PlanetSide Eagle Piloting Guide
PlanetSide Eagle Piloting Guide by DarthS
If you already have an Eagle, then you know how to fly it so I won’t insult your intelligence. If you don’t, I’m afraid I can’t help with that killstreak much. For an excellent guide for gunner variants take a look at Mister Singh’s guide elseware on this board (it got me my FV), just remember the pilot weapons have been gimped a fair bit since it was written.
The Eagle, in my own humble opinion, is the best flight variant around! Used correctly you can take on most of the other units in the game and win. Used incorrectly, a good mossie will take you out. In this guide we’ll be looking at the roles the Eagle should be performing on the battle field, and what mix of weapons to bring along.
The Psychology of Eagle piloting
In some ways its fair to treat the Eagle like a Reaver as you have lots of speed and lots of fire power, but your damage output over time is much lower. The rub of it’s that all of the NC specific pilot weapons; the ATMG’s, the Sparrows and the Hammers are most effective at close range. The Eagle is much more fragile then the Perigins you’ve been piloting however, and with emp grenades thrown into the picture its much harder to do your damage and run away.
The art of piloting an Eagle comes down to a balance of how close your prepared to get with the enemy to do best damage, and how much risk your willing to put yourself in the process. It’s a balance that takes time to learn, but the decision on when to fight and when to run is critical. It’s easy to get greedy and chase down that one last kill…but 9 times out of 10 it will get you killed. You’ll get great K/D ratios with the Eagle if you use it properly, but more because you can spend a good half hour in a heavy fight without dying then because you rank up tons of kills.
Weapon choice is critical. At any time in the game you will only be effective against one third of the opponents you will meet, so it’s important to plan ahead. We’ll look at each weapons effectiveness in more detail later, but for now it’s enough to know that you need to plan in advance what sort of units you will be hunting. For this you can check with your squad-mates what sort of help they need, or use the map hotspots to take a guess at the sort of action. Hotspots in the open mean armour and aircraft, hotspots round a base mean armour/aircraft/infantry, and hotspots inside a base or round an enemy tower mean infantry.
Always take the wider situation into account as well. For example; the TR have zerged the north of Solsar (as they tend to do), and are laying siege to the northern tech plant. If they have the air-tower NW of the base, you can be dammed sure that’s where you’ll find a lot of enemy aircraft. Grab your sparrows, jump into the hills to the north of the base and pick off the weakened air targets when they come in to repair.
To Solo, or not to Solo?
People complain that the Flight Variant is not a team-orientated vehicle, and this is true. But then nor is a Reaver or a Bolt Driver, so screw them. This should be made clear; if your squad is involved in a protracted outdoor firefight with enemy troops and armour, pull a Perigin EVERY TIME. As battlefield support goes, it beats the Flight Variant in most areas, and the Particle cannon is such a fantastic weapon there are almost daily threads from the VS demanding it be given to them. Fat chance.
But the Flight Variant has its place on the battle field. Its too fast to support infantry and too slow to support aircraft, but it can make the perfect support platform for Vanguard columns. The greatest weakness of the Vanguard is against aircraft, and as such you should always equip duel sparrows to take down those pesky Reavers.
As a solo vehicle, it’s important to treat it much like a Reaver. First and foremost, you should always keep situational awareness. Never become so engrossed in a fight that you don’t realise its going against you, and never jump into a fight against a superior enemy force. You have the speed to run away from most opponents if they get the drop on you, and trust me, you’ll be using that speed a LOT, but also remember your anti-tank / anti-infantry weapons have a relatively low damage output over time, plus require close range to be effective. Always keep to the edge of a large firefight, and pick off the enemy who are exposed.
When trying to help a besieged base (ie, a base at red alert with enemy troops inside the courtyard), the first thing you should do is bind to the next nearest base. This gives you a quite spot to re-spawn and pull a new Eagle if something goes wrong. Second, your weapon load-out should be duel Sparrows as the enemy will have Reavers / Liberators spamming the courtyard. The best service you can provide for your empire is to take these out! Don’t get too close to the base, or enemy flight variants will come after you. Instead find a good spot behind a hill where you can pounce on the hovering aircav as they spam your mates. Circling round the base is a good way to bolster your own kill-count, look for snipers in particular; they love to setup on ridges overlooking the base, so pop up behind them, send them a few cheeky tells and sparrow-spam them into next week. If you stumble upon an AMS however, don’t go after it just yet (the sparrows are weak against armour and infantry like due to their slow speed). Instead, pop a waypoint on it and jump back to the nearest base for your ATMG’s. Sparrows are useful for spamming infantry in small numbers, but never attempt to engage more then two or thee at a time.
A quick note on clokers; they are fairly easy to kill no matter what weapons you are using. The trick to finding them is to keep an eye on your radar as lot of clokers don’t bother with sensor shield when in the field and will show up on your on-board sensors. Flick on darklight and soak up an easy kill.
The Anti-Tank Machine Guns and you
The standard anti-armour weapons that come with the BFR cert, the ATMG’s are weapons to be both loved and hated. They have the direct fire you’d expect from the VS, the rate of fire you’d expect from the TR, and the damage degradation over range you’d expect from the NC. All in all, you should only ever use them at close-to-medium range. The range is short; your crosshair will turn yellow when you reach the limits, but you should never try to engage targets at this range. The damage drop-off is such that it becomes almost worthless at maximum range. The cone of fire also needs to be considered, stationary its reasonable but on the move your shells will go all over the place. For sniping targets at maximum range, like wall turrets, spitfires and max units, crouch and watch your accuracy shoot up.
ATMGs Vs Tanks
ATV’s die quickly but are difficult to hit and chase down (watch out for sniping furies!). Skyguards and buggies are also difficult to hit, but have paper thin armour along with weapons that won’t hurt you much. Lightnings are the perfect target; just remember to get up close before you engage for maximum damage. They tend to run, but you can chase them down if you’re a half competent pilot.
Raiders are pesky, but one-on-one, you can beat them. It really depends on how good the enemy driver is; if he’s got any sense he’d keep his distance, but so many Raider drivers are used to getting up close to Perigins and running rings round them. Remember, your ATMG’s rock at close range, and you have shields. Close quickly enough and you can take on a full manned raider. Just watch for infantry bailing at the end. If they don’t, that’s 5 kills thanks! I’ve never come up against an Auror. Ever. In fact, I don’t even know how to spell it, but their weapons are anti-infantry with horrible arcs, so you should be able to take it.
Medium tanks are a different story. A fully manned Prowler is too hard, so avoid. A wounded Prowler, even fully manned, is yours! Chase it down as it runs, or watch where it goes. Prowlers are slow and will rarely run long distances to a base to repair, so watch from a distance to see if it pops behind a hill. If so, come in from the side and nail it. It you spot a Prowler without a top gunner, by all means have a crack at it. Balance your distance so that you can keep the tank in effective damage range, but far enough away to avoid his shells. Jump for victory! Not big ones, nice small hops about the place to avoid those nasty tank shells.
Magriders are a pain. They can keep up when you run away, have more armour and do more damage then you over time. It used to be that FV’s could hide in the water from them…but then the VS screamed nurf and we got the timer. Then Magriders were running FV’s down like no bodys business…until it was realised the Mags had a damage bug and were doing far more then intended. To this day Mag drivers are over-confident when it comes to Flight Varients, but this is something a canny Eagle pilot can use to his advantage. I’ve lead more then one Mag to his death on the guns of a waiting Vandgard. The trick is not to run from them unless you can hop over a hill and be gone instantly, or the Rail Beam and PPA will snipe you from the air. The Rail beam does rougthly twice as much damage over time as the top turret, so by avoiding this weapon you can avoid most of the Magriders ability to harm you. Close to point blank, make little hops OVER the Magrider. Always keep away from its front, keep him turning, and keep your cross hairs on his hull (don’t be tempted to jump too high, or at close range you won’t be able to get an angle on him). It’s tricky, and it takes practice, but its more then possible to score a Magrider.
ATMGs vs Air
Hunting air targets with these guns is not recommended. The range and terrible cone of fire during movement means you’ll have a hard time hitting squat. Best reserved for self defence when the cheeky aircavs hover a meter away in vain attempts to nail your shield generator. Do about 50% damage and they’ll normally run, but careful of mossie droppers! If you see a pilot eject, or a mossie fly overhead on your radar, hit the jets immediately and get as far away as possible. Do it quick enough and you’ll avoid the emp and be able to pick him off from a distance.
If mossie snipers are a problem, crouch and your weapon accuracy will be drastically improved.
ATMG’s vs Infantry
This is probably the weakest area of the ATMGs, as the guns inaccuracy during movement means it’s very tricky to hit the little fellows. Again, this gun should only be used for self defence work or hunting stray ejected pilots. Never try to use them against more then 2-3 infantry opponents, or you’ll get jammed and half a dosen deci’s up your [Removed for Content] before you take out one.
The exception is MAX units as their larger profile, slow speed and heavy armour makes them ideal targets. Strange, but I’m sure the TTK on a MAX unit is less then a Rexo. At medium range don’t forget to crouch for better accuracy and a lower TTK.
Spamming with the Sparrows
The NC has a weakness against aircraft in general, there is no denying this. The Sparrow-Max is a difficult unit to use effectively, and the Phoenix is more a hindrance rather then a help (I’ve sniped aircraft with decimators more effectively). The Vanguard is also terrible as the 15mm’s do little more then irritate, and somehow landing a 150mm shell smack-bang in the middle of a reaver will hardly knock off 50% damage. Stupid.
This may be addressed in future game-balancing, but for now NC anti-air suck, and the BFR Sparrows are no exception. First off your rockets do LESS damage per clip then a Sparrow MAX, which seems kind of odd considering you’re a 10ft mecha with a sparrow MAXs weapon on both arms…but that’s life in a BFR I’m afraid. Using these weapons effectively can be very difficult and very frustrating before you get to grips with things.
But for now, you have a 24 clip (12 for each arm) rocket launcher with a slow dumbfire speed and a little splash damage. Lets look at what you can do with it.
Sparrows vs Air
As mentioned above, a full clip of Sparrow ammo is actually less effective then a lone 2-cert Sparrow-MAX. What madness is this you ask? Well the pesky aircav apparently didn’t like having a predator; the Reaver fiercely guards its status at the top of the food chain, hence a barrage of nurfs. The advantage that us Eagle pilots have is our speed, and our jump, and used correctly you can still be more effective then a MAX.
First, consider the nature of your weapons. The Sparrows are lock-on, fire and forget weapons that will track for ages after you get the lock. In comparison, the VS Starfire locks instantly but will track only as long as the user can keep his cross-hair on the target. The problem is, at first, getting the lock. It takes roughly 2-3 seconds (slightly faster then a Sparrow MAX I believe), and in that time your cross hairs will go from yellow to red once a lock-on is achieved (this can be an effective method to IFF check aircraft at extreme range).
In the period when you are acquiring the lock, be aware that the enemy pilot will have a ‘missile lock!’ warning flash up in bright-red letters on his screen, giving him a lot of warning to run away. Often, he will be accelerating away right as you start firing, which makes the initial range you engage from critical. I’ve mentioned before that Eagle pilot weapons are much more effective at close range, and the Sparrows are no exception. They won’t actually do more damage at close range, but the longer you keep the target in lock on range the longer you will be able to launch missiles at him. Obviously attacking at point blank is silly; a cunning pilot will fly over (or under) you as a quick method of breaking your lock, then after burn away).
The most difficult part of using the Sparrows is waiting to fire. Every other weapon in this game is point and click to an extent, but with Sparrows its point, wait, wait, wait……CLICK! Waiting is the hardest part, and it takes a bit of practice to train yourself not to open fire as soon as you spot an aircraft. Every shot you fire before the lock is established is a shot wasted, and you can’t afford to waste a single one. It takes roughly a full clip of 24 missiles hitting a mossie to bring it down, possibly more if the mossie has a amp station shield. It takes about 1.5 clips to take down a Reaver, and 2+ to down a Liberator. It should be clear from this, you don’t have firepower to waste and getting every shot on target is key to killing your opponent.
Luckily, we have one more trick to play that kicks things back in our favour: The fantastic flight pack! Hurrar!
VS and TR pilots are aware of the shortcomings of the NC weaponry. They know that Sparrow-MAX’s will be firing ammo from a low altitude, and despite it being very hard to out-run these weapons…if they can put a hill between themselves and the MAX quickly enough then the missiles will slam into earth. This is where your flight pack comes in; it makes it much easier to track enemy aircraft. Sparrow missiles fired from high altitude will find it much easier to follow the enemy aircraft as it makes a run for ground, and swoop down on it from above.
This is what to do. First, find an aircraft to attack, or lie in wait for one. Its kinda hard to hide a 10ft mecha with a big glowy shield I know, but sometimes you can hide behind the bulk of a tech plants central structure, or a handy hill next to that enemy air-tower. Switch to third person and wait for the enemy to approach. When they come into repair or start their attack run…you pounce! Switch back to first person and do a full jump straight up. You want to acquire your target on the way up, and should get red cross-hairs before you reach the peak of your jump. DON’T FIRE BEFORE! When you lock, fire away,as you reach the peak and fall to earth; which is plenty of time to get off a full clip at him. Reload on the ground, and quickly jump again (forward this time), to land another volley on him as he runs. You probably won’t get all of the second clip off before he after burns out of range, but it should be enough missiles tracking to down a mossie or a Reaver.
Its not always possible to ambush aircraft in this manner, and it’s a trick that may only work once. Often if you engage aircraft in the field you’ll need a quite different strategy. First, unless you trying to defend an armoured column of some sort, never try to get a lock on at range as it gives the enemy too much warning (if your defending friendly tanks, you should be more concerned with scaring away Reavers then getting kills). Lie in wait, don’t point your cross-hairs in his direction until he gets close. For all he knows, you don’t even have duel AA weapons. When he’s just close enough for comfort (ie, when he starts to rocketspam your position), do a jump straight forward at him. Lock on and fire, as before. Now you have to chase him, so angle yourself after his escape vector and hit the auto-run key while still in mid-air. When you hit the ground, you’ll go into auto run after a few seconds. Use this time to re-gain the lock. Once your moving, jump again! The extra momentum from the auto-run should push you to 90km/hr, which is as fast as an mossie without after-burning. You should be firing as soon as you get red cross-hairs, but this extra speed often gives you the chance to get that last missile in.
Defending bases against Liberators is mixed task. First off, you should have no problems avoiding his weapons fire. The trick is to jump high and not let him get above you (you can’t fire straight up). The problem is when an enemy is bombing a base, it often means there are lots of other enemy units around it. Staying alive at this point is a challenge, but blowing that liberator is the prize. No other AA unit has the range to hit it at flight ceiling, so it’s up to you. Be mindful of the angles you jump at, try to keep the base central structure between you and the enemy forces, and know that it will take roughly 3 volleys to bring it down.
I’ve never encountered Galaxies or Lodestars much in my travels, but it’s difficult to bring them down due to their level of armour and the weakness of your weapons. We’re talking a good 5 volleys here, and it’s difficult to get those in before they reach the safety of a base, or drop their payload on its target. Don’t let this discourage you however, a Galaxy is a valuable prize against an empire with no dropship centre and a population lock.
Sparrows vs Armour
Sparrows have had an AV buff in their last patch to make them more effective against tanks, but even so it’s a match-off that should be avoided. The slow speed of the rockets un a dumb-fire state means your opponent has plenty of time to avoid them at range, and leading can be a pain. That said, they have their uses against stationary targets such as AMSs. All things considered, the Hammers are more useful against tanks however.
Sparrows vs Infantry
The rockets slow travel time is less of an issue against infantry, as they can’t run as fast to avoid them. The small splash of the rockets gives them some AI capability, but you’ll have to get very close to use them effectively in this manner. This is understandably dangerous against infantry targets, so never attempt it against more then two at a time. Ejected pilots, random snipers and idiot clokers are fair game. It takes roughly 0.75 of a clip to kill a rexo at close range.
In conclusion, the Sparrows are gimped. The upside of this is that using them effectively against an enemy is that much more satisfying, and with a bit of practice you’ll be able to take down even the most experienced players