Welcome to Combat Training. A Talon fighter can be a devastating weapon, if you know how to use it. This course will familiarize you with your ship's combat systems and capabilities. There are no quizzes in this class, and no written tests. Your final exam will be survival in combat, and the enemy's guns shall judge how well you have learned.
There are five Talon-class fighters currently in use, and they all ships share the same weapons and defensive systems. These five ships vary by durability, speed, agility, and ammunition capacity, and you will want to choose the one most appropriate for the battle scenario and your personal combat style. You may visit the Hangar after class to familiarize yourself with each of these ships and their specifications.
Talon fighters have two primary defensive systems: Shields which absorb damage, and an invisibility cloak which helps you avoid it. Your hull armor is your last defense, it can only be repaired at a friendly outpost with service facilities and once it fails you're as good as dead, so you must protect your hull at all costs.
Shields: To aid in protecting your hull, your ship is equipped with an energy shield which can absorb damage from matter and energy weapons. As your shield absorbs damage it will become weaker, and as it becomes weaker the protection it offers is reduced. A shield at 100% strength can absorb all or most of the damage from a single hit, but a shield at 50% strength can only absorb roughly half of the damage from incoming fire. So as your shield weakens, weapons will make it through and your hull will begin to take damage. Therefor your goal should be to keep your shield strength as high as possible. Your shield will regenerate over time, but only if it is not taking damage. So if you take a hit, you should try to avoid any additional damage until your shield can recover.
Cloak: Every Talon fighter is equipped with an invisibility cloak. The cloak is a tactical aid, it can be used to position yourself for an offensive advantage, but it is primarily a defensive system. The cloaking system renders your ship effectively invisible, both to the naked eye and to radar. This has obvious advantages, however it does come with a few caveats. First, you cannot fire your weapons while the cloak is engaged, and second, your afterburner is disabled, so your forward thrust is diminished. You must also be aware that you can still be detected while cloaked. Cloaked ships are invisible to uncloaked ships, but they can be seen by other cloaked ships. Also, if your shield takes a hit while you are cloaked, the energy discharge will illuminate your shield and you will be briefly visible. Use your cloak for reconnaissance, to catch the enemy off-guard, or to escape a dangerous situation.
Your ship's HUD displays a wealth of vital tactical and systems information, and it is important that you learn how to read it.
Dominating the center of your HUD is the Targeting Ring, within which is displayed most of the information you need in combat. This includes the following:
Hull and Shield Strength: At the top of the Ring is a display which shows the strength of your shield and hull. Shield strength is shown by the upper bar, hull status by the lower. When your hull strength falls to dangerous levels, the bar will turn yellow and then orange to warn you.
Radar Contact Indicators: Your ship's radar systems can detect and identify nearby ships and other threats. If these contacts fall outside of the Targeting Ring, they are shown as triangles which indicate the direction of the contact. Smaller triangles indicate more distant contacts, and more acute triangles indicate a contact which is behind you. Contacts which fall inside the Ring are bracketed. All radar contacts are color-coded. Ships are colored by team, RED or BLUE, with friendly ships further distinguished by a circle-and-cross "Don't Shoot" symbol. WHITE is used to indicate ships making radio calls, and YELLOW indicates an incoming missile with a radar lock on your ship.
Weapons Lead and Accuracy Indicators: Your ship's targeting computer calculates the required lead time and appropriate aim point for each unfriendly radar contact that appears within the Targeting Ring. This point is shown by four hash marks in a + configuration, and indicates where you should position your targeting reticle in order to achieve a hit with the gun you currently have armed. To further aid you in achieving an accurate shot, four Lead Accuracy Indicators appear as hash marks in a X configuration. These marks spread apart when you are off-target, and close in on your reticle as you get closer to an indicated aim point. This can be a very useful tool in combat, but don't rely on it completely. Targeting Lead calculations are made based on the contact's current velocity, but the computer cannot predict how that velocity will change. You must anticipate your opponent's moves, and adjust accordingly.
Targeting Reticle: At the very center of your display is your Targeting Reticle. This is your crosshairs, which indicate where your weapons are pointing. Along either side of the Reticle, are green brackets which illuminate when your guns are ready to fire. Below these are two hash marks, which show missile readiness. The left hash mark and right hash mark illuminate independently, and indicate from which side of your ship the next missile will be launched.
Gun and Missile Status: At the bottom of the Ring, flanking the icon of your ship, are two displays that indicate what weapons you currently have armed; guns on the left, and missiles on the right. Alongside the weapon icons are two progress-bar gauges which show your ammo status for that weapon.
Outside of the Targeting Ring, at the lower left and right corners of your screen, you will find two lists showing your available weapons, along with the ammo count for each. Once again, guns are listed on the left, and missiles on the right. Your active weapon is displayed in white. Use these displays to keep track of your weapons inventory during battle. If you find yourself running low on ammunition, consider employing your ship's cloaking system to disengage from combat and return to base to reload.
Talon fighters can be fitted with a variety of guns and missiles. Your ship can be loaded out with two missiles types and two gun types, and one of each can be active at any time. This gives you some flexibility in combat, but you should still plan ahead and choose weapons most appropriate for the environment and conditions you are likely to encounter in battle. Weapons can only be swapped out for different types at friendly outposts with service facilities.
In all, there are twelve weapons currently available for use on Talon-class fighters. With the exception of the Pulse Laser, all weapons utilize depletable munitions, which can be reloaded at any friendly outpost. Every weapon is different, with attributes that make them more or less suited to different battle situations and combat styles. You should visit the Armory after class to familiarize yourself with each of them.
Your ship's combat controls are simple. There are five primary controls which you should know, and they are all bound to the mouse by default. Left and right mouse buttons fire guns and missiles, respectively. Scroll wheel up and down switches guns and missiles, respectively. Middle mouse button toggles cloak.
Here are some basic tips to maximize your chances of survival in combat. They won't make you an unstoppable warrior, but they just might keep you alive.
© 2013 Scott Richards