For the tenth time you’ve spawned at a Sunderer, ran to the front line, charged through an enemy controlled chokepoint and promptly added your bullet-ridden body to the pile. You’ve accomplished nothing. Congratulations. It’s time to break that door camp - or add a formidable asset to it. Time to jump into an NC MAX suit.
THE “OH SHIT” FACTOR
Of the three available factions the NC is blessed with, in my opinion, the best of the MAX suits. I will qualify that statement by saying that I thrive in close ranged combat. Tight spaces, sporadic cover and lots and lots of blind spots, in other words, the kind of place a dual-wielding shotgun MAX dominates. The best part of it is everyone knows this to be true, and yet everyone that doesn’t is now patiently waiting on the other side of a respawn screen. This contributes to something I call the “oh shit" factor: the moment of sheer panic when you turn a corner expecting to blast an unsuspecting enemy soldier and instead see the hulking body of an NC MAX just long enough to know what caused your teeth to become part of the wall decor.
NC MAX groups clear entire buildings out, sometimes without firing a shot. These are the closest analogue to “shock troops” in Planetside 2, and organized groups of them (with Engineer backup) can be effectively used as specialized breakthrough units, decimating doorway campers by the dozen. Likewise, the NC MAX can be used to control indoor spaces in enemy or friendly structures, locking down access to vulnerable generators or ensuring they are destroyed without interruptions.
STUPID TO THE MAX
Just like any other class or vehicle in PS2, the MAX is a situational asset. Fighting in one of these armored suits is about committing to a purpose on the battlefield. In the case of the NC suit I find the purpose is, quite often, to quickly close the distance gap with an enemy structure and establish a foothold so less armored infantry can pour in and take over. Your first mistake in equipping your suit is to try (and fail) to do too much. The NC MAX can be fitted with your choice of shotgun variants, Burster (flak) guns or anti-vehicle cannons. You can choose to double up your choice of armaments, equipping them on both your arms, and perform each of the three available roles very well. Or you can be stupid, and decide that you want to engage infantry and air targets at the same time, and not do either competently. Focus on what you want to do, plan for it and play accordingly. Do not try to be a jack-of-all-trades.
Certifications for your MAX suit and its armaments will quickly drain your reserve of CPs and station cash, so focus on a few quick investments that will net you the best bang for your buck. Let’s get the painful bit out of the way early. Unless you are incredibly tight with money, you will want to spend 700SC ($7 USD if you don't catch a sale) and purchase your secondary shotgun outright. The thousand certs you would normally spend can then be used to extravagantly outfit your MAX suit instead. If you're a big spender, you can pick up a matched pair, but it's not necessary. You already have a standard "Scattercannon" by default, which is a perfectly serviceable weapon. The other options have pretty similar damage and differentiate themselves in other ways. The Hacksaw is fully automatic with an extremely high ROF, the Grinder comes with an extended magazine, and the Mattock with an "extended range." Personally, I favor the Grinder. A built-in extended magazine saves you 500 certs up front, whereas I think the high ROF is overkill and the "extended range" is a joke... get slugs for that if you must. Here we're talking about close quarters, and for that I prefer normal ammo anyway. It's far more forgiving and frequently will let you snag a kill you might otherwise miss.
Next up is the suit itself. There’s a lot here that can help you out as well but it’s going to cost you. 41 CP for the first three tiers of Acquisition Time Reduction will ensure you spend more time piloting the suit and less time waiting for it to be available again. If you're properly supported, you'll have no need for the extra ammo capacity (100 CP). Instead, spend half those certs to lower the cooldown on your Charge ability. The suit slot offers the common but ultimately useless self-repair option for a pricey 150CP. I feel there should be a series of library posters made to warn people away from using these certs like the ones used to tell teens about the dangers of meth. Do not do it folks, just don’t. Your other options are Kinetic and Flak armor, and Flak is an easy choice at one third the price and five times the usefulness of Kinetic. A Decimator to the face or grenade at your feet hurts, but it hurts a lot less with a few levels of Flak armor.
Setting yourself up for success is all about execution. No amount of money spent is going to save you when you charge, unsupported, into a room full of hostiles. Take your time, and move cautiously. Don’t let your heavy armor fool you into a false sense of security. You are a big target and snipers love your slow movement speed, so keep this in mind when moving into open spaces or running in between structures. Try to get a friend or two to back you up - at least two MAX suits and an Engineer will net you good results. A single Engineer can support about 3 MAX suits, so scale the composition of your team as needed if you decide to run a full squad in this way. Your Engineer(s) should not be charging alongside you unless it is to get into position.
Once you have picked a structure to clear out, use Charge to get to your entry point quickly. Next, wait for any enemy soldiers that may try to come around the outside of the building to flank you. You will need this time to recharge your ability, so be patient. Make your entry into the building and secure an area for the Engineer and the bodyguard MAX to camp, then get reloaded before moving further in. The “oh shit" factor will hopefully be on your side. If it is, then as you make your way into the structure, the enemy will become increasingly desperate and reckless, feeding you kills with careless behavior or causing them to abandon the building and move a safe distance away from your guns.
As you encounter resistance make sure to keep an eye on your health and ammo count. At close range a single click of both of your guns will kill most infantry, so keep this in mind and conserve your ammo. Choosing to reload at a bad time can cost you (both arms will reload if they’ve been used) so make sure to use one gun exclusively unless you are faced with a lot of resistance. And here’s the important part: Charge is a very misleading name for this ability. It could just as easily be called “Abort” because when things start going horribly wrong, you are going to be using this ability to get yourself out of trouble, and hopefully back in range of your friendly MAX and engineer. You will then tag out, letting the other MAX take the heat and chase off pursuers, while you guard the engineer that is rearming and repairing you. Rinse and repeat, then once the structure is cleared move on to the next target. Like most small group strategies, careful coordination is a must... we're talking about tactics here, not a large but badly coordinated "MAX crash!"
Remember that this is just one of many many uses a MAX suit has. It is also faction specific to some degree. Other factions can duplicate the tactic, but the short range damage potential of the NC MAX is unparalleled - both other factions trade lower damage for a somewhat higher engagement range. Give this setup a try and get ready for some serious laughs as you decimate the opposition in their own homes.