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Tips For Flying Fighters In PS2 (WIP)

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  • [GUIDE] Tips For Flying Fighters In PS2 (WIP)

    Since I've started leading Air squads, I've had all sorts of pilots, new or experienced, TG or not, and I've noticed myself pointing out certain tips from time to time. These things are easily written down, so I thought I'd compile a list for people to peruse if interested. As I rarely fly Liberators or Galaxies, this thread focuses on general flying mechanics and fighters. It's gotten quite long already but it's still a work in progress; everyone please feel free to contribute! I know we have some awesome pilots in TG.

    This is not a moment-to-moment guide, rather "bite-sized" advice. The sort of messages you see during loading screens, except a little more detailed and ranging from the basics to advanced. How you use this information to develop your own tactics and style of flying is up to you. This thread does not delve into squad level tactics or standard comms procedures (which will need it's own thread).

    All Aircraft:


    -All aircraft in PS2 are VTOL (Vertical Takeoff And Landing) jets; hold spacebar to use vertical thrust to go up and control to go down.

    -To switch to hover mode slow down to a crawl/dead stop. In 3rd person, you can see your engines drop to their downward position along with a change in sound. Hold forwards to switch back to forward flight mode.

    -ESFs (Empire Specific Fighters) slowly fall from the sky, repeatedly tap spacebar to hover. Liberators and Galaxies auto-hover.

    -While in forward flight mode, vertical thrust can still be used; it does not redirect engine power, it only adds to it. Thus, tilting down and using vertical thrust like a helicopter will increase your speed.

    -Aircraft will maintain whatever speed you set (flying level), so you don't need to hold forwards indefinitely.

    -Auto-run / auto-move, default =, will accelerate to, and cruise at, max speed in all vehicles.

    -Gravity is very weak in PS2, you gain little speed by diving and lose little by climbing.

    -ESFs always have afterburners, while Liberators can unlock them. Hold shift to activate them.

    -Zoom out your minimap, default [, to see enemy aircraft from further away.

    -Expanding your minimap, default H, also zooms out slightly.

    -The flight ceiling is 1000m; if you touch it your plane will level out and movement input will be disabled for a few seconds. This can cost you your aircraft in a fight, so keep this in mind whenever flying high (or use it against the enemy).

    -When you drop to around 66% armor, you start to smoke, making you easier to spot. At around 10%, you catch on fire and slowly take damage until dead or repaired above that mark. Also, burning planes lose maneuverability and speed, which hastens the end of fights and can easily cost you your aircraft. Avoid this state as best as possible.

    -When enemies try to aquire a lock-on with AA missiles, ground or air based, the message "Lock-on" will flash on your HUD. Once the missile is fired, it will remain on your HUD without flashing and a beeping will sound. Note: You cannot see the warning in 3rd person, only hear once missiles are fired.

    -Anti-Air missiles can be flaired, outrun, forced into cover or, for fighters, dodged (the last is very difficult).

    -When aircraft are destroyed, they explode into wreckage that will kill you if you smash into it. The most unlikely direction for it to travel is up (unless the target was), so simply holding upwards vertical thrust should be enough to fly over the wreckage, even at speed and close range. Pitching up, or in the opposite direction they were traveling, also helps.

    -When landing, approach from low altitudes (roughly airpad height) so as to make your presence and intentions the most obvious to friendly aircraft. If landing at speed, I find it helps to imagine you're aiming for an earlier airpad and brake for that, so as to overshoot to the real airpad. If you undershoot, simply tilt forwards and use the slower vertical thrust.

    -When taking off, particularly if airspace is crowded or a queue is forming for the airpad, it is highly advisable to use vertical thrust, then pitch up and fly skywards. This lowers accidental collisions as friendlies are most likely to avoid flying directly above airpads and landed aircraft. Thus, traffic should be cycling in at low levels, and exiting from higher, clearer skies.


    -When piloting, placing a personal waypoint at a safe airpad (2 airpads from the front lines) makes it easy to escape in a safe direction no matter how disoriented you are.

    -Switching between 1st and 3rd person often, default T, provides greater situational awareness (3rd), while aiming is easier in 1st. Additionally, most flight information will not show in 3rd person, such as the availability of flares and afterburner fuel, or height.

    -Most pilots cruise between around 350-600 meters, and tend to watch ahead and below, but not above. Fly near max flight ceiling to catch them off-guard.

    -If you lose sight of your opponent while dogfighting at short ranges, watch for air trails and smoke at the edges of your screen which may betray their turn.

    -Flight in PS2 has little momentum physics, so simple, sharp turns effectively act as a break along your original path. Can be used to quickly slow to hover mode, or land sharply. [This also explains the best description of flying the Reaver I've heard - it's like driving a rally car, you throw yourself around cover at speed while turning hard].

    -Rebinding pitch up and down to your keyboard allows you to execute maximum turn speeds instantly and effortlessly. The same can be done for roll, although less important.


    -Pay a lot of attention on what you can hear. All ESF's engines make different sounds, getting louder the faster they fly, and make very distinct noises when using afterburners or weapons. Often, you can tell someone is behind you before they even fire. Liberators and Galaxies are much quieter, so don't rely soley on audio.

    -Unlike other lock-ons, Ground to Air "Annihilator" missiles do not trail targets, they constantly predict where the target will be in a few moments. Thus, if you dive down you can cause them to ram into the ground, especially if you hit afterburners. Unfortunately, there's no way of telling what type of missile is locking-on or chasing you.

    Empire Specific Fighters (ESFs):


    -All infantry weapons can damage you. Don't get complacent when engaging multiple infantry, or they'll wittle your health down.

    -A single, full magazine from either the Rotary or Mustang nose gun will destroy fighters. When lining up, take your time in hitting hovering/slow moving targets and they'll barely have time to react.

    -As long as you hit reload, your weapons will continue reloading even if you swap weapons. For added DPS, use bullets when your missiles/rockets are reloading, and vice-versa.

    -Tanks are weaker on the top and sides than the front, and weakest at the rear. Given that fighters are mobile at the expense of armor, it's very effective to maneuver behind tanks, then descend and engage. Enemies have little time to react and you can usually afterburn straight back to friendly territory. A single volley of rockets to the rear is enough to kill Main Battle Tanks.


    -ESF party trick: while in hover mode, roll 180 and hold control to hover upside down.

    -When repeatedly attacking ground targets in a similar area, try not to approach from the same direction. Use all reasonable directions, including from behind enemy lines if you have air supiority. Once enemies become alert, or if facing mass AA, try a top-down / dive bomb approach. Save that tactic for as long as possible to keep it unexpected when needed most (also to slow proliferation and awareness of this tactic for the general PS2 population).

    -Nose guns do a surprising amount of damage to ground vehicles. Don't hesitate to primarily use guns if your target is moving too much to hit consistantly with rockets; 3+ fighters shooting a tank will tear it apart. Even more effective against injured targets that are already fleeing.

    Also, rocket pods tend to reveal your position. Bullets are less obvious, and can be accurately hover spammed from great heights and distances.

    -Target selection is paramount to being a highly effective pilot, especially when facing heavy AA or a large airforce. Do not bite off more than you can chew and do not reveal yourself until you have a clear target. Aim for the easiest to kill: first, injured targets; second, those that stray too far from the main bulk of enemies and can be picked off; third, those paying the least attention to their surroundings and traveling slowly, sitting still or hovering. This applies to ground and air targets alike.

    -To creep up on pilots without being heard, either fly slow or switch to hover and simply move forward by tipping down and using vertical thrust.

    -Use hit and run tactics. If you do not have air superiority, or a good chance at acquiring it in one offensive, single out the most vulnerable aircraft and try to kill it in one swift pass, then fall back before you get noticed - whether you succeeded or not. Repeat until the skies are clear, then move on to vulnerable ground targets.

    -Afterburners will work in hover mode, but the speed can cause you to switch to forward flight mode within a few seconds.

    -To get moving quickly in hover mode roll or pitch your plane so that the top is in the direction you want to go and hit afterburners. Now that you have some speed pitch up to face that direction (roll to level out if needed). Easier in third person so you can watch your engines, as well as the enemy tracers so you can vertical thrust in 2 or more directions to throw off their aim before escaping.


    -While searching for ground targets, pay as much attention to the friendly rounds or tracer fire as the enemies'. Often times, it will point you straight at a target that was hard to see from high up. Particularly if in an Air squad, you can aim wherever the pilot in front is aiming, whether you see their target or not. Especially useful against AA MAXes.

    Additionally, remember to listen for teammates opening fire so you can spin around and check their target.

    -It is possible to fly backwards in fighters (albeit a curved reverse). It is a skill that should be mastered for hover dogfighting, as it allows you to control the distance between you and the enemy without taking your eyes off of them, as well as preventing them from maneuvering behind you.

    Execution: while in hover mode, roll on your side, then pitch down as smooth as possible while simultaneously hitting upwards vertical thrust (hover airframe helps as well). You will reverse in a curve that follows the back end of your plane. To throw off enemy aim, you can further complicate it by varying your roll, pitch rate, and afterburner or not.

    Also useful for repeated firing A2G from the same direction if enemy flak and Air cover are minimal. Or, an alternative method for baiting enemy aircraft towards friendlies - it's slower, but allows you to face the target, dodging and returning fire.

    -If hover dogfighting, you can use the rhythm of fire-reload to your advantage. Concentrate soley on dodging when being shot at then, the moment they stop or if they fail to track you (looking slightly off to your side) reaim and fire as many rounds as you can, be it few or many. Then repeat.

    -A method to help evade the aircraft chasing you is to keep an eye on your minimap. Everytime the enemy lines up to you, or just before they do, execute a hard turn. This is another reason the first level of stealth is helpful as an attacker, so you only show up when you shoot, not by proximity.

    -If being chased by aircraft, one tactic is to fly behind cover, breaking LOS, slow to a hover, then turn around to fight. Ideally, you want to watch them approach on the minimap or listen to their engines, then use afterburners to suddenly emerge at effective range while engaging them. Their reaction time provides you with an early damage lead or chance to catch up. Sometimes they will be caught completely off-guard and will sail beneath you, flipping your positions in the chase.

    Do not stay still as they round the corner or they may ram into you.

    -If the aircraft you are chasing hides behind cover, your best options are: hover at the edge of effective range, prepare to dodge their shots and return fire when they emerge; or fly high and attempt to regain LOS, while putting yourself in an unexpected position that they may completely miss. Option two also allows you to see if they attempt to flee - otherwise rely on Q-spots and engine noise.

    -Varying between both up and down vertical thrusts in a hover dogfight helps to throw off enemy aim. However, the down thrust is very weak in comparison, particularly if using the hover airframe. To improve results, roll upside down and use the upward thrust - just remember to keep a mental note of whether you are high, medium, or low.

    Also very useful while dogfighting at max altitude to avoid getting stunned by the flight ceiling. Can be combined with reverse flying to maneuver under an opponent, directly, or off to the side.

    -You can run over enemy infantry and MAXs which will kill them and cause you no damage. Easiest to do on Airpads. Note: You can be killed by both anti-tank mines and by crashing into Engineer turrets.

    -You can kill dropods with bullets and even A2A missiles (1 missiles + a few bullets). They spawn at flight ceiling and hover for a moment depending on how fast the player loads. Beware, it's easy to teamkill. Always Q spot then, if that doesn't reveal an IFF tag, carefully fire a single bullet.

    Changed Via Game Update:

    -The Reaver's nose gun is offset below the pilot's line-of-sight, unlike the Mosquito and Scythe. It automatically aims up at whatever is in your crosshairs, at varying angles, depending on how far away it is. For example, this means if you are leading an aircraft and the background hills/sky is further away, you will have to aim high to compensate for the bullets traveling relatively straight.

    FIXED WITH GU10. All vehicle projectiles now originate from your point-of-view, regardless of the position of the weapon.

    |TG-Irr| MrJengles - You know you want to say it out loud.

  • #2
    Re: Tips For Flying Fighters In PS2 (WIP)

    You're awesome, Jengles! I haven't read the first word of this yet, but I plan to sit down and do so soon. Maybe with the help of your guidance, I can go from a being a mediocre pilot to a pretty decent one. ;)


    • #3
      Re: Tips For Flying Fighters In PS2 (WIP)

      A bit more on flying backwards in an ESF (commonly referred to as the reverse manuever):

      1) The standard reverse manuever is done, as described, by turning onto your side, decelerating, pitching down, and using the vertical thrusters. The reason this works is because it's the fastest way to kill your momentum and trigger the hover mode. However, this is ALSO a good manuever even without then using your afterburners to fly backwards, because it's actually the fastest way to turn your aircraft around as well!

      (as a bonus: this all works because the ESFs pitch down faster than they pitch up, so a good habit to be in is to (counter-intuitively) pitch down when turning in a dogfight, even if you're not decelerating to perform this manuever, as it will give you a turning advantage. Pitching down turns faster!)

      2) There is a second reverse manuever you can do that works on similar principles, but unlike the regular hard turn does NOT leave you vulnerable to a burst from your pursuers while you're waiting for your engines to flip down! It's executed by flying in a straight line. Decelerate, flip your aircraft upside down, and start using the vertical thrust. Once you're upside down, start pitching your nose down (towards the sky) until your thrusters flip down (usually around the 100-130KPH mark, which I care about since I often do this from first person), at which point you can afterburn backwards.

      If properly executed, you'll have flipped while maintaining most of your speed, will be rocketing skywards on your afterburners, and you'll be facing your pursuer head on. During the entire course of the manuever, you're a difficult target compared to a more predictable hard turn. This has become one of my favourite ways to turn the tables on a pursuer in a dogfight scenario.


      • #4
        Re: Tips For Flying Fighters In PS2 (WIP)

        MrJengles, firstly let me praise you on your flying abilities and your desire to share your experiences with us. I basically suck at flying, no bones about it. Oh I can get by with a gal and lib but the reaver (which is my most highest certed aircraft) is almost totally foreign to me.

        But I do have the desire to learn how to fly the battlefield skies..........if your ever in a situation where you decide to have a class, then please let me know. In return I promise to practise it as much as I practised snipering and maybe one day I'll feel safe (and proud) enuff to be your wingman.


        • #5
          Re: Tips For Flying Fighters In PS2 (WIP)

          This is gold-dust. Thanks MrJengles. It's great flying with you.


          • #6
            Re: Tips For Flying Fighters In PS2 (WIP)

            Awesome summary, very clear and well written (and helpful!).


            • #7
              Re: Tips For Flying Fighters In PS2 (WIP)

              Originally posted by MrJengles View Post

              This thread does not delve into squad level tactics or standard comms procedures (which will need it's own thread).

              When/if that thread ever happens, let me might make a nice front page article :)





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