The second coming of the cannon rush is dawning upon us, shaking up the stagnant air meta quite a bit.
The cannon rush is probably the greatest rediscovery since the inception of the reverse maneuver in November 2012 by IronFistLMS. The recent resurgence of the cannon rush which had the dogfighting style whipped into highly competitive shape should have shaken up the air community a great deal, but a respective paradigm shift in the way dogfighting is understood and executed on high-level play seems to have failed to materialize at large in the ESF community.
Perhaps that is understandable. PlanetSide 2 has reached a point in which hover dueling has long become the gold standard for every better ESF pilot; where combat maneuvering apart from oscillating between Ascend and Descend matters painfully little compared to over half a year ago; and where longe-range staring and pin-point accuracy contests dominate the air game to this day. It can therefore be difficult to step out of these preconceived boundaries to realize the potential competent cannon rushing has to offer.
Crudely simplified, to cannon rush is to charge a hovering opponent aggressively with a tap on the afterburners, engaging with high burst-damage cannonry in a knife fight at phone-booth range, all while never leaving jet mode entirely, which may border on blasphemy if we account for that it is the orthodox hover style — not the heterdox cannon rush style — that has been reigning uncontested over the air game like her beloved eternal king.
But the brutal reality is: cannon rushing is pure kryptonite to most hover duelists.
A Reaver Story
The cannon rush has mainly been a success story for the Reaver, and that for good reason.
Glancing back at past dogfighting tournaments, it was none other than the Scythe that had been dominating the ESF meta like no other airfighter. It is important to keep in mind that these tournaments were mainly played out by the attending pilots as staged hover mock battles.
The thing is, cannon rushing cuts short the amount of time where sustained, longer-range fire would be effective. It thereby poses a direct counter to what the Scythe, and to a lesser degree the Mosquito as well, excel at. At the same time, high weapon burst damage and high acceleration are not only the two main ingredients of the cannon rush, but they are also the two big advantages the Reaver has over the other ESFs.
With exactly 4,000 burst damage per second and a theoretical time-to-kill of mere 1.92 seconds, the Reaver’s Vortek rotary is the uncontested king of nose guns at maximum damage range (Fig. 1). The sheer amount of damage the Vortek can shell out in such a short amount of time profits the Reaver immensely in cannon-rushed dogfights where neither pilot engaged is capable of staying on-target for too long due to how more pronounced maneuvering turns out to be so up close due to a pilot’s extremely limited field of view in first-person mode especially at close range.
While the Vortek rotary has taken the center stage for itself, there might be other viable weapon loadouts out there, such as the Reaver’s air hammer being the most obvious choice (see video clip). I cannot help but wonder how effective competent cannon rushing would turn out if coyote missiles were thrown into the mix.
The other factor is afterburner acceleration. It takes the Reaver 1.5 seconds less to reach 320 kph, the maximum afterburner velocity the Mosquito and the Scythe can reach (without airframe equipped). It is due to this devastating 1.5 second lead in forward acceleration (Fig. 2) that the Reaver performs so admirably well in converting long-range pokes into phone-booth knife fights within the blink of an eye and faster than any other aircraft in PlanetSide 2.
On the face the cannon rush seems a simple enough fighting style, but it requires a lot more skill to execute competently, as well as a mind set for aggressive rushing that is not easily attained for someone raised by hover wolves.
Not only does the cannon rush prey upon the established hover meta like an insatiable harpy, but it also defies convention deeply — a desirable wind of change in an otherwise stagnant air meta revolving around the shallowness and stale paradigms of hover dogfighting or lock-on missiles.
For anyone who even so much as considers getting into cannon rushing, I highly recommend watching rguitar’s extended video clip on this for starters.