Deathballs Dirty the Skies

Leonard takes an opinionated look at the upcoming ESF content update, current trends, and the state of the air game in general.

Everyone including me is eagerly anticipating the arrival of the promised ESF game update which got pushed back time and time again by SOE. The planned changes that have been outlined so far leave much to be desired though.

In a nutshell, I am not at all convinced whether SOE’s panacea of adding new weapons, certification lines, and items will change all that much, let alone provide PlanetSide 2’s air with a more meaningful role in the great scheme of things — the meta-game and the overall role of air therein.

Granted though, at this point it doesn’t matter a ton what content they are flinging at us pilots as long as it feels new and fresh. However, in the long run even the casual pilot may feel let down if he finds out that it really is old hat forever sold anew.

To our great dismay, a new trend in the ESF scene has now also cropped up, that when crowds of pilots start to flock like madness to form the ultimate, impenetrable deathball of destruction in the skies.

Fact is if you aren’t born a flying ace, an IronFistLMS so to speak, you’re just dead prey when up against the overwhelming combined firepower of those ESF herds in your single, lone ESF. In other words, soloing a continent, one of my favorite pastimes, one which would help me grow as a pilot the most, has become a whole lot harder now.

Size Always Matters

And they mean it.

We should remind ourselves again and again that PlanetSide 2’s official motto and claim, its main spin on gameplay, was deliberately chosen to be “Size. Always. Matters.”

Is ESF piloting really still the skill game, the skillful challenge, many dedicated pilots in the PlanetSide 2 community declare it to be? Or has it rather just shrunk to a mere numbers game, plain and simple like the rest of PlanetSide 2, in which whatever group comes up with the greater number of players wins over the other regardless of individual skill level?

For beginner pilots, this situation must be especially nightmarish, yes! even dispiriting because no matter what they do, not having grasped a firm understanding of how to interpret the air game yet, rather sooner than later they’re going to hit headlong that bittersweet spot on the learning wall again and again, without getting a chance to get to know what actually went wrong or whether they could have prevented it in the first place.

It is widely said that PlanetSide 2 lacks all endgame. Looking back though I always took flying aircraft to be my endgame and I can’t but think that other pilots that have been with the game since day one like me or even earlier think similarly.

But in the light of SOE’s lackluster plans for the future of PlanetSide 2’s air game and their general disinterest in the more competitive aspect of flying ESF (1-on-1 dogfights) I am no longer sure it really is.

To end on a more positive note, though, I am not giving up hope. If PlanetSide 2 has shown one thing and one thing alone, then that it can always be game-updated to be a much, much better game.



6 thoughts on “Deathballs Dirty the Skies

  1. The air game is not as much fun as it should be because it happens way too often that you simply can’t fly because you get shot down too quickly for it to even be worth spawning the aircraft … [abridged]

    Ed. Your comment shouldn’t exceed the article in its length. Thanks!

  2. “I think this game needs a new weapon so that you can effectively shoot down ESFs at the 1500m range. Air is too OP atm. I think they need more lockons. A lockon with 1500m range would be a wise balanced choice. Also make the circle of the lockon to be 3X larger than the ESF so that it can be easily kept in view at extreme ranges. Also they need to remove flares from the game because ESFs are just spamming it at the moment. Also the new lock on should only be 100 certs. I think tanks need more armor against lolpods as well so that it takes 2 clips in the rear to die to them and 4 on top. Also they need to remove the secondary weapon slot of the ESFs so that they can either be ground or air and not both. Also Libs need to be larged so they are easier to shoot. ESFs should also take more damage from small arms fire. About 100% more damage would be a start. Also they need to make some sort of shield for infantry that lasts about 30 secs which when turned on makes you invincible to bullets. This shield should be bought by station cash only. AND WE NEED THESE CHANGES ASAP!!! NOT TOMORROW OR 2 WEEKS FROM NOW.

    Oops forgot to add. The lockons should be one hit kill otherwise the ESFs will just run away. Also all classes should have access to these lockons. ”


    ^ Sarcastic as it ridiculously is there are actual players like that. 8shudders*

    I for one am not sure about the upcoming ESF update. Seems to be filled with more casual weapons for casual plots but yet have given us certable afterburners. So it’s a 50/50 thing. I will reserver judgement yntil release. Hopefully SOE doesn’t dumb down the Air game. * cough * A2A cheese-lock ons * cough *

  3. It’s funny to hear someone on Waterson NC complaining about organized air kill squads because, as Waterson TR, I’m usually dealing with the same thing. I guess NUC has been flying as a group? As TR, PREY and their friends are the main culprit, when they’re rolling around as a pack I try a different continent or don’t bother spawning a 2nd aircraft. In their defense, most of them are very good pilots on their own and they rarely field enough to make a “deathball,” but it only takes a few to make flying solo basically pointless. I’m in a small outfit that’s rarely going to be able to field more than 2 or 3 competent mossie pilots so I have no ability to counter them. The depressing part is that no game update is going to change this; if you can’t counter an organized squad of pilots with an equally organized group you’re just a cert pinata.

  4. I agree it sucks to fly in to an enemy airzerg. On the other hand we can hardly argue that anyone is doing anything wrong by organizing play into squads. That’s arguably the whole point of the game. It’s also bloody fun being part of an airsquad…the more organized the better….I highly recommend trying to organize one yourselves. When you meet an enemy airsquad with your airdquad epic battles follow, that are much better than any solo dogfighting. I play on Ceres and there are plenty of large scale air fighting there (just as on ground ofc) . There is however plenty of small scale airbattles around still, to some extent dependant on time of day.

    What should be done by SOE imo is to add some sort of duelling-arena or system, so we can have the best of two worlds. Can’t understand why they haven’t already. Imagine the practice sessions you could have with your firends of same faction or other.

  5. There are a A LOT of reaver death squads on waterson these days. It’s bad enough that 2 or 3 of the members of each squad are BR100 aces in their own right, but they have a lot of newer guys joining them with A2A lockrocks to pick off anyone that dare to rush in for a save. It’s getting more and more common to get shot down as soon as you leave the safety of the warpgate. It’s almost pointless to fly a mossie these days. The VR needs AI enemy ESF drones or it needs to allow enemy ESFs to be flown as pratice bogies so you can at least learn to fly against the real thing.

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