View Single Post

Serrit's Avatar


Serrit
12.09.2013 , 05:44 AM | #1
Well it’s been a week since Galactic Starfighter early access started. I’ve been playing it fairly solidly in that time, over which it has permeated my brain and taken over almost all my free thinking time. I figured I might as well share some of those thoughts :-)

Why I love this mode so much

Game mechanics engage me when they involve DECISIONS (leading to strategy, planning), SYNERGY (making me think about how all my options are best combined in each situation), and PROGRESSION (that feeling of “oooh just one more game and I can afford shiny new upgrade X. Dangerous when combined with synergy - “ah so now if I play 5 more games I can get Y, which will complement X by….” ). For me, Galactic Starfighter has all of these, as well as taking advantage of my existing love of Star Wars space battles from the films and games like Tie Fighter (I missed out on X-Wing /blush). The sound design works to exploit these existing feelings as well - being in the thick of the “phwat phwat” of Republic blasters, or the whining “eiuww eiuww eiuww” of Imperials makes me grin every time.

General tips
  • In my view the most important point is to have a mental-loop every 3 seconds or so when you think “What am I DOING to CONTRIBUTE to this battle”. If you can’t see the benefit of your current position/fight, make a plan for a useful action and then execute that plan.
    (“Our A is closest and vulnerable, I’ll move to reinforce”.
    “We have no intel on their C. As a Scout, I’ll check it out, maybe cap a poorly defended satellite”.
    “B is under attack, our fighters are holding but are against superior numbers. I’ll provide Gunship support”. Etc.).

  • As part of the above loop, take into account macro-level information from the score, minimap, and power distribution. Be aware of where your allies are and what they are (or might be) doing. The same goes for the known enemy positions - are they clumped in one place? If so, move to assault sparsely defended areas. Is your hotshot Gunship being harassed? Move in to defend them. Have no intel on an area (see next point on comms)? Go and scout it - maybe there are enemy Gunships lurking. Maybe it’s an undefended satellite.

    Prioritise power based on your current objective and status. As well as giving a faster regen rate, prioritising a certain system gives it a power boost, so always switch to engine mode when firsting starting out to get a small speed boost.
    (I’m not sure if this affects Boost speed as well though, or just maximum normal speed. Also unsure whether turning rates are improved with engines as priority).
    If you’re going on the offensive, switching to weapons priority gives you more damage.
    (I don’t know what the percentage improvement values are for prioritised systems - at a guess I’d say 10%).

    Remember that regen only happens after a short period when that resource is no longer being drained. This allows for potential micromanagement such as boosting power to shields while unleashing continuous weapons fire, then switching to weapon regen while boosting away, engine regen once you’ve done boosting and are turning around, and then perhaps neutral when all is quiet again. Bear in mind that while this helps regen unused resources, the in-use system will be under-effective - e.g. firing weapons while under shield priority would do 90% weapon damage, rather than the 110% damage if weapons were given priority (assuming 10% is accurate for the boost).

  • Have a basic understanding of how tactical sensor and communication works. You can detect enemies in your sensor range (minus their dampening range), and receive enemy positions from any friendly whose communications range you are within. Any data you have will be in turn forwarded to any friendlies within your own communications range. Think of this as a “supply chain” of information. If your force is split between opposing sides of the map, then you will be unlikely to see how many enemies are at the opposite end, and vice-versa. Scouts can drop 1 sensor pod each to provide a static sensor/comms-buoy.
    (Note - I’m still not sure on the “focus” range distinction yet, but I’m guessing your “forward view” has the full range, with side/rear sensors being less probing).

  • You’ll probably have a role in mind for your ship choice and build. and of course it will be optimum for you to fulfill that role (guarding or denying as a well-shielded Strike or evasive Scout. Harassing enemy gunships. Hit-and-run defence turret destruction. Etc.). However in matches with randoms, be aware that not everyone will be experienced enough to fulfill other keys roles. Be prepared to adapt on the fly to take on mode-critical tasks like direct satellite defending/capturing, as you can switch your load-out prior to respawning (thanks Zoom_VI). A potential “tactical suicide and craft-switch” could prove useful if you’re miles from a defending point in say a Gunship - switch to a Scout and respawn close to the satellite under assault (bear in mind the respawn timer though!).

  • Pay attention to the pre-mission roster, for both your side and opposition’s, and fill any gaps for the game mode. Already have 3 Gunships? Only have one Scout? Oftentimes the right balance of craft can make up for going with e.g. your basic Scout with no upgrades - you’ll still have the speed and engine benefits to make early caps or denies.

  • Consider that once you’ve unlocked multiple ships for each class, you’ll essentially have multiple Component/Crew specs that you can pre-setup for specific roles, then switch as needed based on starting roster info. Notice that the enemy is going to be rocking with several gunships? Change from your defensive shield-oriented Star Guard to your quick-response Pike, and take on Gunship harassment. Are they choosing a lot of Scouts? Maybe you want to change from your speedy turret-busting rocket pod NovaDive to your Sabotage-probe manoeuvre-reducing anti-scout Flashfire.

  • Don’t forget shields are directional. A target’s hud readout shows 2 strips for shielding - the left/top (depending on if you’re looking at your targeting sights, or your targeting computer in the top right) show the front shield, the right/bottom the rear shield. You only need to take out the shield on the side you’re shooting before getting to the hull, so bear that in mind if switching weapons based on shield status (i.e. Ions vs Lasers/Missiles). Similarly, if an enemy 180’s, be prepared to deal with their opposing-side shield.

  • Don’t discount the psychological warfare of a missile lock. Hearing the blaring of the tactical computer as locks are being acquired on you, then locking in place, followed by the “missile away” klaxon, kicks in the fight-or-flight reaction. Usually flight :-)
    You’ll often dissuade an enemy from a defensive position or assault by merely acquiring the lock - you don’t need to fire and waste the missile if you don’t think it will do suitable damage. Flushing an enemy from a control point is just as useful as killing them outright if it allows to to deny, cap, or reinforce that point for your team.
    Similarly, don’t get flustered yourself by unavoidable missile locks when capping/defending key areas. Check your shields and hull - if you’re at full, you’ll survive, and can switch to shield regen as needed to top back up again. Resist the urge to bug out.

  • This last point is essentially covered by the first, but I think it’s important enough to make again. Try to avoid getting dragged into protracted battles in no-mans land. Consider that the enemy is deliberately keeping you occupied there to prevent you being useful to the main objective. (Even if they’re not, moving back to defend or assault will make you a more useful asset to your team).
    Naturally there are caveats - perhaps you’ve found yourself in a dogfight off to the side, but it’s their 3 against your 1, and you can hold your own. In that case, you’re tying up 3 of theirs for 1 of yours, which is arguably beneficial.

Game modes

There’s only Domination available so far, but hopefully further game modes will be added in the future.

Domination
Objective
Domination is your fairly standard control-point-capture game, with captured points (satellites) increasing your score. First to 1000 wins. Controlled enemy-free satellites reinforce themselves over time with up to 3 defence turrets. Reinforced satellites cannot be captured until all turrets are destroyed.

Shooting down an enemy rewards 1 point, while suiciding will give a point to the opposing team. Each controlled satellite will reward 1 point per second, so controlling the satellites is absolutely key to winning the mission. Turrets do not alter the point-rate. (thanks Tito_O)

Tips
  • The opening gambit is a rush to determine the initial battlefield state, and the outcome of this can decide the battle when the teams are imbalanced (in terms of experience). Try to have at least 1 Scout per control point, and rush to capture or deny each one. You may decide to send a light force (maybe even a single Scout) to deny one point, while splitting your other forces to take the remainder.

  • If you’re a Scout, announce in the pre-battle Ops chat which point you’re headed for, to make sure all are covered.

  • On the current maps, 1 of the 3 points is difficult to attack due to multiple obstructions that interfere with missile locks, and lead to frequent self-destructions. Try to capture this point for your team, and make the enemy take the risks dogfighting you among the detritus. If you do struggle navigating such fields, you may find yourself more useful at one of the less-cluttered points.

  • When defending your satellite, and it has no defence towers, make sure at least one of you is sticking tightly to the satellite’s central body/arms. Try to keep there, using cooldowns and piloting skill as needed to survive. Don’t give the enemy the chance to get a cheap cap / deny just because all your craft moved away briefly with evasive maneuvers.

    I generally like weaving over and under the satellite arms while orbiting it - this can help to break missile locks from all angles, but carries a risk of crashing into the arms themselves. If you trust your piloting skills and are being pursued, trying to goad the enemies into following you - and hopefully crashing - can be very satisfying.
    Keep aware for enemies that have powered down engines are are just camped on your satellite while you do the hard work of flying around, and try to flush them out. Don’t risk it if you’re surviving though - defending is more valuable than killing. If the point is yours, the onus is on the enemy to dislodge you - don’t allow them that pleasure!

  • Keep a regular eye on the satellite status panel. Defence turrets appear as dots in the circumference of each satellite’s icon. Satellites with an enemy within interference radius have a flashing icon. Be prepared to re-asses your current action and make full haste towards defending your points. Swooping in at the last moment to deny a takeover, or an enemy cap, is a great feeling. Make sure to then stick around and dig in.

  • Once you've got a least one turret on your satellite, you no longer have to worry about the enemy quick-stealing it. Move out of a defence orbit and clear any remaining attackers, then reassign yourself appropriately.

  • Don’t get put off by enemy satellites with 3 turrets. A savvy Scout, Gunship, or Strike fighter can strip those turrets from an otherwise-undefended satellite in a short time. Even if you don’t manage to cap the point, you might at least cause enemy forces to flock back in support, drawing them away from their current engagements.

  • It’s usually tactically valuable to capture the middle point and at least one of the peripheral points. Holding adjacent points is easier, as there is less distance to travel between them when switching defences, as well as hopefully not having to cross enemy-held positions.
    Also, being near to each other means you’re more likely to be sharing comms. Better intel means better planning and better responses.

  • After dying, you can choose to respawn closer to a controlled satellite. Look for the yellow diamond marker on the respawn minimap for alternative respawn options. Clicking one will turn it to green to mark your choice. This can allow you to get back more quickly to a defensive position.

  • Don’t be disheartened by the scoreboard. You’ll get defensive Objective points for holding a satellite while an enemy is within capturing radius - if you have a high objective score at the end, consider yourself valuable.
    You don’t get any scoreboard points for denying a control point to an enemy (keeping it neutral), but this action is highly valued for winning games. Plenty of times I’ve spent the entire mission just flying around a control point keeping it neutral from frustrated attackers, while the rest of the team cap the other points. You’ll end up low on the board, but never mind :-)

  • Finally, if the odds have overwhelmed your team, and you’re facing a satellite lockout with a vast score difference, try coordinating your team to converge and take the least-defended satellite. You’ll at least go out fighting, and co-ordinating everyone together means you’ll have a good support network for some more-winnable dogfights. Nothing’s more frustrating than throwing yourselves disorganised into a mass of enemies and getting annihilated. You might even open up opportunities to turn the battle around!

Starship roles

Strike craft
The workhorse of the fleet, strike craft are balanced between attack and defence, and can be specialised towards either role with component and crew selections.
I’ve spent most time with the Strike so far, and it’s my favourite class due to the mid-dogfight micromanagement options available (in terms of weapon switching between Ion/Laser, and redirecting shield power to a given direction, while managing weapons/shield/engine power).

Retro-thrusters are great fun as well (propelling you backwards for a couple of seconds, before resuming forward motion). Going head-to-head with an enemy, punching the retros, then watching as they’ve 180’ed and are now back in your sights again, is very satisfying.
Although I’ve killed myself more times than I can count when my situational awareness lets me down and I retro back into an asteroid or similar!

While Cluster missiles seemed an underwhelming option on paper (less range and damage than the default Concussions), after some dog-fighting experience I realised how useful they’d be when combined with Ion fire. Get close to an enemy (< 4K for Ions), strip the shields while acquiring a quick Cluster missile lock, release when shield are gone, then switch to Lasers to finish off.

Gunship harassment
Something I’m going to try once I’ve unlocked a 2nd Strike, this will focus on Barrel Roll to quickly encroach on Gunship positions, follow by Ion / Cluster / Laser combos.
Update- Lurtzello has pointed out that the fleet-requisition-unlockable Strike craft actually has 2 secondary weapons instead of 2 primary ones. Perhaps that makes it better suited to Quad Lasers as the single primary, then at least one missile type for mid- ranged options.

Long range support
I haven’t played much with this idea, but focussing on the Heavy Laser with Conc missiles or Proton torpedoes seems like another viable build - taking a step back and picking off targets at mid-range.

Phwat-phwat-phwat-phwat
Another option would be to avoid having to switch Ions for Lasers once shields are down, and just focus on Quad Lasers (upgraded for shield damage) as the primary weapon. Conc missiles / Torpedoes, or alternatively a secondary Heavy Laser, would provide longer ranged support for fleeing enemies.

Scout
I’ve mainly been focusing on Engine speed and Evasion for my Scout - making use of boosts and barrel rolls to be first to a Satellite, then take or deny it as required. Taking a Co-pilot with Evasive Maneuvers combines with Disruption Shield and Light-weight armour for survivability through avoidability.
Minimally upgraded Rocket Pods combined with the Light Laser Cannon can make short work of enemy turrets, allowing for speedy raids behind enemy lines.

Gunship
The “sniper” class, I’ve spent the least time with Gunships, although have come to fear their shield-piercing capabilities and pinpoint accuracy when under pressure in my Strike craft.
So far my play-style is focussed on maneuverability with Barrel Roll, to get rapidly to and from support positions.
Opening up with Barrel Roll - Boost - Regen - Barrel Roll can get the Gunship to an initial satellite almost as quick as a Strike, so is worthwhile doing to support initial caps.
Try to get sensor radius to at least 15K to match the railgun range without relying on friendly intel.
Similar to the Scout, keep on eye on opportunities to Barrel Roll up to an enemy-controlled but lightly-defended satellite, and pick off the turrets. A further Barrel Roll will get you into the capture zone once turrets are down.

(Note - does the Plasma rail burn DOT prevent shield regen? I’ve assumed so far it does, which helps when micromanaging between Ion and Plasma rails. Otherwise, focussing on the shield-penetrating Slug rail seems useful for picking off low-hull high-shield dogged defenders).


Closing notes
I’m flying as Davron on The Red Eclipse (EU), and look forward to battling it out with/against anyone on there :-)
And massive thanks to the Bioware dev team for implementing this enjoyable addition to SW:TOR. I'm looking forward to how it evolves over the coming months (years?!).