The current state of ESF dogfights

Discussion in 'PlanetSide 2 Gameplay Discussion' started by Schn00bs, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. Schn00bs

    Dear Planetside 2 community!
    This thread shall cover the current state of the air vs air gameplay especially for ESF’s and how my friends and I think and feel about it. A lot of things could need a little tweak here and there, in order to refine the enjoyment of the game. Let’s get on it.

    Skill should be/stay rewarding!
    Due to the flight- and hover-mechanics, Planetside 2 offers, basically, a unique and awesome air-experience. This mechanic enables players have a sort of “competitive” fight, which is pretty much exclusively found in that part of PS2.
    The way u can control your aircraft, your aim and your situational awareness will determine how successful you are. However – this is not easy to learn.
    Lately Sony came up with new weapons like the Coyote missiles, with the ambition of helping new pilots by lowering the amount of skill needed in order to deal damage to another air target. Well, yeah this helps new pilots, but it torpedoes the competitive part of the game. Right now many medium skilled player are using coyotes exclusively for the whole dogfight, spamming missile barrage after missile barrage - knowing that this is more effective for them, than using the nosegun.
    When there are air to air weapons that need no aim at all, while dealing significant amounts of damage, it pretty much nullifies all the efforts that good pilots have put into enhancing aim and dodging-moves. This is for my understanding just wrong and leads into strange situations especially considering situations were u get outnumbered. It was very difficult already to overcome several (noob-)enemies by trying to not give them a angle to shoot at you, but with coyotes this is all obsolete, u will just lose vs every pair of beginners who are using this weapon – no matter how skilled you are.
    For a new player Coyotes are more effecitve than using the nosegun due to the lack of aim - also if coyotes would deal alot less damage than they are dealing right know.
    Another funny thing about Coyotes: when you are very close to your enemy, just unload the clip – no matter what direction you are facing, the rockets will lock on and find the target. This should be addressed at first.
    A similar argumentation could be used against air to air missiles aswell, it’s just far too easy to deal huge amounts of damage with them. - And they just got buffed like crazy...
    Seriously … nobody should get upset about effective skill based weapons. Why don’t you buff those and so improve the competetive part of Planetside?
    The game would benefit by a reasonable nerf for Coyotes and a2a missiles.
    Personlay I don’t think the biggest problem for new pilots are the rare “ace-pilots”. It is the ridiculous amount and the strength of several anti-air options that are offered by the game. But well, lets focus on air to air gameplay in this thread.

    Let’s come to the balance in between the ESF’s themselves.
    So what defines how good an ESF is vs another ESF? Mainly there are three factors:
    1. The noseguns. Decisive is the effective DPS that can be put into the target. Defining for that is the DPS of the gun itself, the muzzle velocity and further reloading speed or clip size. The most crucial factor here is the muzzle velocity since it directly determines how effective your aim will be. The standard noseguns have the best velocity so they are the weapon of choice for dogfighting.
    2. The hit box. Obviously you will get hit less with a smaller hit box.
    3. The maneuverability. The higher skilled pilots will end up in a “hover-fight” relatively quickly. Of course you want to make it as hard as possible for your enemy to hit you while still being able to return fire. Decisive for that is how (fast) your ESF can move when in hover mode – considering the vertical-thrust but also diving speed (in hover-mode).
    All those 3 factors will affect each other. The Reaver for example has the biggest hit box, but also has the strong v-thrust. You have to take advantage of the strong v-thrust all the time and keep dodging; otherwise your HP will drop rather quickly. But the strong v-thrust also has a downside: Leading your shoots while performing rolling moves is extra difficult because through the upwards thrust your hits will occur way below your crosshair. However the balance between the Reaver (big, good maneuverability) and the Mossie (small, weak v-thrust) feels quite good right now. This also goes for the noseguns of those two ESF’s.

    But one stands out: The Scythe has a tiny hit box from the front, medium size hit box from above. People underestimate the huge gabs between the “wings”, but when u think of those, the hit box isn’t really that big – compared to the Reaver. When in reverse the Scythe feels quite agile while performing dodging maneuvers that contains up and down direction changes. The Scythe is (in hover-fights) by far the hardest to hit – by faaar.

    The Nosegun: The Saron-laser cannon has the best muzzle velocity, DPS is in order with the other standard noseguns plus it offers the fastest reloading speed. Crucial is especially the muzzle velocity which gives the saron a huge edge above the other noseguns. So we have the best shape, decent maneuverability and the best nosegun. Oh yeah, the Scythe is overpowered. This is common knowledge by experienced pilots with accounts on multiple factions. Every ESF pilot will perform best with the Scythe after a little familiarization.
    I’d recommend enlarging the hit box from the front while cutting the muzzle velocity bonus. I cannot see how you can balance the weapons while retaining this so relevant bonus in velocity.

    Don't hate me when you are a pilot on VS only - just face the truth and help us improving the balance.

    Thanks for reading.

    My charakters : Schn00bs; Schn00bse; Schn00bseVS
    Server: Cobalt
    • Up x 8
  2. Rhaegal

    Good review, however; these are the things that kept popping inside my mind while reading it:

    a) Skill-based weapons gets nerfed the most (Rotaries, Dalton, ABs...)
    b) There is no hope to get SOE's fav pets (Tomcats) out of the way. They ALWAYS bounce back in.
    c) Coyotes are a little OP, they will get nerfed eventually though not so soon, people have to keep faith that they can always enjoy the new OP weapons for some time long enough to justify their price.
    d) Pilots have been crying their hearts out to have balanced A2A weapons, yet it seems that this is not 'profitable' for the game (not the air game).

    ESFs across factions are not balanced. As you said everyone with multiple factions knows that. There seems to be no plans to do anything about it. I understand its a bit hard to balance out such a thing, but the current indicators do not support that there will ever be any. The smallest issues takes ages of tweaking with no solid outcome but endless fluctuation between "It's happening" and "nerf hammer".

    Finally, and it could be just me, G2A determines the winner of dogfights well over 70-80% of the times. Unless you wanna fly in Esamir per say on low populated server at mid night.
  3. Spadar

    I actually occasionally get told (Almost entirely by Scythe pilots) that I'm not as good in a dogfight as I appear in my videos. Something people don't really take account of is that most of my dogfighting videos are from 6+ months ago, when Scythes were comparatively much weaker than they are now.

    Back then:
    (Only listing some of the major contributors, and in a simplified form)
    All Default Nose Guns had the same velocity (lower than the current).
    Rotaries dealt more damage at mid ranges.
    Nerfs to maneuvering weren't present.

    The air game is much different now from what it used to be. Combat maneuvering matters relatively little. For the most part it just consists of drifting around with vertical thrust while focusing on hitting your target, changing direction every once and a while to throw off your opponents aim. Combat also tends to take place over much larger distances since the default nose-guns are the go-to choice in most cases, further trending away from maneuvering as a requirement and towards accuracy.

    The general tactic for any competent Scythe/Mossy pilot engaging a Reaver should be to use their vertical thrust maneuvering to maintain as much distance as possible. The longer the range, the larger advantage you have. Though in this instance the only benefit the Mosquito gains is from their smaller hitbox, thicker tracer stream, and higher damage output over longer periods of time, whereas the Scythe has the smaller hitbox, thicker tracer stream, higher damage output over longer periods, and faster projectile velocity.

    The Reaver's strengths are greatly weighted towards close range burst damage. As range increases, and the duration of the engagement increases, and the Reaver is at an increasing disadvantage. A dogfight between two "ace" pilots who have equal awareness of each other is unlikely to end quickly, and it's not difficult to be aware of your opponent long before they're engaging you. This is why we see Scythes winning in tournaments almost exclusively, since they benefit the most from long duration, long range engagements.

    I find these dogfights stale and slow paced if I'm to be completely honest, and as a result I don't really have much tolerance for "dueling" in the current air meta, and by extension the new generation of trash talking pilots who constantly challenge me to duels when I take advantage of them in an open air environment.

    In comparison the dogfights of 6+ months ago were a bit different. The ranges at which you could effectively engage were much shorter, and you could maneuver with your afterburners for longer. This made the fight much more about positioning and taking advantage of your opponents openings than the current accuracy contests we have.

    As for Coyotes and A2AM... I feel that the A2AM should break lock much quicker if you exit the reticule, when they first introduced the changes it was possible to evade the missiles by maneuvering at the right moment. Stealth should offer a reduction to the coyote lock radius, making the attacker have to be significantly more accurate with them to hit a target that breaks the mold and steps away from Nanite Auto Repair, since that in itself is a pretty harsh penalty in a dogfight.

    Disclaimer: I didn't really proof read this since I'm on my way out the door, so there may be silly errors. Later I might put together a graph or something showing the relation to raw damage output to range and time for the ESFs if I'm feeling motivated.
    • Up x 4
  4. Guppet

    I think there is one very large thing you are missing.

    Most air to air pilots are experienced pilots.

    Just because a pilot has coyotees, that does not mean he is dedicated to air to air combat.

    There are some new hybrid builds that players are using these days. Like Banshee and Coyotees. Your suggesting that they should use the Banshee in air fights? Because if they don't, then they will be using just the yotes, which is actually more beneficial to them than using the shee too.

    As people get more comfortable in the air, they will get better with their nose guns. This takes time. It took you time. During your time learning air, AA was less frequent and there were no "aces" camping your warp gate to jump you as soon as you were out of it.

    Learning to fly is harder now than it was for you! Give it a few months and you'll see more people pmaying the way you used too. People take many dozens of hours of attacking ground targets before they work up to air targets, as it's much more accessible than going against air targets (especially libs).

    For myself, I'm getting into ESF piloting, but I have to admit, air to air is the hardest part to master, mainly due to just how predatory experienced pilots are. Also if yotes are so OP, why aren't you using them too?

    I realise I may have rambled away from my point. "People may not have a nose gun equipped which is any use in air to air". That was kind of my point, so those players are justifiable using just yotes.
    • Up x 2
  5. IamnotAmazing

    What I took from this/agree with

    Coyotes need a damage nerf, a reload nerf ( and all esf's shouldn't able to reload while firing another weapon
    The scythe needs a nosegun nerf, I suggest putting the velocity back down to 50ms below the others like it was before and nerf the reload speed

    Currently the mossie has no direct advantage, though it can beat a reaver at long range, it still can't beat a scythe at close, the scythe needs a significantly lower ttk than the mossie

    also a2am should four shot, and give more ammo capacity

    The Scythe balance debate will be an interesting one to say the least. I am worried that if SOE chooses to do anything to the Scythe they will over nerf it and create an even worse situation that currently exist. But I do whole heartedly agree that the Scythe needs to be re balanced as it is simply the best fighter by a sizable margin. The hit box matter is probably the top contributor to its current state of top ESF which Is compounded by the effectiveness of its guns. I'm curious if SOE would even consider altering its shape to affect balance or will they simply play with weapon numbers to bring them inline.
    • Up x 1
  7. GoyoElGringo

    That's too much too read atm, so I skimmed through it. One thing I want to address, and sorry if you mentioned this and I missed it, is that a pilot that chooses a capable A2A nosegun and an A2A secondary should have an advantage over a pilot running an A2A nosegun and rocketpods or ABs in a hover duel.

    If coyotes are so OP that a nosegun isn't needed, that's one thing, but if the complaint is that a pilot using just a nosegun is getting killed by a pilot with a combination of a nosegun and coyotes, then don't think that holds water. An A2A build should always beat a a combo A2A/A2G or ganking build in a hover duel(in a vacuum).
    • Up x 1

    The issue is AB tanks are considered a A2A loadout and having another A2A loadout be the superior option takes away from the side grade it should be. Both should have a strength and weakness but be a balanced outcome if played correctly. Currently an Ace using Coyotes will come out on top more times than not against the other loadouts due to its current mechanics. No one here is asking for rocket pod ESF to be able to beat A2A loadout ESF rather no one A2A loadout should be the overall best option.
    • Up x 2
  9. Dead soldier

    The is by far the best ESF for HOVER FIGHTS. Not in all air engagements though. From the ground it is a giant target when it fires over head. Bigger than all the other ESFs. It also is the slowest because the default mossie can travel faster than the Default sythe or reaver but the reaver has stronger AB so it can outrun the sythe. So in pure hover fight engagements the sythe is the best.
  10. Emotitron

    I fly my scythe quite a bit these days, not sure I am feeling all that stronger in it - since like Spadar stated - I generally try to avoid hover-duels. They are great for wiener-waving contests but in-game they just leave the two players open for one of them getting jumped mid-fight.

    Coyotes do need a nerfing. SOE has to know this, and the server stats must be starting to show it with an over-representation of them. A2AM spam is being replaced to the annoying sound of coyote spam. Also as Spadar mentioned, there should be some balancing disbalance added to nullify that. Giving vehicle stealth the ability to spoof coyotes better would do the trick. As it is, auto-repair is definitely over-represented on aircraft.
  11. Hosp

    Reaver AB currently not relevant. (Haven't tried with new fuel pods though)
  12. dstock


    I think the issue with ESF balance is that each ESF genuinely feels different to fly. I could go on and on, but the TL|DR is that people are always going to argue about this, because there is a lot of personal preference involved.

    I do my best to stay out of ESF debates, I don't consider myself good enough in any of them to have a meaningful contribution.
  13. IamnotAmazing

    no people can use them as primaries and don't fire their nosegun

    which is 99% of fights, until we find a better way that doesn't get demolished by hover fighting the scythe is the best
  14. Dead soldier

    yes it is. If you are running away from a mass air zerg, the faster AB will speed you out of there faster and either into your own zerg or the protective bubble of your Warpgate.
  15. Dead soldier

    Hover fights aren't 99% of the fights if that's what you mean. It isn't even 99% of the fights for experienced players. Unless it is 2 good pilots against each other, it is rarely a hover fight. it mostly is a shoot at an ESF flying in a straight line manuever or an ESF "Barrel rolling" while you 1 clip him.
  16. IamnotAmazing

    get in a dogfight and tell me how many of them are hoverfights, bad pilots don't matter
    yeah the extended afterburners make it useful
  17. Hosp

    The faster speed is irrelevant not because it isn't faster, but because the durations is pointlessly short. Unless you're near somewhere safe to begin with, you're not getting away.
  18. SNAFUS

    Killing random novice pilots is a non factor for air balance debates. And even with those individuals who simply fly straight as you one clip them still are a minority compared to other pilots who engage in hover fights. Using Vtol is simply the only viable option for dog fighting in PS2 and every pilot with some understanding of an ESF will engage it to fight. As long as that is the primary dog fighting tactic it allows the Scythe to have an overwhelming advantage due to its profile.
    • Up x 1
  19. chrisbeebops

    I agree. Coyotes and other A2A locks should be training wheels for new pilots so they can learn to fly while still doing some damage. If the Coyotes/A2AM are too powerful, low skill pilots have no reason to switch to their nosegun and learn to fly at a higher skill level.

    We already tried this before and what happened? The Scythe was widely panned as the worst ESF in dogfighting by far. I have said it to many others and will say it again, yes the Scythe has an edge in hoverduels. Doesn't take a genius to figure out the ESF with the highest velocity nosegun and smallest front hitbox has an advantage here. But its advantages end there, and aren't that relevant on the live server, where most 1v1 engagements are decided by who jumps who, regardless of what ESF is used by either pilot.

    But Scythe also has several weaknesses which are very evident on live server conditions and in group fights, such as having huge top & bottom hitboxes, slower TTK, and being the slowest ESF of the 3.

    Having the best overall hitbox, fastest cruising speed, and fastest acceleration aren't advantages?

    Now that you mention it, forgot to list this as a Mosquito advantage, having 25% more ammo capacity. I haven't run the A2A rotary since the Liberator update because I run out of ammo too quickly.
    • Up x 3
  20. IamnotAmazing

    Ok so at least normalize the velocity to the other nose guns
    I agree that jumping is a big part of it, this is why reaver v scythe balance is fine. The mosquito needs to have a buff in dps/ttk against scythes. All fights between good pilots turn into hover fights, this is a fact. A mossie getting a jump isn't deadly to a scythe, it needs to be for any hope of balance.
    Yeah so their hitbox is balanced out in group fights, yipey, that doesn't happen often. It has the middle ttk, not by much, but still it should be less than the mossie. The mosquito should beat the scythe at close range, but it doesn't. Yeah speed is helpful, for getting between the warpgate you're camping and ammo, that's it. ( explained more below)
    It doesn't have the best overall, all the pixels added up still favor the scythe, there are pictures somewhere on the forums of this. Acceleration and cruising speed are useless until you can outrun fights/bullets, until then I refuse to acknowledge this as an advantage