Planetside 2 has a well deserved reputation for having a brick wall where a difficulty curve should be. Team focused play, caution, patience and a cool head can go a long way towards easing your entry into the battlefields of Auraxis. Here are 5 tips to help you get mauled less frequently in your first hours with an MMO shooter that still has no equal in terms of scale and sci-fi combined arms warfare.
Most players new to Planetside 2 will have a similar experience. Spawn, run towards the action, get rekt within seconds, repeat. Spawn, get into a tank, drive towards the carnage, get obliterated within seconds, repeat. Spawn, take a step outside the spawn room, get a generous helping of lead to the face before you even know where the enemy fire is coming from, repeat.
A lot of players will rightfully be discouraged by such an introduction to the game, and only those who can see the potential the game holds, once you master its basics, will stick around long enough to wrestle some fun out of Planetside 2. Before you accept defeat, here are some tips to help you get mauled a little less frequently.
A lone noob = free XP
Planetside 2 is not a tactical shooter. It is as close to a "strategy shooter" as the genre will ever get. The first thing every new player should try to do is find an Outfit (Planetside's name for player guilds) that fits their preferred playstyle, join in and try to learn as much from other players as possible. You will find Planetside's outfits to be very open to new players.
A lone soldier can hardly make a difference in most situations, unless he is a highly skilled Infiltrator player, so until you can be that stealthy nuisance yourself, it pays to operate in as large a group as you can find. You will also be receiving orders from your outfit's commanding officer, which will go a long way towards directing your efforts into something that has an impact on the overall game.
Other than that, there is safety in numbers. Being in a group of advancing infantry will make the enemy stop and pick their targets for a precious second, or maybe even reconsider giving away their position by firing. That brings us to the next point...
Be aware of your surroundings and the position of the enemy
Planetside 2's TIme To Kill (TTK) is punishing beyond words. Especially new players will routinely have their behinds handed to them before they even know where the enemy fire is coming from. A good way of avoiding this is always having one eye on the mini-map. While you are there, it also pays to rebind your mini-map zoom function to your mouse wheel.
Yes, you heard right. Engagement ranges in Planetside 2 change constantly, and you will find yourself fighting in close quarters one minute only to proceed to being shelled from 600 metres away in the next. Pinpointing the source of incoming fire is essential for your survival, because once the first projectiles hit your fragile self, you will have less than a second to react, and this usually this translates to a trip to the spawn tubes if you happen to be unprepared. That means that the mini-map is your best friend and the ability to control its zoom factor, at all times, is vital.
Knowing where your allies have set up a defensive positions, where the enemy is massing for a charge, what direction a tank column is advancing from, or just plain knowing where the nearest friendly engineer or medic is will help a LOT. On that note...
Play as a Medic or Engineer
Bursting into a room and triumphantly gunning down three enemies before presenting another three with a grenade blast while playing a Heavy Assault trooper is a dream you should leave for the time where you have actually mastered the game. Until then, Medic and Engineer should be your go-to classes.
The first advantage this presents is that Medics and Engineers will receive a steady stream of experience while being relatively out of harms way. Resupplying your allies, placing mines and turrets, healing and resurrecting squadmates, providing covering fire and repairing tanks and defences, all while keeping your head down will help you get a feel for the general flow and rhythm of the game and make you useful to the people who actually know which end of a gun goes pew-pew.
Planetside 2 players will more often than not express their gratitude for any and all support you can provide. Tank gunners are always in short supply, a competent medic can keep an advance going long after it should have been stopped dead in its tracks, and a single engineer with a well placed turret can deny the enemy any chance of taking a base long enough for his allies to regroup. All your early days as a support class should be understood as a learning experience. Observe what the Battle Rank 100+ players around you are doing, try to figure out why, take notes and when in doubt - ask for guidance. This way, you will know your assault riffles form your carbines by their firing sounds in no time. This brings us to...
ALL of Planetside 2's armaments are situational
It is easy to assume that your initial failures in the game are somehow the result of the opposition having unlocked 'more powerful' weapons than those at your disposal. This couldn't be further from the truth. All of the game's starting weapons remain viable throughout the whole game and some of them were even considered so overpowered that they had to be nerfed.
Some weapon uses are quite obvious. Running around with a shotgun on an open plain will net you a sniper round to the eyeballs, with no chance to return fire even if you manage to get to cover. A scoped battle rifle in close quarters will provide similar results. In other cases, the individual advantages and disadvantages of various weapons aren't that obvious. At what range is an assault rifle preferable to a carbine? In what situations is an SMG deadlier than a shotgun? Which weapon scope or attachment benefits what weapon, for a specific battlefield situation, and at what cost? The answers to these questions are important during your time on Auraxis and can only be attained through patiently learning the game.
Unlocking more weapons and gear won't instantly make you more powerful, it will only make you more suited for a specific situation. Knowing what situation you will find yourself in ties back into the second point of this guide, situational awareness. Don't assume that unlocking that rifle you had your eyes on for days will instantly result in improved performance. It will expand your toolbox, but what you do with that toolbox is still entirely dependant on your skills and knowledge of the game. A fully decked out Heavy Assault soldier with maxed out shields, has zero chances of survival, overshield or not - if he blunders straight into an artillery barrage. While we are talking about things that go boom...
Explosions will end you pretty much instantly
Incoming fire has the right of way and this goes doubly for explosive ordnance. The way explosive damage is handled in Planetside 2, it will pin you in place and send you to the spawn tubes in under 0.3 seconds most of the time. There are upgrades and gear items that can mitigate this effect somewhat, but it can never be avoided entirely.
If you hear a lot of boom surrounding your current position, keep your head down and find a way to be somewhere else. Preferably someplace where you can help your platoon eliminate the source of all that boom-boom. Explosions can come courtesy of aircraft bombing runs, a devious tanker somewhere out of sight, a Harasser mounted Halberd cannon circling your position, a determined group of infantry armed with rocket launchers - in Planetside 2 if it moves, it can probably explode you to death.
Unlocking Flak Armour can help reduce the effect this has somewhat, but keeping a cool head under fire, and not running out of cover, as a first reflex, at the first sight or sound of explosions in your immediate vicinity helps a lot more.
We hope that these few basic tips will help you avoid some of the more common mistakes new players make when first dropping out of low orbit onto the chaotic battlefields of Auraxis. Patience and a lot of practice, along with an active Outfit will make your life as an infantryman in Planetside 2 a lot easier. Until the time you are a force to be reckoned with yourself; don't forget - Keep calm and respawn.