopers. How so? Let me explain. First two of them share the same AI, and are programmed to run away from the grenade and cover their heads. Shock Troopers also do that, but I think it’s a bit less effective, although still viable. And here is the kicker: this behavior overrides the rest of their actions. That means they won’t shoot at you while they engage in ‘escape from the grenade’ behavior. This is where the satchel comes into play. In Sven Co-op you can pick up the satchels you have thrown, but didn’t detonate. I presume this was made so that you couldn’t lose them permanently if you accidentally thrown one away. Satchels are also classified as grenades, so the grunts will run away from them. Knowing this, you can stunlock them by repeatedly throwing out the satchel, and then picking it up almost immediately after. This will either buy you seconds to kill the enemy, or let another player safely deal with them. Note that there is an area of effect when using this technique, and it will only affect the grunts that are close enough to you. Also use the Right Mouse Button to do it, in order to avoid accidentally blowing yourself up.
Also keep in mind that this will NOT work on Female Assassins. They have the nerves of steel and are also ninjas.

Ammo Resupplying

Duplication (or duping for short) is an exploit that can be done at the start of every map. In half of the maps there is no respawning ammo, and most pickups are one-time only. This is why some players will use this trick to gain more ammo. Pick a safe corner where players won’t spawn, drop off the weapons you need ammo for, then sudoku by pressing ‘K’. You will respawn with what you had, AND you can pick up ammo you have dropped off. For greater effect, check how long it takes you to respawn, and account for that when you repeat the duping process. Just make sure you don’t stay dead when the Survival Mode activates, and watch out for particular players who will take your ammo, either due to lack of knowledge, or because they’re jerks.

Explosion Luring

Sometimes in certain situations you can use grenades to lure humans. Military AI investigate the explosions if they are idle, and you can use that to your advantage to get them to somewhere where you can easily shoot them.


And that about covers it! I hope this guide will help you become more acclimatized to the harsh world of Hardcore servers. Credit me only for this particular guide. Do not credit me for all of those strategies and exploits – I did not come up with them, I’m not that smart. Constructive criticism is welcome, additional strategies to put in are also welcome! Feel free to correct me on some things, since I am bound to be wrong someplace.

Helena Stamatina
About Helena Stamatina 3011 Articles
I love two things in life, games and sports. Although sports were my earliest interest, it was video games that got me completely addicted (in a good way). My first game was Crash Bandicoot (PS1) from the legendary studio Naughty Dog back in 1996. I turned my passion for gaming into a job back in 2019 when I transformed my geek blog (Re-actor) into the gaming website it is today.

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