PU02 – The rundown for infiltrators

PU02 dropped this past week, with much anticipated changes to Auraxis.  We had major balance passes on vehicles, infantry weapons, and various suit and equipment options.  Essentially the entire game was tuned, in a single major swoop.  We also had further optimizations, some new items for the holidays, and a few special holiday features to make Auraxis special this time of year.  Seeing how this is an infiltrator blog, I will focus mostly on changes related to our class, and briefly touch on other notable subjects.  For full patch notes, you can go here:

Nanoweave:  As they previewed earlier, SOE changed nanoweave from flat health bonus to resist against small arms, and does not protect headshots.  Here’s the exact language.

Nanoweave no longer increases the player’s health pool. It now adds a resistance against infantry small arms and rapid fire vehicle weapons only

  • This change means that Nanoweave will no longer add survivability against damage types that it wasn’t intended to counter, like blast damage
  • The strength of Nanoweave against the valid damage types remains the same as before
  • Headshots will now always bypass the Nanoweave resist and do full damage
  • Nanoweave no longer stacks with the Heavy Assault’s Resist Shield ability. This was not intentional and it was granting the Heavy Assault too much survivability when compared to all other classes
  • All Nanoweave certs have been refunded

The consequence of this change for infiltrators is that by definition, we can OHK at any range.  It also means you can be countersniped even if you are far away and used to rock nanoweave 5.  I’ve long had a problem with how nanoweave functioned, especially regarding sniper rifles – this change isn’t exactly how I would have addressed it but it gets the job done.  I personally don’t think they needed to make headshots for small arms unprotected, as there is already a damage bonus for headshots on a target.  But perhaps that is the most elegant way SOE could alter nanoweave while allowing sniper rifles to OHK through it.  This ties right into the sniper rifles…

Sniper rifle changes:

  • All sniper rifles have been adjusted to have better defined 1-shot headshot kill ranges. Reload speeds, damage, and other stats have been adjusted to match.
  • NC14 Bolt Driver, TR M77-B, and VS XM98
    • Max damage reduced from 750 to 650
    • Min damage changed from 550 at 750 meters to 400 at 350 meters
    • Long reload improved from 5.0 to 4.6 seconds
    • Short reload improved from 3.5 to 3.0 seconds
    • 1-shot headshot until 250 meters
  • NC SAS-R, TR TSAR-42, and VS Ghost
    • Long reload improved from 4.5 to 4.0 seconds
    • Short reload improved from 3.15 to 2.8 seconds
    • Max damage reduced from 750 to 700
    • Min damage changed from 550 at 750 meters to 400 at 265 meters
    • 1-shot headshot until 200 meters
    • Removed sway when using low powered optics
  • NC LA80, TR SR-7, and VS V10
    • Long reload improved from 5.0 to 4.7 seconds
    • Short reload improved from 3.75 to 3.1 seconds
    • Max damage reduced from 750 to 650
    • Min damage changed from 550 at 75 meters to 400 at 350 meters
    • Bolt time increased from 1.3 to 1.395 seconds
    • 1-shot headshot until 250 meters
  • NC EM4 Longshot, TR RAMS .50M, and VS Parallax
    • Long reload improved from 6.0 to 5.575 seconds
    • Short reload improved 5.0 to 4.72 seconds
    • Max damage changed from 800 to 700
    • Min damage changed to from 550 at 100 meters to 400 at 400 meters
    • 1-shot headshot until 300 meters

The SASR’s all had their reload time buffed, and the auto scout rifles got a buff to hipfire and reload!  Buffs all around!!!

Most of these numbers were tweaked to achieve the following result: OHK range cap at 200m for the close range BASR’s, 250m for tier 1 & 2 BASR’s and 300m for tier 3 BASR’s.  Now, notice that the minimum damage for our sniper rifles fell from 550 to 400, albeit it takes a long time to get there.  The maximum damage was decreased across the board as well.  What this does is preserve the OHK but punishes body shots, as you will find at longer ranges that the rifles can take 3, sometimes 4 body shots to bring a target down.  Within 100m however,  you will generally preserve the 2 hit kill depending on nanoweave.

Much has already been said about range caps.  Even I predicted that the dominance of certain rifles would change based on the proposed 150m cap, as there are a great many valid targets one would want to engage at that distance.  However, what SOE has done by increasing that range and adding different ranges based on the rifle is create a choice for the infiltrator.  Furthermore, I think 250-300m is enough range that you will rarely find yourself stuck and unable to engage targets (as opposed to 150m which would have been very frustrating).  SOE may have seen this as a compromise after they floated the 150m number out there but from my standpoint, they caved to the infiltrator community on this issue, and kept the range cap in almost as lip service to those players who felt we should have some sort of limitation on our OHK cannons.  I’ve yet to hit someone in the head and come up against the range cap since this patch hit.

I was a little surprised to see our reload speeds buffed across the board.  You can definitely feel the difference, especially with the SR-7 (tier 2 line), which is now within 0.1s of the tier 1 reload times.  To compensate, they increased the rechamber speed slightly, which confuses me a bit – why not leave the rechamber speed and just not buff the reload as heavily?  Oh well, the end result is that you can still put more bullets down range, however I really value rechamber time to land follow up shots on moving targets.  After playing around with all the rifles after the patch, I think I will remain a fan of the tier 2 lineup, reserving the tier 3 rifles for long range work.

A big surprise that came about was removing the scope sway on our close range SASR and BASR variants.  This was the one thing really holding back the semi-auto’s, as they would often hit the scope sway before you could fire that last round or two into your target.  I’m enjoying the KSR-35 now, although I still find it suffers the same limitations of all SASR’s, which I won’t go into here.  The close range BASR’s can now be used to make tricky long range shots due to the lack of sway, and are great for farming large numbers of targets if you get a good flank on them.  I don’t think it was too much of a buff though, because most snipers only stood still and scoped up long enough to fire a single round anyways.  I said back in my sniper rifle review in March that both of these weapons needed their sway removed and I’m glad to see it finally go through.

Now, something that wasn’t in the patch notes… an animation delay was added to scoping for sniper rifles.  This delay makes it take longer to scope up, presumably to prevent “quick scoping”, something that I almost never saw anyone do to any great effect in this game.  But what this delay has done is mess with scoped and unscoped mouse sensitivities during the transition.  It has thrown off the inherent feel of these weapons, and is worse when tracking moving targets or using high powered optics.  I have been very frustrated with this change, as I had so much to look forward to with this patch and quickly realized that I was having a damn hard time killing targets that would otherwise have been easy at 20-50m.  I’ve tried to make a lot of noise to let the devs know we want this addressed.  We’ll see if they can take a look at it after the holidays.  Here’s a link to my bug report (30 likes so far!), if you haven’t checked it out, please do so and help me get SOE’s attention on the matter!

What else is there to say about PU02?  From an infiltrator perspective, not much.  The vehicle weapons were tuned heavily, which does have a slight impact on the flash – if you use a wraith flash, you might find the fury a little different now.   I’m glad they gave our ammo pool a bump.

M40 Fury-H & F

  • Direct damage increased from 300 to 365
  • Blast damage reduced from 550 to 334
  • Blast damage inner radius reduced from 2 meters to 1 meter
  • Blast damage outer radius reduced from 4 meters to 3 meters
  • Magazine size increased from 5 to 8
  • Ammo Capacity for Flash increased from 30 to 48
    • Certifications increased to 8 per rank up from 5

I played around with all of the flash weapons a bit, and didn’t find any change big enough to make me start using different weapons on the flash.  The biggest impact of these changes is that harassers are less prominent, which let us have a bit more wiggle room on the battlefield.

Some final notes on PU02 – ZOE was nerfed hard, and rightfully so (in my opinion).  The harasser was nerfed very hard too, from several angles (repair speed, armor, and weapons), which make me wonder if it was the wisest approach to game balance.  The fact that we had 11000 words for a patch notes makes me wonder if too much was done to the game at once.  I prefer incremental changes to aspects of the game in order to prevent unintended consequences and over-correcting things into uselessness (such as the flash, HE rounds, etc).  Hip fire was nerfed for LMG’s, and advance laser sights were also nerfed a bit, which I think is a bit of a boon for SMG infiltrators, who will retain highly accurate hipfire against enemies who will not be as well equipped at that range anymore.

Right after the patch dropped, we had huge bugs with the hitbox and animations, making the game and infantry play almost unbearable.  SOE dropped a hotfix a few days later which largely resolves many of those problems.  Outside of the scoping issues I mentioned already, the game feels like the same old planetside we have been enjoying for the last year, at least in terms of infantry combat.

In other news, I have started doing more public things with PS2 lately.  I was a guest on an infiltrator panel for Attack on Auraxis with KidRiot, Torokokill and sPWNish – a very good discussion on infiltrators and competitive PS2.  Just 5 days later ItzMudra sent me a message over twitter asking me if I wanted to guest on the FNO panel that night.  Hell yeah!!!!  Here’s the recap from FNO, it peaked at 2000 viewers on twitch and was a great discussion.  I was honored to be asked to join in and I hope to find time for more community events when my schedule allows.

If you’ve been living under a rock lately and haven’t checked in with PS2, a lot is happening.  Double XP this weekend ending today, crazy christmas sales on items, and snowmen to shoot for XP and other cosmetics.  Log in, check things out, I think you’ll be mostly pleased with what you see.

Until next time, stay Frosty!

Mustarde

A cert guide for new infils

I had a request to put together a basic cert guide for the infiltrator, starting at BR1.  I admit, it has been a while since I had anything left to cert into my infiltrator… the last thing I got was nano armor cloak back when they finally buffed it.  But I have made alts on other servers recently and had to relive the fun of a 12 second hunter cloak recharge, 2 crappy recon darts and no medkits 🙂  I’ll try to make this simple and practical, but realize there is a lot of room for flexibility based on preference and style of gameplay (SMG vs. sniper, etc).  I’m going to throw in suggestions for higher level players too, because there are a few things that I consider mandatory that aren’t often thought of for infils.

I also am going to assume nothing has been bought with SC, and that the player using this guide isn’t making 200 certs per hour with boosts, etc.  In other words, I won’t be recommending that you drop 1000c on nanoweave 5 or an SMG before getting some cheaper alternatives.

 

The Infiltrator cert guide

“Wow this game is awesome!  It’s so pretty!!!  I want to be a super secret ninja, lets do infiltrator!  Uhh…. hey I’m dying a lot, this starter weapon sucks, I have no idea what I’m doing… HELP!!!”

So, you want to infiltrate huh?  Well as you start learning how to kill people and get those certs, here’s a quick and dirty little guide to how you can start spending that bank.  For the sake of brevity, we won’t focus on HOW you are getting those certs, lets just assume you have found a way to get them 🙂

AMS for Sunderer: 30c
-This is mandatory for all players starting out.  Mobile spawn option from your Sunderer.  Get it, learn how to use it, and help your team.  Also, you can hack them out from hostile vehicle terminals, which has the potential to be the most useful thing an infiltrator can do for their faction

For TR and VS: The M77B (TR) or XM98 (VS) bolt action rifles 100c
-As a new player, the default semi-auto weapons, while usable, can be very frustrating.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to use them, but for any alt I make, this is a very early cert investment.  I actually don’t put any certs into the attachments; my preference is the 6x default scope, and until nanoweave is nerfed, I don’t use a suppressor.   Suppressors are tough to use for new players anyways.

Hunter Cloak: 1-3 (10, 50 and 100c respectively)
-I think early cert investment in the cloak will deliver a significantly noticeable improvement in your performance.  This reduces the recharge time for your cloak, which leads to more “uptime” that you can spend looking for targets or moving to cover.

“Suit slot” 1-3 (Nanoweave is 1, 10, 50c respectively)
-We are days away from a nanoweave nerf.  Previously I’d recommend nanoweave as a good default suit for all infiltrators, especially as a beginning with precious few certs to spend.  I suspect it will remain a good starting option (bullets kill people mmmkay?) but flak is also very good looking now.  Either way, this a cheap investment that increases survivability.

Medical Kit 1-2 (50, 100c respectively)
-I know not everyone believes in medkits, but since infiltrators are not usually in the thick of battle with nearby medics, I find that the medkit allows us to be self-reliant and last substantially longer in battle.  I cert these up very early on with my alt characters, and go through em like candy.

Automatic Scout Rifle: SOAS-20 (TR), Stalker (NC), Artemis (VS) – 250c
-These are not the easiest weapons to use, but give the infiltrator a relatively affordable fully automatic weapon to use in close quarters.  This is an early purchase for my alts because they allow you to have at least something to take into a base for hacking and infiltrating.  It used to be 1000c but was adjusted early 2013.  Suppressor and forward grip recommended (100c each).

Advanced Equipment and Terminal Hacking 1-4 (1, 10, 50, 100c respectively)
-There’s a reason I save this for later on.  While hacking is very useful, all this cert line does is speed up the time you are vulnerable while hacking.  Even for active infiltrators, most don’t spend a lot of time hacking, so it can wait until more important cert lines are invested in.  Once you get the scout rifle though, you can start working on base infiltration and hacking is pretty cheap to cert up to rank 4.

Recon Detect Device 2-3 (30, 50c respectively)
-Sadly the recon dart, while one of the most useful tools the infiltrator has, receives very little significant benefit with the low level upgrades.  It is not until you start getting additional darts to carry around, that the range and duration levels reach a point where you will really appreciate how good this device is.  I almost didn’t bother putting this in the cert guide until later due to the massive cert dump required.  But go ahead and get it to rank 3 since that is cheap… but be prepared to grit your teeth later on for this baby.

Wraith cloak 1 (150c)
-The wraith used to be very powerful and the flash was a cheap vehicle to use.  Paired with a fury mounted gun, the infiltrator became a battlefield menace.  Nowadays, it is probably best to save your certs, as the flash is not the best place to dump certs.  I do recommend getting rank 1 of the wraith cloak, which turns the flash into a viable transport mechanism to slip behind crowded enemy lines.  Any investment beyond this is for the enthusiast who wants to get more out of the vehicle and has certs to burn.

Antipersonnel mines: 200 and 400c respectively
-I have a personal bias against AP mines, as I find medkits more useful in 95% of situations.  However, they should be certed out for laying traps, especially if you can hack a nearby terminal, pull out mines and swap back to medkits once the mines are out.  At this point in the cert guide, you can start investing in non-essential items to supplement your playstyle and diversity.

Ejection seat for ESF (500c)
-The first big ticket item, I highly recommend using an ESF with ejection seat for infiltrating behind enemy lines.  It is the most efficient and reliable way to get where you want, and the mechanics allow you to drop exactly on the spot you want.  This is useful in squad play, as well as solo infiltration.  Once you have the rest of the infiltrator certed, you can consider certing out stealth, racer frame and the timer in order to further improve the ESF for this specific purpose.

It’s now time to go back and finish a few things.  These bear little explanation and the specific order is rather arbitrary.  These cert lines will take a bit of time.
-Finish certing hunter cloak to max rank
-Take nanoweave (or preferred suit) to second-to-last rank
-Recon darts to rank 5 (200c for 4 and 500c for 5).
-Cert up an SMG, and consider one of the 1000c variant sniper rifles if you are so inclined.  You could skip this and stick with the ASR and 100c bolt action flavor.
-Finish medkits (rank 3 and 4)

Now that these items are in the bag, get some toys:
-EMP grenade (200c)
-Advance Shield capacitor 1-5 (1, 10, 30, 100, 200c respectively)
-Ammo belt 4 (1, 10, 100, 1000c respectively)
-Close range bolt action (250c – TSAR-42, Ghost, SAS-R)

Lastly, time to bite the bullet and get that last 5% (1000c each)
-Nanoweave/Flak 5
-Recon Dart 6
-hacking rank 5 (500c)

Well, that’s it for the guide.  If you want more information on cert lines, check out the PS2 wiki at http://planetside.wikia.com/wiki/Infiltrator  At some point,  you don’t really need to stick to the guide as you will want to spread certs around in other classes a little (I maxed the medic gun early on because it’s so good).  But for those who want some help getting started, or want to find the most economical way to spend some certs on the infil class, hopefully this guide was helpful.

Feel free to leave feedback, comments and suggestions for improvements below!

Infiltrator Loadouts: A tool for every job

PS2 is a game where you can specialize in a given class or weapon, or adapt to whatever the situation calls for.  Some of the best players in the game, many of whom I admire, can switch between any of the infantry classes depending on the fight, and be effective.  While I would like to think that I have at least some versatility in different classes, my first and primary love is the Infiltrator.  And I believe it is a class that has enough weapon versatility to be used effectively in almost EVERY fight, as long as you are able to assess the situation and pull what is most helpful.

Instead of spending a lot of time with theory and ideas, I will just give a small outline of my own personal loadouts and how I swap between them throughout the flow of battle.

 

My first and most common build is the mid-range sniper.  I favor the SR-7 with 6x scope, which allows me to engage at between 30-200m, hitting a sweet spot around 100m.  This build alone lets me participate in most outdoor fights, and be deadly from the outskirts of a base.  I end up using this build about 80% of the time.

2013-12-05_00001

 

Next is my long range sniper build, with the RAMS.50 and 12x scope.  I bring ammo belt since I’m often stranded from engineer support.  This build is less often used but gets pulled out during our infil squad ops when we hit an objective from a distance, or when I find a good perch in a busy fight that is outside of 150m.

2013-12-05_00002

 

The SMG allows the infiltrator to get in close, run around bases hacking and ambushing unsuspecting players.  While I favor the Armistice, they are all useful between 1-20m (with the NS-7 PDW being an exception out to 40-50m).  I often pull this out for towers, indoor bases, or when there are poor conditions for sniping.  With just one SMG in your arsenal, the infiltrator can cover extreme ranges, from 300m to 5m just by swapping between sniper rifles and the SMG.  There are not many fights you will find yourself being left out of.

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There are times when the SMG is too suicidal (after all, being within 5m makes it easy to over-extend and get caught after a few kills).  This is where the scout rifles and semi-auto rifles can be handy.  I have a SOAS-20 build with ammo belt that I run around with just for crowded close range fights where I can’t snipe very well but I don’t want to run on top of the enemy until I die after 3-4 kills.  This lets me engage up to 60m and has a tendency to keep me safe.

2013-12-05_00004

 

While a good sniper will practice until they can hit moving targets reliably, there are some fights where the enemy is rushing on foot too quickly to make bolt actions a viable choice.  The semi-auto rifles can shine, allowing the user to land numerous shots on a running target, killing them before reaching cover.  One of my favorite examples is defending crossroads watchtower from a zerg of players pouring out of a sundy and approaching the tower on foot.  The 99SV/Spectre/Gauss SPR is very good at popping these targets within 2-4 rounds.  A suppressor limits the range substantially but will still be viable out to 75m or so.

2013-12-05_00005

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As you can see, many of my loadouts are based upon my anticipated engagement range and movement patterns of the enemy.  In a single fight I could go from a bolt action to a SASR to an ASR or SMG.  When we are camped in or there are large clusters of enemies, I pull out the bandolier build.  The key is understanding who you are trying to get into your sights, and predicting which weapon you will want in your hands when that moment comes.  For newer infiltrators, those who haven’t had the luxury to purchase all the flavors of weapons we have as infiltrators, I would recommend at least one bolt action rifle, one semi-auto rifle, and one fully automatic weapon, either the SMG or ASR.

As for the particular suits and utilities I have equipped here, feel free to copy and emulate them, but these are just things I have grown into over time and have found most useful for me.  You may prefer different cloaks or suits.  The most important thing is bringing the right loadout to the right fight.

 

Stay Frosty,

 

Mustarde