The wraith – part 1

By nature, I am generally not an early adopter in PS2.  I wait for things to settle, balances to be made and feedback from other people before spending certs.  A good recent example would be the phoenix.  On day one, you could launch a TV guided rocket from your spawn room and kill an infantry instantly.  By day 14, that was no longer the case.

The flash was updated in GU04.  A rumble seat was added, as well as the ability for infiltrators to use a wraith cloaking module.  A renegade shotgun was also added to the flash as a weapon slot.  While I had used the flash a little in the past, it was not something I spent much time in, and I did not have many certs invested.  I was lucky that not long after the triple SC day in December last year, I picked up the m40 Fury for the flash on sale.  It basically collected dust until after GU04.

After the update, lots of people began trying them out, with mixed reviews.  Slowly, I began to see some real results from a few solid infiltrators and decided to invest the certs to try it out.  I was impressed, saw the potential, and decided to “do it right” – and dump close to 3-4k certs into the flash and fury gun.  While it takes some practice, I definitely think that for those of you who are dedicated to the infiltrator, this is an investment that will pay off in many ways, and add a lot to your gameplay.  I will break the guide into basic stats, recommended certs and strategy/gameplay.

Break it down –

M40 Fury – It’s hard finding more descriptive stats outside of the in-game data for the fury. Here’s a screen of what you see in game. While the stated damage is 750, the fury will inflict a instant death upon any infantry target if you hit directly. Default magazine size is 5, I highly recommend investing certs to reach 9.

Fury stats

One point to make, when firing the fury it will generally fire faster by holding down the trigger. I tried fast clicking vs. holding down trigger and I definitely can fire more rapidly by holding down. Here are the upgrades you can get for the fury, via planetside universe wiki. I put several tiers of ammo capacity, IR optics and max magazine size (worth it!)

Fury certs

Recommended certs –

Flash certs

Obviously the utility slot will consist of the wraith cloak.  I initially invested in rank 4, which is 35 seconds of cloaking, and after extensive use, dropped the additional 1000 certs for 40 seconds of cloak.

The performance slot has three options – the racer, scrapper or surfer chassis.  I initially invested heavily in the racer chassis, which increased your top speed by 10km/h.  It seems like a nice upgrade, however it greatly increases the swerve and spinning out that you will have while driving the flash.  I still use the racer chassis when my only goal is to drive the flash cloaked from point A to B, however I find that the scrapper chassis is a better upgrade for attempting combat in the flash.

The scrapper chassis increases turn radius, stopping/starting, reverse speed.  It allows you to handle better which is critical for finding and engaging ground targets.  I was not blown away with this upgrade at rank 3, however it does seem to help and it isn’t as wild as the racer chassis.

The surger chassis helps with increased torque and elevation climbing, which I don’t find to be very helpful.  The only thing that makes this chassis worth considering is that the suspension is better and allows for less instability while on the move.  A small possible application of this frame could be that it would make moving and firing simultaneously more viable (I usually have to slow down or stop moving while shooting on the flash).

Overall I recommend the scrapper for the above reasons.

Defense –

After spending a lot of time going back and forth between composite armor, mineguard and stealth, as well as talking to a few other flash drivers, I have a few thoughts about this.  Mineguard, in order to actually keep you from dying after running over a tank mine, has to be at max level.  The driver also has to be wearing flak armor.  I haven’t been able to test the different levels however I believe that this also has to be max flak armor.  When running over a tank mine, not only does the vehicle take damage, but the driver will take damage.  Thus it is important for both to be protected, or else your flash could survive a mine (with max mineguard) but the driver could die.

If you are fighting in areas that are commonly mined, such as amp stations, tech plants, etc. than mineguard is a very reasonable choice.  I have survived a few mines with it, and think that it remains a viable option.   In the open fields where mines are much less likely, I think the choice becomes more complex.  I have settled on vehicle stealth as a good choice for open field combat, because the next greatest danger to a flash driver is being found and shot off of the flash.  The wraith cloak will conceal you, but without stealth, as soon as you uncloak you will show up on the minimap.  No matter what, once you fire, you will appear on the minimap – but stealth will allow for you to decloak and engage without showing up on the minimap until firing.  I think it increases survivability greatly when you aren’t worried about tank mines.

Composite armor is somewhat useful, however it is not enough to prevent death from a rocket or tank shell.  Most deaths in the flash are due to burst damage, or being shot off of the vehicle and taking direct damage.  Composite armor does not prevent this in almost all cases.  There are very few times where you take partial damage, to the point that composite armor was the difference between survival and death.

Passive – If you want to use the flash a lot, I recommend certing the cooldown to the point where you can pull once every 60-90 seconds.  I currently have all but the last tier certed, simply because I don’t need it.

In summary, my loadout is:

Scrapper – max
Passive – 2nd to last tier
Wraith – max
Mineguard 4 or stealth 1
Fury: IR optics and max magazine

Part two of the guide will discuss tactics, expectations and general thoughts on the wraith.  I will try to gather video for it.  Feedback is welcome, let me know what you think!

Recon Dart XP

Via twitter, (and something that was mentioned a while ago in an FNO interview), SOE is adding XP to infiltrators who are using their recon dart. I suspect it will be a very small amount of XP per kill that someone gets on a target you have lit up using the dart. I do wonder how the system will handle multiple darts being out in a single location. For example, in a tower full of baddies… does everyone get XP for darts, or only the one with the oldest dart out at a time?

These questions aside, it will be a welcome change. I would warn my fellow infiltrators – firing the recon dart will give you away on the minimap, just like firing an unsilenced rifle. Furthermore, the noise eminating from the dart is not subtle. A smart player will hunt you down as soon as you start spamming the darts – so be wise in how you use your new-found XP farm.

One other thing to consider with regards to certs… I do not know exactly what else is coming down the pipe for infiltrator revamp. I saw screenshots from the test server earlier with a different device instead of the recon dart that I believe was used to help call in orbital strikes. I highly recommend maxing out the recon dart device currently – it’s just great at the high levels. That being said, SOE has not officially told use what will be coming in the infil revamp so who knows what other options we will have soon. I’m starting to sit on all my certs until I see what gets announced.

Just finished moving into my new house and got the internet setup. Had a bit of time to join the BWC guys tonight, will be online intermittently for the next 2 days, then i’m out of town for the rest of the week. I will try to keep some good posts coming in during that time!

Stay Frosty

Been busy

Sorry for the slowdown on the blog.  I’m preparing for moving to a new townhouse in RL so I have been a bit tied up between home and work.  I did have time to join BWC for an op tonight, we had our “reaper” squad activated, which is our newer detatchment of infiltrators.  I’m currently a “reaper candidate” and we are still working out some kinks in our tactics.  The idea is to be a rapid moving squad that can help assist the main force either by hacking, sniping, or finding hostile sundies.  

It was a blast, and I really enjoyed working with fellow infies.  We still have some work to do, strategy to develop, and skills to hone.  I had a nice little run on my flash, as well as a few good tower runs.  You can actually see me do some open field sniping at Nott amp station, something I think I do quite a bit but never record and share (all my youtube videos are basically massive killstreaks at a tower… something I’ve been trying to rectify)

Anyways, here’s a link to the stream of our op.  It started slow but picked up a few minutes in at jaeger’s crossing.  Check it out if you are interested!

http://www.twitch.tv/mustarde/b/395283571

More revolver thoughts

Waiting for Game of Thrones to finish downloading…

I logged a lot of solid playtime this weekend. Had a lot of fun with the BWC guys, and I’m feeling more and more useful to them every day.

I keep having this strange feeling that my sniping skills are diminishing. I don’t know if my aim is off, or if I am being more risky and care-free with the shots I do take. Ever since GU07 I’ve anecdotally been performing slightly worse. Of course, I had a killer session last night so nothing is broken that I can tell. *Shrug*

The other thing I am more confident in saying after playing a lot this weekend is that the Commissioner is the superior revolver for any infiltrator playing like I do – sneaky CQC with a bolt action. This style requires a sidearm quite often, and I am always knifing and pistoling players as I decloak and dance around them. The Commissioner delivers higher bullet velocity as well as damage, allowing a 1-hit + knife for most targets. The key is the fact that after one shot I can follow with a knife and kill most targets (with less than nanoweave 4).

Here’s the short take on the new revolvers. They open up new opportunities for kills – I took down several targets from 20-40m when I felt the bolt action was not a good choice to use – kills that you can’t really get reliably with the TX1 or TX2. But for every kill that I wouldn’t have gotten with the other sidearms, there were instances where I lost kills or got killed at close range.

I think part of it has to do with rate of fire. Several times I would flank a (non-stationary) target, approach from behind and open fire at 5m. While it’s easy to land the first shot, the target will immediately juke, run, and whip around to spray their auto-shotgun in your face. This ended up going poorly for me several times, where I couldn’t land the second or third shot to finish them off. With the TX1 especially, I had a much easier time putting 2-3 bursts followed by a knife – and if the target juked out of knife range, I’d just fire another 2-3 bursts.

Then there is accuracy. Close quarter infiltrator combat does not lend itself to ADS pistol use – so I frequently hipfire with the laser. The revolvers had a tendency to miss while I danced side-to-side trying to dodge the inevitable shotgun toting LA/HA/Medic/Engie in my face. And due to my playstyle, I am often 1-5m away from people trying to put enough damage down to stabby stab and finish the kill.

Ultimately, I think that my playstyle does not lend itself well to the revolvers. If I am going to use one, it is the Commissioner. The ability to one-hit knife targets can be wonderful, however the tradeoff costs me more deaths than additional kills. I personally have been a TX2 emperor fan for a long time, and once I get the auraxium for the TX1 repeater, I will probably go back to the TX2 as a default. If you want, or insist, on using the revolvers, the best approach is to avoid extreme close counters and knife range unless you are up against a stationary or comatose target. Another good use of the revolvers is midrange combat, either to finish off a wounded target or as an alternative to the primary weapon.

As I have said before, I applaud SOE for making balanced sidegrades, as these revolvers trade strengths and weaknesses between the pre-existing sidearms. People want choices, and I think these represent a good example of how to offer that without breaking the game. I find that the pump action shotguns did not meet this standard, and continue to be a class of weapons that hurt combat more than enhance it.

Any feedback? I do have a comments section here and would love to discuss these points further if you’d like.

Stay Frosty,

Mustarde

LoL

So after using the underboss for a while, I realized I really NEEDED for the revolver to be able to do a 1 shot + knife kill. I caved after talking to my BWC buddies for a bit and got the Commissioner. It will allow for a 1 shot + knife kill if the target has less than nanoweave 4 I believe. After using it today, I can say that it is more useful to me than the underboss.

Ultimately I’m not sure that these pistols have a role for the infiltrator full time, at least not for me. But I think I just need some practice, I’ve been using the other pistols for so long that I have a lot of work to get comfortable with these ones. I do like the increased stopping power.

In the meantime, videos like the one above demonstrate what has been happening a lot lately… ugly ugly kills 🙂

Still working on the flash guide. I don’t want to publish it until its ready.

An off night

GU07 hit the live server tonight, and I was excited to get home from work and log in.  I immediately bought the underboss and put a laser sight on it to go to work.  I’ve been waiting for a long time to have a powerful sidearm and was pretty eager to try it out.  I chose the undreboss due to the higher rate of fire and equivalent number of hits to kill at close range.

Thoughts on the pistol:

It’s a great weapon on paper.  And I certainly was able to get a few kills with it.  There were a few heavies that I killed who I would never have tried to kill with the repeater or emperor.  That being said, I missed a lot of frantic shots that I expected to land, and having 6 bullets makes it critical that you make shots count.  There were several times tonight that I felt with the repeater or emperor I would have survived and killed people but ended up dying in the reload.  Since it is only my first few hours with the new pistol, I am going to keep practicing with it before I come to any firm conclusions.  For now, I am a little mixed on the tradeoff of firepower for magazine size and rate of fire.

Bad night:

I played for 2 hours tonight and went 111-68.  It’s one of the worst sessions I’ve had playing the game in well over two months.  I know some people don’t care and would find that kind of record to be pretty good, but as an infiltrator, it’s a pretty bad session and something I’m not used to having.  I found myself getting killed while cloaked far more often than pre-patch, although I’m pretty sure SOE didn’t mess with cloaking mechanics this patch.  It just seemed like I was getting cheaply killed all night long and it frustrated me.  I suppose we all have bad nights, so I won’t dwell on it.  The only good point of the night was when I hopped into a wraith flash, I frequently went on killstreaks up to 10-15 and was the only reason I didn’t have a KD below 1.

Other thoughts on GU07 (related to infiltrators)

-New TR reload animation and sounds for bolt action rifles.  It will take some getting used to but I like them.  The rechamber animation does not obstruct vision anymore, which is a great improvement.  I don’t care for the sound changes but it is not offensive to me either.

-Pistols have a lot of potential to affect the infiltrator class, as we often depend on our sidearm to fight close up.  I will continue to practice with the underboss, I think I will eventually learn how to handle it effectively.

-Flash stability changes are always welcome, and I find them to perform pretty well post-patch.  Hard to say just how much the improvements affected my killing performance, but the wraith with scrapper chassis 3 felt pretty good out there.

-The HSR-1 feels great, I love the recoil changes and the extra 2 rounds in the mag.  I wish they hadn’t dropped the min damage distance to 65 from 80m, and I also was miffed that the battle rifles got a high-velocity option while we didn’t… but after using the rifle tonight, it feels better and performs better than before.  And I didn’t have a lot of problems with it before the patch

-The changes to the SOAS-20 are overall quite welcome.  I think they could have done more without imbalancing the weapon, but 4 more rounds are better than none, and the total of 240 rounds you carry make the weapon viable for more than 4 kills.  Accuracy is better, recoil is more controllable.  I don’t anticipate using the new SOAS-20 regularly as I prefer bolt actions for mid range, or SMG for close range.  Hipfire is improved now and I have noticed it.  I will give it a good healthy trial post-patch just so I am comfortable with its new capabilities

Additional thoughts:

Overall GU07 was a great patch.  I think some of the ways they balanced the weapons were strange – instead of straight buffing the scout rifles, they reduced some attributes while increasing others.  It was an overall improvement but losing some range and velocity, in exchange for accuracy/recoil and magazine size was strange.  The new pistols are a positive addition, and may end up being a good addition to the infiltrator class.  I am annoyed that my map colors don’t match the colors of my faction (seems like a bug).  Speaking of the map; timers, ally presence and generator status are awesome changes that will really help the game, in addition to the eventual lattice.  I really like those map changes.

I will continue to put time in this weekend testing the weapon changes.  I am planning updates to my TR weapons guide which will be revised and posted here and on the general forums.

Let me know what you think about the new patch!

Stay Frosty,

Mustarde

 

Edit: One other interesting note – SOE finally put some numbers out there confirming what we already knew – damage falloff exists at range for bolt action sniper rifles.  This explains numerous observations that damage falloff existed previously, and infantry with high level nanoweave could survive a headshot at 100m ranges and up.  It’s not news, it’s just nice to have the data finally!