Leonard explores the concept and intricacies of jumping enemy aircraft in his usual illustrious way.
What exactly does it mean, and entail, to jump an enemy ESF in PlanetSide 2?
The colloquial use of the word to jump someone (also often in the passive) made it into PlanetSide 2 pilot-speak for a very specific method of taking down enemy air. To start this topic off, I shall therefore propose a definition for a thirteenth meaning of the term (according to Webster’s Second, 1958) in the greater scheme of aerial combat and as a basis for the article:
Obviously, this self-fabricated dictionary entry cannot render the technicalities of how exactly the act of jumping is performed in PlanetSide 2, to which we are to turn momentarily.
The Importance of Sound
The resourceful pilot relies for his ability to sense attackers primarily on three core aspects of his situational awareness, with respect to the following order, to which I may refer time and time again later in the article: I. sound, II. visuals, III. the minimap.
Though on the face it may appear otherwise, this specific order (sound before visuals!), is quite correct. With sound it matters not where the enemy is located at, for the pilot receives sound feedback omnidirectionally; not so with visual feedback, since a pilot’s field of view is greatly restricted to the various viewing angles of his ship’s fore and the keel (below), but not her aft and above where, as a direct consequence, attackers are bound to linger.
Ergo, we can conclude here, and this holds true in live play as well, that he who is capable of disabling his target’s situational awareness in all these aspects, by being noiseless (I), out-of-sight (II) and unspotted (III), will be met with a great chance of success, and minimal opposition, in his attempts of jumping someone.
The Mantra of Jumping
It can be deduced also that these aforementioned aspects of situational awareness the defender so heavily relies upon must also form argumentum e contrario something like the mantra of stealth for the attacker.
To repeat its rules in its entirety one more time:
- Be noiseless (I).
- Be out-of-sight (II).
- Be unspotted (III).
We shall get into more detail right away, in reverse order, beginning with the least difficult. For convenience’s sake, the jumper is often referred to in the following as the attacker, and the person who is getting jumped, the defender.
Be Unspotted (III)
The attacker does not show up on the defender’s minimap as long as the following statements are true (Vehicle Stealth not taken into account here):
- The attacker has not fired once.
- The attacker has not entered the 180m auto-detection radius of the defender.
- The attacker has not been spotted manually by an enemy (Q key).
- The attacker has not been spotted automatically by way of enemy active radar systems (Engagement Radar, Scout Radar).
Be Out-of-Sight (II)
As we have observed earlier, the defender’s scouting angles are extremely limited to the relative fore and the keel, irrespective of the two camera view options available to the pilot (first or third person). By simple process of elimination this leaves, for the opening of the jump, only the rear from above.
The attacking pilot is best advisd to stay glued to the flight ceiling at all times. Not only does the high ground guarantee the best possible outlook for potential targets, and a grip on the state of the battlefield in general, but it also minimizes the risk of getting jumped oneself.
The flight ceiling is located at 1000m above mean sea level. Be advised that the MSL alitmeter of specifically the Mosquito and the Scythe still incorrectly displays the flight ceiling at a mere ~850m as of my writing this article.
Be Noiseless (I)
This last predicament of the mantra, being noiseless, also takes the most practice and experience to apply in live play and usually directly leads into the end sequence of the jump (next section of the article).
When at full or half flight, aircraft produce easily discernable sound effects which can be perceived from a great distance away with capable headphones on. To counter this, the attacker, when scouting for unsuspecting prey at maximum altitude, is advised to rely on moving entirely with vertical thrust by using the Ascend key (Spacebar). A slight downward tilt of the nose of the aircraft, or hovering sideways, still secures some level of forward movement, if but slow.
Death from Above
A dissection of the final sequence of the jump shall follow for better illustration of the technicalities involved.
Upon sight of the target, the attacker cuts his engines by tapping the Analog (Throttle) key to mitigate the noise of his engines and in order to not give away the incoming assault. If at all possible, the attacker then approaches from above with vertical thrust alone. This is of course easiest if the unsuspecting target, unbeknownst to him, crosses paths with the attacker on his own.
It should be noted that using the W and S keys for regulating the aircraft’s forward acceleration is more precise and prevents the aircraft from firmly locking up in hover mode, allowing for faster transitioning out of hover mode into jet mode for the jump and without the need of expending afterburner fuel.
Once within pounce range (auto-detection occurs within a 180m-long radius; see illustration), the attacker dives down — all weapons free — on the target at full speed, and, if necessary, with afterburners engaged. However, expending one’s afterburner fuel below the 50% mark is not recommended, as one would like to reserve some fuel in case of emergency, for escaping or potential hover dogfighting afterwards.
Another, more advanced tactic is to hold fire until the defender, alarmed to the assault, initiates a reverse maneuver, unmasked out in the open, in an attempt to turn his aircraft around and to counteract the assault. The attacker then has the rare opportunity to land a free clip on the enemy fighter’s belly (see video clip). High nose-gun accuracy is strongly advised here.
The tip of the nose of an aircraft always constitutes the prime target for leading with any of the nose guns or unguided rockets an ESF can equip, and the attacker is to position himself in such an angle that the only direction the defender can possibly flee in — namely in the general direction of his fore — is covered in terms of leading the aim.
After lying in wait for so long in utter silentium, the eventual roaring of the engines and spooling up of the cold nose gun constitute the gleeful moment the attacker has been diligently working towards all this time. On the flip side, this also constitutes the true angst moment for the victim as per our definition above.
The key to a successful jump is to delay opening fire until the target is up close in one’s face, or at least within maximum damage range (100m; see illustration) where nose guns are at its most effective (cf. spreadsheet). The ideal line is, if not to one-clip the target right off the bat, to at least reduce the number of reload cycles between nose-gun clips to an utmost minimum.
When jumping, making every single shot count is an advice that cannot be emphasized enough as well.
Of the three available ESFs in PlanetSide 2 the Reaver is the most predestined to fullfil the role of the jumper. In the Vortek nose gun the Reaver pilot possesses the greatest amount of burst damage and the shortest time to kill at phone-booth range (both by a fairly large lead); and the superior afterburner speed of his aircraft bestows upon him the best capabilities of hunting down fleeing prey for pumping out that spawn-ending clip.