planetside 2 cloak

CuteBeaver’s Stalker Infiltrator Guide

IN PROGRESS:

Let me preface this guide in saying I found it difficult to go back to the basics.  I wanted to just dive into the technical goodness, but doing so would be confusing and unhelpful to someone looking to get into stalking. I cannot assume you as the reader know everything at basic level so we are going to ease into this at first. As the guide progresses it will become increasing more technical towards the bottom. I will try and introduce principles early on which will be discussed in more detail later.

What is stalker cloak? 

Stalker cloak is the stealthiest cloak in Planetside 2. It does not drain energy as long as the infiltrator remains stationary, allowing the cloak to last indefinitely. The downside being the loss of your primary weapon. However the real draw of stalker cloak comes from  mitigation of the severity of drawbacks attached to cloaking mechanism itself. “Stalker Cloak” can best be considered a “Support cloak”. I say this loosely because its value is exceptional in a teamplay setting.  Killing is still possible and indeed viable, when using Stalker Cloak, but the advantages the cloak provides in a group setting favor specific timing and tasks which are designed to keep your squad alive, and on point. Stalker Cloaking allows you to get into positions and remain undetected until the perfect moment.

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.(link to video) Secondly other types of cloak cannot remain concealed for long periods of time. 

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. Stalker cloak also allows you to sneak up behind enemies from extended distance without having to decloak along route or trade exposure, and risk being spotted during an uncloaked silent approach. For example an Infiltrator using Nano Armor Cloaking, (NAC) may decide its better to not cloak when flanking an enemy in order to be stealthy. The moment NAC does use cloak the enemy is going to be alerted to her presence, and because the sound is so fantastic in Planetside2 the enemy can actually pinpoint NACs exact direction based on her cloak sound alone. Giving away your position is generally not helpful when flanking. This is why the ability to move for longer periods of time using Stalker Cloak is so helpful. Stalker Cloak is without contest the stealthiest cloak in Planetside 2. NAC (Nano Armour Cloaking) is actually an interesting cloak as well but functions in combat much differently then Hunter or Stalker Cloaking.  NAC users typically won’t spam their cloak, in many cases NAC users are better off being uncloaked in a CQC setting. When using NAC, sometimes less is more.

Why Cloak?

All types of cloak prevent you from being “q spotted” by enemy players. Even if an enemy does actually see your blur moving around they cannot communicate that knowledge on the mini map. They could tell their friends in teamspeak or using in game voice-chat, however they cannot highlight your position in real time for their entire faction to see on the mini map. Cloak provides the ability to prevent yourself from being “q spotted” and affords you more opportunities to flank. NAC allows infiltrators the ability to avoid being spotted, or to remove existing enemy “q spots” made against them while they were uncloaked and fully visible. This one example of how ALL infiltrators, regardless of their cloak type, can use cloak defensively to take away the spotted debuff.  Please keep in mind this will not work against radar / motion detection devices. Those devices show your location on the mini map and they are based on player movement speed.

Your not really invisible:

New players often tend to think cloak is invisible but that simply is not true. Cloak is reactive camouflage, bending light around your body to match the background behind you. Cloaking is not 100% invisible even under the best conditions it still has some distortion. There are different states of cloak which look more convincing then others. Sprinting is the most obvious state of cloak. Our bodies become glossy and very easy to see even at a distance. For Snipers, standing while motionless removes much of the distortion and glossy affects and you will often see snipers at work while standing up. Its pretty effective at a distance but stalkers should avoid doing this in close quarters because your human shape is obvious up close. For stalkers “crouch walking” while cloaked creates minimal distortion which is harder to see initially but can be detected if the stalker continues to move for longer periods of time. This means Stop / Go / Stop / Go movements are the safest way to cover ground.

Sitting still while crouched and not moving has been called “Deep Cloak” by the community, and for good reason. Deep Cloak is the safest cloaking state and it has very little distortion. You can even aim down sights with your pistol to stop your breathing animation. Even so it is still possible for enemies to walk past your location and notice something isn’t right. For example as they walk past and might notice the background warps slightly. They may even “trip” on you, and notice their movement “stopped” against something unseen. 

Because cloaking is not 100% invisible, you as a Stalker need to consider how alert the enemies nearby are towards your existence. We will get into this later, but suffice to say even deep cloak won’t save you from enemies who are hunting for you.

Using Cover:

Using cover objects is the best way to keep yourself alive when using stalker cloak. If you are hiding behind cover, congrats! You are 100% invisible! Cover also allows all types of infiltrators the ability to break line of sight with our enemies so we can hide. Using hard cover increases doubt which is a powerful countering weapon. Its best to think of cloaking as concealment and not stealth. Stealth is when enemies have absolutely no idea you exist. Our cloaking ability simply offers “concealment” but it takes time to enter back into “stealth.” The more doubt you can create the faster you can enter back into true stealth. Stalker cloak is the only cloaking option that provides enough time, and allows us to create enough doubt to our last known position to actually use cloak effectively for stealth instead of just concealment. By using cover objects in addition to normal cloaking shenanigans, you create extra confusion and additional escape opportunities . Before Stalker Cloaking existed cover was the only way Hunter or NAC infils with SMG’s and Scouts Infiltrators could “bail” and create doubt. Nothing has changed in this regard and cover is still used by NAC/Hunter SMG Experts to this day when they wish to disengage. The main point to take away from this paragraph is…. Even as a stalker nothing is stopping you from hauling ass when the time is right, and using cover objects like SMG users do. You don’t need to move slowly all the time. Sometimes its preferable to move quickly and re-position or seize the initiative and use cover for your escape.

Darklights:

With stalker cloak it becomes incredibly difficult to keep tabs on our whereabouts. Cover also offers a certain degree of protection from Darklights. Unfortunately the beam will still go through the cover objects and highlight us on the other side. This is not good if the room is full of enemies. However if the enemy is alone the darklight user might just assume that everything is fine since he cannot see the infiltrator hiding behind the cover object. This allows you to sneak around to keep from being discovered. Taking advantage of the assumptions enemies create when searching allows you to predict their search pattern and sneak up behind them. This does not work when there are many enemies around who could observe us playing flashlight frogger with the darklight user. In most cases your best option is to leave the area when the Darklight search begins. Remember its easy to search a tiny room, and much harder to search a forest. Consider leaving the building if enemies start using Darklights. Also consider when enemies equip a Darklight they are broadcasting your presence to others nearby. Movement will become increasing difficult when your presence is known.

Other Drawbacks:

You cannot recharge your personal shields while cloaked, and you cannot benefit from healing affects unless you expose yourself.  As a Stalker you can mitigate this drawback by finding safe spots to hide and then heal yourself. This allows stalkers to choose between using mines + regeneration implants, or picking traditional medkits.

Always Fire First:

Cloak also prevents you from firing a weapon while you remain cloaked. (No matter what version of cloak we are running.) It is possible for cloak to put the infiltrator at a disadvantage during an exchange. Consider this example. Our NAC infiltrator breaches into a room while cloaked and she cannot shoot enemies first because she must wait for cloak to fall off her body. Even though this is a tiny delay, if she had breached the room while uncloaked she could have engaged sooner. Basically as an infiltrator you want to keep the advantage of firing first on enemies. Sometimes cloak can work against you. Regardless of whether you are running NAC, Hunter Cloaking, or Stalker Cloaking, you must be the one who fires first on your enemies. This is because infiltrators have 100 less shield health then other classes. (A recent update gives NAC +100 shields putting them on even ground with other classes). However even so, infils only have access to weapons with lower magazine size and less room for error then other classes.  Its important to highlight that all types of infiltrator must fire first. The drawback of being unable to fire while cloaked is universal whether you have a primary or secondary equipped. Since you are using weaker secondary weapon, not only must you fire first, but as a Stalker Infiltrator you also want to stack extra advantages to increase your odds of success. 

Primary vs. Secondary:

Primary weapons typically have faster time to kill or larger magazines then a secondary weapon. This allows someone using a primary the ability to kill more enemies before having to reload. This also means they have more available ammo then you do. 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. The power gap between killing a single enemy in a 1v1 exchange is not much wider for Primary vs Secondary. Recent changes to pistols have only improved our potential to score kills with secondary weapons. Your secondary weapon is up to the task but you need to stack those extra advantages and have a good sense of timing. 

For example the crossbow behaves like a Hybrid between a BASR (Bolt Action Sniper Rifle) / SASR (semi-auto sniper rifle). However the crossbow doesn’t enjoy the bullet velocity of the BASR, or the fast follow up shots, of the SASR. However the crossbow still kills targets with two shots. When using a Secondary you just have to work harder for your kills. In the case of the crossbow picking the right moment to attack, and leading the enemy to compensate for the projectile speed being so slow.

Weapon choice:

Excelling with a secondary weapon is a requirement for stalker cloaking. Ideally you should FIND A WEAPON THAT WORKS BEST FOR YOU. This is also going to come down to your own play-style and personal skills. I could recommend you use a crossbow, but that may not be the correct fit for you. Go to the VR (Virtual Reality) room and try out all the pistols for yourself against the target dummies. Follow your own instincts. If you fall in love with a weapon do not put it down. Consider that maybe the fire rate, or the way it handles just is a good fit for you. Use a secondary weapon that you enjoy using the most. Before you purchase the weapon (either with certs or game currency), go ahead and use the free 30 minute trail feature found in the shop menu, and test the pistol against live enemies. Doing will allow you to get a good idea of how it works versus moving targets. Do keep in mind pistols now have optional scopes/reflex sights which you cannot trail, but these will make your HSO easier. Once you have a grasp on what weapon feels best, look up facts about the weapon. Know its effective range, how many headshots it takes to drop a target. Most importantly, 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. I know that sounds super vague but when I started using my crossbow everyone told me it was a garbage secondary weapon and to 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 then 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 start to get confident with your weapon.  Never hesitate to try new combinations, and push the meta forward. Be open to other suggestions but recognize others feedback may not work for you specifically, and alternatively suggestions you give to others trying to help them may not be the correct for them either. What makes infiltrators great is the depth and variation between play-styles. We don’t think or operate the same. You will never find two identical infiltrators or stalker infiltrators for that matter.

 Stalking Play-styles:

Please keep in mind these styles are always in flux. You may identify with a combination of them. The meta in Planetside 2 changes frequently as will these styles. New ones may be added as people keep finding new tactics and behaviors to explore when stalking.

Perching: (video)

Perching is when you take a long range overwatch approach to stalking. Using weapons like the Blackhand or Crossbow to take down targets at a distance. This is the easiest stalking style to break into as a new player. Distance between you and enemies increases survivability and allows you more chance to escape when being shot at. The extra distance also makes cloak concealment more effective and gives you additional space to disengage and hide from enemies who come searching. Perching  keeps you out of darklight range. However, don’t be fooled the skill ceiling for Perching is rather high and there is considerable depth to the play-style. 

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 picking “sniping” style spots sometimes in the middle of crowded fights where a Sniper using his Hunter Cloak would be unable to operate. Your creativity is expressed in finding new vantage points which would normally be off limits, and you may find yourself purchasing camo to better blend into backgrounds. Those with deadly fashion sense should apply 🙂

Shadowing: (video – Mustarde)

This style focuses on more of a tailing approach while on the ground. Cautiously follow behind your target(s) and attack using your secondary weapon to its full potential.  (Knifing is typically a desperation & countering measure.) Ideally you want a bit of distance between you and the enemies. Shadowing play-style pioneered HSO (head shot openers) as a viable alternative to using the knife and ambushing approach.  By knowing the time to kill of your secondary weapons you can gauge the risks. Positioning next to an escape route or a cover object helps keep you alive after you have opened on an enemy. Consider that cover object that obscures 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. Having good aim to score headshots before the target can react helps you avoid taking unnecessary damage. This style is considerably more risky and mobile then Perching. Shadowing requires you to be very creative because enemies will often hunt you. It is critical to learn how to counter (trick) enemies who come looking for retaliation. The more sneaky you are, the longer your life expectancy will be. Picking off single 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.  

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 HSO (Head Shot Opener) is critical even for spammy weapons which don’t have high damage (alpha damage) per bullet because the faster you kill an enemy with headshots the less damage you will take in returning fire, and the less risks 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.

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. 

Ambushing: (video – Self)

Assassination: (video – Weatherchild?)

Wraithing: (Goodluck finding video, may have to film it.)

 

 

Fail Shovel:

Stalker Cloak is one of the hardest cloaks to master in the game. Specifically because you live and die by tiny little details. Expect yourself to get brutally murdered by enemies as you undertake this learning process. Each death can teach you something or show you a way to improve your gameplay. 

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{video} OLD OUTDATED INFO:

Stalking at present has two different core play-styles. I primarily use “Ambushing” while Mustarde adopted a “Shadowing” or “Tailing” approach. There is overlap between the two but having spent some time using his preferred weapons and trying my hand at some of his techniques it has become clear to me that how you think, and go about making kills does change based on the two styles.

Ambushing: Is about seizing the moment, reading your enemy, and pouncing when you have the upper hand. Ambushing favors high alpha damage weapons usually paired with a knife. Essentially beating their human reaction time or catching them off guard. A great example is attacking an enemy during a reload or with their repair or healing tool out. In large group kills ambushing follows the 3 second rule to limit your risks during an escape. Manipulation is important for chaining ambushes. Learning to “Counter” an enemy who is hunting you becomes critical. If you can modify your enemies behavior in a predictable way it reduces your risks when approaching them. Reading what your enemy is thinking allows you to take advantage of an assumption or distraction in order to close the distance with your knife.

You will find using traps, or combat aids like mines, knives and EMPs are huge benefit when it comes to ambushing playstyle. In many ways knives become almost like a primary weapon. Certain weapons will favor HSO (Head Shot Openers) for example COMMY headshot opener and single quick knife stabbing = Dead enemy. Its easy to understand why higher alpha damage weapons are desirable. Consider tracking a terrified enemy who is jittering around across the screen becomes more difficult at point blank range then at 10 and 20 meters. This is why the fewer shots it takes to kill up close will often work out best with a knife.

Shadowing: Is more about mitigating the risks beforehand, and knowing your time to kill at a distance. You engage based on your own terms at ranges that favor your weapon and enable safe escape. By controlling the situation, and picking your location in a slightly different way focus shifts entirely based on what YOU are doing and kills are made are much more opportunistically based on YOUR position. It is similar to a modified scout rifle playstyle with the ability to disappear and re-position with far less risk. Head Shot Openers (HSO) become your bread and butter tactic for making kills. They decrease the expense of making kills at range, (which is fantastic since we don’t have much ammo) and reduce the risk of prolonged exposure. Medkits may also become more lucrative then mines as they free up your implant slot for other options like sensor shield, or enhanced targeting to detect weaker enemies without spotting. Spotting can be dangerous because whenever you manually spot a target your character screams loudly. Obviously enemies and allies nearby are going to hear you. Shadowing also requires you to counter those enemies who come to investigate, and this is where overlap begins between ambushing and shadowing.

Forumside Post:

Beyond weapon choice, stalking really has three major aspects you need to learn in order to get good with it.

1) Movement and positioning
2) Ambushing and Trapping
3) Escaping and manipulating enemies.

Once you can learn to chain ambushes the class will open up, and you will surely have more fun then just going 1 / 1.

Unfortunately everyone and their grandmother these days runs Heavy Assault because of their oversheild in infantry fights. This makes your job considerably harder as a stalker infil. Learn to easily identify HA’s, because in most cases these targets need a new approach. (Need to change that slightly with the shield revamp) 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 your looking at half a second (0.25-0.50 sec) worth of free DPS time. After that time expires expect their shield to come up. Just try an look at this like a challenge. Ultimately these HA are teaching you to make better cleaner ambushes. 

You can also use your motion spotter to bait enemies into a trap where you have the advantage. Or use a mine to intercept them. Everything from not hacking a terminal and poping domes trying and pull from it. To hacking a terminal and poping domes who try and destroy / take it back work fine. If your new to this I would start with terminals. As you get better at understanding your enemies intentions you can toss EMP’s where they will be, and finish them as the round the corner. Traps can be anything from sitting near an abandoned engineer turret with you knife out waiting for them to shoot it. On top of the corpse of a dead enemy waiting for a medic to revive them. Next to a broken base turret you think an engineer will repair soon as he makes his rounds. Surprising enemies is the best part about stalking. Heck you can even use other players as live bait ;D and farm savior ribbons.

Also please do not neglect your knife. It becomes your primary weapon in a sense.

Quick Knife is much more forgiving because it slices everything in a frontal cone. The way players move around – sometimes with jitter – means quick knife is going to be superior when it comes to dealing with mobile targets, or for lack of a better term panic / intercept knifing. That video was shot before holding knives in your hand was an option.

When you hold the knife in your hands mechanics change, and it becomes just like your pistol… just really short range lol. There is no longer a damage cone involved, and you must be precisely on target for the knife to do any damage. Slashing animations don’t matter, and it doesn’t care if your right on someones bum running after them. Worse the moment you push the knife key (or M1) you stop running. If your actually chasing after someone you must sprint / jump / midair knife. The range is short and if you do not jump you run the risk of them getting out of your range. Wielding a knife is perfect for creeping up on stationary enemies and executing them with a quick double slash. If you are PLANNING on getting close to someone who is blissfully unaware pull the knife out beforehand. If they are too close and you pull the knife out in your hands behind them, enemies are going to hear the clinking sound and could possibly move around in fear as you decloak. 

On top of those differences understand If you choose to purchase the new activation knife, understand it is NOT good for quick-knife tactics because it has a delayed reaction on press. Essentially it swings much slower, and will not instantly react with the cone which makes it terrible for panic knife attacks, or intercepting targets moving towards you. Clearly the active knives do have superiority when it comes to wielding and slashing down numerous oblivious, stationary / slow moving enemies. It does so in one glorious single hit. but makes a ton of noise. I just wish it was a little bit better against moving targets who are within snuggle range.

Anyway, mini rant aside.

The majority of my loadouts I will run AP mines. This will almost always require you to have a regeneration implant going for longevity. Fear not I usually just use a cheap Rank #1 regeneration and pick a time to heal up when its safe. Mines are perfect for dealing with groups of enemies. Making traps, and covering your escape. They are probably the most powerful device a stalker can have other then EMP’s. Mines can clear out entire rooms of enemies if you place one and follow up with an EMP. Mines can also be thrown through the air, over short fences onto peoples heads for maximum trollage. They are my top recommendation for stalker loadouts.

EMP’s are also really great to have. They improve the effectiveness of mines, knives, lower enemy shields and prevent the HA from getting aroused and glowing when you say hello :). I really love running with Bando and 4 EMP’s because it allows you to get the upper hand and just be more annoyingly helpful.

Another interesting idea: 

For guns like the Mag Scatter, which have a very short range, I will use a medkit so that way if someone does spot me while moving I can eat them and escape. Since the Mag Scatter is a very specialized short range weapon it doesn’t allow me to return fire in most cases, running is the only option and it would be suicide to try and return fire beyond my effective range with a shotgun pistol. The concept I am getting at however, is 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.

Your suit slot as a stalker is really going to come down to :

  • Do you work from longer ranges without support? Grab the ammo belt.
  • Do you ambush CQC, and enjoy knife play ? Grab Bando and EMP
  • Do you have a slower PC and want to climb things / use new active-knife easier? Grab the Pump.

Nanoweave isn’t going to help you survive as a stalker who is grossly underpowered when it comes to 1v1s. Thats fine, if we had the advantage there would be no requirement for sneakiness. Honestly if enemies see you, its pretty much over unless your able to BAIL, break line of sight and escape, or manipulate and counter them. Goodluck <3 and have fun shouting SURPRISE behind enemies with a soft squeaky fart.

Links for reference: 

 

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