Introduction; to become good at this game you must master three things. One is knowledge of your plane and how it should be flown, two is awareness of the area around you and three is the ability to target and hit your opponents. Unlike WoT there are no places to hide and you must engage your foe or be engaged by them. The former is far more conducive to your survival. Let s start by keeping you alive for the first 2 minutes.
Key board or joystick; your preference will determine your choice. This is not an easy game to master so you will need to spend some time playing with your decided form of control. If you have both, then I suggest you try both as soon as possible. Generally keyboard and mouse will allow you to aim more accurately while joystick will allow you to maneuver better. If you decide on keyboard and mouse you will need to add the roll buttons that can be found in the settings. Roll spins your plane and makes maneuvering easier.
When your battle is loading you will be given the opportunity to determine your planes strengths and weaknesses in relation to your opponents. By clicking on any enemy name you will find out one of three things about them, firepower, speed and maneuverability. Green means you are superior, red means they are. This will allow you to determine a course of action in the coming battle. If you are the plane with superior firepower than any head to head meeting should end with you still flying. If you are inferior in firepower then head on heads should be avoided. Same goes for speed and maneuverability. If your one of the fastest planes then don’t get involved in turning battles, get to your top speed and fly into the fray, do your damage and fly away. This is called ‘boom and zoom’.
If you have chosen Heavy fighter (HF) ground attack (GA) or carrier based (CB) planes then your strategy will involve ground targets. If you are piloting a CB your choice will usually be close enemy ground targets which will allow you to drop that cumbersome load and join the fray. If you are piloting a GA or HF you will most likely want to target the enemy base. You can do this in one of several ways. You can gain as much altitude as possible hoping to evade the enemy or go low and skirt the deck. If you fly below 200 ft. then you will be invisible to the enemy unless they are close or you get too near an enemy target. GA aircraft will not have the engine power to gain much altitude so their best protection is their high hit points.
*Your rear gunners are automatic; they will engage any enemy that is within their sphere of influence.
THE BATTLE BEGINS
Pre-flight check is done, the countdown has reached zero, you’re alone in your plane and you realize that you are a sitting duck. The enemy can come from anywhere around you so the first thing you want to do is mitigate the options. By flying low they can only come at you from above. But flying high they will most likely be below you. By flying to a side they will only be able to attack you from the open area. By flying into the middle you are boldly stating that you are a noob and haven’t learned your lesson yet.
First sightings will invariable take place to your front. Others will spot planes and you will be able to see them on your mini-map. The mini-map is located at the bottom right and can be enlarged or shrunk by using the + or – keys. Constant glances at the mini-map will keep you alive, whereas ignorance of its workings will lead to your demise. By holding down the right mouse button you will have a better view of the targets that are within your action range. Holding down the right mouse key and zooming in and out will also allow you to view around your plane without effecting its direction.
Time to pick a target; by hitting the X key you will be able to view the enemy planes that are within your action range. Their image will appear in the box to your bottom left. Repeated clicks of the X button will scroll through all nearby possible targets. If during this process an image of an enemy plane appears and it is pointing at you, then that enemy plane will be your first priority. Either turn and face him or begin evasive maneuvers. If no enemy planes have targeted you thus far then you will need to target one of them.
Planes that are engaged or flying in a straight line make good targets. Any time you can clear a plane from an ally’s tail you are making a huge difference and dramatically increasing the odds of an allied victory. Once you have decided on the plane you wish to attack take a quick glance at the mini-map and make sure no one is on your tail. When you get within striking distance a red circle will appear on the targeted aircraft showing you the lead time for your fire. If this has not appeared then you may have inadvertently switched to another enemy target. Just fire at the one you have in your sights and the targeting system should switch to that plane. If not then hit the X button when you are able.
SHAKING AN ENEMY OFF YOUR TAIL
The number one rule for getting an enemy off your tail is to not let him on it in the first place. I know that sounds stupid but this game is played two moves ahead. The first move is to have the right strategy for the plane you are flying. The second is to be aware of what is going on around you. Allow me to give an example.
Player A is flying a 109B and has made his preflight checks. He has determined that he is the fastest plane by 25 mph over all the other enemy planes. Knowing this he will attempt to maintain his top speed throughout the battle (number one; know your plane and stick to your strategy). At some point in the battle he will fly into a fray and attack an enemy. At this point he will be seen and most likely attacked so he keeps a close eye on the mini-map. If an enemy turns to engage him he powers away knowing that he can out run them (number two; be aware of your surroundings). How did he keep the enemy plane off his tail…by not allowing the enemy to get on his tail in the first place.
Of course the above situation only occurred because that player had a superior plane, what if you’re the inferior plane? This will happen often because you will be in battles were you are the lowest tier plane. In these cases you will not have the fire power or the speed advantage over anyone. You will, in many cases have a maneuverability advantage. This is when you want to get into a turning battle. You will want to use the terrain to your advantage and hug the ground or hills. Dart and weave, turn and loop, stay alive and shot when you can. Never fly in a straight line for any length of time. Hopefully help will arrive and once your team has an advantage you will become the hunter and not the hunted.
There are a few things that will get you killed and therefore should not be done or forgotten when dogfighting.
1) Flying straight; flying straight is the number one easiest way to get shot down. Nothing makes you vulnerable to every bad shot in this game then flying in a straight line. You are making yourself a ripe plum for every noob who needs to improve their targeting ability.
2) Being part of a circling swarm: Three or four planes chasing one enemy is a recipe for disaster especially if you are all circling. Inevitably you will crash into each other. Special attention will need to be paid to avoid this calamity.
3) Not being aware of the game situation; many times a team loses simply because the last man makes a bad decision. If your teams bar is more than half way green but you are the last guy facing three, then hide brother hide. Don’t strafe some target and let them know where you are. Same for the other side of the coin, don’t go off searching for some phantom plane, hit some ground targets and get the bar back to a manageable number. He’ll show up when the bar turns green or he’ll lose.
A word of advice…be patient with yourself this is not an easy game. Everyone couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn door when they started. Everyone couldn’t shake an enemy off their tail. Everyone crashed into the hills and ocean. Everyone got shot down by crummy lower tier planes. Every stupid idiotic thing you could possibly do was done before you. I know because I did them all.