Firefall Nighthawk Guide by Tzira
So! I thought I’d write up some helpful tips and tricks for people interested in the nighthawk frame from a PvE perspective. I feel it plays quite differently from the other recon type frames and honestly from most of the other frames as well. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty!
What the nighthawk IS:
Huge single target burst damage from a distance. Easily capable of taking down almost anything that moves with a single headshot.
Fairly good AoE burst albit with some setup required and with a fairly long cooldown.
What the nighthawk ISN’T:
Frontline fighter. Expect to spend quite a bit of time worshipping the ground if you go in guns-a-blazin’.
A stealthy sniper in solo play. Don’t expect to be able to sit back and just headshot one target after another in ARES missions if you’re by yourself.
Support oriented. Aside from taking down targets quick, we offer very little in terms of team support.
Gear and abilities: What tools do you have at your disposal.
Your trusty Bolt Action Sniper Rifle. Slow rate of fire, but my goodness it packs a punch. Especially with headshots. Even with the stock rifle you can easily hit for over 1200 with a single headshot. It is, however, quite terrible when it comes to accuracy when shooting from the hip unlike any of the other recon frames. The shots DO pierce through targets when firing, meaning you can hit multiple enemies with a single shot (and multiple heads, too! PEW-PEW!). Also allows you to shoot those pesky shield drones through their protective dome. If you find yourself in a medium distance firefight (~50m range) it’s often very useful to quickscope. What’s quickscoping you ask? Well, to put it simply, it’s first aiming from the hip, quickly hitting your alt-fire and shooting your target. This allows you to be a lot more accurate with your shots then firing from the hip. Worth noting is that you practically have to be in 1:st person mode for this to work properly or your aim will be slightly off. Very noticeable at large distances. Practice it on people running around in Copa for a bit. Takes a bit getting used to but for high level play it’s almost mandatory to at least know the basics of quickscoping.
Passive: Ambush. Extra damage when the enemy isn’t targeting you. “useful” in group content since enemies tend to only target you if you’ve shot them. And if you’ve shot someone, they should already be dead. If you’re alone, this pretty much means only your first shot deals more damage. In my opinion, it’s one of the worst passives of any of the frames. Your damage while headshotting, or even when getting off bodyshots, is so high that it’s not needed anyway.
Execute Shot: Charges the next shot of your rifle. If you have your secondary weapon equipped, you will automatically change into your sniper rifle. Mostly a PvP ability I believe. It’s not terribly useful for PvE play, although it does deal quite nice AoE damage around your target (if it dies) when you explode someone with a headshot with it. You can also ensure a bodyshot oneshot kill with this in very good gear against lower tier opponents.
Long-Range Charge: Fire off a little rocket that attaches to a surface or enemy. Yes, you can turn that annoying chosen into a walking bomb. The next press of this ability will detonate the charge. The AoE damage of this is actually pretty good, especially when upgraded but it does still have some drawbacks. For one, it has a fairly slow travel time. Either start off with this ability right into a pack of mobs or place it somewhere you know they’re going to pass through when they inevitably come to try to eat your face. It has a pretty long cooldown. Don’t expect to be exploding things left and right with this. You often don’t have time to use it once or maybe twice per engagement, so try to do as much damage with one detonation as you can.
Smoke Screen: Ah yes, the classic ninja move and also our only group support ability that we have. This will render anyone who steps into the smoke cloud invisible for a second or two. Very useful for getting away or resurrecting a teammate without taking fire. Mostly used to GTFO when you see 25 evildoers charging you, giving you some time to get to a better position. Also very, very useful to make your teammates scream at you for completely obscuring any vision they might have. That smoke cloud is pretty darn thick and lasts a surprising amount of time before dissipating. Should be noted that while you are indeed hidden from view while in the cloud of smoke, you also can’t see anything outside of the smoke cloud once you’re in it. So don’t expect to toss this down and start dealing headshots left and right.
Eruption Rounds (HKM): The one ability that made me go *squeeee* once I used it the first time. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this is. Granted, you can’t use it and the R36 rifle anymore for hilarious results, it still rains down mayhem and fiery death everywhere you point your rifle. What it does is simply turn every shot into a huge AoE explosion on impact. It lasts a surprisingly long time and is best used when you’ve slotted a fresh clip of ammo in your baby. Easily capable of taking out huge packs of enemies at a time. Do be a bit careful where you point that thing though, because those explosions will hit you, too, if you’re close enough to the blast.
That’s it, I thought to myself once I tried the frame on. This is what it is. However… that’s not exactly true. Something I didn’t know once I first started playing is that you are free to equip ANY ability from the standard recon frame into an advanced recon frame. This means we ALSO have the entire barrage of abilities from the accord recon frame to play with. DO NOTE that ALL the stock accord frames also have 2 extra “hidden” abilities that you can build yourself and, of course, equip as a nighthawk. Here’s where it got interesting IMHO. We can compensate for some of the lackluster things at our disposal and turn into a true death-machine! Woo!
What I switched out myself was:
Our passive (ambush) for the recons Regenerative Plating. While not incredibly useful due to our low rate of fire, I feel it’s miles better then our standard passive that I feel does nothing for our frame really.
Switched Ranged Satchel for Resonating Bolts. At first I thought that Resonating Bolts did pitiful damage. Well, right up until I realized not only can you cover an enemy in red glowy dots of DOOM, they have a pretty significant radius to their explosion as well. And with 4-5 of these about to go off things get murderiffic real fast. With a fairly short cooldown as well once all charges are used, I find this a lot more useful, especially in crowded areas where we usually suck.
Switched Smoke Bomb for Decoy. Personally, I love the decoy a lot more. And it explodes for some nice damage too. I used to use this + Ranged Satchel for some pretty high burst AoE against Aranhas and other things that tend to charge you in melee. Mind you, smoke bomb and decoy are not mutually exclusive. You can equip both for a truly elusive sniper. I suspect quite a few ditch Execution Shot for Decoy instead, but I feel one escape is often enough.
Thinking about ditching Execute Shot for Proximity Response or possibly Cryo Grenade. I’m not sure which is more useful and I’ll have to toy around with them. Proximity Response feels like a pretty effective OH SHIT button when you’re overrun by critters while the cryo grenade could be pretty damn good those few seconds before said OH SHIT moment if you see them coming.
Secondary weapon: Any of them works just fine. Do upgrade whatever you prefer using though, because you can expect to be using it a lot when soloing.
It is a bit sad that this would leave all of… one original frame ability. A bit of a shame really and I hope this’ll change in the future.
Let me try to expand a bit on the playstyle aspect of this particular frame and how it changes depending on solo or group play.
If you’re soloing missions, what you can expect is being able to pick off perhaps one or two the enemies in a room before they all charge you en masse. One shot is more than enough for every single one of them to know exactly where you are, no matter if 90% of them were busy staring at the walls before you fired your first shot. Positioning here is very important. If at all possible, the best place to be when all hell breaks loose is on high ground staring down a narrow hallway or choke point. Why high ground you ask? Well, the AI mostly sucks at shooting upwards. Often hitting the ledge you’re crouched at while still allowing you to fire off headshots. Especially those grenade AOE type plasma balls that they so love to fire. It’s also a lot easier to aim at the head from above rather than below. This should allow you to hopefully down 2-3 of them as they come rushing towards you. Now what, you might ask yourself when they’re swarming your position. Well, either you’ve found a good enough spot where they can’t actually get to you and you can just peek out and pick them off one by one. If so, pat yourself on the back because that’s what we do best. If they CAN reach you, that’s when it’s time to leg it. Hit decoy or smoke bomb. Or both and hightail it out of there to a better position and start over with the headshots. Expect to clear missions at a slower pace than pretty much any other frame that usually requires little to no setup.
Usually you pull one room of badguys at a time when doing ARES missions so once you’ve found a good corridor or choke point that you can retreat back to, it often goes like this: Step 1: Snipe 1-2 targets. Step 2: Stealth. Step 3: RUN! Repeat step 1-3 as necessary.
If you’re in one of those annoying missions where you have absolutely no choke points or hiding places or fighting Arahnas well… get our your trusty SMG and try not to die. You can’t possibly pick off many shooting from the hip, you’ll probably go dizzy quickscoping them all and you don’t have enough sustained AoE to deal with them. Run, dodge, dive and pray-n-spray are pretty much your options here. Make the best of it. Decoy is your friend. And so is satchel charge or resonating bolts or better yet, your HKM. But be aware that once you pull the pin from Mr. Grenade, he is no longer your friend. Try not to blow yourself up.
If you’re in a group, well.. HOORAY! Because this is where we can truly wreak havoc. Let your friends Mr. Tanky and Mr. Healy or indeed, Señior Turret grab all the aggro while you find somewhere cozy to set up shot and start picking off targets one by one. Most enemies won’t care you’re there. After all, you didn’t shoot them first. This’ll turn around quickly if you start dealing out AoE punishment or if they have any sort of spawner close by. But as long as someone has shot at them, they’ll mostly ignore you. DO try to pick off the enemy snipers, grenade tossers and engineers first though. Let the meaty people deal with the charging minigun type enemies and leave those for last.
Well, that’s really all I can think of at the moment. I hope this little guide helped you in some way. I meant to keep things basic but maybe I got a bit longwinded or repetitive. Feel free to add your own tips and tricks or suggestions in this thread and I’ll be happy to add them to it.Other Firefall Articles
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