Stage Mode is LF2's campgain mode, where the player fights through wave after wave of baddies, periodically climaxing in a boss fight. It is comprised of five numbered stages and one Survival stage, each having their own distinct flavor according to the particular enemies, allies and bottles that show up.
- For details, see Stage 1.
Stage 1 is the easiest stage, designed for beginners to get used to the controls and basic moves. It takes place in Lion Forest, with light and fresh music. Almost all the enemies are Bandits or Hunters, Marks (200 health on Normal and Difficult each) will become the bosses. Since then all large stages often spawn on both left and right sides. Jack and Sorcerer are first introduced as crminials.
- For details, see Stage 2.
Stage 2 has similar opponents to Stage 1, except the player will start facing a few enemy heroes (250 health on Normal and Difficult each), replacing Marks as the bosses. Stage 2 is still relatively easy. It takes place in Stanley Prison, with quiet and intricate music. Mark is first introduced as crminials too.
- For details, see Stage 3.
Stage 3 is where it starts to get more difficult, Jacks and Sorcerers are started to become enemies. Also Monk, Bandit and Hunter are first introduced as crminials. Each act ends in a boss wave. Act 1 is an important exception, where almost none of the enemies in the boss wave are soldiers. The progression all throughout is very orderly, milk and beer appearing on the left end of the map, enemies always showing up at the right end. It takes place in the Great Wall, with ancient and chinese tradition music. A small part Jacks (150 health on Normal and Difficult each) will become bosses once.
The final waves of each act are the hardest. Fortunately, all the soldiers spawn on the right, making the boss-isolating techniques described below more effective. On the other hand, the map is quite narrow in the z-axis, making it harder to dodge. Some of the enemies in the boss waves are not soldiers, including, typically, the Marks and some of the Bandit/Hunters. The final wave of the fourth act especially is key, because the beginning of the wave marks the last appearance of milk, and it is a long fight due to the fact that the boss has 5 lives. The fifth act is not easy either, where a beefy (1000 health on Normal and Difficult) LouisEX must be killed while avoiding his soldiers.
- For details, see Stage 4.
Stage 4 is where it starts to get crazy. The theme is fire and ice. Jan is introduced for both criminals and enemies, and more Sorcerers, Jacks and Marks appear in the enemy ranks. Each acts consist of zero to three easy waves before a final boss wave. The boss waves of act 3 and 4 are the hardest in the game, judging by soldiers, strengthened Firen and Freeze (400 health on Normal and Difficult each) will have a specific appearence against the players. It takes place in Queen's Island, with adventury and battle sense music.
Milk only appears twice: the beginnings of act 3 and act 4. When playing without criminals, it can be hard to get one's hands on enough of the milk in those two waves, because it spawns right between the players and the enemies. It is a good idea to bring an object from the previous act, preferably a knife, to throw at them; it will temporarily distract them from the bottles. The fifth act is more disastrous, where Firzen (1500 health on Normal and Difficult) with all ranged Wipe-Out attack must be killed while avoiding his unlimited soldiers.
- For details, see Stage 5.
Stage 5 is the last and most difficult stage in LF2, Justin, Knight and Bat are introduced, Monk has an one and only appearence as enemy. LouisEX and Firzen reappear as the bosses for acts 3 and 4. In the final act, the player must defeat the strongest boss, Julian, who has a lot of HP (2500 on Normal and Difficult, compared to 1500 for Firzen in stage 4). It takes place in Forbidden Tower, with darknesses and european marching music.
All the waves before Julian are relatively easy, serving only to wear down the player's army (if they are allowing themselves an army). The challenge lies in getting to Julian with enough of an army remaining to defeat him. To defeat him, usually the player must get some time alone with Julian to do combos on him without his soldiers interfering. For this, plenty of criminals are needed. If you could be able to clear the game, Marti Wong and Strasky Wong will thank you and give a bouns key that you can use all the characters in the mode.
- For details, see Survival Stage.
The survival stage is the most complicated of all the stages. It continues ad infinitum, the stage number increasing each time a wave of enemies is defeated. The "acts" of the survival stage are simply called stages. The differing stages are from 0-99. Once these are finished, the stage counter goes to 100 and beyond but it actually just repeats stages 90-99 indefinitely. It takes place in Brokeback Cliff, using stage 4 music.
Players can only recover HP from milk bottles because there is no HP bonus for clearing a stage. Milk bottles always appear on the far left and opponents always appear on the far right. Thus, players may be able to protect the milk bottles from the opponents in some stages. Milk bottles appear at every stage except after Stage 51. After beating all bosses (Julian+Firzen+LouisEX+Bat) in Stage 50, the milk bottles in Stage 51 are the last ones until the player beats all bosses again in Stage 60, where they will get the real last milk bottles on Stage 61. Since there are no more milk bottles after that, surviving forever is impossible with fair play.
The stages consists of 10-stage cycles (Stage 0 is excluded from the first cycle). Up to Stage 40, these rules apply:
- The first stage of a cycle always consists of bandits and hunters.
- The next stage consists only of Jack, Sorcerer, and/or bandits and hunters.
- The third stage consists of Mark, possibly along with Monk and Knight.
- Starting from the fourth stage, the stage consists mainly of heroes, plus, possibly, a few mooks, depending on the difficulty and number of players.
The last few stages in a cycle generally feature bosses: Bat in the seventh stage, Louis in the eighth stage, Firzen in the ninth stage, and Julian in the tenth stage. In the third cycle, Bat and LouisEX are merged in the eighth stage, so the seventh stage is replaced by numerous mooks. In the fourth cycle, Firzen and Julian are also merged in the last stage, and another 'heroes' stage added in the middle to fill out the cycle.
In the cycles following Stage 40, all bosses are merged in the tenth stage, but the other stages don't necessarily follow the rules above. Stages 41 to 49, for example, consist of an increasing number of heroes (2 heroes to 10 heroes) plus some mooks.
Survival Stage is a test of endurance: the fights, considered individually, are easy, but the difficulty lies in getting through them one after the other without getting worn down.
If a player dies, they get resurrected at the start of the next act (or the start of the next wave, for Survival Stage). They receive some potential health (200 on Easy, 150 on Normal, 100 on Difficult, and 50 on CRAZY), and then all their potential health is made actual. In Survival, they don't get any potential health, but if they had less than 5 when they died, it gets set to 5 when they get resurrected.
In Stage Mode, the difficulty setting determines not only the AI (of both enemies and allies), but also how hard on the players the actual stage is. In Easy, enemies have 3/4 the normal health, and non-mooks do not have a period of invincibility when they get up. In CRAZY, the enemies have 3/2 the normal health, and every player counts as two players (the more players, the more enemies and bottles show up). Firzen counts as two players and Julian counts as three. Upon completing a act, all the players' potential health is made actual, and some extra health is awarded: 200 on Easy, 150 on Normal, 100 on Difficult, and 50 on Crazy.
At certain points there are tied-up criminals sitting on the ground, who, along with the few bosses who switch teams upon being defeated, comprise the player's allotted allies. They will join the player's team if the player (or anyone on the player's team) cuts their bonds, which is done by hitting them with a melee attack, arrow or shuriken. A small army of these guys can be accrued by the end of a stage, making the fight more even. Jan's healing ability, in particular, is vital. These allies are not always helpful, however: they can be too aggressive, resulting in the enemies being pushed back past the right boundary, from which they can deal cheapshots; they can drink up all the milk; and they can too-quickly kill all the enemies during the break waves intended for recuperating. For best results, they must be carefully managed using the STAY, COME and MOVE commands, which is much more easily done with the help of another player.
Strategy in Stage Mode, such as it is, consists of three things: managing one's allotted bottles, managing one's allotted criminals, and isolating the bosses so they can be killed more easily.
Bottles are mainly meant to be drunk. However, they also make for great distractions. Special strategies include:
- Tricking enemies into drinking beer against their will. If a bot attempts to punch while standing on an object, they will pick up the object. So, if one lures a bot into standing on a beer, and then stands next to them, they will pick up the beer and go off to drink it, even if beer is useless to them.
- Using a milk bottle as bait to draw hordes of enemies into one place where they can be devastated by a single multi-hit attack.
- Making the enemy army temporarily easier to fight by plying them with milk.
Bottles should generally be hoarded. However, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of wasting effort protecting bottles, like a man trying to plug continually springing leaks in a wall when he should focus on staying dry and calling a plumber.
When one wants some peace and quiet to drink milk, one should kill all but one of the enemies, preferably the least dangerous one, before drinking. Even better is if one can make the last enemy take a beer, because then they truly cannot bother you.
Criminals are precious help that should be saved for the hard fights. In the first act, they should ideally not be freed until after all the enemies are dead, so as to preserve their health. Afterwards, the "Stay" and "Come" commands should be used to keep them out of harm's way until they are really needed.
Some waves have boss enemies and soldier enemies. The soldiers will not stop coming until the bosses are killed. Bosses can usually be told apart from their soldiers as the toughest characters in the wave, according to this pecking order:
Sometimes in these types of waves, the soldiers are so numerous that it is difficult to just stay alive, let alone take out the bosses. Here are some useful strategies, all of which are about separating the bosses from their soldiers:
- Occupy the part of the map farthest from where the soldiers respawn. If they all respawn on the right, for example, then if one occupies and fights on the left, one will get some respite from the soldiers when they die and have to travel all the way back to the left. If they respawn from both sides of the map, it may help a little to occupy the center. Doing this almost certainly means giving up one's bottles.
- If there is more than one human player, a really powerful technique is to have one player fight the boss(es) (preferably one at a time) on one side of the map and another player distract the soldiers on the opposite side. The player fighting the boss has the easy job of taking down the boss in a 1on1 while killing any stray soldiers that wander onto that side, while the player on the opposite side of the map has the not-too-difficult job of keeping the soldiers' attention without getting hit. To set it up so that the bosses are on one side while all the soldiers are on the other, the players should separate to opposite sides of the map; then, the one whose task it will be fight the bosses kills all the soldiers on his side, while the one whose task it will be to distract the soldiers keeps the soldiers on his side alive. The boss-fighting player gets rid of soldiers while the soldier-distracting player retains them.
- It may be possible to set the previous situation up using the criminals to distract the soldiers, but it is more difficult.
- Milk can be used to draw the soldiers away from their boss, for a time.
When stepping from one act to the next, if one is in the midst of doing something special, like dashing or shooting, but not running, the action will continue through to the next act. Since mana is filled up when transitioning, this can be exploited by doing a special move which creates a projectile right before transitioning, whereupon the special move will be completed after the transition is over, and the projectile will appear in the next act with one's mana still full. In addition, Rudolf's clones have their mana, normally capped at 150, set to 500 when they transition, enabling them to clone themselves.