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Alan Wake's Arcade Mode tips: how to dominate till dawn

A quick guide to ruling American Nightmare's leaderboards

The new instalment of Alan Wake comes at the whole story thing from a new angle, but it's the Arcade mode that's the most radical departure. Like a solo Horde Mode, it takes the basic "fight with light" premise from the main game, and throws unlockable weapons at it. Here's a (spoiler-free) guide to what we've learned, so far.

DON'T SKIP THE SCRIPT

The manuscript pages of the first games were great background, and gave you a little more insight into what exactly was going on. But they weren't tied into the game. In American Nightmares, they are. Assuming you'll play through the short single-player campaign first, remember that Alan's wider arsenal only unlocks with these pages. Be thorough on your first playthrough, or you might never get the Combat Shotgun.

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NAILGUN

The nailgun. It's a part of the advertising campaign, it's part of the slogan. "The pen nailgun is mightier than the sword." So, the nailgun is clearly Alan's new iconic weapon. Shame it sounds like an office stapler.

With a high ammo capacity of 100, a high clip size of 25, and only marginally lower power, it's the closest you'll get to a submachine gun without collecting manuscript pages. However, it also feels less accurate - either that, or the nails felt so insubstantial that we subconsciously stopped caring so much whether they hit. All in all, we much preferred the revolver. Every bullet matters, every bullet hits. Except for the ones we fired at a gravestone because we got spooked by some mist.

LEARN THE MAP

The location of all the weapons around the map doesn't change. Learn where the Flashbangs and the Flare Guns are. On the opening Cemetary map, the Nailgun is at the front door of the house. The shotgun's on your immediate left. Develop a strategy that collects all the grenades before you get to the final waves of tough guys.

USE THE MAP

Another thing that forces you to move around the map - the healing lamps wink out when you use them. And as tempting as it might be to sit next to the ammo box until you need it, they're not in great locations. On the Cemetery map, in particular, you'll find yourself hopelessly besieged unless you nip in during a quiet moment. The ammo cabinets will restock, but we've found that's less likely to happen (if at all), while you're standing anywhere near it.

SURVIVING ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH

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You unlock maps with stars, and stars are tied to points, not survival. Hiding up a staircase in ghost town might work for a minute, but you need to be in the thick of it, building your combo and fighting the good fight. This is especially true if you want to play on the later maps. Once you've unlocked the third map, Oil Fields, the star requirements become increasingly punishing.

SAVE THE BIG GUNS

Flashbangs, Flares and Flare Gun Ammo don't refill from the ammo boxes, so they're extremely limited. Save them for the waves of the last three minutes, and don't set them off by accident when you're panicking and trying to dodge. (It can't just be us that does that). The one useful exception to this is the Crossbow...

GET, USE THE CROSSBOW

Who knew the Crossbow was the go-to weapon for fighting evil? Not only do the explosive tips take out most enemies in one shot, they also cut through the darkness, saving your battery. And better still? It restocks from the ammo boxes. Get it, and use it. It's not available on every map, but if you're playing Ghost Town, it's on the gallows at the beginning, right in front of you.

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