COMBAT GUIDE - by Vincent Formosa
In Edge of Chaos there are a number of main points that need clarifying; these are your use of thrusters, your shields and orientation and your tactical position.
- Going too fast in one direction makes it harder to quickly change course and take up a new heading.
- Make use of your side and forward thrusters to make your flight path less predictable.
- Plan your next move ahead of time so you can take your ships inertia into account when you manouveur. Turn too late and you may not be able to get through the gap you want.
Unlike other space simulators, craft in Edge of Chaos do not behave like aircraft in space. Forget what you have seen in Star Wars. While it is visually exciting, dogfighting like a normal aircraft in Edge of Chaos is liable to get you killed quite quickly. Constant forward thrust limits your manouveurability and makes it harder to quickly change direction.
Newtonian Physics used in the game means that if you are going forwards at 1000m/s, if you spin 180° and point the way you have just come, you will still be going 1000m/s in the other direction, ie you will be sliding backwards. You need to fire the engines to kill your motion in one plane of movement, before you can move forwards or manouveur in another.
If you are looping at high speed, when you release your joystick, small braking thrusters will fire to stop your craft pitching and put you back on level flight. What often happens though is that you are so used to other sims immediately responding you release too late and your ships nose drifts beyond where you want to point it so you have to correct it.
This is because inertia was simulated in the flight model. In simple terms your ship has mass. The best example of this is to launch in the Tug and do a few manouveurs. Now return to base, and relaunch with a cargo pod attached. Try and do the same manouveurs again. You will find that your ships behaves very differently and this is because the additional weight of the pod affects your ships handling. All ships in the game have different flight characteristics and you need to get used to each of them to help you survive. With practice you can also use this mass to your advantage when dogfighting.
All ships in Edge of Chaos come equipped with lateral (side) thrusters as well as front and rear over-ride thrusters. These thrusters allow you to quickly break, accelerate or side slip during flight and can allow you to vary your style of play.
You also have the ability to roll your craft and this can help a lot when your shields start draining in energy.
Use Instant Action mode and practice different methods of attack as much as possible, they will stand you in good stead.
Shields and Orientation
- They defend the front and the sides of your ships. They DO NOT defend the rear.
- Each shield array can only block and track ONE thing at a time.
Bearing these two points in mind, try and avoid situations where :-
- There is more than one enemy firing at you from any one direction.
- Enemy ships are shooting at you from behind.
If you can take these two things into account your lifespan in combat will be a lot longer.
If a shield is running low in energy, roll your ship so that the other shield covers you while this one has a chance to recharge. Also bear in mind that there is a chance that not every shot will be blocked.
The closer an enemy is to you, the more energy will be drained from your shield if they hit you so use your ships manouveurability to your advantage. If you can move and avoid some of these incoming shots, your shields will last longer and give you the edge.
Lt. General Adolph Galand, Luftwaffe
"No guts, no glory. If you are going to shoot him down, you have to get in there and mix it up with him"
General Frederick C. 'Boots' Blesse, USAF
Two quotes with slightly different messages. One advocates a studied approach, the other a more aggressive position but both deal in closing with an enemy. Both are equally correct provided you assess the combat situation correctly.
Edge of Chaos can provide an exciting, fast moving combat environment and later missions in the game can put you in the middle of a lot of enemies. When everyone starts shooting, things can get hot very quickly. Charging into the middle of a fight at full speed; guns blazing, may prove exciting but it will also be a very shortlived gaming experience. To survive you need to examine a number of factors these are:
If there are four enemies in front of you, the last thing you should do is get in close even if you have some strong weapons. Putting yourself at close range means your weapons will do more damage, but so will theirs! And there are more of them!
You must always tailor your approach according to the target and its capabilities. If they are equal or superior in strength and they attack you en masse, then you must try and find some way to separate them. Alternatively, if they are weaker, you can consider being more aggressive.
Do not let yourself become blinded by your own ships strengths. It has weaknesses like any other and when you are outnumbered, you increase the chance of that weakness being exploited.
If there are more of them make as much use of your weapons as possible. A weapon is a tool and how well it does is entirely dependent on what chance you give it to succeed. Merely pointing yourself at the enemy and spraying the sky with bolts will have little affect.
If you have guns and missiles that allow you to engage a superior enemy at long range, make use of them. A few well placed disruptors can even the fight long enough for you to close in and quickly finish a few ships before the remainder can react.
If you only have short range weapons then make sure you keep moving quickly. It matters little if you only get a chance for a short shot as long as you make it count. Move in, shoot and extend to escape before making another pass. By making quick short slashing attacks you minimise the chances of being damaged.
Another tactic is to perhaps try and lure the enemy onto some proximity mines you have laid.
This breaks down into two main categories.
This is quite simple, you start the fight. That is, you fire upon an enemy that was either.
- previously unaware of your presence
- was neutral in allegiance to yourself
Because you initiate combat you have everything on your side. When you fire, at who, how close and where you fire. Initiation of combat primarily applies in the Edge of Chaos universe to Piracy.
Until you fire at a transport and its escorts they will not react hostile to yourself, therefore as you have the privilege of the opening shot you must make sure it counts, particularly if you attacking an enemy of superior numbers or ability.
Manouveur yourself behind your target and get in close to maximise your weapons effectiveness. By the time the target can react your will have either already destroyed them, or disabled them enough to make the remaining combat easy.
- Position close behind the enemy
- Fire before he can react
- Pick off the transport at your leisure
The enemy is already hostile and closing on you to attack.
In this instance you have far fewer options. Usually the enemy will already be closing the range on either yourself or a friendly craft that you must defend.
If they are attacking you then you can react with a certain degree of flexibility, using a combination of manouveuring thrusters and joystick movements to put them where you want them. If the enemy is superior in numbers then retreat or advance to try and dictate the pace of combat.
If they are attacking something you are tasked to protect, even if they are superior you must attack to divert them from their target. The good thing here is that they will probably ignore you until you intervene as they are focused on the intended target.
In that instance, if their target is to the side or behind you, try and position yourself so they must pass you from the sides, never head to head! If you let them go past then you can slide in behind them and fire at their unprotected rear, giving you some free shots before they react to you.
Whether you initiate combat, or react to it always take the following into account.
- How many enemies there are
- Your own weapons capability
- Their weapons capability
Each of these points will dictate your choice of tactic and how you respond to their behaviour. If you are light on weapons facing a numerically superior force, then the smart play is live and fight another day; retreat. If they are weak in numbers or strength then you can be much more aggressive but do not rely on the strength of weapons alone. A smarter foe will always use their ships manouveurability to its full advantage.
Before you even fire take a look at what you are going after. The more escorts it has, the higher value pods it carries. The more capable the escort is, the higher value the value of the pods again.
By that maxim, the tougher the escort, the better the value of the goods. But; how do you take care of so many escorts?
In the early stages of the game when you aren't packing much in the way of hardware, you can take out Utils and their Petrel Interceptor escorts with some effort but these same rules apply throughout the game.
Firstly take a look at the enemy. If there is one of you in a tug with no T-fighters and a few quad lights, perhaps taking on 3 Advanced Patcoms is not such a good idea but even then, it is possible with a little luck to take them out and claim your prize.
Until you fire, they will ignore you and not react to your actions, you are after all just another neutral contact on their sensor list, just as they are to you.
Therefore you have the benefit of choosing your fight. With this in mind you want to make maximum use of position and not just fire at long range. Get in close, get in behind and make your shots count.
A Util loaded with 4 pods exits the L-point at Touchdown with three Storm Petrel Interceptors as escort. They are formated on the Util and moving at the port inhibited speed of 250 m/s.
You are in a tug armed with two quad lights, a rapid fire PBC and a twinpack launcher holding seeking missiles and LDSI missiles.
- Go to ENG screen and increase your weapons power on the TRI layout. (this increases their refire rate)
- Using thrusters get behind the small convoy and target the first Storm Petrel keeping the range to about 1km or less.
- Select missiles and give him one up the tail pipe.
- As soon as you have launched a missile, switch to the quad lights and give him everything. (As you are firing from behind he has no shield coverage and will die quite quickly.)
- As soon as the quad lights have run down in power, switch to the rapid fire PBC and target the second Petrel, giving him everything, again from behind before he has a chance to manouveur or react.
- If the third escort has still not reacted target him and continue firing. If he has started to manouveur then thrust forwards (W) using override thrusters and pull a 180 pitch at 3 km range from the UTIL with an LDSI ready just in case. By this time the third Petrel should be shooting at you but your weapons will have recharged and he will be toast in about five seconds.
Other variations of the above example is to fire off two disruptor missiles at a range of about 8 or 9 km from target during your approach. That means two escorts temporarily disabled from the missiles.
As soon as you have fired the missiles off (one at each Petrel) thrust towards the convoy letting the missiles get ahead of you. As soon as they hit then fire at the third Petrel. By now range should be about 2-3km's at most. The range will also be continuing to close so within a few seconds the Storm Petrel should be in real trouble providing your fire is accurate.
Then, once he is destroyed you can turn your attention to the two disabled ships, taking them down in short order before opening fire on the Util.
Later in the game, provided you have pirated enough goods to trade for better weapons, you can be much more direct in your attacks on transports. But even then be careful, just because you have better guns doesn't mean you won't get cocky and bite off more than you can chew occasionally, it happens to all of us at one time or another.
(NOTE: When pirating make regular visits back to base. There is nothing more infuriating than making a number of good raids on transports only to get greedy and take on one guy too many when your missile inventory is low. If you miss him this time, there is always next time.)
Examples of thrusters use.
Head to Head. You are approaching an enemy head on with a speed of 800 m/s and you are accelerating. In normal flight, once you have gone past the enemy you would have to turn or loop to come around and by that time, it is very likely the enemy would have done the same forcing another head to head situation. In Edge of Chaos you can use thrusters to your advantage and maintain the ability to shoot when your enemy may not.
The 180° Pull. A straight forward lazy loop can occupy a lot of time and at the speeds used in the game that may also put you a long distance away from your opponent. Using thrusters however allows you to modify the loop substantially in many different ways.
- You could pull back hard on the stick. Once they have passed you, if you pull back hard on the stick you will immediately pitch up to face back the way you have come and then use forward thrust (W key) to brake. Yes you will be sliding backwards in the meantime but all the while your nose is pointed at the enemy allowing you to continue to shoot at them.
- You brake first. If you use your (S key) before you have passed your enemy you will have greatly reduced your forward speed. Once they have passed by you can then quickly pull back on the stick as in example (1) above and then use your (W key) to quickly get back up to forward offensive speeds putting you close behind them pointed at their vulnerable unshielded rear.
The Sideslip. Because Newtoniant Physics have been modelled in the game it is possible for ships to slide in one direction while having their nose pointed in another. All it takes is the use of your side thrusters and some movement of your joystick.
- Use (W Key) and (A Key), that is your forward thrusters and your left side lateral thrusters and use a combination of pitch and roll on the joystick. What you are aiming for is to always keep your Green circular Reticle on the target as your approach, that means you can still shoot and hit because they are a stationary target. Start by thrusting forwards using (W), then while thrusting forwards, use (A) as well. You will see the target start drifting to your right. Use right yaw (push right) on your joystick to keep the Reticle on the target.
Attacking a station. A few missions in Edge of Chaos have you attacking a station. That's right, your little ship against a big space station. Many stations in the Badlands Cluster mount a number of Assault or Gatling Cannon armaments and if you go for them in a straight line, you are going to be turned into Swiss cheese very quickly. How then can you close the range to use your guns to good affect without being killed yourself?
The Lazy Roll. This method has you rolling your ship and using your thrusters together. Guns on stations use deflection shooting to hit. Ie they are aiming at where you are likely to be next based on your current speed and direction of flight. By rolling and thrusting you make it impossible for the base defences to predict that accurately while in the meantime you can still shoot and hit back.
Use (W Key) and (A Key), that is your forward thrusters and your left side lateral thrusters and use a combination of pitch and roll on the joystick.
What you are aiming for is to always keep your Green circular Reticle on the target as your approach, that means you can still shoot and hit because they are a stationary target.
Start by thrusting forwards using (W), then while thrusting forwards, use (A) as well. You will see the target start drifting to your right. Use right yaw (push right) on your joystick to keep the Reticle on the station.
(NOTE: What is happening here is that you are sideslipping towards the target, it allows you to shoot while avoiding a deadly head on attack!)
However sideslips are too predictable so we now introduce a roll to keep your hull scratch free. Using your joysticks twist rudder function (or right rudder on the keyboard) we can now roll your ship, all the while keeping the reticle on the target. While rolling we may have to use some pitch (ie pull back on the stick) to keep the reticle on target.
If you were to step out of your craft you would see it performing a spiral while moving forwards. This makes it much harder for the station to hit you while at the same time you can close the range so your own weapons have an increasing affect.
(NOTE: This spiral attack works just as well against ships in a head on attack)