PS2: The Newbie's Guide

So you've gotten your feet wet and you want to take the full plunge in. Maybe you came from the dark, pre-tutorial ages when newbies where thrown into the meatgrinder with little to no instruction and expected to harden the fuck up or get out. You prevailed and figured out the controls, learned how to capture those base points, and maybe you even occasionally get kills without dying as soon as you spot an enemy.

Where do you go from here? You've started earning certs, but how do you know which gun you want to use? How did that guy know you were hiding in that corner? How the hell can your squad get into that enemy position when there's so many of them packed in there?

Here's some common advice that should apply whether you're on foot, driving armor, or soaring through the skies for the glory of the Vanu, Terrans, or Conglomerate.

Use Your Minimap

When you have a second, take your nose out of the crosshairs and look at your map. Not the full screen one that can get you shot in the middle of a firefight; the map in the bottom left, the minimap. Get used to casting a glance that way every chance you get until it becomes second nature. It provides a flood of handy information such as the locations of capture points, vehicle and infantry terminals, and even engineer ammo packs. Looking at minimap first can save you from looking like an idiot calling for ammo when there's a deployed pack sitting ten feet behind you.

The minimap also shows the locations of enemies under certain circumstances. Vehicles that aren't equipped with stealth and are in close proximity will automatically show up. Enemy infantry will appear if they are spotted by yourself or a friendly unit nearby, so use the spotting key (Q by default) like it's going out of style. Firing an unsilenced weapon in your vicinity and being in the radius of Scout Radar mounted on a Flash or ESF will also cause enemies to light up like a holiday tree. Scout Flashes are, in fact, so useful that any dedicated infantry player should cert one out ASAP and treat it as your best friend in the world. Bring it with you everywhere. Note that enemies will use these things too, so don't hesitate to blow up any flashes you see, even in the middle of a firefight. They could be blabbing the location of you and your allies to the bad guys.

Situational awareness is a huge part of getting kills or being killed. You can rely on sights, sounds (headphones are great for this), and prediction of enemy movements to help you, but nothing is a substitute for pure intel, and the minimap gives it to you.

Seriously, get that Scout Flash. I'm not kidding.

Combined Arms is King

You're a platoon of dedicated infantry rolling out for the enemy tower, only to run headlong into a defending force of equal or superior numbers. What follows is a grinding firefight where you can't seem to make any progress and are thrown out again and again as Sunderers are picked off and you find yourself unable to get your collective claws into the enemy turf. Time to pack up and leave, for this is a lost cause, right? Not necessarily.

Add a couple of friendly tanks into the mix, rolling up on a nearby ridge and shelling the crap out of the tower and the infantry holed up within. In fact, go overboard and throw in a handful of Liberators and ESFs with Rocket Pods performing attack runs at the same time. Now watch what happens as the enemy troops suddenly find themselves unable to shoot from the safety of their tower fortress while their whole world is rocked by explosions. They cannot ignore those vehicles. They must respond to them in some way, whether it be rocket launchers or anti-vehicle/anti-air MAX suits.

That's your chance. Now that they aren't so focused on you and your fellow infantry anymore, you can push up, and get in there so that they can't deal with the vehicles so effectively anymore. After that, it starts the chain reaction.

This is combined arms at its best. Armor and air vehicles lend infantry protection and fire support, and infantry do the actual capturing and grunt work. If you use a mixed group like this, you can take on enemy forces that outnumber you.

Just keep in mind that Biolabs can be a bit of an exception to the rule, as the majority of the fight takes place indoors.

Use the VR Room

Once you've familiarized yourself with the sorts of things you can buy for your character classes and vehicles, you might be thinking you need to get some points spent out for new weapons and other shinies. Before you go blowing a wad of certs on some new expensive gun, you might want to go to one of those travel terminals (the ones with the globe showing on them) and take a trip to the VR training room.

In here you can try any weapon or upgrade for yourself or the vehicles, free of cost. This is very important, because many of the weapons in Planetside 2 handle very differently from one another. Some people love the default Gauss SAW for the New Conglomerate Heavy Assault, and others hate it. Some people prefer bolt-action sniper rifles, while others love semi-autos instead. There are two types of SMGs; which one should you try? Many of these weapons come down to personal taste, as opinions differ on all of them. Thankfully, you can give them a test drive before you lay down your hard earned certs. There is even an option to trial a weapon for 30 minutes so you can take it into battle and see how it handles under fire.

Branch Out and Try New Things

When you started playing, you may have been determined only to drive a tank or fly an aircraft and nothing else. While you certainly will find those few who are dedicated to a single role, if you learn to broaden your horizons and flex freely, you will find yourself a much bigger asset to your teammates as you aren't locked into being a one-trick pony. Ever tried to use a tank inside of a biolab? It doesn't work very well. If you like being big and armored, however, maybe you should consider gearing up a MAX suit. That way you can dig in and get dirty with some boots on the ground. Don't be afraid to get in and get messy. It's much more fun when you can switch on the fly to fit the situation as needed. It's also a good help to your squad when you can quickly and comfortably pull out a vehicle or class to fill a need. Don't be afraid to try different classes for a while. You might be surprised and end up enjoying yourself more than you expected.

Always Be Learning

Most importantly, don't be afraid to ask around if you're unsure of something. Most people are plenty happy to answer questions. The best way you can learn is by running with those who already know what they are doing.

I've been playing Planetside 2 since the beta days and when I'm not shooting my fellow Auraxians I'm looking for the next great roguelike or strategy game to occupy my hours.