Guns of Icarus Online Detailed Beginner’s Guide

Guns of Icarus Online Detailed Beginner’s Guide by Patrick “Jester” Cotter

Welcome to Guns of Icarus Online! Ahead of you lies many an exciting conflict amidst the clouds, perhaps you will take the role of the daring captain, deftly maneuvering your ship to give your gunners something to shoot at. Maybe you will choose to play that very gunner, guzzling gunpowder and belching fire and steel at your ship’s foes. Or you may wish to play the devilish engineer, running to and fro to hold your big pile of scrap together. In any event, you should prepare yourself for quite the challenge, for in order to succeed in the world of Guns of Icarus Online you must fight for your crew and captain, not for yourself. The road to glory is paved with busted airships, and the purpose of this guide is to help you on your way. Please note that while the game has been released the nature of online multiplayer games means that there will be many updates and changes. As such, anything in this guide is subject to change, and it is incomplete and will be updated and expanded as time goes on. I should also note that this guide does not function as a strategy guide, simply a place where all of the information I have gleaned about the game has been consolidated to make it easier to get acclimated.

Main Menu

The main menu is the first thing you will see upon booting up Guns of Icarus Online (hereafter referred to as GoI). From this menu you can jump into a skirmish match, adjust the game’s settings, customize the visual look and loadout of your character, manage your friends, check your stats, customize your ship or exit. You should also note the chat box displayed on the left of the screen. It is worth noting that this guide will be using the default key bindings to explain game concepts, though you may want to change the bindings at some point.

Skirmish Menu

There are a few different ways to get into a match. By clicking “Quick Join” you will automatically be dropped into a game lobby. You can also click “Matches” to see a list of games already running. From this screen you can also create your own custom game. Finally, you can click the name of a player in the chat or in your friends list and then click “Join Game” to get right into someone’s game. Once in the lobby you can click empty positions on ships to select them. You can change your role by clicking on the symbols for the different roles in the upper right corner of the screen. If you are a captain then you need to make sure to click “Ready” for the game to start.


The character loadout menu will allow you to edit what gear your character takes into battle. The left side of the character loadout screen allows you to select your gear. Captains can take 3 pieces of piloting equipment and 1 piece of repair and weapon equipment. Engineers can take 1 piece of piloting and gunning equipment and 3 pieces of repair equipment. Finally, gunners can take 3 pieces of weapon equipment and 1 piece of repair and piloting equipment. Equipment descriptions will make much more sense once you’ve actually played a couple of games. The right side of the character loadout screen allows you to change your costume; however at this stage of the beta the default clothing is all that is available. A word on equipment: Most piloting and weapon equipment is passive, meaning that once it is equipped, its boosts/penalties take effect until it is unequipped. MANY PIECES OF PASSIVE EQUIPMENT DEAL DAMAGE PER SECOND (DPS) TO YOUR SHIP’S COMPONENTS; This means that you should know what your equipment does and only use it when you need it, as prolonged usage can destroy your ship’s components.

The ship loadout section screen allows you to change what equipment your ship is outfitted with, as well as view the statistics of the ship, and change the name of your ship. Currently you can only change the weapons mounted on your ship’s hard points, but eventually the game will include a variety of engines and (presumably) other gear to equip your ship with. As with equipment, weapon and ship stats will make more sense as you play.

Game Lobby

After outfitting your character, ship, and map you will be taken to the game lobby upon pressing play (or taken into a game in progress if you select a map with a game running that has open slots). The lobby allows you to change which ship you are serving on as well as chat with other players waiting for the game to start. By pressing the “J” key you can chat with everyone in the lobby, the “K” key will allow you to chat with players on your team, and the “L” key will allow you to talk only to your crew. These chat commands will be the same once you are in the game as well. Note that in order for a game to start, a captain must be present on every ship. This is why it is important to keep a ship and captain loadout prepared in the event that you need another captain to start a game. Better to be able to play as a captain instead of another role than play at all!

Playing the game

General Information

The object of the game varies depending on the map you select. Deathmatch games simply require you to destroy a certain number of enemy ships. Other game types have more complicated goals, such as collecting resources or holding a point. Once I have an opportunity to explore other game modes I will add information pertaining to those modes to this guide. For now though, we’re going to discuss the minute to minute gameplay found within GoI. More so than just about any other popular multiplayer game, GoI is about the team. You should never be doing anything for yourself over the team. If you have a good captain on board who is actively calling out targets, a decent engineer who is keeping the ship flying, and a couple of good gunners to take down the enemy, anything is possible. The key to playing well as a team is learning your role. GoI may seem simpler than a game like Battlefied due to its smaller selection of roles, but this could not be further from the truth. Each of the game’s roles requires careful strategy and quick thinking, with captain being most complex, followed by engineer and then gunner. Because of this, each role really deserves its own section, but there are a few things to keep in mind no matter what role you are playing, which will be covered here.

Basic Gameplay

For starters, you can move using the WASD keys, use the mouse to look around, and use spacebar to jump, similar to most shooters. You will be confined to the deck of your ship, so don’t go trying to jump on to scenery or other ships, as you’ll simply end up back on your own ship, losing some precious time in the process. You can scroll through your tools using the mouse wheel or the number keys. Some tools, such as the spyglass or wrenches, have functions the are activated by pressing the left or right mouse button, others become active automatically when you have them selected and are using the appropriate object on your ship. You can press the” Tab” key to see detailed information about team composition, and the “M” key to see the map. By approaching a useable object on your ship (such as a turret or the helm) and pressing the “E” key, you can man that station. Finally, as explained earlier, the “J,” “K,” and “L” keys will allow you to chat with everyone, your team, and your crew respectively. Communication is key if you are going to play effectively, so remember how to do it! One final note: It is worthwhile to equip yourself with a spyglass (piloting equipment) and a wrench (engineering equipment) no matter your class. This way you can assist in spotting enemies, and repairing the ship, two crucial things for your ship. As far as ship movement is concerned, the game’s physics fall somewhere between arcade and sim, weighted more in the direction of a sim. This means that everything from acceleration and turning to ascending and braking takes time. You can’t turn on a dime, go 0 to 60 in 3 seconds, or drop like a stone (unless your balloon blows!). This means that if you are the pilot, you have to try to think a few moves ahead so that you give yourself the time to pull off maneuvers. It also means that as a gunner you should be a little patient, as it may take your captain a few moments to line up a shot for you. The other major thing to keep in mind is that your guns generally have a very limited firing arc. As a gunner this means that you will need to select what to fire when very carefully. As a captain, it means that you need constant awareness of where your enemies are and what your firing arcs are. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to be on a mercury and have the ship turn so I no longer have a firing solution. This is another instance where communication is key.


Piloting is the act of physically moving your ship, and in general it should be the job of the captain. The reason for this is that the captain has the most available gear slots for piloting equipment. However, a healthy understanding of how piloting works is important for any role. To actually pilot the ship you need to activate the helm. You can then use the “A” and “D” keys to turn the ship, the “W” and “S” keys to ascend or descend, and the “R” and “F” keys to throttle up or down. Note that momentum is a factor, so even if you are at idle throttle you will most likely be moving to some degree. Your speed also affects your turn radius. You can guesstimate your airspeed by observing the behavior of the flags on your ship, and there is a blue altimeter next to the throttle box that will tell you how far above the ground you are. No matter what role you want to play, it is a good idea to play a captain on the “Sandbox” map to get a feel for the way the ships handle.


Let’s talk a little about awareness and spotting. Spotting is done by equipping your spy glass, zooming in on your target (by pressing right mouse and then using the mousewheel) and then click left mouse to spot the ship. This puts a nice box around the target you’ve selected, visible to the rest of your team, and puts it on the compass/map of your team. If your ship is spotted you will see an eye next to your compass. In order to remove the spot you can enter heavy cloud cover or smoke, break line of sight by using terrain, or get far away from the ship that has spotted you. Finally, spotting is the easiest way of telling friend from foe, as you cannot target your friendly ships with a spot. Spotting is primarily the job of the captain, and it is a useful way to designate targets for your gunners. However, it is useful for gunners and engineers to keep a spyglass handy, as it may be necessary to point out ships that your captain hasn’t noticed.


Repairing is another important thing to know about no matter your role. Repairing components is done using a wrench or hammer, and there may very well be times when the gunners need to be helping the engineer keep the boat afloat. In order to repair a ship component you must select your repair tool and then approach the object you wish to fix. If the object simply needs to be repaired, you can click the left mouse button when close to it to start the repair. Once the timer fills up the repair will be complete and some of the item’s health will be refilled depending on the tool you are using. If the object is destroyed then you must repeatedly press the left mouse button near the object until the pie chart fills to rebuild the object. Note that multiple players can work together to rebuild an object faster. The effects of a destroyed object vary depending on the object. If one engine is destroyed, you will begin to fly in circles due to the lopsided thrust. If both/all engines are destroyed you will no longer be able to throttle up and will slow to a crawl, effectively crippling your ship. If your balloon gets destroyed, you will begin to drop until you hit the ground, you will then take hull damage until you are either destroyed or the balloon is rebuilt. When weapons are destroyed, they will be inoperable until rebuilt. Finally, when the hull is destroyed, your ship will be destroyed. Note that your hull is divided into armor and health. The armor will be depleted first, and it can be repaired and rebuilt. Health, which will be damaged when your armor hits 0, cannot be repaired, and once it is gone, your ship will be destroyed. If a component catches fire (generally because it has been hit with an explosive or fire weapon) then you can use a fire extinguisher (repair equipment) on it to put the fire out. Fire causes damage over time (DoT) to the object and may render it unusable until it is put out. It is worth loading up a sandbox map in order to learn where the components are on each ship, especially if you will be playing an engineer.


A ship is only as good as her guns, at least until there’s more to do in the game aside from fight. To that end, everyone needs to know how to shoot. Gunnery is at times the most complex and the simplest system in the game. On the one hand, just about anyone can point and shoot, but understanding what your guns do is very important. Using a gun is as simple as approaching it and pressing the “E” button. Once you are using the gun, you point it with the mouse, fire with the left mouse button, and zoom with the right mouse button. The ammo counter in the lower right depletes as you fire, and when you hit 0 rounds you must reload before you can continue to fire, which will be done automatically, alternatively you can press “R” to manually reload. Guns can cause several different types of damage, and they all work a little bit differently. Guns also have different behaviors when it comes to actually firing them, such as fire rate, reload time, range, and ammo count. Some weapons fire a shell in an arc. This means that where your shell will actually hit is lower than where your crosshair is. Missiles, on the other hand, will generally fire in a straight line, being attracted to heat sources such as the engines. Because of this, it is worth it to load up a sandbox map to get a feel for the different guns.


Your role determines what you should be doing at a basic level. Each role has a job, and while you may find yourself repairing as a captain or gunning as an engineer, you should generally assume that things are either going poorly (in the former case) or going exceedingly well (in the latter case) for you to be doing something other than what your role is best at.


The captain is the role with the highest learning curve, as you have to be able to effectively pilot the ship, communicate with your crew, spot targets, position your ship, think tactically, AND select and outfit a ship. It is generally a good idea to play a few games as a gunner or engineer first, but you may need to jump in as a captain just to get a match going. As a captain, your weapon is communication. You should generally be at the helm with your spyglass out. This will allow you to spot threats for your team and direct their fire. While it is important to communicate using chat, you can also use hotkeys to give orders to your crew. The “F1” button will set ship priority to normal, suggesting crewman follow their role. You can press “F2” to direct all hands to man weapons, and “F3” to direct all hands to work on repair. Make sure you know what your equipment and skills do as well, as they can provide significant situational bonuses during combat.


Some people feel that being the engineer is boring, but it can be a very challenging role to take on. If you like hopping around the ship like mad then this role is for you, and the engineer can really make or break an engagement. Aside from the general repair system outlined earlier in this guide, the engineer also has the ability to buff the ship’s components for a limited time if you take the DynaBuff Industries kit. Buffing a component will increase its effectiveness for 30 seconds once it is applied, and is essentially done the same way as rebuilding ship components but with the buff kit selected; note that while an object is being buffed it cannot be used. Generally you should be running around keeping things at full health and buffing as you have time, however if the need arises you can certainly man a gun and fire off a few rounds. Just remember, you are more effective than anyone else at keeping the ship flying, so make sure you know where the ship’s components are located and what their health is at all times.


The gunner is a very simple role to play, but also very satisfying. Your three weapon equipment slots allow you to maximize the firepower of your gun, giving you a fair bit of freedom and variance in how you want your damage output to work. You should make sure you know the capabilities of the weapons on board, as well as get used to the firing arcs of each turret. It is important that you know which gun to go to in order to get the best firing solution on your target and maximize damage.

Where to Go From Here?

Play, play and play some more! That’s really the best way to learn more. You should also jump on the forums at and join the conversation. It’s a great place to talk to other players about strategy, game updates, and potential features to be added later! Additionally, you should check out the gunner and engineer tutorials in the classroom section of the forums to learn more about damage types and the repair game. Also, if there are any suggestions or ideas for this guide please send them to Jester238 on the forums or post in this discussion, I’m no veteran of the game at this point, and I know there’s plenty that I didn’t have the knowledge to cover in this guide. Feel free to add me as a friend in game, I go by the name Gaelen there!

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