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Sunday, 5 May 2013

Planetside 2: Xericor's Tactica, Tank Support Engineer

Xericors Tactica: Tank Support Engineer

Hi, and thanks for taking the time to check out this guide. I'm a big fan of PS2 and now that I have clocked up over 400hrs of game time I feel I have the experience to start writing my Tactica.

First up – a favourite play style of mine, the MBT Support Engineer.

Any faction's Main Battle Tank is a combat winner in itself, heavily armoured with a great mix of weaponry it brings awesome fire-power to the team and a morale boost to those friendly troops stuck in a tight situation. In this guide I hope to show how its life expectancy and its battle strength can be improved by having a good engineer man the secondary weapon position.

'Riding shotgun' isn’t all about killing stuff, the Support Engineer must act as an observer as well as a mobile mechanic, calling out threats and targets, watching the skies, and nimbly hopping in and out of the tank for quick or extended repairs. This is the role of the TSE. Let the driver concentrate on landing his shots accurately while you save the day.

Role One – Repairs

Keeping the tank active isn’t about jumping out once the vehicle hits red and frantically trying to repair. This only leads to the tank blowing up and killing you, or the driver panicking and running you down, or more commonly, reversing away and leaving you in the middle of the field getting shelled.

The TSE must learn to be nimble in his/her repairs. Jumping out for small fast repairs, then hoping straight back in, raining fire on the enemy, then jumping out again once your Repair Tool has cooled down. Also learning to stay protected for long repairs when the tank is in trouble is key to success.

Tip: Use the tank for cover and keep dancing left and right to avoid snipers!

To start with lets look at where the game will eject you once you jump out. Generally speaking you will exit the tank on one side, roughly at the middle of the vehicle.
For this example we will use the left hand side Exit, and mark the operational zone of the Engineer with a Blue line. We will also assume that the enemy threat lies somewhere ahead of the vehicle.

The Short Repair

Whilst the secondary weapon can be very powerful, we must always remember that the primary weapon is the key damage dealer and that our role here is one of support and maintaining the longevity of the vehicle. The TSE should jump out for small repairs as often as the situation allows. Keep close to the tank, use the vehicle as cover, and should you take any damage – safety is only a quick press of the 'E' key to jump back on board.

Try to time your repairs between the enemies' shots. While the enemy is reloading, jump out and repair the damage.

The Long Repair

Begin the repair as soon as you exit the vehicle, but this time start moving backwards towards the rear of the vehicle.

Its safe to assume that the fighting is heavy if you need to deliver an extended repair, so moving slightly behind the vehicle gives you a better chance of cover. It's important to note here the TSE must move beyond the 'jump back in' range, and move as far back as their repair beam will allow.

This allows the vehicle to withdraw, while still receiving a repair.

If the TSE has positioned themselves well, as the tank withdraws and the engineers gun reaches maximum, the tank should breeze past the engineer within 'jump back in' distance. Assuming the tank is not about to explode, this move will bring the secondary weapon back into play, while the Engineers repair tool cools down. Your role is now that of gunner while you wait for the cool down on your Repair Tool.

From here, we have the option of firing a shot while the gun cools, then jumping back out and doing either another series of short repairs, or a long repair as and what the situation calls for, thus maximising the TSE's combat effectiveness.

Role Two – The Observer

It can be tricky for the driver of a MBT to have and retain perfect situational awareness while moving or in combat. For tanks with turrets, the need to rotate the turret, and the time it takes to do so is a delaying factor to spotting danger. This is where the TSE, in a smaller, faster rotational turret can react to danger quicker than the driver. The driver also needs to focus and aim his shots down one barrel meaning they spend most of their time looking at what they are shooting at, and not the mini map.

Its therefore vital to the life expectancy of the vehicle that not only does the TSE repair the damage and assist in fire support with the secondary weapon, but they also must act as the ever alert observer.

And.. for those who really don’t know.. the default key to 'spot' the enemy is 'Q'. Pressing this key while looking at the enemy (or that you suspect may be enemy), will have your character 'shout out' the danger in addition to marking the enemy on all friendly units minimaps within range.

To best highlight the role of the observer lets look at three real situations taken from the game – 'Heavy Combat', 'Targeted Engagement', and 'General Approach'

Heavy Combat

This is a tough fight around a large facility. The situation is extremely dangerous. We have marked on the map 4 key areas the observer must keep paying attention to, these areas are labelled A,B,C, and D.

A - Here we have two tanks going head to head. An alert observer should note that the enemy tank is heavy and the friendly tank, in blue, is light. In all likelihood that the enemy tank will win the engagement and thus be in a position to threaten our right flank. The observer must keep alert of this encounter, mark and shout out the threat of the flanking enemy (and probably shoot the tank once it approaches, unless the friendly driver is really on the ball).

B – A similar situation to 'A', the enemy tank is heavy and the friendly is light. Here however we also have enemy infantry to contend with.

C – The enemy hold both an infantry spawn and a vehicle spawn. There is a real threat of more units emerging from this location and the observer must keep an eye on both infantry and vehicle entry routes.

D – The enemy Sunderer.. If this is deployed, it can spawn infantry that can take the hill and hold advantageous firing positions.

The TSE in this situation should assist with shooting into B, calling out targets that pose the most threat such as infantry armed with C4 while keeping a very careful eye on the results of A and any infantry emerging from C.


Targeted Engagement

Here we have a combat where, thanks to a great scout by the friendly aircraft, we can place the majority of the enemy – all behind a hill.

In the role of observer the TSE must pay attention to three areas.

A – Here is the main combat. Its here that our main driver/gunner will be focussing their attention. The observer need only call out real dangerous threats – heavies taking their time to aim, or again any C4 armed troops moving from the pack.

B – Represents a high ridge. The danger here is any clever infantry breaking off from point A, moving unseen alongside the ridge, then shooing from anywhere along B. Engineers with turrets are likely to try this as they will not need ammo packs as a Heavy would for their rockets. Enemy support vehicles coming to help out are also a threat.

C – This letter is in a 'box' as it represents the ever present threat of enemy air units. Enemy air is always a threat, but this time we must note our location in relative to all the ally troops. We are slap bang in the open field. Any approaching aircraft will see us from a distance, and we have no immediate cover to withdraw to.

For this situation its important the TSE doesn’t get too distracted by the main combat. As a secondary gunner you should be looking to land good shots on the enemy and score your own kills, but never get 'tunnel vision' and focus solely on one area. Also, stay very close to the tank and use fast and light repairs. There is a good chance of the TSE getting picked off, so be prepared to use 'E' to hop in and out of the vehicle quickly.


General Approach

Its never recommended to move out anywhere alone, so this situation requires the TSE to be on full alert as danger could come from any of the 4 locations. Its also likely that our driver will be focused on the base ahead, avoiding major pit holes of terrain, and looking for any enemy units amongst the buildings. The observer must pay attention to the following,

A – The base. Help the main driver spot any hostile units. Look for areas where troops are likely to spawn.

B – The two roads and the flat area to the north could bring enemy units to hit our flank. It's also worth noting in this example that the friendly infantry in the base is moving towards B, maybe they have spotted something?

C – This road is hidden to our view and so poses a real threat. Any vehicle coming up this road will remain hidden from us until the last moment, at which they will be in a position to threaten our flank or even rear.

D – Marks the ever present threat of enemy air.

The lesson here is vigilance. The TSE as an observer has a better range of vision that the tanks main driver. Keep a sharp eye out in all directions and especially on the skies – spot and call out any hostile air before they become aware of your location.

In summary

Hopefully we can see that riding in a vehicle is more than just playing the gunner and shooting at whatever the driver is shooting at. The ideal character class to have manning the secondary gunner position is the Tank Support Engineer, and that this player should be the eyes and ears of the vehicle .

Hop in and hop out for repairs, be fast, alert and agile. Use the tank for cover, and move to the rear – but not behind – the tank for extended repairs.

Above all – be polite. This is a team game, show the driver and owner of the vehicle that you are an asset to have on board. Key 'V, then 1' says 'Thanks' – thanks for allowing to TSE to man the secondary weapon. And drivers, please be sure to return the thanks, the TSE risks life and limb keeping you alive and active in the fight!

Remember – utilising both guns on your vehicle makes you stronger and bringing along someone who can repair your tank, even if as the driver you are an Engineer yourself, improves the life expectancy of the vehicle!

Thanks for reading. And go NC!!

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