All posts by Iridar

NSX Yumi

NSX Yumi: Highly Technical Weapon Guide

NSX Yumi is an assault rifle, available only to Combat Medic class. It fires in fast and accurate bursts of 5 rounds, but with a short delay before each burst.

Yumi is an excellent weapon for medium and long range combat, and it gives a huge advantage when firing first, more so than any other automatic weapon. But the burst delay makes the weapon a little bad in direct confrontation, especially if the enemy engages you first in close quarters. 

Playing with Yumi is like playing with any slow and accurate ranged Assault Rifle – you will have to stick to cover, be ready to disengage if you get shot and avoid rushing head-first.

Using the Yumi is the hard way to teach a player to look for good engagements; the strict requirement on accuracy and firing delay will force the user to always aim down sights and aim properly before opening fire. 

On the other hand, Yumi is a weapon that plays itself. Unlike other burst weapons, which are basically automatic weapons in disguise, Yumi doesn’t allow any Cone of Fire management, and barely requires recoil compensation. 

Yumi is predominantly a medium+ range support weapon. If you ever wanted a designated marksman rifle for a medic – this is it. 

Yumi was released in underpowered state, and was significantly buffed in Apr 27th, 2017 patch, and now that this weapon is actually viable, let’s take a deeper look. 

Stats

NSX Yumi

Mechanics

After you press the trigger, there is a 0.25 second firing delay. Then it takes a 0.24 seconds to fire off a 5 round burst, with 60 ms refire time between shots. For comparison, AF-4 Cyclone has 92 ms refire time. 

NSX Yumi timeline

As with a semi-auto weapon, you can queue the next burst right after you start charging the current burst. Click-release-click-hold until the next burst starts charging. This technique is explained in detail here

If you press the trigger without Aiming Down Sights, you will not be able to Aim Down Sights until the weapon finishes firing.

Similarly, if you press the trigger while ADSing, you will not be able to leave ADS, even if you jump. This can be inconvenient if you realize you need to break the engagement during a burst. 

Damage

NSX Yumi Damage
Click to enlarge

Rate of Fire during a burst: 1000 RPM
DPS during a burst: 2783 to 2083 depending on distance.

Overall DPS: 1516 to 1135
Overall Rate of Fire: ~545

Yumi fires off the burst at the highest rate of fire among all primary weapons, and therefore has the highest non-shotgun DPS. Burst delay significantly reduces overall rate of fire, reducing overall DPS to be on the level of a 167 @ 550 RPM weapon. 

Description Effective Health Bullets to Kill
6 7 8 9 10
Default   1000 0 – 10 11 – 55  56+    
Full Nano   1250     0 – 29 30 – 63  64+

 

With perfect accuracy and bodyshots, Yumi will require two bursts against a full health target. Heavy Assaults will require an extra burst at most. It is possible to one-burst a target if several shots hit the head.

Overall, assuming good, but not perfect accuracy, you should expect 2-3 burst kills against standard enemies, and 3-4 bursts against Heavy Assaults.

Finally, one burst + one quick knife swing will reliably kill standard infantry, though it’s not an easy combo to hit against an aware player. 

Recoil

NSX Yumi recoil pattern
Click to enlarge
NSX Yumi recoil pattern w/ attachments
Click to enlarge

  Stock With Attachment  
Vertical Recoil during Burst, per sec ~4.8 ~4.1 Compensator
First Shot Multiplier (Recoil) 0x 0x  
Average Horizontal Deviation 0.098 0.073 Forward Grip
Maximum Horizontal Deviation 0.24 0.18
Recoil Angle 5 3.75
Recoil Recovery True Delay 0.31
Burst Recoil Recovery Time 0.098 0.082 Forward Grip

 

Yumi is the only weapon to feature a zero First Shot Recoil Multiplier, meaning it has no vertical recoil for the first shot. The first shot is still subjected to Horizontal Recoil, though. 

It is also possible that Yumi has a gradually increasing Vertical Recoil from 0.28 to 0.3 during the burst. It is hard to tell with certainty, because the API does not list any Recoil Increase values for the Yumi, only minimum and maximum Vertical Recoil.

In any case, the difference is not big, and Yumi has a comparatively low recoil per shot for its damage profile, though extremely high rate of fire still creates a noticeable vertical pull during the burst

Vertical Recoil comes strong and sudden, and it takes a while to get used to; you have to be very precise with the timing of your mouse movements. You can’t start compensating recoil on reaction, because the burst will be over before you can react.

Yumi has very little horizontal recoil for its damage profile, and a negligible recoil angle to the right. 

Recoil Recovery starts in 310 ms after the last shot, and finishes before the start of the next burst. 

Accuracy

ADS CoFs: 0.03 / 0.15 / 0.03 / 0.15 / 0.05

Yumi has very small Cones of Fire in all stances, and reduced Cone of Fire Bloom. Most 167 damage weapons have CoF Bloom of 0.06. 

It’s worth noting that Yumi doesn’t get any bonus accuracy for crouching.

Based purely on moving Cone of Fire and Bloom, Yumi should be able to land a whole burst on the head within 30m and on the body within 65m.

Standing still increases 100% headshot distance to 50m and bodyshot distance to about ~85m. 

Of course, that is purely theoretical and ignores recoil and human factor.

Overall, it’s safe to say that Yumi features one of the longest effective ranges among Assault Rifles. And even ranged monsters like Reaper DMR cannot compete with Yumi’s moving accuracy and low Bloom.

Hip CoFs: 2 / 2.25 / 2.5 / 3 / 0.12

Yumi has standard hip fire accuracy for an assault rifle. It can be surprisingly effective in a pinch, but don’t expect any miracles, especially if you use Compensator. 

Attachments

Optics

Yumi has access to a variety of reflex scopes from 1x to 3.4x, and HS/NV scope. As always, the choice will depend only on your personal preference.

A low magnification scope makes it feel like the weapon has no recoil at all, and it allows a wider field of view, which can be crucial while you are busy tunnel visioning in one direction and firing off several bursts – Yumi has a long exposure time. 

On the other hand, a higher magnification scope gives a clearer sight of the target, allowing for more deliberate accuracy. It can also help identify targets at longer ranges before you even open fire. 

When in doubt – start with 2x Reflex, and see whether you need more or less magnification.

Barrel

Yumi has access to Flash Suppressor and Compensator. Both are viable, depending on playstyle and intended application.

  • Flash Suppressor will make you less noticeable, which is crucial in ranged combat. 
  • Compensator will increase ranged accuracy and make it easier to get headshots. 

Rail

Yumi has access to Extended Mags (+5 rounds), Forward Grip, Darklight Flashlight and Underbarrel Smoke and Grenade Launchers.

Yumi is a rare case of a ranged weapon where Forward Grip is not mandatory. Yumi already has very little horizontal recoil, and at ranges where you would benefit from the Forward Grip, Yumi already gets weaker due to Cone of Fire Bloom and damage degradation.

Yumi’s underbarrel attachments are similar to those of other weapons, but there a few differences:

  • Cost 200 certs instead of the usual 100.
  • Come with an extra spare grenade.
  • You cannot Aim Down Sights with them.
  • Yumi’s smoke launcher does not deal bonus headshot damage, therefore it cannot OHK infantry on a headshot. 
    • We can expect other underbarrel attachments to be changed to this baseline in the future. 

Underbarrel Grenade Launcher offers a great way to increase utility, versatility and firepower. It can damage vehicles, finish off players behind cover, and even OHK if you manage to get a direct hit. UBGL was never a bad attachment to have. It has just two problems: it is usually available on crappy weapons, or weapons that greatly benefit from Forward Grip. 

Yumi doesn’t have any of those problems, so it is a prime candidate for using UBGL. 

Ammo

Yumi has access to SPA and HVA

SPA is better within 35m and gives maximum benefit of +1.8% damage at 15m.

HVA is better at 35m+ and gives maximum benefit of +6.4% damage at 90m. 

If you’re interested in a more in-depth analysis of ammo types, /u/DrSwov has a reddit post with TTK numbers against different targets.

Recommended Attachments

There are many viable attachment combinations with Yumi. If you know what you’re doing, you should be able to easily figure out the best build for yourself. 

If you need some help to get started, here is an example of a cookie-cutter build:

  • 2x Reflex
  • Flash Suppressor
  • High Velocity Ammo
  • Underbarrel Grenade Launcher
  • Battle Hardened Implant

The goal behind this loadout is to give you the most versatility and combat options, without being overly specialized in any particular area.

Gameplay Tips

NSX Yumi is way more versatile than it may seem on the first look. The burst mechanic spices things up a bit, but you quickly get used to it, and for most intents and purposes, you simply get the gun that shoots half the time, and charges up the other half. 

Use the burst delay to your advantage, and take aim properly while the gun is charging up. 

Yumi has surprisingly decent performance from the hip, but you should still invest in a powerful sidearm for close encounters, and get comfortable with it. If you get engaged while healing or reviving, the sidearm will be your go-to weapon, not the Yumi.

Being unable to fire single shots is definitely limiting, because you can’t tap-fire snipe engies behind turrets or deployables. 

Yumi is excellent at range out of the box, without any performance-enhancing attachments, so it can be used with any attachment combination and still be viable.

The burst mechanic certainly gives advantage to firing first, but it’s not like you automatically lose if you get engaged on. Dodging enemy fire and hip firing, or ADSing and going for headshots are both viable ways of fighting back, depending on situation. 

Don’t spend too much time firing at targets at super long range, you’re unlikely to kill them before they make it to cover, and every moment you spend outside cover increases the chances of getting sniped. 

In extreme close quarters, consider switching to a sidearm, if you’re good with it. You can also “pre charge” a burst as you round the corner, though it requires good timing, and you have to already know where the enemy is. 

Conclusion

Yumi is an interesting and worthy addition, both to NSX lineup and Assault Rifles in general. Not everyone will like it, but everyone can use it. Unlike most other NSX weapons, Yumi doesn’t have a steep skill requirement.

  • Give Yumi to a PS2 newbie with some FPS experience, and he will be able to participate in ranged combat, even though he knows nothing about CoF and recoil management.
  • Give Yumi to a hardened veteran with excellent accuracy, and most enemies will die before they realize they’re getting damaged. 

Yumi is a welcome respite from super-niche weapons, though the delayed burst mechanic   seems a little out of place on Medic, and would make more sense on Light Assault or Infiltrator, in my opinion.

If you’re thinking about purchasing the Yumi, it is strongly recommended you trial it, and use it in actual combat for the whole 30 minutes. There are a lot of people that seem to passionately hate it after using it less than for five minutes.

Answering critique

The whole premise of Yumi being a “garbage” weapon is based on a 0.25 second burst delay, which is not a big deal, unless you get shot as soon as the engagement starts. This just means Yumi user has to be a little more thoughtful about engagements he’s taking, nothing more.

Ignoring the burst delay, Yumi is basically an incredibly accurate 167 @ 550 AR with nearly no recoil and automatic CoF reset. I wouldn’t say that’s bad.

Adding Yumi into Weapon Simulator

If you want to add NSX Yumi into my Weapon Simulator, add this string to the end of the Stats.csv file, which you can open with Windows Notepad:

804246,NSX Yumi,NS,Assault Rifle,167,10,125,90,1,60,1,0.48s / 0.56s / 0.56s,580,-,30,210,3550,2755,0.5,0.12,0.05,2,1.5,2.5,5,2,0.03,0.03,0.15,0.15,5,5,0.29,0.12,0.12,0.4,0,16,Auto,0
804246,NSX Yumi SPA,NS,Assault Rifle,167,15,125,90,1,60,1,0.48s / 0.56s / 0.56s,551,-,30,210,3550,2755,0.5,0.12,0.05,2,1.5,2.5,5,2,0.03,0.03,0.15,0.15,5,5,0.29,0.12,0.12,0.4,0,16,Auto,0
804246,NSX Yumi HVA,NS,Assault Rifle,167,8,125,110,1,60,1,0.48s / 0.56s / 0.56s,609,-,30,210,3550,2755,0.5,0.12,0.05,2,1.5,2.5,5,2,0.03,0.03,0.15,0.15,5,5,0.29,0.12,0.12,0.4,0,16,Auto,0

Keep in mind that it won’t properly simulate Yumi’s burst mechanics.

rocket launcher

Rocket Launchers

Rocket Launchers in PlanetSide 2 can be used by Heavy Assault class, and count as their tool. They deal high damage to Infantry and MAXes, and moderate damage to vehicles. There is a large variety of launchers; some of them deal increased damage, others can lock on ground vehicles or aircraft, or use laser guided or even TV-guided systems.

However, one thing must be made clear: rocket launchers are generally not effective in direct combat against vehicles. Most vehicles can one-shot an infantry player, but require multiple rocket launcher hits to take down.

Launchers deal mediocre damage to vehicles in most situations. Pairing them with another player or damage type works best. Finding these opportunities or working in teams will greatly enhance your effectiveness with whatever launcher you use.

/u/Renuse-Sol-Ex

Normally, a single Heavy Assault with a Rocket Launcher is only a nuisance. In order for him to represent any real threat, the vehicle must be already damaged, distracted or otherwise vulnerable, and the Heavy Assault himself requires cover and freedom of movement. 

Rocket Launcher Mechanics

Rocket Launchers follow the same Weapon Mechanics as other weapons.

Misleading In-Game Stats

In-game stats often do not represent how rocket launchers actually function.

Listed Direct Damage can be used to predict damage to infantry and MAXes, but when applied to vehicles, it goes through a swirl of unknown modifiers. For example, NC15 Phoenix has 750 Direct Damage, yet it deals roughly the same damage to vehicles as 1335 Direct Damage Decimator

You can check some of the shots-to-kill-vehicles values on PS2 Wiki (w) – click on launcher names. However, treat those numbers with extreme prejudice, as they can be outdated.

Listed Indirect Damage is a bit crazy. Most launchers have a hidden scaling – their Indirect Damage depends on distance the rocket has traveled before detonating. More on that below.

Listed Muzzle Velocity is misleading. It doesn’t tell the whole story for dedicated Dumbfire Launchers, and completely useless for most other launchers. More on both below.


I have performed a lot of datamining and testing to ensure the quality of mechanical information in this guide, but some things still remain unknown: how exactly Gravity works and how lock-on rocket speed is determined. 

Direct and Indirect Damage

Most launchers deal two types of damage: Direct and Indirect (splash or blast damage). You can think of it as “piercing effect” and “explosive effect”.

Direct damage is applied only to the target the rocket hits directly.
Indirect damage is applied on direct hits to infantry and MAXes, as well as to infantry and MAXes near the explosion. 

  • Infantry receives 100% of direct damage and 100% of indirect damage, both reduced by Infantry Flak Armor.
  • MAXes receive 75% of direct damage and 50% of indirect damage, MAX Flak Armor reduces only indirect damage.
  • Headshots with rockets do not deal increased damage, but legs receive only 90% of damage. This affects indirect damage as well.
  • Armored Vehicles receive modified direct damage and no indirect damage.
  • Unarmored Vehicles, like Flash and – possibly – ESFs – take some indirect damage as well.
    • Modifiers to direct damage are unknown and depend on a vehicle and – for some vehicles – the direction it was shot from.

When comparing different rocket launchers by their damage, it is important to realize that you can compare only launchers that share the same Damage Resist Type, and only against the same target. 

Example of “why not”: starting launcher has 1135 direct damage and deals almost enough damage to one shot a full health ESF. Faction specific ground-to-air lock-on launchers deal 1000 direct damage, and require 3 rockets to destroy an ESF.

Indirect Damage Hidden Distance Scaling

Rocket Launcher Indirect Damage scales with distance to the explosion – the closer you are to the explosion, the more damage you take. You can judge this by Indirect Damage values listed in game. 

However, most rocket launchers have an additional, hidden scaling with Rocket Flight Distance – the longer the rocket was flying, the higher its Indirect Damage

Most rocket launchers deal:

  • 50% Indirect Damage within 10m
  • 50% to 100% within 10m to 30m, scaling with distance
  • 100% at 30m+

There are two exceptions:

  • Decimator scales from 10m to 20m
  • NSX Masamune has no distance scaling, it always deals full Indirect Damage.

In other words, Rocket Launchers deal less Indirect Damage up close, and more Indirect Damage at range. If you want to splash damage a group of infantry, you want to be 20-30m away from them, depending on the launcher you’re using. 

Indirect Damage is applied on direct hits to MAXes and Infantry, so if you want to deal more damage to a MAX, you also want to be further away. 

Dumbfire Mechanics

Dumbfired rockets start flying at relatively low Starting Velocity, and then rapidly Accelerate to Maximum Velocity, listed in-game as “Muzzle Velocity”.

Starting Velocity and Acceleration are hidden in-game, and can only be accessed via Census API, and without these values you cannot evaluate rocket’s speed. 

Rockets dumbfired from Lock-on Launchers do not accelerate, they always fly at the Starting Velocity.

  • While flying, rockets are affected by Gravity.
  • The slower the rocket is flying, the more time Gravity has to affect its trajectory, so faster rockets with more Gravity can sometimes have less projectile drop than slower rockets with less Gravity
  • If a rocket doesn’t hit anything during its Lifespan, it will self-detonate. 
  • Rocket’s trajectory will be more flat if you’re shooting downwards.

Lock-on Mechanics

PlanetSide 2 Lock-on Time comparison
Click to enlarge

Some of the launchers have scopes, which they can use to lock-on to enemy vehicles. Rockets fired with a lock will automatically track the vehicle. Some of these launchers can dumbfire without a lock, but then the rocket will not accelerate. 

To gain a lock, user must hold the enemy vehicle inside Lock-on Angle of the sights for several seconds – Lock-on Time depends on distance – distant targets take longer to lock.

You can hold “fire” key to fire as soon as the lock is established.

Only targets within Lock Range can be locked-on. Usually, it is 300m for ground vehicles and 450m for aircraft.

If the target goes outside Lock-on Angle for far too long (Lock-on Loss Delay), the lock will be lost.

However, during that time the lock is still fully functional, and you can take advantage of this by angling your rockets to make sure they don’t hit anything on the way to the target. There is a more extreme example here.

Vehicle Stealth defense slot can increase the lock-on time from 0.25 to 2 seconds, depending on vehicle and Vehicle Stealth rank. You can find specific numbers in in-game descriptions of Vehicle Stealth for specific vehicles.

After the target has been successfully locked, the user can fire-and-forget – the rocket will automatically track the vehicle without the need to maintain the lock. Some launchers can fire several rockets without reloading, and you will need to maintain the lock while firing.

The rocket will only pursue the target for Lock-on Lifespan amount of time, so theoretically the rockets can be outrun, but it is usually impossible outside of edge cases, like an ESF at maximum lock range, afterburning away.

The “agility” of a locked on rocket is determined by Lock-on Turn Angle. If the vehicle performs evasive maneuvers, the rocket may not be able to adjust trajectory in time, and can miss the vehicle.

If the angle between rocket’s flight direction and direction to the target becomes greater than Lock-on Lose Angle, the rocket will lose the lock. This means that the mechanic of dodging lock-ons is built into the rockets themselves. 

It is currently unclear if locked on rockets are affected by Gravity.

Velocity of Locked-on Rockets is Unknown

It seems that actual lock-on rocket travel time has no connection with Velocity and Lock-on Acceleration values in the Census API. We can speculate  that higher values are probably better, but that’s about it. For example:

Click to enlarge

These distance and travel time values from Tomcats are from in-game testing. According to Census API, Tomcats have:

  • Starting Velocity: 100 m/s
  • Maximum Velocity: 125 m/s – listed in game as “Muzzle Velocity”
  • Lock-on Acceleration: 6.67 m/s

However, as you can see from the testing, Tomcat rocket covers 470m during ~3.2 seconds, which means average velocity of ~146 m/s, which is already higher than supposedly “Maximum Velocity”. It also seems to travel at a constant velocity, despite the fact there is an “acceleration” statistic.

There is naturally some inaccuracy, but not on the scale of 0.5 seconds. I have ran into similar walls with G2G and G2A lock on launchers. I have spent literal days banging my head against this problem, and at this point we probably will need divine intervention help from developers to figure out how it works.

Listed Muzzle Velocity can not be used to judge locked on rocket speed.

Vehicle Interaction

Vehicle pilots receive a warning when you try to lock-on to their vehicle, and they can see whether the source of that lock is someone on the ground or another air vehicle.

When a rocket is tracking the vehicle, they get continuous warning and they can see flying rockets on the minimap as pulsing red dots. 

Locking and firing a rocket launcher does not put the shooter on the minimap of the vehicle pilot. All shots within standard minimap detection range of 100m (for RLs) will still put the shooter on the minimap, of course.

Decoy Flares and IR Smoke

  

Air vehicles can use Decoy Flares utility to remove the lock and prevent locking for several seconds. Any lock-on rockets already in flight will automatically miss – veer off skywards and self-destruct. 

Ground vehicles can use IR Smoke to the same effect, though it is much less popular. 

Mythbusting

There is a myth that jumping or falling greatly increases hip fire accuracy of dumbfired rockets. Busted.

Misc. Rocket Launcher Mechanics

Sprint Override: after firing a rocket, the player cannot sprint for a certain period of time. Depending on the launcher, this delay ranges from 0.3 to 0.75 seconds. 

Terminal Resupply to Instantly Reload: you can double-tap the “use” key (default [E]) on a terminal to instantly reload all your weapons and restock on ammo. This can be a great way of boosting your combat rate of fire while using a launcher.

However, resupplying at a terminal mid-reload will result in your character doing a non-skippable reload animation after the resupply, so before resupplying make sure to switch to something that doesn’t need reloading. 

Fire Detect Range of 100m: when fired, all launchers put their user on the minimap of enemies within 100m.

Iron Sight Time: all launchers take 0.35 seconds to ADS, and 0.15 seconds to return from ADS to hip firing.

ADS Movement Speed Multiplier: most rocket launchers have 0.5x multiplier, the only exception is NSX Masamune, which has 0.33x.

Reloading continues in a vehicle: if you enter a vehicle while reloading, the reload will continue and complete successfully while you are inside. This works the same for all weapons, but only after they spend all ammo in the mag.


Munitions Pouch Suit Slot
can be used to allow the player to carry extra spare ammunition. One extra rocket / magazine / battery per rank, up to 4 ranks.


Dumbfire Launchers

These launchers do not have any sort of laser guidance or heat seeking, but they deal the most damage per rocket.

The ability to instantly fire a high damaging rocket make them great against MAXes, hovering aircraft and other vehicles at close range. 

According to my Angular Size research and confirmed by /u/Renuse’s experiences, a rocket dumbfired from the hip while standing moving is guaranteed to hit an infantry-sized target within ~6.5m, as long as you aim exactly at its center mass. 

Dumbfire launchers can be used as one-shot “sniper rifle” against camping Infiltrators and Light Assaults, as it’s a guaranteed OHK if the rocket touches the player.

All dumbfire launchers share the same Damage Resist Type, so they can be compared directly. 

Starting Launchers

Despite looking different, these launchers function exactly the same between factions.

ML7

Shrike

S1

Starting rocket launchers are your basic RPGs, they have great velocity and damage, but hitting mobile or distant targets can be challenging. Iron sights can be especially inconvenient when trying to compensate for drop.

The damage difference between dumbfire launchers and lock-on launchers is especially noticeable against aircraft. While dumbfire hits are much more challenging, they deal ~2.5x extra damage, and amount to a solid chunk of health for Liberators and Galaxies. 

One rocket is almost enough to instantly destroy a full health ESF – it will burn down and explode in just a few seconds, if the pilot doesn’t use Fire Suppression. If the ESF survived a rocket hit, there is a tactic to finish it off with another weapon, usually a sidearm, since it’s faster to equip than an LMG.

One rocket deals 47% to 61% of MAX’s health, depending on distance and if he has MAX Flak Armor.

NS Decimator

Can be used by all factions.

 

NS Decimator is a heavy RPG. It deals more damage than starting launchers, but reloads longer, carries one fewer rocket, and the rocket itself has lower velocity, which makes it more susceptible to Gravity and harder to use against vehicles at range and aircraft.

Compared to starting launchers, Decimator deals:

  • ~17% higher damage to vehicles.
    • Usually takes 1 rocket fewer to kill a vehcile.
  • ~8% higher damage to MAXes without Flak Armor.
    • 54% to 66% MAX’s health in 1 rocket, depending on distance and MAX Flak Armor

One rocket will reliably one-shot even a full health ESF, which is a big contributor to love and adoration the Decimator receives from the community. 

Decimator is noticeably harder to use, so often it is better to stick to starting launchers. After all, it’s better to hit with a weaker missile than miss with a stronger one.

The Kraken

The Kraken is a cosmetic variant of the Decimator, granted for completing the auraxium level of rocket launcher directives. It has an auraxium shader, and its rocket explosions have noticeable visual and sound effects.

Lock-on Launchers

All lock-on launchers share the same Damage Resist Type, so they can be compared directly. 

Empire-speicifc Ground-to-Air

Despite looking different, these launchers function exactly the same between factions.

ASP-30 Grounder

Hawk GD-68

Nemesis VSH-9

These launchers can lock-on to enemy aircraft, but they can still be dumbfired against MAXes, infantry and ground vehicles, which makes them incredibly versatile. Even if they don’t deal as much damage as dedicated dumbfire launchers, they still can oneshot most infantry and deal chunking damage to MAXes. Against ground vehicles, they usually require just an extra rocket to kill.

A Heavy Assault armed with one of these launchers will have an option against every target type in the game. 

They are also more convenient to use:

  • Scope doesn’t get in the way like Iron Sights, and it’s great for dumbfiring.
  • The rocket is slower, but it flies at a constant velocity, so it is more consistent and predictable within ~75m.
  • It is less affected by Gravity, and doesn’t require as much compensation for drop within 300m. It will have ~50% longer travel time, though. 

Lower damage output against vehicles makes this type of launcher more of a deterrent than a killer. 

For some reason, these launchers deal the same damage as Decimator to ANTs and Sunderers. 

One lock-on rocket deals about 43% of ESF’s health. 

Empire-speicifc Ground-to-Ground

Despite looking different, these launchers function exactly the same between factions.

M9 SKEP Launcher

AF-22 Crow

Hades VHS-4

These launchers can lock-on to enemy ground vehicles, but they can still be dumbfired. This version is much less popular than G2A launcher. 

At close range, dedicated dumbfire launchers are better, and at long range, G2G lock-ons are somewhat useless, as the target can easily drop the lock or dodge the rocket by moving into cover. It takes a lot of rockets to destroy most vehicles, and the target will have plenty of time to hide or run away before being destroyed. 

They have great accuracy and consistency at 200m+, but without sufficient firepower it just becomes a wasted effort. 

For some reason, these launchers deal the same damage as Decimator to ANTs and Sunderers. 

NS Annihilator

Can be used by all factions.

NS Annihilator cannot dumbfire, but it can lock to both ground and air vehicles. Annihilator can take slightly longer to establish a lock than faction-specific launchers, but it reloads slightly quicker while doing the same damage. It also should have increased agility against ground targets. 

The inability to dumbfire makes Annihilator a strictly medium+ range anti-vehicle launcher, and this can hardly be called “versatile”.

But Annihilator can still be a  good choice for a no-nonsense player. It simplifies decision-making. Vehicles? Pull out the launcher. Infantry or MAXes? Stay with a firearm. Removing the option to dumbfire against MAXes and infantry forces the player to rely on firearms, but it also removes the possibility to die pointlessly while equipping the launcher or miss the rocket.

Annihilator is probably the best launcher you could give to a complete FPS newbie.

NS-R3 Swarm

Can be used by all factions.

NS-R3 Swarm is a sidegrade to Annihilator. It too cannot dumbfire, and can lock on to both ground and air vehicles. Swarm is magazine-fed and carries a ton of ammunition, equal to 11 x Annihilator rockets.

It has fast and consistent lock-on time at all ranges, and a quick reload, though it is well compensated by low rate of fire – only one shot per second.

Swarm still has about ~11% higher raw DPS than Annihilator, but it requires you to maintain the lock for 2 seconds while firing 3 rockets, while the Annihilator is strictly fire-and-forget.

Swarm has two firemodes:

  • In default firemode, it fires fast, but not very agile rockets. They are great at quickly reaching a large or slow-moving vehicle, but can miss a more maneuverable target.
  • In secondary firemode, Swarm fires slow, but agile rockets. They are nearly guaranteed to hit, but they can take a long time to reach the target, and can potentially run into terrain or even be outrun by ESFs.

 Empire Specific Rocket Launchers

These rocket launchers embrace the traits of different factions: volume of fire for TR, precise and powerful punch for NC, adaptability and versatility for VS. These launchers are rather unique, and historically have been a hot topic for community, with constant calls for nerfs or buffs, and whole squads being organized to play around their strengths. Things have been calm and stable lately, though. 

All of these launchers are weak on their own, but – just like everything else – become noticeably stronger when used in greater numbers in coordianated squads.

They all have unique Damage Resist Types, so none of them can be directly compared to any other launcher.

T2 Striker

T2 Striker is a sustained-fire, magazine-fed rocket launcher. It dumbfires small, fast rockets both when hip firing and when looking through the scope. If a rocket passes within ~15m of an enemy aircraft, it will automatically snap lock-on to it.

Striker can be a great deterrence to aircraft when terrain and proximity interferes with traditional lock-ons, but it is surprisingly mediocre against armored ground vehicles. 

Striker’s velocity does not seem to follow the parameters in the Census API. Here are some results from in-game testing:

T2 Striker Average Velocity
Click to enlarge
T2 Striker Projectile Travel Time
Click to enlarge

Due to high velocity – more than twice as fast as default dumbfires – individual hits are easy to score, so the Striker can sustain fire on distant targets without any trouble.

Striker is a versatile launcher that can engage both air and ground targets, but noticeably lacks in alpha damage, and exposes the user while firing. Striker also requires skills of managing Cone of Fire and leading targets, so user error can reduce already low damage output. 

When dealing with distant targets, Cone of Fire becomes a real issue, but it can be reduced by crouching and / or staying still. 

Striker is one of the weapons that can do something about Galaxies, hovering at a flight ceiling about a base. It deals only minor damage, of course, but it’s something. 

Striker deals 106% of listed direct damage to MAXes. It takes  ~9 rockets to kill a full health MAX.

NC15 Phoenix

NC15 Phoenix

  • Phoenix fires a slow, but highly damaging TV-guided missile – damage is comparable to Decimator.
  • While the rocket is in flight, the player uses his first person camera to steer to rocket.
  • During that time, the player character is immobile, and vulnerable to enemy fire.
  • The rocket is slow, emits distinctive blue flames and a screeching sound effect, and can be shot down.
  • The reloading process only starts after the user stops steering the rocket.
  • The rocket can fly maximum 295m away from the user. Flying further will force a detonation. While steering the rocket, players can monitor the distance to their body in the upper right corner.
  • Phoenix cannot fire from the hip.

Phoenix users have accumulated a lot of tactical and mechanical quirks to help them:

In prolonged hunkered-down fights, dug-in NC will pull out the Phoenixes. You don’t need to coordinate with them. Pull yours out, and wait for them to fire theirs. Fire yours right away. You should be able to follow where the first NC rocket is going, and most Phoenix users know to do this trick of following the first rocket. It leads to coordinated spikes of damage without actually coordinating.

/u/CloaknDagger505

The Phoenix packs a serious punch and has the incredibly useful trait of not needing line of sight to engage. The best time I’ve found to use this weapon is in support of a friendly armor push: position yourself closely behind, out of enemy line of sight, and fire your Phoenix over cover towards the fight. Focus on an enemy that is being engaged by your allies. This technique is just brutal when you combine it with friendly Vanguards. They cause enemy tanks to seek cover, and you follow the burning tank into cover with your Phoenix and blow it up. You’ll want a vehicle of some sort so you can keep up with the friendly push, and keep the enemy in your range of 295 meters.

Solo Phoenix is amazing against inexperienced and distracted tanks from a flanking position, and can quickly kill even an MBT. Engaging veteran tanks that are not distracted will result in them killing, evading or outrepairing you, so its best to avoid.

Against aircraft, Phoenix can sometimes get good surprise alpha damage, but you won’t be able to reliably hit evading aircraft. Hovering Galaxies and Liberators are fairly easy to hit, if they are in range, however. The Phoenix is quite capable of hitting an unalerted cruising Harrasser, and is a reliable two shot kill. However, you won’t easily hit an evading Harrasser, especially if it is evading you personally.

Pressing the “Change Camera” key (default “T”) after the shot switches the first person rocket view to third person, allowing for a much wider Field of View, which really helps with finding and tracking targets.

Alternatively, you can press the “Hide HUD” key (default Ctrl + F10) after the shot to remove the scope overlay.

Unfortunately, in both cases you lose the distance tracking.

/u/SteveFrench2017

The rocket can be accelerated and decelerated for better control, same as an aircraft.

/u/Daetaur

You cannot fire the Phoenix while crouching, even when using crouch toggle. Firing the rocket will force you into standing once you enter the camera mode.

It’s something to keep in mind if want to avoid exposing yourself as sniper bait.

/u/M0XNIX

You can prematurely end the steering process by pressing the “Exit vehicle” key (default “E”). The rocket will continue flying, but with a heavy drop downwards. It will still deal damage if it hits something. You can use this technique to shave off a few milliseconds between shots by “exiting” the rocket when it is about to hit something. You can also use this to pseudo dumbfire the Phoenix at close range targets. 

If you have a fancy gaming mouse, it can be convenient to have a thumb button that would increase mouse’s sensitivity while steering the rocket, so you can easier make sharper turns. 

You can use the keyboard to steer the rocket. The rocket will respond to Aircraft Controls for Pitching Up and Down, and Rolling Left and Right. Arrow keys by default.

Phoenix one-shots Engineers’ MANA Turrets, and kills the Engineer in the process, unless they bail before impact. This is the main reason I use the Phoenix, because a well placed MANA Turret can pin down a whole squad.

/u/DammitBran

MAXes receive 50% increased direct damage from the Phoenix (one rocket deals 1125 damage – ~57% HP).

Lancer VS22

Lancer is not a traditional rocket launcher, it’s more of a charge up anti-materiel plasma rifle. Lancer’s battery holds 6 plasma cells. By default, Lancer fires weak bolts of plasma that deal minor damage and consume 1 plasma cell. But the user can hold down the trigger to fire more powerful bolts:

  • 1.5 sec charge – 2.5x damage – consumes 2 plasma cells
  • 3 sec charge – 5x damage – consumes 3 plasma cells
    • A fully charged shot deals damage comparable to a dumbfire launcher.
    • Deals ~same damage as the Decimator to ANTs and Sunderers.

Lancer has no projectile drop and pinpoint accurate while aiming down sights. It does have some damage drop off:

Lancer damage drop off
Click to enlarge

Charged shots have the same damage drop off.

Charged shots are more ammo-efficient, so normally Lancer is used in charged mode. Even then, Lancer has low ammo capacity for its damage output, so Munitions Pouch is almost a necessity, unless you are near a terminal.

It is a common tactic to charge the shot from the hip, and fire it in ADS mode. That way, you can move faster while charging.

There are several ways to cancel the charging process, should you need to:

  • switch to a sidearm
  • start reloading the Lancer
  • perform a quick knife attack
  • press “Toggle Weapon Visibility” key (default “Ctrl + F11”)

Due to highest in class projectile velocity, Lancer is very easy to use at range. It can even be used to snipe ESFs. Low scope magnification can be a nuisance at extreme ranges, though. 

More than any other ESRL, Lancer is known for being used en-masse in organized squads:

Lancers are amazing in groups of 2+ squads, you can delete anything in render distance immediately. It’s disgusting. The trick is to have a single person call out targets, have everyone begin charging, then fire on the target at the same time. Charge the first shot, but subsequent shots should be immediate. The goal is to not give the pilot any reaction time. You should have an AA max, AA sundie, or 2 heavies with AA lockons as a deterrent.

In a coordinated VS squad, there is absolutely no reason to ever pull a vehicle to fight enemy vehicles, it wastes nanites and takes more time. 

/u/xxkid123

With Lancer, VS heavies can engage any vehicle on the battlefield at basically any range. The charge feature lets you choose how to distribute the damage. Instead of always charging (which does yield the highest percentage of damage), use the appropriate charge for the situation:

  • Two fully charged shots take 3 * 2 = 6 seconds to empty a battery and will deal 10x damage. The enemy pilot will have 3 seconds between shots to react to incoming damage.
  • Alternatively, you can start with one fully charged shot, then follow up with a lvl 2 charged shot, and then finish with an uncharged shot. It will take 3 + 1.5 + 0.3 = 4.8 seconds, giving the enemy only 1.8 seconds to react and dealing 8.5x damage.
  • Or you could just magdump uncharged shots, dealing 6x damage over 1.5 seconds.

The key to the Lancer is to focus fire on targets that are already being engaged. Since you can choose how to distribute the damage, you often can easily steal the kill. For this, I like to use Flashes to get in flanking positions of big tank battles.

Don’t try to solo a veteran tank crew, unless they are already engaged or otherwise distracted. If they can’t kill you, they will just disengage or outrepair your damage.

The Lancer shines against light vehicles. Once you get enough practice, hitting a cruising harasser is pretty easy. Hitting an evading harasser is harder, but still doable. A single skilled lancer user can be a serious threat to any harasser crew. Two fully charged hits will only set a Harasser on fire, but usually they will have already sustained some damage, and will die to two charged shots.

Lancer is great for sniping MAXes – they take 9x damage to kill, and MAX Flak Armor doesn’t help against Lancer. However, Lancer is horrible against infantry and MAXes at close range. Its lack of burst damage makes it useless on the front lines.

/u/SteveFrench2017

MAXes receive 50% increased direct damage from the Lancer (one fully charged shot deals up to 1125 damage – ~57% HP).

Other Launchers

NSX Masamune

NSX Masamune is a quad-barrel rocket launcher, and a part of the unique Nanite Systems Exports weapons lineup. It has some interesting mechanics. 

In hip fire mode, it fires all barrels at the same time like a shotgun. Crouching and staying still will increase hip fire accuracy. 

In ADS mode, it fires all rockets one by one over 0.75 seconds. The player can use the scope to steer the rockets, similarly to Engineer’s AV Mana Turret

Rockets do not follow the crosshair exactly. They start flying noticeably below the crosshair, so usually you have to aim above the target for rockets to hit. 

When leading a moving target, it is batter to overlead and then drag  rockets backwards, rather than trying to drag rockets forwards. Overleading fast moving targets may require an extreme body turn, though.

Rockets accelerate much slower in ADS mode.

After a shot in either mode, there is a 0.75 second delay before you can start sprinting or reloading the Masamune, which can make it punishing in close range scenarios. 

Masamune always fires and reloads all 4 barrels, so it can be treated as a pseudo single shot launcher.

Keep in mind that you are exposed and vulnerable while steering the rockets, and you are not reloading while doing so. 

Masamune also has reduced ADS Movement Speed Multiplier – you can only move at 1/3rd of your normal movement speed while ADSing.

Masamune can be hard to use properly, but it’s a powerful and versatile launcher, capable of close range MAX takedowns, accurate long-range hits on ground vehicles, and effective air deterrence out to medium range.

It is especially great against Galaxies – one full salvo deals about ~31% of its health.

Masamune is also arguably the best launcher for anti-infantry purposes, both at close range and in general:

  • Only 2 out of 4 rockets need to hit to kill a standard infantry target.
  • Always deals full splash damage, regardless of rocket flight distance.
  • Huge and easy to hit alpha damage.
  • Beyond hip fire range, still works great by guiding rockets into infantry.

The biggest argument against Masamune as “rocket primary” is super long sprint override after firing. It doesn’t get much better at range, where a combination of low ADS movespeed modifier and user exposure during guiding can be too much.

Masamune can do a lot more than most launchers, but it can’t do everything. For example, it is not so great against ESFs – one salvo deals about 75% of its health, but they are much harder to hit.  

It also takes a lot of skill to use at range, and can often deliver lower than optimal performance.

Tips and Tactics

Quickscoping

When engaging enemy vehicles at “medium range” of 50-100m, it’s a common tactic to “quickscope” a rocket launcher. You use your hip fire crosshair to aim, then start Aiming Down Sights and fire the rocket during Aiming Down Sights animation, before you actually see Iron Sights align.

For rocket launchers, it takes 0.35 seconds to transition to Iron Sights, but only ~0.15 seconds for Cone of Fire to shrink to ADS state. 

So as long as you fire ~0.15 seconds after you pressed the ADS key, your shot will have the same accuracy.

The point of this tactic is to be more efficient with your time, and spend less time being exposed while aiming. Staying still at the moment of the shot will increase accuracy as well.

Ballistic Crosshair Overlay

Hitting distant targets requires compensating for projectile drop, which can be tricky to do, since iron sights will be obscuring the target. While massive amounts of practice can help, there are a couple of completely legal tricks you can employ.

Ballistic Crosshair Screenshot

If you use RTST Crosshair Overlay, you can use these ballistic crosshairs:

Starting Launchers NS Decimator G2A Lockon G2G Lockon
Link Link Link Link
Demo (350m) Demo (330m)    
Download link to a .zip archive with all 4 crosshairs

 

Enable “Centered image” option.

There are 4 red bars, each serves as a crosshair for 100m, 200m, 300m and 400m. These crosshairs are scaled based on 1920 x 1080 resolution and 74 degree Vertical FoV. If you play at a different resolution or FoV, you will have to scale the crosshairs accordingly. 

At 100m+, rockets have so much drop that your target will be obscured by iron sights. You can avoid this by hiding your weapon model, default Ctrl + F11. Obviously, it helps to rebind it to something more convenient. You cannot shoot while the model is hidden, so you will need some quick finger work. 

You can bind Toggle Weapon Visibility in-game and Toggle Crosshair Overlay in RTST to the same keybind, and then you will be able to toggle between aiming and firing with one button. You will need a secondary keybind for Toggle Weapon Visibility so you can synchronize these things when you first log in. 

If you have a gaming mouse, you could create a macro for a thumb mouse button that would hide the weapon while you’re holding the button, and show it when you release the button. Effectively, you would have a “hold to hide weapon for aiming” key. You could also rig that macro to fire as soon as the weapon is shown. 

Rocket Jousting

It is  a common tactic for a Heavy Assault to turn the corner with a Rocket Launcher ready and surprise the enemy with a point blank rocket shot. This tactic is especially effective due to Internet Delay advantage.

There are a couple of ways you can improve this trick:

  1. Firing the rocket while jumping will allow you to preserve sprint-level speed.
  2. If you activate overshield after your feet leave the ground, you can also gain overshield’s protection from enemy fire and your own splash damage without receiving movement speed penalty until you land.
  3. If you deactivate overshield before your feet touch the ground, you will not suffer overshield’s penalty at all. 
  4. Immediately after the rocket shot, you can switch to something else, like a sidearm, med kit or even C4, depending on what you want to do next. Switching to LMG is usually a bad idea, as it will take much longer. 

Video demonstration.

Naturally, these improvements require some quick finger work, and require a lot of skill to pull off in combat scenarios. But it is deadly effective against infantry and MAXes, and allows to do a ton of damage while still being very mobile.

C4 Combo

C4 makes a great combination with dumbfire-capable Rocket Launchers when it’s possible to sneak up on an enemy vehicle. It is a common tactic to deploy C4 on the enemy tank, and then detonate it with rocket’s splash damage to save time. Make sure to not hit the C4 directly, or the rocket will not deal damage to the vehicle. 

Lock-on Bushwacking

Vehicles have lost Thermal Optics and can no longer easily detect infantry, so it can be a great tactic to hide in a bush and fire lock-ons from a concealed position, especially against damaged vehicles that have already spent their counter-measures.

Credits

This guide wouldn’t be possible without generous contributions of other community members that have answered my call for help with this guide. Every response in this thread is appreciated. Especially helpful people: 

PlanetSide 2 Stalker Infiltrator Guide

Stalker Infiltrator Guide

In this guide you will find color-coded references to other guides and materials: 

Grey italic text with an orange border on the left are quotes by CuteBeaver, an expert Stalker and PlanetSide 2 veteran.

Subclass Overview

Stalker Infiltrators use Stalker Cloaking ability, which can recharge energy even when cloaked, as long as the user remains stationary, and at the cost of giving up the primary weapon slot.

Some people call Stalkers weak and underpowered to the point of being a joke. Other people consider the whole concept of permanent cloaking to be annoying and obnoxious, nearly in a broken state.

Both groups have reasons to their opinions. I think Stalkers are balanced in infantry combat, but unfortunately limited against vehicles, and almost entirely separated from the vehicle play, as vehicles can’t do anything about Stalkers either. But you still can impact the combined arms aspect by hacking turrets to attack enemy vehicles, and hacking terminals to pull vehicles of your own. 

Playing Stalker Infiltrator can be both exhilarating and fun, and extremely frustrating. It’s certainly not for everyone. For best results, it requires:

  • Experience and intelligence, in order to outsmart and outplay your opponents. 
  • Mechanical execution, such as quick reflexes and the ability to press a lot of buttons  in correct order and short amount of time.

A competent Stalker player needs to be able to switch gears from careful planning and sneaking to adrenaline rushed execution in a heartbeat, and its the contrast that makes Stalker so enjoyable.

Equipment

Lack of access to primary weapons limits Stalker’s options in face-to-face combat, but the rest of their kit is well suited to sabotage and diversion, and the firepower of secondary weapons is generally enough to pull off an ambush. 

Secondary Weapon

Hunter QCX

Hunter QCX Crossbow is a very strong option for Stalkers. Its sheer power and versatility cannot be overstated. The crossbow is especially great for EMP ambushes, as it’s the only sidearm capable of killing EMP’d enemies in just one body shot.

However, it is a unique weapon and can be difficult to use properly. The best weapon is always the weapon you are most effective with, and you should feel free to use any weapon you like.

Stalkers should be able to start an engagement on their terms, and that makes any sidearm viable, as long as you adjust your playstyle to its strengths and weaknesses.

Primary weapons typically have faster time to kill and larger magazines, which allows them to deal more damage before having to reload.

They can afford to miss, or spray everything that moves. You cannot. If they get caught in a reload, they can switch to their secondary. You cannot.

Since as a Stalker Infiltrator you are using a weaker secondary weapon, not only must you fire first, but you also want to stack extra advantages.

Your weapon is up to the task of killing enemies, but you need to have a good sense of timing and work harder for your kills.

Excelling with a secondary weapon is a requirement for Stalkers. Ideally, you should find a weapon that works best for you. This is going to come down to your own playstyle and personal skills.

I could recommend you to use the crossbow, but that may not be a good fit for you. Try out all sidearms in VR Training. Follow your instincts. If you fall in love with a weapon – do not put it down. Use the weapon that you enjoy the most.

Before unlocking the weapon, use the 30 minute trial button below the “unlock” button, and test the weapon against live enemies.

Keep in mind that you cannot trial attachments, specifically the reflex sights that would make it easier to get a Headshot Opener. Once you have a grasp on which weapon you like the most, look up facts about the weapon. Know its effective range, how many headshots it takes to drop a target.

Learn to push your weapons to its limits. Tailor your loadout to complement your weapon, and player skills. Do your best to make up for any shortcomings you discover.

When I started using my crossbow, everyone told me it was a garbage secondary weapon and that I should stop. However, if you are passionate about your weapon you are going to find ways to make it work. Fast forward years later… Having a crossbow (to me) feels more powerful than holding an SMG. It was a hell of a learning curve to get to this point, however.

Do not expect instant success, it will take time to develop confidence in your weapon. Never hesitate to try new combinations, and push the meta forward. Be open to other suggestions, but recognize that opinions of other people may not work for you specifically.

Failure and mistakes are just part of the learning process. Each death teaches you something new.

What makes infiltrators great is the depth and variation between playstyles. We don’t think or operate the same. You will never find two identical infiltrators.

Tool

Motion Spotters have great synergy with Stalkers, and they should be your default choice:

  • As a stalker, you can cover limited distance before you have to stop and let cloak energy recharge, so in a sense you are tethered to a certain area of operations, and the Motion Spotter gives you intel on moving enemies in that area. 
  • Motion Spotters can be used as bait.
  • Having real-time information on enemy movement and facing direction at close range can increase the success rate of your ambushes.
  • Stalkers tend to take more time to accomplish things, and Motion Spotters have much longer overall uptime than Recon Darts.

Recon Device is not entirely without use. It can be great for Perching and in any ranged loadout in general. Recon Darts tend to attract enemy attention to a certain area without giving away your real position, giving you the opportunity to take out enemies with your ranged sidearm, when they come to investigate.

Ability: Stalker Cloaking

Unlock Cost, certs Free 100 200 500 1000
Cloak Duration, sec 12 13 14 15 16
Recharge while Cloaked and Stationary, sec 14 13 12 11 10
Recharge while Uncloaked, sec 10

 

You’re granted the first rank of the ability for free, and it is enough to give Stalker a try, but for comfortable and effective play, it is strongly recommended to max out this ability, if you’re serious about playing Stalker. Upgrading significantly reduces the downtime when trying to get from point A to point B. 

Stalker cloak is the stealthiest cloak in PlanetSide 2. It allows you to get into position and remain undetected until the perfect moment. This makes killing possible and viable even without a primary weapon, and provides invaluable tactical advantages in teamplay setting, helping to keep your squad alive and on point. 

Cloaking sound is the single worst drawback when it comes to stealth play. Cloaking is so loud it can be heard roughly 300 meters away.

Other types of cloak cannot remain concealed for long periods of time. Only Stalker Cloak gives you control as to exactly when you wish cloak and uncloak. This allows for a better timing and pacing between decloak sounds, adding additional ambiguity to your last known position.

When sneaking up behind enemies from extended distance, other cloak types often force their user to choose between two bad options:

1) Cloak and decloak several times along the way, but that would make too much noise, which is generally not helpful when flanking.

2) Try to avoid making noise, and don’t use the cloak at all, but then risk being seen.

Stalker Cloaking doesn’t force the user to make that choice, and can keep you cloaked the whole way.

You cannot recharge your personal shields and benefit from healing affects while cloaked. As a Stalker you can mitigate this drawback by finding safe spots to hide and heal yourself.

Passive System: Hacking

Stalkers make the best Hackers due to their mobility and ambush potential. 

Suit Slot

Your Suit Slot choice will mostly depend on your playstyle and other equipment choice.

Adrenaline Pump has great synergy with Stalker Infiltrator, as it increases the distance you can cover while cloaked before you have to sit down and recharge. It is also very favorable for melee combat, so you can chase enemies better, and close the distance during melee combat. 

Ammo Belt – in contrast, if you wish to keep your distance and kill enemies with your Sidearm, you’re likely to quickly run out of ammo, unless you’re using Inquisitor. NS sidearms, including the Crossbow, also tend to have plenty of reserve ammo.

Grenade Bandoleer – since you have to sacrifice your primary weapon slot, it does make sense to compensate and increase your total carried firepower with extra grenades or throwing knives.

You can use other suit slots if you wish, but these three are the most powerful, depending on what you want to focus on: melee kills, sidearm kills or overall impact. Honorable mention: 

Nanoweave Armor can be useful for aggressive close quarters playstyles, though it is a crutch more than anything else, and you should learn to operate without it, once you’re more comfortable with the Stalker.

Grenade

EMP grenade should be the default choice for Stalkers, especially when not using Bandoleer. In addition to its unrivaled utility of clearing off enemy Motion Spotters and other deployables, it can be a great equalizer for your weapons. Notably, Crossbow and melee weapons need only 1 hit on a fully EMP’d target to kill. 

Frag Grenades are generally not worth using, with the exception of using Bandoleer in overpopulated fights, where you can flank a choke point packed with enemies, and bombard their position with Frags

NSX Fujin throwing knife isn’t as versatile as EMPs, but its ability to OHK on a headshot shouldn’t be dismissed casually. It’s not easy to use, but gives you an extra tool for quick and silent kills.

Utility

Med Kits are a great choice for farming melee or sidearm kills, and sustaining you in the field if you choose not to run Regeneration Implant.

Due to instant healing, Med Kits can be great at helping you escape if you get caught. This property can be especially helpful when running a specialized short range weapon, like Mag-Scatter, so that if someone does spots you while moving to engage, you can eat Med Kits and escape. Since the Mag Scatter is a very specialized short range weapon, it doesn’t allow you to return fire in most cases, and running becomes the only option.

If movement and being killed on route is a problem for you, then do equip medkits until you become more comfortable with bases and know good pathways and hiding spots. Its a good crutch to use while learning layouts or even getting familiar with your weapon.

Anti-Personnel Mines will increase your potential impact. This is where faction choice will matter.

VS Proximity Mines and NC Bouncing Betties deal AOE damage around them, they often wound, but rarely kill a full health enemy, so they are great at finishing off fleeing enemies or against groups of players, if you can sneak up on them. 

TR Claymores deal lethal damage in 90 degree cone in 2m in front of them. They don’t often get to do damage, but when they do – they usually kill. They can be useful in protecting your flanks and doorways. 

Melee

Melee weapons are great for ambushing, because they:

  • Bypass nanoweave and in most cases can kill faster than most sidearms.
  • Frontload a lot of damage.
  • More silent than firearms.

Stalkers often can safely close distance with the enemy, making them the premiere class for killing enemies with melee, with Light Assault being a distant second. Any enterprising Stalker should learn how to use melee weapons properly.

Standard Knife versus Power Knife

Standard knives are a good starting point, because they are faster and easier to hit things with. 

However, ultimately, Power Knives are just better, especially after you get the hang of proper melee-ing. The ability to instantly kill any enemy, including a shielded Heavy Assault (on a headshot), cannot be overstated.

But they are noticeably harder to use:

  • You need to manually activate it, which can be tough if you’re trying to: sprint up, decloak, equip the knife, activate it, strike – all at the same time.
  • Longer delay between swings. You really need to hit that first swing, and it’s harder to do. 

Despite the added difficulty, power knives are well worth using, and you should transition to a power knife when you have enough experience and certs.

Implant

The implant system has received a big overhaul recently, and for now stalkers are left without particularly impactful choices. The situation will improve once current implants are polished, and new implants are released.

Recommended Implants

Regeneration is great way to sustain yourself in the field, if you’re not using Med Kits.

Ammo Printer is perfect for Stalkers, as it allows to replenish Motion Spotters and Sidearm ammunition in the field. This is great for loadouts that rely on getting kills with sidearms, especially non-NS sidearms, as they usually have little reserve ammo. 

Of course, Ammo Printer is only useful if you actually live long enough to need that extra ammunition. And now that you can restore ammunition from Ammo Packs while cloaked, including enemy Ammo Packs, the Ammo Printer is far from mandatory.

It is great for perching playstyle, and allows to not use Ammo Belt and still have lots of sidearm ammo.

Honorable mentions

Catlike is an interesting choice. It increases your crouch speed, which has many obvious benefits for a Stalker, and at maximum rank, it will also increase your jump height, significantly improving your parkour capabilities.

Unfortunately, there is a great negative side effect that motion detection tools will see you even if you crouch walk. This should eventually get addressed, and at that time Catlike is likely to become a mandatory stalker implant. 

Target Focus

Target Focus can help identify targets and focus on wounded enemies. Just be very careful about spotting enemies yourself, and remember that displayed health bar doesn’t take shields into account. 

EOD HUD Implant

Sweeper HUD can be a useful slot filler to warn you about mines that enemies might have left to protect their flanks. 

Safe Landing may be required to perform some of the crazier Parkour maneuvers, though CuteBeaver doesn’t use it.

Vampire looks attractive on the first glance, but it involves a lot of risk to benefit from, and it needs to be upgraded to the maximum rank, which can get expensive. For most stalkers, it is likely to be inferior to Regeneration, as you should try and be at full health before an ambush.

 

Basic Rules

Allies don’t give a damn about you. While you are crouching in deep cloak, they will use you for cover, attract enemy attention and bullets to you. When you go in for a melee kill, they will shoot your target and you too. Don’t be mad at them – you can’t expect others to bend to your playstyle. Just keep a safe distance.

Use your allies as a distraction. An enemy is easier to kill while he’s busy shooting your ally. Or busy getting shot by your ally. Or busy cowering in cover after getting shot by your ally. You get the idea. Despite often being a liability, your allies are your best asset in getting good ambushes.

90% of players have terrible awareness. Vast majority of players will ignore it when you decloak behind their back with a roaring power knife. They won’t care when you slice the throat of their nearby friend, unless it happens in their direct line of sight.

They will not notice you if you sprint cloak in their field of vision, unless you’re very close. They will ignore the minimap. Sometimes they will not even react when you decloak behind their back and stab them, and just keep going about their business like nothing happened.

You are never invisible. In contrast with previous point, the remaining ~10% of players will pay attention, and they will see you through cloak and react to minimap and sound cues. In some exceptional cases, producing even one cloaking sound, or even one minimap blip can give enough information to someone to go and hound you.

Check your surrounding before decloaking to engage. Just take a quick look around and make sure nobody is looking in your direction, especially from your back and sides. Stalkers in deep cloak are not immediately punished for bad positioning, and it is up to you to make sure you’re safe to engage.

Enemy awareness and reaction speed fades as distance to the front lines increases. The further behind enemy lines you go, the more relaxed enemies will be, but there will be fewer things to distract them as well.

Have a moral code. Have mercy on the experience of your fellow players – even if they play for a different faction. Ultimately, we’re all people here, and we all play to have fun. As a stalker, you are inherently a bit cheap and cheesy. There is no need to slump into pits of absolutely terrible gameplay, like camping or mining spawns and terminals. 

You are not versatile. Some bases and some fights just don’t favor Stalker Infiltrator. If the fight is overcrowded, sneaking around and ambushing lone, weakened targets becomes increasingly difficult.  Indar and Esamir in particular can be very frustrating. Be ready to adjust your loadout, switch classes, or even leave the fight altogether.

General Strategy

Stalker Infiltrators are all about balancing Risk versus Reward.

Low risk – low reward. Sitting in deep cloak away from combat is very safe, but you will never accomplish anything if that’s all you do.

High risk – high reward. Sprint cloaking into a pack of enemies with a Power Knife will get you killed most of the time, but there is a small chance you’d be able to cut them all down and survive. 

Naturally, you want to minimize the risk and maximize the reward. The best part about Stalker Infiltrator is potentially infinite cloak energy, which means potentially infinite time.

Playing stalker is all about finding or creating moments of opportunity that let you minimize the risk and maximize the reward. 

Movement

Before you proceed, make sure to go through the description of Cloaking and Concepts of Stealth.

The general goal of your movement is to put you in a position that:

Gives you an opportunity to attack enemies from a direction they don’t expect an attack from. In broad terms, this is any direction that is not “towards the front lines”. 

Players often consider the direction to their spawn the safest. And indeed, attacking from the spawn direction is usually a bad idea, because you risk getting engaged in the back by approaching enemy reinforcements. 

But if you keep your ambushes short, and have a good escape route, it can be a viable option. 

Gives you an escape route to restealth. Preferably, several to choose from. You have limited firepower, you can’t stand your ground like a Heavy Assault could. You need to restealth between engagements and strike when the enemy is weak, at the moment of your choosing.

Distractions make movement easier and safer. Anything can be a distraction – explosions, your allies drawing fire – they all attract enemy attention to a specific direction.

In this video, I used the burning Sunderer to cover my attack, and then used a traffic accident to cross open space.  Drivers were focused on getting untangled, and if other enemies glanced back – they would be focused on the accident and not me.

Deep Cloak

If the enemy doesn’t know about you, sitting in deep cloak makes you effectively invisible, unless the enemy is basically bumping into you.

But if the enemy knows for a fact that a cloaked infiltrator is in a certain area, it’s only a matter of time before you are found and killed. In some lighting and background conditions, you may be seen as far as ~10m away.

While you’re sitting still, your character will still make idle animations, like breathing and slightly waving his weapon around. To stay almost completely still you can Aim Down Sights.

Known bug: sometimes player’s head or weapon’s magazine has a different cloaking state than body. To prevent from being affected by this bug, do not sit still in Deep Cloak for too long, make tiny crouchwalking steps from time to time.

Crouch Walking

Crouch walking is almost always completely safe, unless an enemy is staring in your direction at close range. When in doubt – crouch walk. In general, crouchwalking is very underused. All infiltrators should crouchwalk more.

Motion Spotters’ detection is speed-based, so jumping or even crouch walking up/down a slope can get you detected. To prevent this, you can crouch walk sideways or backwards, and that should keep you off the minimap, unless you slide.

Cloak Sprinting

But even as a Stalker, nothing is stopping you from hauling ass when the time is right. You don’t need to move slowly all the time. Sometimes its preferable to move quickly and reposition and use cover for your escape, or seize the initiative and attack.

It is not time-efficient to slowly and patiently crouch walk on every enemy, and most enemies will not stay in one place for so long anyway. There is also an overall time limit on any given battle, and if you go too slowly, you risk never having a chance to accomplish anything before the battle is over.

So you will have to cut corners and sprint cloak, sometimes even through enemy’s field of vision – but only do that if they are clearly distracted by something else. There is no punishment for death in PlanetSide 2, so let the enemy teach you what is acceptable, and what isn’t.

Respect Motion Spotters, and try to clear them with EMP grenade or a weapon before sprinting through the area. 

When moving to engage, be wary of your cloak energy. If it runs out shortly before you press the ability key to decloak, it may actually recloak you instead, fumbling your attack.

Sprint cloaking is less visible:

  • In the darkness of the night.
  • Against bright snow, sand and sky.

Be careful when approaching corners, there is always a risk of running into a face of a Heavy Assault, even if the area seems clear. A generous use of Motion Spotters is often enough to mitigate that risk.

Maximum distance you can cover while cloaked can be calculated, because we know infantry movement speed and cloak duration. For maximum rank of the ability, it is roughly 100m. 

Field of Vision

In real life, humans have about ~180 degree field of vision. But common gaming monitors are much smaller, and do not span the entire field of vision, so in game characters will not be able to see what happens at their sides. 

It is possible to increase in-game Field of Vision past 74 degrees of Vertical FoV, but almost nobody does that. In vast majority of cases, you can expect enemies to not  notice what happens to their sides. 

Countering Darklight Flashlights

Keeping off the ground and out of predictable locations is often enough to keep you safe. Hiding at an elevated position, like on top of a rock or a shelf, will fool a lot of Darklight users, who are not going to go to super great lengths to find you.

Another method is to get outside. Its easy to search a tiny room, much harder to search a forest.

You can consider killing the Darklight user. However that isn’t always an option in crowded fights. It’s usually better to find a way to avoid the beam and re-position. Once enemies finish their sweep and think they are safe, it can be profitable to double back and take advantage of their relaxed attitudes. Do try and remember the player who pulled it out though. There is something incredibly rewarding about killing them after they cause you such trouble.

Darklight effect has a short range of ~11m, so if all else fails – just keep your distance.

Parkour

Stalker Infiltrator heavily relies on flanking, but unlike the Light Assault, you don’t have any extra mobility, besides the ability to safely move in enemy field of view.

You will have to creatively use your environment in order to freely move around. It is strongly recommended to watch CuteBeaver’s Parkour videos and study her Parkour Guide.

Videos

Vulnerable Targets

Targets of Passing Opportunity

They are vulnerable for the moment, but you don’t have much time to decide whether you want to engage or not. Roughly ranked from safest to engage to most dangerous:

  • An enemy that is running away and being shot by your allies. If you’re not greedy for the kill, and the enemy has nowhere to go, you may choose not to engage at all. 
  • An enemy that is standing on top of an explosive that you can detonate with bullets or EMP.
  • An enemy that has lost his shields to enemy fire or EMP grenade.
    • An enemy that was wounded a few seconds ego, and his shields have just started regenerating. You can tell by a shimmer pulse over his body.
  • A cloaked infiltrator.
  • An enemy that is occupied with reloading or using a tool.
    • Heavy Assaults using Anti Air rocket launchers are usually less aware and wiggly than Anti Tank launcher users. – CuteBeaver
  • An enemy that is tunnel visioning and ADS shooting at someone else. 
  • An enemy that is sitting in cover and getting ready to engage someone else.
  • An enemy that is aware of you, and actively looking for you, but in the wrong place.

Engaging a target of opportunity almost guarantees success in killing that target, but you will have limited time to act, so you can’t be picky about engaging in perfect conditions.

For example, you may not be able to close the distance for your weapon, or ensure that you have a safe escape route, or even do a quick look around to make sure you’re safe to decloak and there is no random enemy behind your back.

Sprinting enemies deserve a special hierarchy:

  • An enemy that is sprinting below you.
  • An enemy that is sprinting away from you.
  • An enemy that is sprinting perpendicular to you.
  • An enemy that is sprinting towards you.

Sprinting puts at least a 0.3 second delay before the enemy can deal damage to you, and that can be enough for you to deal enough damage to make the engagement swing into your favor. Especially if you engage from behind or from above, that will significantly increase enemy’s reaction time. 

Another honorable mention:

  • An enemy is far away, and you have lots of space and cover to maneuver around.

This situation makes it highly unlikely that anyone will come looking for you, and even if they do – they will probably not find you, because you will have crouchwalked away and hidden in deep cloak in plain field. 

So you can attempt engagement for days. However, you are unlikely to actually kill the enemy, unless he’s already very wounded or you’re using Hunter Crossbow or the Blackhand.

Videos

Vulnerable targets

Other vulnerable targets include:

  • Engineers behind turrets
  • Hillside snipers
  • Groups of medics near a choke point, they keep healing and reviving each other, but only a few of them are actually ready to defend themselves.
    • You have to kill every single medic, or you hard work will be for naught.
    • When going for a medic ball, it’s usually a great idea to cover them all with an EMP first.

Group Psychology

It is often easier to sneak up on a group of enemies, because people feel safer in a group, and they often assume that others are watching their back, when in reality they all tunnel vision in the same direction. Others might not even react if you kill one of them, as long as they don’t see you.

Movement is also easier in general, since they don’t assume you’re nearby.

Competency Display

Sometimes, you can immediately identify an enemy as more dangerous by his behavior. A skilled, experienced player will almost never stand still. For example, a medic that is actively moving around while reviving is more likely to react to your ambush.

Rules of Engagement

Once again, you’ll be managing risk vs reward, and what type of kills you’re going for. But one rule will always remain: fire first or don’t fire at all.

Never engage from a direction that enemies already expect danger from. If the enemy is already looking your way with a weapon ready to shoot someone, decloaking in his field of view equals getting shot instantly.

Spotting and Voice Callouts

Stalkers and all stealthy players need to be very careful about spotting, because it gives away your position, and can and will attract enemy attention to your position. In case of spotting, better to be safe than sorry, and not to spot enemies unless you’re in the middle of a bunch of allies or the enemy already knows your position.

You can purposefully give away your position to an enemy by spotting, and then rapidly move away and ambush him if he comes to investigate.

You can manipulate enemies by using in-game voice callouts.  Bait enemies out of turrets without hacking them. Entice a medic to come to your location and stab them silly. Ask for ammo from enemy engineers. Spotting can also work. Just be careful about how often you give away your position.

Melee

There are several ways you can use a knife as a stalker, and each way has certain advantages and disadvantages. 

Crossbow Melee Combo

A combination of Crossbow body shot and a quick knife attack nearly instantly kills any enemy, even through full nanoweave, with the exception of shielded Heavy Assaults.

This was the main way of engaging in melee until the melee weapons were buffed some time ago.

When to use

Crossbow Combo is great in two cases:

  • Against lone stationary enemies.
  • Interception combo against oncoming enemies, when you can crouch still in deep cloak, let the enemy come to you, and decloak and melee combo as they run by you, or even through you. Flawless timing is required.
  • Against targets that need to be killed quickly.

When done properly, crossbow combo is very quick, you spend very little time engaging the enemy. You pop out for a moment, kill, and then escape in cloak before anyone realizes what happened. It also denies the enemy a chance to do significant damage to you. 

Crossbow combo is very bad against shielded Heavy Assaults, but if you catch an oblivious HA without active overshield, you can potentially kill them before they have a chance to activate the overshield.

Another example where kill speed is the key: a vehicle pilot, repairing his nearby vehicle. If you fail to kill him instantly, he will just enter his vehicle, making him unreachable, and putting you in jeopardy.

When going for a Crossbow Combo, you’re still holding a ranged weapon in your hands, and you can respond to different threats should they arise. When you’re EMP breaching a room, you can bolt one enemy, and quick knife another one with minimal delay, and the first enemy can be at range. Or you can bolt + knife a full health enemy that somehow avoided the EMP.

Clunky and Punishing

While crossbow combo is very lethal, it is also easy to mess up. Missing the crossbow shot or the knife swing is extremely punishing, as there will be a 0.95+ second delay before you can do another quick knife swing or ~1.5 seconds before your Crossbow is ready to fire again.

There is also a 0.3 second Sprint Recovery delay before you can shoot the crossbow out of sprint, so the crossbow combo isn’t very good for chasing, and due to long delay between combos, it’s not great for engaging multiple enemies at once. 

Avoid trying to melee combo moving enemies, especially if they’re not moving in a straight line. There’s a very high chance you’ll mess up the combo and die.

Trying to melee combo skilled Heavy Assaults is also futile, unless they are wounded and distracted.

Melee Combo with another sidearm

Melee finishers after a few sidearm shots are great, because they conserve ammunition and reduce Time-to-Kill. However, in most cases, you shouldn’t intentionally go for a sidearm melee combo:

  • If you can sneak up into melee range, wielding the knife is usually better.
  • If you can’t sneak up close and forced to engage at range, it’s usually better to just shoot the guy to death.

Use sidearm melee combo when you are already engaging the enemy with a sidearm at close range, and you and the enemy close the distance, and you feel that enemy will die from a melee strike. 

Once again, avoid trying to melee combo Heavy Assaults, because it’s very hard to predict when the knife strike will be lethal against them.

Wielded Melee

Besides farming melee kills, there are several legitimate reasons to use wielded melee as a stalker:

  • Frontloads a lot of damage.
  • Can be used out of sprint.
  • Surprises the enemy – very few people use melee. 
  • Less noisy than a firearm
  • Conserves ammunition and doesn’t run out of ammo itself. You can potentially cut more people that you would be able to kill with any sidearm. 
  • Can be surprisingly effective against shielded Heavy Assaults at close range, if you can hit headshot strikes. 
  • Looks cool and feels exhilarating.

The first two bolded points are the main advantages, and they let you play on Internet Delay. Basically, you may round the corner and stab an enemy in the eye before he gets a chance to see you.

This can be especially effective when you know there is an enemy behind cover, but you don’t have direct line of sight to kill him with a sidearm. Or when solo breaching small rooms with 1-2 enemies.

Engaging in melee is generally countered by simply moving around, so it’s preferable to engage enemies near a wall, perpendicular to that wall:

direction of melee attack example

This way, you ensure that at least the first enemy you engage will not be able to kite you, and in general it limits enemy options.

Wielding a standard knife

Wielding a standard knife and spamming attacks at the enemy can often kill them before they have a chance to react properly. It’s a bad habit, but it works.

Wielded knife damage is consistent and lethal, as it goes through nanoweave and kills standard enemies in just two strikes. An exceptions: enemies with Auxiliary Shield – usually newbies – will require 3 body strikes. 

To counter the potential Auxiliary Shield advantage, try to always score a headshot with the first strike. If the enemy is already wounded, you have a high chance of instantly killing them.

Heavy Assaults with NMG and Adrenaline overshield will be always killed in two headshots, but Resist Shield users may require an additional swing, if they started at full health.

0.4 second TTK against most targets and the ability to perform melee attacks out of sprint make wielding standard knives really powerful.

You never run out of ammo, so running into a crowd and just knifing left and right can be surprisingly effective. If you can score a good EMP grenade hit, any enemy will be killed in one body strike.

Wielding a power knife

If you have picked up the bad habit of randomly spamming the wielded knife in general direction of the enemy when you were using the standard knife, you will have to relearn, because misses are especially punishing with the power knife, and you should need only one swing anyway.

Power knives are also great at chasing enemies, you can sprint slam yourself into them when they stop for a moment, and swing out of sprint, nearly guaranteeing a kill. 

Interception melee charges can be effective – pull out the knife an advance and wait in deep cloak as the enemy approaches, then sprint at the enemy while decloaking and activating the knife and stab them in the face.

In contrast, trying to melee combo a running enemy, or trying to kill him with a wielded melee of a standard knife leads to completely unpredictable results.

A newbie might keep running like nothing happened, while a veteran may jump forward and do a 180 noscope instakill with a Commissioner, or just suddenly turn around. In that case, PS2 Movement Prediction is likely to screw with you, and it will look like enemy ran behind your back with far too much speed.

Power knives are louder and produce faction-specific noises, so you need to account for the attention you might draw from other aware enemies. You don’t have to activate the knife for every kill, though.

Disadvantages of Melee Engagements

Easier to fail. Cloak isn’t as effective up close, and for a melee engagement you have to close the distance each time. Enemy might turn around and see your approach. Or you may be noticed by someone else.

They make you tunnel vision as you approach the target, so you might miss other nearby enemies until it’s too late.

When they fail, they fail hard. Any engagement can sometimes go wrong. But a failed melee engagement leaves you very close to enemies without an effective way to engage. 

Being close to enemies is dangerous. You may be hit by friendly fire that was intended for the enemy.

Even if you kill the enemy you were going for, you may suddenly realize there are more enemies than you expected, and now you have no way to break contact.

You can’t control actions of allies and enemies, so you can never guarantee a perfect melee engage, regardless of your skill and equipment. Melee engagements are often more risky than they’re worth, and just because you can go melee doesn’t mean you should.

Sidearm

In general, you want to engage the same Vulnerable targets or Targets of Passing Opportunity. Your sidearm and attachment choice will have a heavy influence on what and how you can engage.

Keep your sidearm’s strengths and weaknesses in mind, and adjust your playstyle accordingly. 

Using a Suppressed sidearm or the Crossbow will make you more stealthy, and give you an option for a stealth engage: when you decloak from a deep cloak, but keep sitting still, and concentrate on shooting the enemy, while he is trying to figure out where he is getting shot from. Lack of a muzzle flash can make it challenging, and tracers don’t render very well at close range.

This engagement style is viable even with an unsuppressed sidearm, if you’re engaging from above or from behind, but naturally it will broadcast your position to nearby enemies, and you will have to rapidly move away and restealth after the kill.

Crossbow

More broad tips here.

Vanish Attack: At longer distances you will be unable to fire both crossbow bolts before a target can react to being hit, due to the low projectile speed. By the time the first bolt hits them and the second is airborne, the enemy will already have wiggled out of harms way.

Consider firing once, and then re-cloaking to fire your second shot later on. You can try predicting where the enemy will take cover. This happens a lot with heavies. Their shield goes up, they face the directional hit-markers… However since you cloaked they don’t see anything…. After a couple seconds they go about their business. Usually they drop their over-shield and that is your hint to fire the second shot.

Sniper Hunting: Stalker cloak is almost criminal for killing enemy snipers. You know where they will be, and they have to stand still while taking their shots. Aim for the juicy headshot instant kill.

EMP Combo: combined with EMPs, the Crossbow becomes exceptionally great at clearing rooms, as a single body shot will be lethal against any EMP’d enemy. You can potentially kill up to 4 people before having to reload, and it’s easier to do than with any other sidearm. As you need only one shot to kill, you can fire off a shot and immediately switch to another target, while any other sidearm would require you to focus on hitting several shots, and this could make you tunnel vision and lose awareness of other enemies and your surroundings. 

Crossbow allows you to quickly switch gears and focus on killing the next enemy in a high stress situation. This allows more time for planning and less tunnel vision. It also means less exposure when popping in and out of cover. 

Grenades

EMP grenades can have different effects on enemies:

  • Direct hit: drains ability energy of all classes, impairs vision, removes shields, deals a tiny amount of damage, enough to interrupt shield regeneration timer.
  • Partial hit: drains ability energy, drains shields and jumpstarts their regeneration, even if the target was damaged recently. EMP itself does not deal damage.
  • Hit behind cover: drains ability energy. 

EMP grenades are really inconsistent when dealing with partial hits and enemies behind cover, and it’s hard to predict which will happen.

Be mindful that EMPs have a detonation delay of ~1 second.

Normally, the detonation delay is a nuisance, but when using the Crossbow, you can take advantage of it. With proper timing, it is possible to “OHK” the enemy by shooting him with the Crossbow the exact instant the EMP detonates.

Tactical EMPs: EMPs make enemies much more vulnerable, and ensure that they will die from one crossbow bolt or a quick melee strike.

When there is an enemy on your tail, you can round a corner, and throw an EMP behind you, prepping the enemy for an easy counterattack kill. You may even EMP yourself for this. Kinda sloppy but it can help to recover from a bad situation.

EMPs are also great at making enemy mines work against them. Often one EMP thrown into enemy controlled building can result in a few kills from enemy AP mines.

Frag Grenades can also be used to clear enemy deployables, but it is noticeably harder than with EMPs.

AP Mines

Cover Your Tail: Drop mines to cover your tail, if an enemy is chasing you. Even if the mine won’t kill, it can weaken the enemy or convince him to stop chasing. 

Explosive Spotter: Use your Motion Spotter as a trap with mines. Corners work well for this, as they force enemies to move around the wall in order to get line of sight on the spotter. Most players will take corners quickly, without regard for any possible mines at their feet.

Explosive Corpses: You can try hiding a mine near enemy corpse. This is helpful when medics rush in to revive a group of enemies you have just killed. Or even a single enemy, if you know a medic is nearby.

Alternatively, you can just hide right next to the body and try and stab them. This can backfire if the medic is smart and pulls out a Darklight, which is why I have taken a liking to explosive corpses over standing around dead bodies. Less risk involved and you can still finish the medic from range with a sidearm if they are wearing flak.

Explosive Frisbees: Toss Bouncing Betties and Proximity Mines over walls and onto enemies’ heads. This is a great icebreaker for stalemates. If possible, follow up with an EMP. The activation time for the first mine happens right after the EMP detonates. The resulting explosion looks really pretty.

You can do this to prep enemies before you take a corner or ambush them. It’s basically a tactical EMP with more teeth, because it can kill instead of just weakening.

Claymores aren’t nearly as great in mentioned “pizza delivery” tactic, but they can be potentially more powerful when used as actual mines to protect your flanks and doorways.

Heavy Assaults

Heavy Assaults are always popular, and their overshield makes ambushing them considerably harder. Learn to distinguish Heavy Assaults from other classes, because in most cases they need a different approach.

You must inflict as much damage as possible before the HA can react to your ambush. This doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to work with. In most cases, you’re looking at less than half a second worth of free damage. After that time expires, expect their shield to come up.

Just try and look at this like a challenge. Ultimately these HAs are teaching you to make better, cleaner ambushes. 

Shield Recharging Fields

Shield Recharging Fields are deployed by medics. They allow enemies to recharge shields even while they are being damaged, so these fields can and will mess up your engagement with weapons that rely on dealing a very specific amount of damage.

For example, an enemy that would normally die to 2 standard knife swings will require 3 swings when under effects of the recharging field. Same goes for 2x shot Crossbow kill, or Crossbow melee combo. 

Additional Tactics and Playstyles

Shadowing

This style focuses on cautiously following your targets, and attacking with your secondary weapon.

Shadowing is all about mitigating the risks by engaging on your terms, in circumstances that favor your weapon and give you a way to safely escape afterwards.

Shadowing relies on Headshot Openers (HSO) to cut down Time to Kill and make the attack more successful. Having good aim to score headshots before the target can react helps to avoid taking unnecessary damage and conserve ammunition. This style is risky and mobile, and requires you to be very creative, because enemies will often hunt you. 

It is critical to learn how to counter or trick enemies who come looking for you. The more sneaky you are, the longer your life expectancy will be. Picking off distracted targets one at a time is ideal. Alternatively, having good threat assessment skills will allow you to pick off multiple targets during a single attack.

When chasing an enemy, make sure there is nobody behind you before you engage.

Ideally, you want to have a bit of distance between you and the enemy. Positioning next to an escape route or a cover object helps to stay alive after you have opened on an enemy.

A piece of cover that obscures a part of your body may help shield you from some of the returning fire. Once the enemy dies you can use the cover object to escape from anyone who witnessed your attack.

A wide variety of weapons can be used for Shadowing. Unless you have excellent aim, select faster firing weapons, like the Beamer, which will assist you when killing mobile targets.

Going for Headshot Opener is critical even for spammy weapons, because the faster you kill an enemy, the less damage you will take from return fire, and the less risk you face from enemies who witness the attack.

Shadowing allows for a choice between silenced weapons, and louder weapons, however, your movement and how you go about countering enemies will change based on your selection. The effective range of each pistol will dictate how far you can safely operate. If you are too far away, kills will be expensive and you will be exposed to enemy fire for dangerous lengths of time. Learning the balance of risk vs reward, in combination with headshots allows you to push the weapon to its fullest.

Medkits may also become more lucrative than Mines, as they free your implant slots for other options.

You will enjoy learning:  Battle Flow,  Map Awareness, Enemy Manipulation, Reading Enemies Intentions, a high focus on improving your Aim, Headshot Addictions, Threat Assessment, Valuing Hard Cover, Increasing Doubt, Countering Enemies, Trapping, Juking, Dancing, and the art of bailing. 

Perching

Perching is taking a long range overwatch approach to stalking, using weapons like Blackhand or the Crossbow to take down targets at range.

This is the easiest playstyle to pick up as a new stalker. Having some distance between you and enemies increases survivability and gives you a higher chance of escaping when being shot at.

The extra distance also makes cloak concealment more effective and gives you additional space to disengage and hide from enemies if they come searching. Perching  keeps you out of reach of Darklight Flashlight users. 

Despite being easy to pick up, the skill ceiling for Perching is rather high and there is considerable depth to the playstyle. 

You will enjoy learning: Parkour (Movement Mechanics), Precision air drops, Battle Flow, Map Awareness, Recon Dart Manipulation, Camouflage, Reading Enemy Intentions, and high a focus on Improving your Aim

You will also have fun discovering spots to “snipe” enemies in the middle of crowded fights, where a Hunter Cloak Sniper would be unable to operate. 

Your creativity is expressed in finding vantage points that are off limits to other classes, and you may find yourself purchasing camo to better blend into backgrounds. Those with deadly fashion sense should apply 🙂

Air Drops

It’s a common tactic to use an expendable Valkyrie or Ejection Seat ESF to strategically insert yourself in a specific position. Usually there is no need to run any additional upgrades on the jet, like Stealth. 

Denying Vehicle Spawning

In coordinated teamplay setting, it is sometimes justified for a stalker to camp a Vehicle Terminal, and kill anyone who tries to pull a vehicle.

A certain Game Update made it possible to bypass the Vehicle Terminal, and spawn a vehicle directly from the Map. However, the base must be uncontested, and have a functioning Vehicle Terminal. So in order to fully deny vehicle spawning from a certain base, it is better to hack the terminal and flip a point than camp the terminal in person. 

Mastering Stalker

Step 1. Learn how to get good ambushes, how to move around without getting noticed. Learn to kill swiftly and efficiently, with minimal increase of enemy awareness to your presence. 

Step 2. Learn how to survive and restealth after an ambush. Even a stalker newbie can get a good ambush on one enemy, simply by slowly crouchwalking up to him, and then unloading a sidearm into enemy’s back. Or running into a crowd of enemies and sprint slamming a power knife into someone. 

What differs a good stalker from a bad one, is the ability to consistently get good ambushes, survive after the successful ambush or manage the fallout from a bad one.

Step 3. Know when to leave. Don’t stay in one area for too long. Stalkers are annoying. For some reason, people hate “invisible” players that can strike them in the back at any moment. If you stay in one area and repeatedly kill the same players over and over, somebody with Darklight Flashlight will eventually come looking for you. It also makes you predictable and easy to find even without a flashlight. 

Teamplay Aspect

Helping your faction

Besides killing, you can help your faction by:

  • Destroying Motion Spotters, Spawn Beacons, mines and other deployables.
  • Hacking enemy turrets, even if you’re not going to use them to engage enemies yourself.
  • Hacking enemy terminals.
    • Specifically, you can hack an enemy vehicle terminal and pull an extra Sunderer. Things like that are often enough to turn the tide of battle, or at least solidify your faction’s grip on it.
  • Providing intel on enemy position with a Motion Spotter. You can also Q Spot enemy spawns and relay information about their position with a /regionsay chat. Unlike other classes, you can afford to just sit back and type.
  • Harassing MAXes and their support. Your potential damage against them is limited, but they are bulky, slow and easy targets, and you can harass and distract them, and maybe even force to run away. If a MAX is already getting gunned by your allies, you may join them to focus fire.

Helping your squad

Infiltrators increase awareness and protect the squad by communicating incoming threats. Those extra EMPs become critical in softening an enemy push, or destroying enemy Spawn Beacons  to keep enemies off roofs, and limit their access to entry points the squad is set up to handle.

A stalker can also deploy and protect a Spawn Beacon during a squad wipe, allowing the squad to to return to the fight before the enemy can fully secure the location.

Between Motion Spotters and EMPs, a Stalker Infiltrator can prevent or mitigate surprise attacks against the squad, reducing the chances of the enemy being able to take advantage of a weakness.

Cloak allows the stalker to place himself outdoors to mitigate pushes and build-ups with Mines and EMPs, though usually leaving the building is not the best option.

Cloaked stalkers can hold a position that would be normally too exposed, and protect their squad from being flanked by a single mobile enemy that could do a lot of damage.

Enemies don’t have an initiative and clientside advantage on a cloaked stalker.

A cloaked stalker doesn’t have to be staring down the corridor, holding his angle, and is free to give more attention to the minimap, and notice buildups in enemy forces and flanking units.

Stalkers can also fly ahead in a Valk or ESF and begin capturing the next base down the lattice lane, this conserves time and prevents the enemy from back capping the facility you had just captured while you’re moving to the next one. 

Stalkers can do many things, from hacking AA turrets and pestering enemy Liberators shelling an outdoor point, to overloading SCU Generators in Biolabs.

Sneaking somewhere and placing beacons so your squad can reach higher ground.

The list goes on and on, suffice it to say that infiltrators’ worth should not be strictly based on how many bodies they can pile up. Often playing in a coordinated squad is more about good timing, providing support and increasing awareness.

-[3GIS] Circuitry of Teamwork

Stalkers allow the squad to team to hold more advantageous locations, choking enemies throughout the battle. 

Stalkers can babysit a point so the squad is free to hold key locations. 

Stalkers don’t need to leave the squad like a sniper would, and they can salvage a bad situation better than an SMG user could.(Ex: Dropping a spawn beacon after your squad is wiped off point to get them back before connection ticks down to zero)

-CuteBeaver

Closing Thoughts and Credits

We hope that this guide has armed you with necessary knowledge to have success as a Stalker Infiltrator. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions in the comment section below.

Huge thanks to /u/CuteBeaver for her continued support, invaluable help and expertise in developing this guide.

 

Highly Technical: NSX Tanto vs NS-11C

NSX Tanto is a recently released carbine in the Nanite Systems Exports weapon lineup. Its main feature is perfect accuracy of the first shot in any stance, and it also has a superfluous amount of spare ammo, but high Cone of Fire Bloom and strong Vertical Recoil create a high skill requirement, especially when considering its lowest in class damage output.

In some ways, NSX Tanto is similar to another NS carbine, NS-11C, which is more traditional and easier to use.

They both feature 75% ADS movement speed, good accuracy and low damage output. But there are noticeable differences between them as well. Let’s take a closer look at both weapons and figure out which one might suit you better.

Stats

NSX Tanto
NSX Tanto
NSX Tanto stats

NS-11C
NS-11C
NS-11C stats
NS-11C misc stats

Shared Stats
NSX Tanto and NS-11C shared stats

Damage

Damage over range
Click to enlarge

Maximum potential benefit of:

  • HVA: +7% damage at 60m
  • SPA: +3% damage at 15m

Both carbines deal exact same damage, and have access to both SPA and HVA. However, NS-11C fires 8.6% faster, and has more ammo per magazine by default.

NS-11C gets a small edge for potential raw damage output.

Bullets-to-Kill and Time-to-Kill

Headshots

BTK Distance, meters Time to Kill, seconds
Stock SPA HVA NSX Tanto NS-11C
4 0 – 39 0 – 41 0 – 49 0.3 0.28
5 40+ 42+ 50+ 0.4 0.37

Standard Target

BTK Distance, meters Time to Kill, seconds
Stock SPA HVA NSX Tanto NS-11C
7 0 – 10 0 – 15 0 – 8 0.6 0.55
8 11 – 39 1641 949 0.7 0.64
9 40+ 42+ 50+ 0.8 0.74

Nanoweave Armor 5

BTK Distance, meters Time to Kill, seconds
Stock SPA HVA NSX Tanto NS-11C
9 0 – 16 0 – 20 0 – 17 0.8 0.74
10 17 – 39 2141 1849 0.9 0.83
11 40 – 56 42 – 57 50 – 75 1.0 0.92
12 57+ 58+ 76+ 1.1 1.01

 

I don’t list BTK and TTK against Heavy Assaults for the sake of saving space. You can perform that analysis with the Toolbox yourself. 

Numbers above show the general trend: both weapons take a lot of time to kill, but before factoring accuracy and recoil, NS-11C takes slightly less time due to higher Rate of Fire.

Hip Fire Performance

Tanto vs NS-11C hip fire accuracy

NS-11C

NS-11C has the usual carbine-tier starting Hip Fire accuracy, and very low Cone of Fire Bloom, which means it can sustain hip fire without losing much accuracy. This can be especially noticeable while flying or jumping. 

NS-11C’s hip fire isn’t anything special, but still better than for most ARs and LMGs, and more than passable in a pinch, though low RoF and DPS limit your firepower versus hardened targets, especially if you’re not close enough to hip fire for headshots.

NS-11C takes the edge for ease of use when hip firing.

NSX Tanto

NSX Tanto offers perfect starting accuracy in any stance. It has high Hip CoF Bloom, but even then, it takes 7+ shots to exceed Hip CoF of NS-11C with Laser Sight, which isn’t even a standard attachment.

Tanto is potentially the most accurate hip fire weapon in the game. You can even countersnipe with it! But that potential isn’t easy to reach. You still have to contend with recoil and CoF Bloom.

NSX Tanto requires finesse. You can’t point it in general direction of the enemy and hope for RNG hits. You have to engage in bursts of 4-8 rounds, depending on distance and aiming point.

And because of the weapon’s low DPS, that aiming point better be the head, or you might find yourself outgunned.

Unlike with NS-11C, Tanto can realistically go for hip fire headshots at any distance, but naturally it will be challenging at 20m+.

In that regard, NSX Tanto can be interesting for people who played a lot of Counter-Strike, and used to hip firing and short bursting.

Additionally, you can tap hip fire the Tanto, and let Cone of Fire fully reset between shots. It would mean firing at 536 RPM or ~9 rounds per second. 

Tanto’s hip fire is best suited for a high-aim player with low mouse sensitivity, large monitor, excellent PC performance and Vertical Field of View below maximum. All of it would increase the relative size of the target on your screen, and make it easier to get good hip fire hits from greater ranges, at the cost of reduced awareness and twitch aim effectiveness.

NSX Tanto gets the ultimate edge for high potential accuracy of hip fire.

Both

It’s worth noting that both weapons have low DPS and are not suited for CQC domination. Unless you can reliably hit headshots or engage with a complete surprise advantage, it is better to avoid hip firing, and keep your distance, especially with NSX Tanto’s super low DPS.

Ranged Performance

NSX Tanto and NS-11C have different Recoil and Cone of Fire characteristics, and can be easier or harder to use depending on player and situation.

However, both carbines are likely to be inferior at range to 167 damage carbines, such as Razor, Pulsar C and Cougar, and don’t stand a chance against the magnificent cannon of destruction – AC-X11.

ADS Accuracy

NSX Tanto vs NS-11C ADS accuracy
Click to enlarge

Again, NSX Tanto’s big selling point is that its first shot is perfectly accurate, even on the move. While its ADS CoF Bloom is higher than average (0.06 vs 0.05), it still takes 10 (!) shots before NS-11C becomes more accurate, even when fired from a completely still position.

On that note – it is beneficial to start the engagement with NS-11C while stationary, if you’re engaging an unaware enemy at range from a safe position. But you don’t have to be still throughout whole engagement, you can start moving after you fire 5 shots and receive no accuracy penalty – that’s just how CoF Mechanics work.

In that case, NS-11C will be almost as accurate as NSX Tanto, the worse starting CoF isn’t likely to play any role, unless we’re talking about extreme ranges of 150m+.

NSX Tanto gets the edge for ADS Accuracy.

Recoil

NSX Tanto vs NS-11C recoil pattern - 15 shots fired
Click to enlarge

NS-11C

  Stock With Attachment  
Vertical Recoil, per sec 2.39 2.03 Compensator
First Shot Multiplier (Recoil) 3x (0.66) 0.56
Average Horizontal Deviation 0.165 0.123 Forward Grip
Maximum Horizontal Deviation 0.4 0.3
Average Recoil Angle -18.5 -13.9
Recoil Angle Variance 3 2.25
Recoil Recovery True Delay 0.184
Recoil Recovery Time per shot 0.0165 0.0133 Both
Recoil settle after first shot 0.233 0.224

 

As far as conventional 143 damage carbines go, NS-11C’s accuracy and velocity are above average. The only carbine that has it better is T5 AMC, mostly thanks to access to Advanced Forward Grip.

NS-11C has the lowest vertical recoil among carbines, which makes it very easy to hold on target. High First Shot Recoil is a bit obnoxious when you’re trying to engage a small target in short bursts. 

Overall, NS-11C isn’t something you would want for extreme range shooting or “sniping”, but it’s more than capable at range, and respectable for a carbine.

NS-11C gets a slight edge for ease of use at range.

NSX Tanto

  Stock With Attachment  
Vertical Recoil, per sec 4
First Shot Multiplier (Recoil) 1.4x (0.56)
Average Horizontal Deviation 0.115 0.086 Forward Grip
Maximum Horizontal Deviation 0.28 0.21
Average Recoil Angle 6 4.5
Recoil Angle Variance 2 1.5
Recoil Recovery True Delay 0.180
Recoil Recovery Time per shot 0.0235 0.023 Forward Grip
Recoil settle after first shot 0.213 0.212

 

The first obvious thing is high Vertical Recoil, and lack of Compensator to tone it down. Unlike NS-11C, you will have to consciously compensate for Vertical Recoil every time you engage with Tanto, and getting good hits at range may be challenging. The combination of low RoF and High Vertical Recoil is the opposite of convenient.

Lower FSRM makes short bursting a bit more convenient. Even though actual first shot recoil is the same as for NS-11C with Compensator, at least recoil is more consistent from shot to shot.

NSX Tanto has lower Horizontal Recoil, with 30% lower Average and Maximum Horizontal Deviations. It also has less pronounced Recoil Angle, and with less Variance.

All of this goes a long way of making Tanto’s recoil pattern more consistent and predictable, even if takes more effort to compensate for.

If you tap fire and let the crosshair fully settle between shots, you can take up to ~5 shots in 1 second, and each shot will have perfect accuracy. Potentially, you can kill a stationary player with 5 headshots within 0.85 seconds. Most players will not stand and get shot for that long, but you can potentially “snipe” an oblivious sniper or an engineer behind a turret. 

You can also snipe deployables with it.

NSX Tanto gets the edge for potential accuracy at range. You can see where this is going.

Other Traits

Equip Time

Carbines in general have the shortest Equip Time among primary weapons, and NSX Tanto has the shortest Equip Time among carbines. Returning to NSX Tanto from most sidearms or tools is going to take only 0.75 seconds. 

Combine that with perfect hip fire accuracy and you get the best quickdraw primary weapon. This can be especially important for Engineers, when they get caught with a Repair Tool out, or if you’re playing with Med Kit Primary.

That said, NS-11C is only a 0.05 seconds behind.

Ammo Pool

For some reason, NSX Tanto has a huge amount of reserve ammunition. A lot of the time that doesn’t matter, but it can occasionally make a crucial difference for a perching Light Assault, and NSX Tanto certainly benefits a rooftop camping playstyle.

NSX Tanto gets the edge for ammo pool.

Reload Speed

While NSX Tanto has pretty decent reload speed, it’s still 0,45 second slower than for NS-11C, which reloads faster than average.

NS-11C gets a slight edge for reload speed.

0.75x ADS Movement Speed Multiplier

Both carbines allow you to move 50% faster while Aiming Down Sights than with most other primary weapons. It’s a great trait for dancing in and out of cover, slicing corners and dodging enemy fire in a faceoff. 

It can allow you to survive just enough time to get your aim where it needs to be and get those hits.

This trait is especially obnoxious in case of NSX Tanto, which is still pinpoint accurate on the move.

Cross-faction tracers and sound

Both carbines share this quality, and it can add precious milliseconds before enemies identify you as a threat. This is especially important considering how many shots you need just to down one target, and how long it takes to fire them all.

For psychological reasons, this trait is most useful for VS players, as most of their weapons go “pew-pew”.

Which one to use?

As you probably have picked up along this article, NSX Tanto has higher potential than NS-11C, but is harder to use. It can be treated as a more extremely tuned version of NS-11C, the next logical evolutionary step. 

  • If you already enjoy the playstyle of NS-11C, but wish you had more control – you’ll like what NSX Tanto has to offer.
  • If you are just thinking about entering the realm of accurate, mobile carbines that reward good aim – it’s better to start with NS-11C and transition to NSX Tanto once you feel comfortable with the playstyle.
  • If you value versatility and no-nonsense ease of use, and enjoy airborne combat – you’ll have better success with NS-11C.
  • If you prefer a run & gun and in-your-face aggressive playstyle – you won’t like either of these weapons. 

Gameplay Tips

Both carbines specialize at “medium range” of about 20m to 50m. They can engage outside these bounds, but it’s not really their forte. Keep your distance when you can, and don’t try to snipe with them, and you should be fine.

Light Assaults really benefit from their sustained accuracy, which makes them great weapons for perching and general rooftop shenanigans. Just do your best to resist the temptation of jumping down in the midst of enemies.

If you are assaulting a building, either try to stay away the furthest from enemies, engage them in their backs, or stay behind your allies. 

When engaging an enemy in a 1v1 shootout, make full use of 75% ADS speed multiplier, and strafe erratically. If there is a piece of cover around – even better. Try to play the cover and catch the enemy sprinting or distracted. If you get under fire the moment you show your nose – just go back and wait for a more opportune moment. 

Both carbines require a lot of hits to down a target, and sure take their sweet time firing them. This means that after 1-2 engagement attempts, enemies around will likely know your exact position. Try not to stay in one place for too long, and engage from different angles when possible. 

Go for headshots when you can, but for both carbines there is a certain distance where they just can’t get them easily and reliably.

While theoretically NSX Tanto can shortburst or tapfire for headshots at any distance, it’s likely to take a disproportionate amount of time, giving an aware target an opportunity to hide in cover, and for other enemies to shoot you. 

In those cases, it’s perfectly fine to for bodyshots. Both carbines have great sustained ADS accuracy, and you’re very likely to eventually kill the enemy, unless he hides into cover or you get sniped first.

Attachments

NS Carbines' Attachments

Both carbines have access to mostly same attachments.

Barrel

Lack of Compensator for NSX Tanto is hurtful, but high Vertical Recoil seems to be the intended downside. And if Tanto had access to Compensator, it would be considered mandatory, pushing out other Barrel Attachments as viable options, and Compensator’s penalties would affect the intended feature – perfect starting hip fire accuracy.

While NS-11C has access to Compensator, and a lot of successful players enjoy using it with one, it’s far from being mandatory. NS-11C has the lowest Vertical Recoil and Vertical Recoil per Second among all carbines, and its performance at range is mostly limited by Horizontal Recoil and low damage. 

Both weapons can be used with Suppressor. HVA can even compensate for some of its penalties. However, with a Suppressor, you risk turning your pea shooters into even weaker pea shooters that are harder to get hits with. It would also limit your maximum effective range. It’s not really optimal, but passable if you’re going for ultra stealthy black ops setup. 

My personal recommendation is to use Flash Suppressor on both weapons. It will make your position harder to pinpoint, and make even harder for enemies to identify you as a threat while you’re shooting them. 

Rail

Forward Grip is recommended for NS-11C. The random nature of Horizontal Recoil limits your effective range in annoying and unpredictable way. 

While you could go the direction of “compensating weapon’s weaknesses” and equipping a Laser Sight, you wouldn’t get much use of it. When possible, you should simply stay away from close quarters altogether. When not – you still get the benefit of 75% ADS, and still the drawback of low DPS. 

With same reasoning, I recommend Forward Grip for NSX Tanto. It already has predictable and consistent recoil pattern, with one of the lowest Horizontal Recoils out there. 

You could say “if my Horizontal Recoil is already so great, I’ll just use Extended Mags” – and it would be more or less fine for medium range.  But in my experience, usually you cannot afford to stay exposed for so long to fire a whole magazine. 

You already take a long time killing one enemy, you’re likely to get noticed and shot, and you’ll need to go to cover and change position. Might as well reload along the way. 

And if 30 rounds isn’t enough for the user to kill even one target, they should work on their aim or engagement choices, not on attachment picks.

NSX Tanto is already very accurate based on Cone of Fire mechanics. It makes sense to tune the recoil up to par. Unlike NS-11C, NSX Tanto can really reach out. 

Ammo

While both High Velocity Ammo and Soft Point Ammo offer small, barely noticeable bonuses, they always seem to cause the most amount of argument. It comes down to what you value more, performance within 10-27m or after 27m. 

My personal recommendation is to go with HVA for both, as it can potentially offer higher damage increase, and increasing the velocity can’t hurt. 

Optics

As always, optics are up to personal preference. You can use any optic and do good with it.

But since both weapons require good accuracy, going with higher magnification is common and advised. 

For NS-11C, I recommend 2x Reflex. 

3.4x or 4x scopes are viable, but you may find them unnecessary, as less consistent Horizontal Recoil makes your crosshair shake too much.

Weirdly enough, optics choices for NSX Tanto are much more limited, it has access to only one 3.4x Reflex Scope, and no 4x Scopes.

If you are using NSX Tanto with HVA and Forward Grip, I would recommend the 3.4x Reflex. Since Tanto has much lower Horizontal Recoil, your effective range isn’t as limited as for NS-11C. You can also tap fire or “snipe” at greater ranges. And in close quarters, where high magnification would be a burden, you still get the excellent hip fire accuracy. Win-win!

Be prepared to deal with annoying Vertical Recoil, though. If you find it too much, it’s fine to use 2x Reflex or even 1x Reflex.

Additional Material

Auraxium SMGs

Auraxium SMGs: what changed and why

History

Auraxium SMGsShuriken, Tempest and Skorpios – used to be very awkward. They had Extended Mags and a special version of HVA with negligible bonuses to velocity and minimum damage range, and a whopping penalty of +50% Vertical Recoil.

They were supposed to be better at range, but whatever small benefit they gained from HVA, was crushed by the recoil penalty.

They were essentially a worse version of the base SMG with Extended Mags, which isn’t exactly a no-brainer attachment for many players who prefer hip firing and hunting for smart 1v1 engagements.

Present Days

Thankfully, that changed in the 2nd Feb, 2017 patch

Now Auraxium SMGs are provided with Extended Mags, Forward Grip and normal version of HVA. As a penalty for this many attachments, Auraxium SMGs do not get a velocity benefit from HVA, and they have longer reload.

It may be not the best combination of attachments; many players feel like a ranged setup for an SMG – obviously a close quarters weapon – is a silly notion. 

But it’s not that bad.

Base SMGs already have close quarters well covered with access to SPA and ALS. But a combination of Forward Grip and Extended Mags and HVA on top? You can’t get that setup any other way, on any other SMG.

And, if for some reason you would want to kit out an SMG to be more potent at range – which is the biggest weakness of all SMGs – this setup is a dream come true.

Normally, you’d be faced with a conundrum of Forward Grip vs Extended Mags.

On one hand, SMGs have terrible damage degradation, and you will need more bullets to kill the enemy. Armistice and Skorpios in particular simply do not have enough magazine capacity to reliably kill a shielded HA beyond certain range. 

On the other hand, SMGs also have terrible horizontal recoil, so you might want to reduce it, so you don’t need that many bullets in the first place.

This one is a mindcracker, and Auraxium SMGs solve both problems elegantly by giving you everything at once and then some.

And you don’t lose much in close quarters either. At most, you’re going to need an extra bullet to kill at certain ranges, but given super high SMG RoF – it’s not that big of a deal.

Reload Speed Penalty

This is the big one. It’s not that big of a deal with Short Reload, but the Long Reload can be especially punishing, as it already was kinda long with base SMGs.

  Armistice Shuriken Eridani Skorpios Cyclone Tempest
Short Reload, sec 2.25 2.7 1.74 2.08 1.855 2.23
Long Reload, sec 2.92 3.5 2.8 3.36 3 3.6

 

Damage Comparison

It wouldn’t be practical to list all the BTK Thresholds in this article, since SMGs degrade so many tiers, and I don’t want to drown you in numbers. The graphs below clearly show you ranges where base SMGs with SPA deal more damage, and where Auraxium SMGs start to overtake.

Click images to enlarge

If we take Tempest vs Cyclone as an example:

  • Best case scenario, Tempest deals 21% more damage at 46m.
  • Worst case scenario, Tempest deals 5% less damage at 11m.  

Gameplay Tips

Do not treat Auraxium SMGs as some sort of ranged powerhouse, because even with all those attachments – they’re not. Most primary weapons will have easier time killing enemies at 20-30m. Instead, treat them like base SMGs that do not immediately suck at range. 

They still can dish out a lot of damage in close quarters, and they have better ADS accuracy. You don’t have to pray to Higby that much when you’re trying to headshot ding an enemy at 20m. 

And you don’t have to close the distance to 10-20m for every engagement just to stand a chance at killing the enemy.

Conclusion

Naturally, Auraxium SMGs will never be as good at range as proper ranged weapons.  At best, they can rival an NS-7 PDW with a CQC setup. 

But they will be noticeable better than base SMGs, which is all they’re trying to do. 

They’re not an amazing super weapons that you should feel obligated to work towards and power through 4 SMG auraxiums, nor should they be. They merely offer an interesting niche and a unique playstyle for fans of this weapon class.

Claymore

Claymore Guide by Bvllish

Originally posted on Reddit by /u/Bvllish

PS2 Claymore

From my testing, the claymore appears to deal damage in the shape of an isosceles triangle. The damage is a constant 1300 throughout the triangle, so the in-game “1300 at 3m 350 at 6.5m” is bullshit; Claymore deals no damage outside 2-3m.

PS2 Claymore positioning

With the newly added 0.32 second detonation delay, the claymore can no longer cover the entirety of a doorway. From in game experience, it appears to cover less than half of a doorway now. This is because if an enemy is close enough to the claymore, he can just run straight through it taking no damage.

Depending on the exact amount of time it takes for a character to run through the detonation zone, it may be beneficial to place the claymore at an angle to enlarge the kill zone.

Knowing the detonation delay of 0.32 seconds and that sprinting player moves at 6.32m per second, we can calculate the distance a player can cover during the delay: 0.32 * 6.32 = ~2.02m, which means that a player can potentially spring right through the claymore without getting damaged, which is confirmed by in-game testing.

Toolbox stats page

Weapon Stats

PlanetSide 2 weapons have a lot of statistics that define how they function in-game. But only a portion of those statistics is shown in-game. This is how you can access the rest:

PlanetStats

This should be your go-to resource. Lists all weapons in a convenient, sortable form. You can also select and compare several weapons. This source would be ideal, if not for a few issues:

  • Sometimes weapon stats take too long to load. 
  • Some numbers are rounded too roughly. For example, it will show 0.225 as 0.23.
  • Some stats, like Recoil Recovery Delay, are not shown, and Equip Time is incorrect for some weapons.

Daybreak Census API

This online database is owned and controlled by Daybreak – PlanetSide 2 developers. It contains information about player characters and weapon statistics. This is where PS2 informational sites pull data from.

To pull information from the API, you have to put a query into browser’s address bar. Here is an example of the simplest request:

http://census.daybreakgames.com/get/ps2/item?name.en=TRAC-5&c:lang=en

You will receive a JSON string. I highly recommend you use a JSON format browser plugin to make it more readable, or at least use a JSON formatting site.

Normally, you can view JSON strings right in the browser, but some browsers prompt a download of the .json file instead. In that case, you can open it with any text editor, such as Notepad.

However, that simplest query does not give you any useful information about the weapon. This is because Census database is fairly complex, and weapon data is stored in several different tables, with different key fields. So if you want to pull all available information about a weapon, you have  to pull information from several places at once, and the query becomes much bigger.

Full Query

These versions of the query pull all information about the weapon, including what cannot be accessed in-game, such as Recoil, Equip Time, Projectile Lifespan and exact effects of attachments.

By Item ID 

By weapon name 

Implant Effects 

These queries pull a lot of info at once, and if you intend to make several queries in a short time frame, you may be required to register a Service ID.

Both queries above pull information in English. If you want to pull all languages, simply remove &c:lang=en from the query.

Or you can specify another language: de, en, es, fr, it, tr

There are other queries you can make to the Census, as explained here and here.

How to find out weapon’s Item ID?

You can make a query, using weapon’s name: 

http://census.daybreakgames.com/get/ps2:v2/item?name.en=Force-Blade

Make sure to type the name exactly as it appears in game, including blank spaces, if there are any.

The Item ID will be listed in one of the first fields, e.g: “item_id“: “19”

Weapon Analysis Toolbox

This Excel Sheet can:

  • download weapon stats from Census API and display them in formatted form, including information about weapon’s projectile
  • make manual query to Census API about a weapon with a simple double click
  • analyze and calculate weapon mechanics, such as Bullets to Kill, Time to Kill, bullet damage at certain range, analyze weapon’s Cone of Fire and Recoil properties.

DasAnfall

An alternative to PlanetStats. It displays more weapon stats, but can potentially be outdated, and you still have to know weapon’s Item ID. DasAnfall may be necessary to find out such weapon stats as:

  • Equip and Unequip Times
  • Projectile Lifespan
  • Projectile Gravity
  • Weapon’s Fire Modes

For example, you can use PlanetStats to find out that TRAC 5 has ID of 43.

Then link to the DasAnfall page of TRAC 5 will look like this: 

http://stats.dasanfall.com/ps2/civ/index.php?id=43

As you may notice, DasAnfall lists weapon stats several times. This is done because PS2 weapons have separate stats for each fire mode.

For example, TRAC 5 has 4 modes: single shot, full auto, single shot while ADS, full auto while ADS.

Most weapon stats are identical in different fire modes, but it’s important to understand that as far as game engine is concerned, those are all completely different weapons. 

It is theoretically possible to make a weapon that will function like a full auto grenade launcher while firing from the hip, and like a sniper rifle while ADSing, and could also switch into a Flak Turret fire mode.

FISU

An alternative to PlanetStats.

Iridar’s Weapon Analysis Toolbox

This video is outdated and doesn’t include many new features, but it explains the general purpose and spirit behind this tool.

This Excel Spreadsheet is a culmination of years of work on theorycrafting PlanetSide 2 weapon mechanics. It uses Visual Basic macros to pull weapon stats from DBG API, to calculate damage and recoil statistics and draw graphs to visualize them.

This toolbox arms you with all necessary tools for comprehensive weapon analysis.

Current version: v4e

Attention! When you first open the toolbox, you will see a yellow bar with a security warning about macros. You have to allow the use of macros, or the Toolbox will not function. 

Structure

The Excel file has 7 pages:

Toolbox pages

They contain cells of different color:

soft-orange  Soft orange cells. When you double click or right click a weapon on the Stats page of the spreadsheet, weapon’s stats will be copied into soft orange cells on other pages. These cells also accept manual input. You can edit them without fear of breaking anything.

light-greyLight grey cells contain calculations and references to other cells, do not edit grey cells, or you will break the tool’s functionality.

pale-yellow Pale yellow cells store values for configuration, and you may need to edit them in specific situations.

Toolbox chosen cell Light green filling indicates that this cell’s value has been selected, likely by double clicking.

Toolbox tooltipSmall red triangles in the corner of a cell indicate a tooltip. Put your mouse over the cell to display the tooltip.


Note: Toolbox’s calculations always assume worst case scenario: weapon damage is rounded down and target health is rounded up.

Stats Page

Toolbox stats page

This huge table has stats of all known infantry weapons. 

Normally you don’t work with this table itself, and only use it to export stats into other pages:

Double click or right click on any weapon to copy its stats into soft orange cells on other pages.

Other functions:

Double click on Item ID of the weapon to open a JSON query for that weapon for your default browser.

The Toolbox is not perfect, and may sometimes pull wrong stats, or fail to pull stats at all. There is no substitute for looking at a query with your own eyes. 

Select a weapon and click “Export 1” button. A window with exported weapon’s stats  and attachment list will show.

Pulling stats and adding new weapons

The Pull Stats button will initiate a download of weapon stats from DBG API, using JSON queries for each Item ID in the first column. When a new weapon is released, simply insert its Item ID and Name to the end of the list, and its stats will be downloaded as well. 

If you know weapon’s exact name, you can find out its Item ID this way, or you can simply copy-paste it from Attachments Page.

add-new-weapons

Keep in mind that “Name” column is not downloaded, and you will have to fill it manually for any new weapon releases.

The “Date” field near the “pull stats” button stores the date when stats were last downloaded. Normally, you should re-download stats only after a patch that changed something.

Damage Page

damage toolbox page

This page serves to analyze weapon damage at different ranges and/or with different attachments. You can compare two weapons at the same time.

On “Stats” page, double click on a weapon to export its stats for the first weapon, and right click for the second weapon.

You can add attachments to weapons by clicking corresponding buttons. If the weapon doesn’t have a certain attachment, you will be informed with a pop up window, but you can’t see whether weapon has access to an attachment on this page without clicking the Check Box.

The calculations for Minimum and Maximum damage ranges are self-explanatory.

To calculate weapon’s damage stats at certain range, enter it into soft orange Range cell.

Target Settings

target-health 

Both weapons are simulated against the same target. You can specify target’s parameters on the middle left.

Below the Health block, there are reference tables for Health, Nanoweave Armor and Kinetic Armor. 

Double click on Health or Damage Multiplier value to automatically apply it.

Both weapons have Headshot Damage Multiplier listed. You can double click on its value to apply it to the Damage Multiplier. 

Since both weapons fire at the same target, and damage multiplier is tied to the target, it may be inconvenient to compare headshot properties of two weapons with different headshot multipliers. 


The most common way to analyze a weapon is to look at its performance against the default target with 1000 HP and against a Full Nanoweave target with 1250 Effective HP, so these are the default parameters, and statistics for standard Full Nano target are calculated automatically.

BTK Thresholds

Toolbox BTK Thresholds

The “Calculate Thresholds” button will calculate BTK Thresholds for both weapons.

For example, the results on the picture above read as:

Gauss Rifle kills in 6 shots at 0m to 10m, and in 7 shots at 11m+.

“Draw Graph” button will also recalculate Thresholds and then draw a comparative graph.

Recoil Page

toolbox recoil page

This page serves to analyze weapon’s recoil properties.

Both double click and right click on a weapon on the Stats page will import its stats into soft orange boxes of the Recoil page.

Click Calculate Stability to calculate Average and Maximum horizontal Deviations and to update Probability Distribution Graph.

The Visual Basic macro fires a virtual gun in bursts with listed “Burst Length” for the amount of times, listed in “Simulations” cell, and then averages out the results. 

“Average Deviation” is the average distance of the crosshair from the burst’s starting crosshair position. The lower it is, the better is the weapon’s horizontal recoil.

“Graph Scale H” refers to the maximum Horizontal Recoil value, visible on the graph. The default value of 1 is fine for most cases, but for weapons with lower Horizontal Recoil, you may want to reduce Graph Scale H to 0.5 to increase chart’s accuracy / detail.

Vertical Recoil module is self explanatory, you’re mostly interested in Vertical Recoil per Second. 

For the purposes of vertical recoil, it’s better to have high RoF and low vertical recoil per shot, to ensure nice and soft, consistent pull.

FSRM value is listed mostly for your reference, it doesn’t participate in any calculations.

The Average Deviations listed in Recoil Angle block show how much a weapon is affected by Recoil Angle Variance. They basically show you the size of the yellow area:

Serpent Recoil Pattern
Serpent’s recoil pattern – not included with the Toolbox

Cone of Fire Page

toolbox cof page

This page serves to analyze weapon’s Cone of Fire properties using my Angular Size research.

Both double click and right click on a weapon on the Stats page will import its stats into soft orange boxes of the Recoil page.

Target is set up identically to the Damage page, the only exception is that you also have to choose your Aiming Point, since they have different Angular Sizes. Enter “1” for Center Mass and “0” for Head.

The purpose of this page is to calculate the ideal burst length for a weapon at a certain range based on calculated target size on your screen. Calculations ignore recoil completely.

Double click on weapon’s CoF value to import it into analysis window.

Here you can find an example analysis.

Attachments Page

attachments toolbox page

This page stores a table with known effects of known attachments on all weapons. When you add attachments to weapons on other pages, this is where their effects are taken from.

To update the table, click “Pull Attachments“. A VBA Script will pull Names and Item IDs for all weapons from weapon categories on Categories Page, and then pull attachment data for them.

You can also double click on weapon’s name to open a JSON query for that weapon’s attachment list. This may be necessary if a weapon has access to atypical attachment, since the table is formatted only for known effects of known attachments.

Categories Page

categories toolbox page

This page contains a list of weapon categories. It is used when you Pull Attachments

Temp Page

This is a temporary page for storing calculations results. You don’t need to interact with this page at all.

Changelog and To-Do

v1 – initial release.

v2 – added CoF import functionality and reworked Cone of Fire page. Special thanks to FISU. Weapon names also update when you add attachments.

v2a – added the ability to double click on weapon’s Item ID to open JSON queries. 

v2b – Pull Stats will also pull Falling CoF (for flying / jumping with Carbines). Falling CoF will also be imported into Cone of Fire page. Also fixed a bug that any value of 1 character long was not pulled from the API. 

v3 – The toolbox will now also pull ADS movespeed multiplier and other missing stats. Fixed several issues, minor improvements. 

v3a – Fixed a Reload Time export.

v3b – Added the button to pull  information about weapon’s projectiles.

v4a – Added functionality to download exact effects of weapon attachments and apply them to weapons. 

v4c – Cleaned up unnecessary code in order for the Toolbox to work with 64 bit version of Excel. Also fixed a minor bug with HVA on Damage page.

v4d – Downloaded weapon and attachment stats for latest patch, including NSX Tanto. 

v4c – Cleaned up unnecessary code in order for the Toolbox to work with 64 bit version of Excel. Again.

To Do

Determine if BASR time between shots = chamber time.

Overall weapon rating based on multigon square calculations.

CoF / RoF probability distribution to determine weapon consistency (done in alpha)

Reword the horizontal recoil probability distribution graph to be more accurate

Horizontal Recoil Stability Calculator

The recent fiasco with AF-4 Cyclone guide has reminded me that a mere possibility of a weapon’s recoil being less stable doesn’t necessarily mean it will be less stable on average.

Let me remind you the raw numbers:

Statistic Cyclone
Armistice Eridani
Horizontal Recoil 0.212 / 0.4 0.347 / 0.376 0.3 / 0.392
Horizontal Recoil Tolerance 0.9 (2-3 kicks) 0.9 (2 kicks) 0.9 (2 kicks)

 

Compared to other 1st generation SMGs, the Cyclone has bigger difference between minimum and maximum recoils. It can also potentially have an extra recoil kick, increasing the total width of the recoil pattern.

That led me to conclude that Cyclone has less stable horizontal recoil. 

It is true that potentially Cyclone can kick further from the start than other 1st gen SMGs.

However, statistically, it is very unlikely. The probability of several hits in the same direction and with the recoil magnitude being in specific bounds is simply too low to be worth considering.

Discouraged by my error, I have created a tool that will allow to judge the stability of horizontal recoil pattern in an objective manner.

Horizontal Recoil Stability Calculator

This excel spreadsheet will calculate stability of a weapon’s recoil pattern as average distance from the starting crosshair position.

 Horizontal Recoil Stability Calculator

Important! To be able to open this file, you will need a Microsoft Office with enabled Excel Macros. Supposedly there are security risks for doing this. Responsibility is yours, though I promise there’s nothing malicious in specifically my excel files.

How to use

Enter the weapon’s Horizontal Recoil stats into the three orange boxes at the top (where to get stats?). It’s fine to leave Burst Length and number of Simulations to their default values. 

Click “Calculate Stability” button, and the sheet will automatically update all results and the recoil distribution graph.

The Probability Distribution graph is your main instrument for assessing weapon’s horizontal recoil stability. 

The horizontal axis of the graph represents the distance from the center of the recoil pattern, and the vertical axis represents the probability of that position being chosen. 

“Graph Scale H” defines the horizontal scale of the graph. It is set to “1 degree” by default, and generally it should be high enough for all PS2 infantry weapons. For weapons with low horizontal recoil and low tolerance values, you can reduce Graph Scale H to 0.5 to make the graph more accurate.

Ideally, you want a weapon whose graph looks like this:

ideal

Basically, a weapon without horizontal recoil whatsoever.

The closer the spikes of the graph to the left side, the higher the probability of the crosshair staying near the center of the recoil pattern – near crosshair’s original position at the beginning of a burst.

“Stability” is simply the average distance of the crosshair from the burst’s starting point. The closer it is to zero, the more accurate the weapon is on average. 

“Maximum Deviation” is the highest value taken by Horizontal Recoil during simulation.


You can copy paste the graph as image in order to compare different weapons:

copy as image

This is a graph for Gauss SAW.


On the next picture, I’m manually holding it with my mouse over the graph for Cyclone, allowing us to easily compare them.

overlay


Returning to Cyclone

Statistic Cyclone
Armistice Eridani
Stability 0.264 0.305 0.294
Maximum Deviation 0.848 0.810 0.840

 

Cyclone vs Armistice vs Eridani

As you can see, both Armistice and Eridani have lower stability, and a higher chance for the crosshair to be kicked further from the start. While Cyclone will generally shake in wider bounds, half of these bounds is still closer to the center due to lower minimum recoil. Cyclone may be less predictable on small scale, but it will be more stable on average.

Why Excel Sheet?

I’d love to eventually add this functionality into Weapon Simulator, along with other few minor updates, but for the time being I’ve lost the ability to make any additions to it. My Visual Studio died, basically 🙁

AF-4 Cyclone

AF-4 Cyclone: Highly Technical Weapon Guide

AF-4 Cyclone is a New Conglomerate SMG, available to all classes. It features highest damage per shot, and lowest rate of fire among SMGs.

It was one of the first three released SMGs, and remained relatively unchanged for a long time. During that time it had enjoyed booming popularity and hype of being the best SMG in the game.

Only recently Cyclone faced an adjustment in recoil statistics, and perhaps now it’s a good time to look into this phenomenon. Was Cyclone really that good, and is it still? What’s the reason for so much hype? Let’s dig in!

Stats

Cyclone stats

Headshot Damage Multiplier: 2
Minimap Detect Range: 40
ADS Movespeed Multiplier: 0.75

Damage output

SPA is a no-brainer attachment for all SMGs, so before talking about damage, let’s adjust for SPA:

Maximum Damage Range: 6m -> 11m
Projectile Velocity: 360 m/s -> 342 m/s

  <11m 23m 31m 42m+
Bullet Damage 167 141 123 100
DPS 1815 1533 1345 1087
Bullets-to-Kill
(nanoweave)
6 (8) 8 (9) 9 (11) 10 (13)
Time-to-Kill 0.47 (0.65) 0.65 (0.74) 0.74 (0.93) 0.83 (1.11)
Damage per Mag
(Ex. Mags)
4175
(5845)
3525
(4935)
3075
(4235)
2500
(3500)

 

Note: in this table, I’ve skipped the 112 damage tier at 36-37m. 

As expected from an SMG, Cyclone can deliver superb performance at close range, and capable of a scary 3 headshot kill, which takes only 0.184 seconds. 

However, due to 4 tiers of damage degradation, Cyclone rapidly loses effectiveness as range increases. Cyclone remains usable at 30-40m, depending on attachments, but cannot compete with traditional automatic weapons further than that. 

Higher damage per shot does give Cyclone an advantage over other SMGs in ranged combat, where high damage per shot is generally desirable

It’s worth noting that Cyclone has largest damage per magazine out of all 1st generation SMGs, and the biggest benefit from Extended Mags, as well as nice Short Reload.

Rate of Fire

Cyclone has lowest rate of fire among SMGs.

That can be a disadvantage in close quarters, reducing the consistency of damage output, as explained in greater detail here.

However, lower RoF has an interesting interaction with Cyclone’s weird horizontal recoil, making it more stable on average. More on that below.

Cone of Fire and Bloom

Cyclone cones of fireHip Accuracy w/ ALS: 0.6 / 0.75 / 0.6 / 0.9

As with all SMGs, Cyclone has average ADS accuracy in all stances, and the same CoF Bloom for both ADSing and Hip Firing.

This goes with the theme of a mobile weapon: you’re given an incentive to move as much as possible and utilize the 75% ADS movement speed or full movement speed while hip firing.

Unlike with most primary weapons, staying stationary or crouching does not provide an accuracy boost, and this limits Cyclone’s effective range.

All SMGs enjoy the best hip fire accuracy among all primary weapons, and access to Advanced Laser Sight allows you to improve it even further. 

It’s worth noting that 125 damage SMGs have the bloom of 143 damage weapons, so they bloom more per point of damage done. Unlike them, Cyclone has the same bloom as other 167 damage weapons, so it can sustain fire more effectively. More details here.

All of this combined makes Cyclone one of the best hip fire weapons in the game, and contributes to Cyclone being better at range than some other SMGs.

Why good hip fire is important?

There is a detailed explanation of this in my Gunplay Guide, but let’s quickly go over it. 

Hip firing is underrated in PlanetSide 2. On paper, it seems simple: ADSing gives more accuracy, and more accuracy is better, right? Well, not always.

In close quarters, ADSing can give you too much accuracy. It provides you with a tight stream of bullets, and an enemy can take just half a sidestep to dodge the entire stream.

ADSing also has a lot of disadvantages: it takes time, slows you down and reduces your field of vision.

Hip firing gives you a spray of bullets, and if at least part of Cone of Fire overlaps with enemy hitbox, you’re likely to deal at least some damage.

It’s easier to avoid a laser pointer than a flashlight. Take a look at this comparison:

hip-vs-ads-hits hip-vs-ads-misses

A slight crosshair movement leads to all shots completely missing in ADS mode, and only slight coverage reduction with hip fire. 

While obviously you want to maximize your damage, sometimes it means giving up a portion of damage output to prevent giving up all of it.

Most players will have much easier time spraying enemies from the hip and doing consistent damage, while being able to move fast and dodge enemy fire. 

The higher the Rate of Fire, the more consistent will be the damage distribution over Cone of Fire area, and this is where Cyclone is a bit lacking compared to other SMGs.

However, an SMG with ALS may face the same issue of being too accurate even when firing from the hip, and that makes SMGs a but hard to use. 

For most weapons, ADSing for headshots provides the fastest theoretical time to kill.

But SMGs with ALS can hip fire for headshots within 10m, shaving off the time it takes to aim down sights, and that is what makes them so powerful in CQC. 

This is also one of Cyclone’s strong points, as it has that mentioned quick 3 headshot kill, though it takes a skilled user to perform that consistently.

Recoil and how it was changed

This is the part of Cyclone’s statistics that was adjusted in recent patch.

Statistic Cyclone
before nerfs
Cyclone
after nerfs
Armistice Eridani
Recoil Angle 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 20 / 20
Vertical Recoil 0.24 0.3 0.15 0.2
Horizontal Recoil 0.212 / 0.304 0.212 / 0.4 0.35 / 0.39 0.3 / 0.39
Horizontal Recoil Tolerance 0.7 (2 kicks) 0.9 (2-3 kicks) 0.9 (2 kicks) 0.9 (2 kicks)
Avg. Horizontal Deviation 0.215 0.260 0.3 0.285
Max. Horizontal Deviation 0.650 0.850 0.770 0.840
First Shot Recoil Multiplier 2.25x 2.5x 2x 2x
Vertical Recoil per Second 2.6 3.26 2.24 2.5
 
Cyclone recoil pattern
25 shots fired

The maximum horizontal recoil and horizontal recoil tolerance were raised. But Cyclone’s minimum horizontal recoil remains low. 

This means that Cyclone will have a bit higher average horizontal recoil per shot, and potentially has a chance to snap out of control with 3 kicks in the same direction, but it is statistically unlikely, especially considering Cyclone’s low RoF.

On average, Cyclone will still remain more stable than Armistice or Eridani. 

The nerfs have considerably raised Cyclone’s vertical recoil per second, but it still remains controllable when compared to bigger guns.

Of course, NS-7 PDW will still be more capable at range, but it won’t perform as well in close quarters.

 

Effective Range

Cyclone is deadly within 11m and effective within 23m. And with Advanced Laser Sight, it can effectively hip fire over a large portion of that range bracket.

It’s still usable within 30-40m, depending on attachments, target type and player skill.

Just keep in mind that Cyclone is an SMG, and will suffer obvious disadvantages when going against bigger guns at medium+ range, though 75% ADS movement speed can help reduce the gap.

Attachments

1x Reflex makes for an easy scope choice, since Cyclone is not effective at ranges that would warrant higher magnification. 

SPA is also a no-brainer attachment for all SMGs. 

Rail and Barrel attachments are not so straightforward, and all of them can be viable for certain playstyles. 

The “MLG” players with excellent aiming skill might prefer Forward Grip + Compensator combo, and ADS for headshots at all times.

The main purpose of this setup is to increase headshot accuracy in 10-20m range bracket, and overall effective range will be improved a little.

This combination will seem completely bewildering to most people and for a good reason. Personally, I’d never use this combination as well. But I see this working for select few exceptional infiltrators.

Flash Suppressor makes an okay Barrel slot filler, especially at night. 

Suppressor will tank the effective range, and it probably doesn’t make much sense to use on infiltrators, since cloaking sounds will direct enemies to your position anyway. But it could work on a cocky Light Assault build.

Extended Mags vs. ALS comes down to playstyle.

If you’re careful about your engagements and mind the Long Reload, ALS will give you excellent dueling potential. You’ll have to always engage enemies one by one, though.

Extended Mags will make Cyclone a bit more general-purpose than strict 1v1 CQC fights.

You will have to ADS more often, but have the ability to engage more than  one enemy at a time, won’t go through Long Reload as often, and be able to take out beefier targets outside optimal range.

Playstyle

You can find some guidelines on how to use an SMG here.

Truth Behind the Myth

myth

Cyclone is often called “the best”. Be it “the best SMG for NC infiltrators” or “best SMG overall” and even “best weapon in the game, period”.

Why does it receive such praise and is it deserved? To find the answer, we have to look at the bigger picture.

If you don’t mind reading a wall of text, /u/Quinnocent gives an excellent explanation here

Weak Competition

Compared to other 1st generation SMGs, Cyclone is indeed too good. You may even say “overpowered”.

Cyclone has a great combination of all the important stats:

  • better hip fire than Armistice
  • better DPS than Eridani
  • noticeably longer effective range
  • higher damage per magazine
  • potentially fastest time to kill with headshots

Basically, Cyclone can perform nearly as well in close quarters as other 1st gen SMGs, and it can better engage at range, and it performs even better in skilled hands.

Lack of clear disadvantages

Cyclone’s disadvantages are statistical and not easily perceivable by players.

1) Low Rate of Fire means that statistically Cyclone is less consistent when spraying in close quarters, and loses more TTK as range increases.

An excerpt from the Weapon Mechanics Guide:

…let’s compare two SMGs:
AF-4 Cyclone: 167 @ 6m – 100 @ 46m / 652 RoF
SMG-46 Armistice: 125 @ 6m – 84 @ 42m / 896 RoF

They both have similar DPS and effective engagement ranges. At 6m, they have the same TTK of 0.47. However, when crossing the bullet damage threshold from 6m to 7m, Armistice’s TTK will increase to 0.54, and Cyclone’s TTK will increase to 0.56.

They both will need one additional bullet to kill, but Armistice fires those bullets at a much faster rate, so it’s a less of a problem for that weapon.

This determines how much of a penalty is inflicted by using Suppressor, and generally for engaging the target outside the maximum damage range.

2) Less consistent horizontal recoil. Sometimes Cyclone can get out of hand and kick more than others. But on average it will perform better.

3) Higher vertical recoil per second than for other SMGs, but still very controllable.

While Cyclone has ~35% more vertical recoil per second than other SMGs, this disadvantage can be safely ignored, because Cyclone’s vertical recoil is still very mild when compared to larger primary weapons.

Specifics of TTK Calculations

Cyclone is often praised for the best headshot time to kill. But where does it come from?

Let’s compare 1st gen SMGs:

  DPS Headshot BTK Headshot TTK
Armistice 1867 4 0.201
Cyclone 1815 3 0.184
Eridani 1787 4 0.24

 

As we can see, the difference between their Damage Per Second is minimal. The big disparity in headshot TTK has to do with how Time to Kill is calculated:

TTK = (BTK - 1) / ( RoF / 60)
or
TTK = (BTK - 1) * Refire Rate

The Bullets-to-Kill is reduced by one, because there is always one fewer Refire Times between shots.

Spread fingers of one hand before you. You’ll see five fingers (hopefully), and four gaps between them. Fingers are bullets, and gaps are Refire Times. 

The reason why Cyclone’s TTK is so short is because there are only two gaps between the three shots.

However, the longest Refire Time means Cyclone receives bigger penalty for missing.

Let’s take a look at how number change if the user misses 50% of shots:

  DPS Headshot BTK Headshot TTK
Armistice 1867 8 0.469
Cyclone 1815 6 0.46
Eridani 1787 8 0.48

 

Now they are only 0.01 or 0.02 seconds apart. The difference will continue to diminish as amount of shots increases.

To summarize, Cyclone can offer better performance in ideal circumstances, but will face greater punishment outside them. 

 “Most PlanetSide 2 battles are CQC”

This is another popular statement, which creates the logic of “Cyclone is strong in CQC, so it’s the best weapon overall”. 

The problem with the statement “most PS2 battles are CQC” – it’s not specific enough.

Some PS2 players enjoy playing for the objective, they are competitive, and will try to capture as much territory as possible. Often they’re organized and even use voice comms.

A lot of objectives, such as capture points and generators, are located indoors. 

And from that point of view, majority of their battles is indeed fought in close quarters. Especially if they often use Galaxy drops to bypass enemy defenses and the medium-long range part of battle, and drop straight on point. 

Often these players are most vocal in community. So naturally they will put greater value into a weapon like Cyclone. 

Just keep in mind that’s not the only way to PlanetSide 2, as long as there is no incentive to play for the objective, any playstyle is valid.

Cyclone Heavies

Most other New Conglomerate classes already had powerful automatic weapons for CQC, but this wasn’t the case for Heavy Assaults.

Cyclone became the first automatic CQC weapon, available to NC HA. Suddenly they had a high DPS weapon with excellent hip fire. 

In contrast with slow-firing, average DPS unwieldy LMGs, Cyclone does feel like a godsend. 

“Cyclone Heavies” became a thing. They are able to dominate close quarters fights against LMGs of enemies, while remaining competitive at 20-30m, which can’t be said about other factions’ SMGs.

This is the biggest contributor to Cyclone hype.

Crowd mentality

Say something often enough and it becomes the truth. A lot of people praised Cyclone for reasons above, and other people started repeating it. At some point Cyclone’s hype became a self-sustaining effect: people praise it because people praise it.

This issue is only made worse by certain vocal community members that make a point to repeat just how overpowered the Cyclone is whenever it is mentioned.  

Closing thoughts

Cyclone was and still is overpowered when compared to other SMGs.

The recoil nerfs were not enough to tone down its effective range, they merely made it less consistent.

Other SMGs do certain things better: Armistice is better for CQC spraying and NS-7 is better at range. 

But only Cyclone does it all sufficiently well, and gives opportunity for skill to shine, which arguably makes it the best SMG overall.

That said, I would rather see other SMGs buffed to Cyclone’s level than Cyclone nerfed further. SMGs overall are a fairly weak class, and could use some buffs across the board.


The guide is now concluded. Special thanks to /u/HansStahlfaust for suggesting the topic, as well as to /u/Mustarde, /u/EclecticDreck and /u/CryoXVS whose feedback shaped this guide.