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Astrala's Guide to Planetside

Astrala's Guide to Planetside

This is a guide for total newbies. I was a total newbie 3 weeks ago and most of the time I still suck at the game (my kill vs. death ratio is about 1 : 3, which is very very bad). Yet I am having fun, and that is what counts. This guide is supposed to provide some basic skills and tactics that hopefully makes Planetside enjoyable to you from the very first day of play. In this guide, I only suggest a few options that are open to you as a new player. In no way, this is a complete or comprehensive guide.

Starting Planetside for the first time

If you are completely new to Planetside, then there is a few things to note. Don't do the "training" option. This is severely broken because development continued on the game's features but the training option was never kept up to date. For example it will tell you to get a vehicle from the vehicle terminal, but it won't let you. This is frustrating and makes you think the game is broken, when in fact only training functionality is broken.

So if you press "Play", you will be required to pick a game server. Pick the one with a low ping. For Europeans this will be Werner, for East Coast users this is likely Emerald and so on. Then create a character. Pick one of the three empires for your new character. You can create multiple characters if you like, but each character starts out with next to no abilities. So you might want to focus on developing a single character first.

Improving yourself and your abilities in Planetside is based on battle Experience Points (BEP). BEP is awarded for kills that you or your squad members achieve. Also you get BEP for taking over an enemy base. Your Battle Rank (BR) increases the more BEP you collect.

With each Battle Rank you gain one certification point to invest into your abilities like piloting certain vehicles or using particular weapons. Also with Battle Rank 6, 12 and 18 you can add Implants to yourself that also provide new abilities. The highest BR to achieve is 23, but it will take a long time to get there (I have just reached BR 12 after 3 weeks). The higher your BR, the slower you will advance to higher levels. On the flipside, this means that initially you will advance quickly. Yay!

Initially you will be awarded battle experience points for every new thing you try for the first time. Be it wielding weapons, driving vehicles or visiting locations or using terminals. If you are completely new to Planetside, you will only have BR 1 and no experience and no certifications. You will find yourself starting at your Empire's Sanctuary. This is a protected zone that does not allow presence of enemy forces. In the Sanctuary you will find a building marked "Training".

So go to the shooting range in the training facility and visit the equipment terminal. Press the "G" (use) key when looking at the equipment terminal. This opens your inventory as well as the equip window. In the equip window you can obtain armor, weapons and support items. Double click on a weapon and drag it into one of your holsters. You can also add any item into your backpack space, however then it is not immediately available for wielding. When you have a weapon in a holster, press the key corresponding to that holster (typically 1, 2 or 3). Now go to the virtual shooting range. It provides many targets to try your weapons on. Many weapons have multiple firing modes. Switch firing modes with the right mouse button. The active firing mode is indicated by the yellow dot next to the weapon. Some weapons can use two types of ammunition. Most rifles take standard bullets as well as armor piercing bullets (golden). Ammunition types are swapped with the "X" key.

You will get BEP for a weapon if you have used ALL its firing modes at least once. Try ALL available weapons. Also get different types of armor. See how they provide different number of holsters and different space for equipment? The "infiltration suit" is a special type of armor. It can be activated with the "B" key and makes you nearly invisible. However you can only wield one pistol or one tool at a time.

If you have tried all the weapons and armors, you should leave the virtual shooting range with the teleporter beam in the middle of the room. Then go to the vehicle range. It simulates a virtual terrain to try different vehicles on. Go to the vehicle pad and press "G". Pick any vehicle you like. The vehicle will materalize and you will be in the driver's seat. The vehicle will roll of the pad and then you get full control. To get out of a vehicle, press "G". To get into a gunner's seat, walk around the vehicle until you stand near a yellow circle on the ground indicating a gun. Press the "G" key again and you will enter the gunner's seat. Again, try all the gunner's seats on all the vehicles and use all the firing modes on each gun. That will give you a lot of experience points.

If you are done with weapons and vehicle training you should have advanced to Battle Rank 4 at least.

By visiting all worlds through the warpgates and also by using all kinds of terminals, you get some more BEP which should allow you to get to BR5 without having shot at a single enemy.

Planning your career path

Initially you had 4 certification points to spend on your skills (certs). With each new battle rank you gained extra 1 point. So now you should have 7 or 8 points to spend. Here is a few tips on how to spend your Certification points (CP).

Prefer to drive tanks?

Get Armored Assault I (2 CP) to obtain access to the Lightning tank. It is the only tank that can be operated entirely by one pilot. Gunning and driving are two difficult tasks to do at the same time. However it can be very rewarding and much fun to operate the Lightning. Based on that, Armored Assault II (1 extra CP) gives you access to heavier tanks, like for example the Prowler/Vanguard tanks (depending on empire) which requires two gunners and has much heavier armor.

Want to pilot aircraft?

Get Air Cavalry Scout (3 CP) if you want to become a combat pilot. You may even add an extra Air Cavalry Assault (2 more CP) to get access to the Reaver aircraft which is equipped with powerful air to ground missiles.

Want to fix broken stuff?

Also get Engineering (3 CP) if you want to be able to repair vehicles or aircraft on the field. This is a useful skill to have. It also enables you to repair broken terminals and turrets belonging to your empire. You must wield the Advanced Nano Dispenser (some call it "glue gun") to repair things and have Nanite Canisters in your inventory.

Like to be a foot soldier? (Grunt)

If you feel more like fighting close combat, get a good armor certificate, like the reinforced Exo-Suit (3 CP) plus some weapons certifications, like Medium Assault (2 CP) and possibly some extra weapons certs like Heavy or Special Assault, Sniping or Anti-Vehicular. With only Medium assault and the standard "Agile Exo-Suit" you are no match against other players and you will surely die EXTREMELY often which is frustrating.

Like to wear a cyborg suit?

If you want to become some sort of Cyborg, try the Mechanized Armored Exo-Suit certs (MAX). The AA MAX is the least expensive MAX cert, however it only works well against aircraft targets. When anchored (with the B key), its firing rate is doubled making it a huge threats to all aircraft (the Terran Republic's Burster MAX that is). It is guaranteed to get you some good kills however you are very vulnerable when faced with infantry and vehicles. The Anti-Vehicle MAX (AV MAX) and Anti-Infantry (AI MAX) are more expensive certs costing 3 CP. The disadvantage of the MAX suits is that the primary weapon is fixed and you cannot wield any other weapon or any other tool. So you are limited in your abilities and you have to rely on engineers for armor repairs while wearing that suit, however you possess great firepower.

Like to cloak and sabotage?

If you are the sneaky guy, get the Infiltration Suit certificate (2 CP). Also get the Engineering (3 CP) and Combat Engineering (2 extra CP) skill. This will allow you to sneak up to an enemy and plant mines or boomers right below their feet which will catch them by surprise most of the time. You can also lay mines, set up turrets and motion detectors to hinder the advance of enemy troops. In order to stay hidden from motion detectors and Spitfire turrets, I recommend also getting the "Sensor Shield" implant one your reach BR 6. It must be turned on explicitly and drains your stamina, but prevents you from being shot by an enemy turret.

One recommended implant to get (once you reach BR6) is the Enhanced Targeting implant. It allows you to see who is in the enemy you are targeting and what health status he or his vehicle has. This greatly helps in deciding whether it is wise to continue pursuit of an enemy or whether to abort your attack to seek cover or get repairs. In a duel situation (vehicle against vehicle) you have to rely on that information very often.

So as you see, you need to specialize. You don't have enough CP at this time to become a multi-talent. If you don't like a choice you made, you can drop certificates at a rate of one per 24 hours. Dropping a base certificate will automatically drop all certs that depend on the base certificates.

Ways of getting into combat

In order to go to combat, you have multiple options.

By using the High Altitude Rapid Transport system (HART), you can drop onto any world, preferrably one that has some fighting going on. HART shuttles leave every 5 minutes from the Shuttle building in the sanctuary. You can then pick your drop target from the map. Pick a map with those yellow flashing stars on them. These indicate hot zone where fighting occured recently. You might want to land close to a friendly base so you can stock up on vehicles, aircraft or weapons.

By using the "instant action" option, available when you press the ESC key, you rematerialize in a friendly facility close to a random hot spot on any world. This will get you either

  • into a friendly base that is under attack
  • into a friendly tower that is under attack
  • into a friendly tower that is close to a hot spot

Bases can be confusing. After 3 weeks, I still havent memorized every single base layout. There are Amp Stations, Bio Labs, Tech Plants, Dropship Centers, and Interlink Facilities, each having a different layouts and multiple stories. So I often finding myself wandering through the corridors, not ending up where I want to. The map only offers limited orientation because it only shows the level you are currently on.

Typically you will spawn in "spawn tubes." If you don't like the location you spawned at, you can walk right back into the spawn tube and press "G" to rematerialize at a location you choose. You can either pick your empire's sactuary, or one of two or three locations indicated on the map in flashing circles - the nearest facility, the nearest tower, and the nearest AMS. One special place for materializing are so called Advanced Mobile Stations (AMS). These are vehicles that typically get driven close to an enemy base or tower and deployed. Friendly soldiers can spawn at that location and equip with basic armor and weaponry (no MAX armor though and no vehicles or aircraft!). And the best thing is: The AMSes have a shield around them that make them invisible to the enemy's eyes and radar. So an AMS acts as a trojan horse that can be driven close to the enemy's location and hopefully offers a staging ground for a successful invasion by foot.

Tip: If you want to select a particular base or AMS for respawning, use a Matrixing panel to permanently add this base to the selection available on your map for respawning. Matrixing panels are small rectangular panels in the wall inside a base or at an AMS.

As a final option, you can take the warpgates from the Sactuary to other worlds. The broadcast warpgate will offer the largest number of choices to go to. In contrast to "Instant action" or HART, you can use warpgates in your vehicles. This is probably best if you plan to attack in large numbers with heavy machinery.

Basic Game Objectives

  • Do not shoot friendly troops. Doing so incurs Grief points. Above 1000 grief points, your weapons will be DISABLED and your operating of vehicles will be limited to walking speed. Grief points are reduced slowly at a constant rate.
  • Drive the enemy out of your own facilities and bases
  • Defend your base's generator. Without it, no terminal or turret will work.
  • Keep your base turrets operative (repair them)
  • Keep your bases Nanite silos filled (the percentage is indicated on the map below each base name). When the silo runs dry, the base turns neutral which is a bad thing if it was your own base, but a good thing if it is an enemy base. Broken turrets and terminals drain energy from the silo! Advanced Nanite Transport vehicles (ANTs) must be used to collect Nanites from warpgates and transport them to the silos.
  • Hack enemy Facilities. There are two types of facilities. Some must be hacked and held for 15 minutes to conquer, others must be hacked and a LLU must be taken to your own base (similar to a "capture the flag" game). Hacking is done with the Remote Electronics Kit (REK). It disables door locks on enemy facilities and allows hacking the control console. Hacking takes time.

General Tactics and Tips

  • Try team play. This is actually required to operate many vehicles effectively.
  • Try to join a squad, because you also rack up experience points from kills that squad members perform. Typing LFS (looking for squad) into the chat will inform other players (e.g. typing /local LFS in the chat) that you want to join a squad.
  • A tool called TeamSpeak is available free of charge on the Internet and can be used to provide voice communications for squads and outfits.
  • Monitor the global chat. High ranking players like to give orders what bases should be defended or attacked. Only experienced players with command rank can give global or continent orders
  • Make use of provided transport. Galaxy planes can transport one light vehicle and several passengers plus three gunners. Use alt-g to drop out of the plane over the target. Lodestar transports can transport heavy vehicles and provide a base for repairing/re-equipping vehicles. And there is multiple armored infantry transports like Deliverer, Sunderer.
  • After respawning, get out of your pyjamas immediately! (Pyjamas: the Standard Armor). At least wear the Agile Exosuit which offers double the protection of the Standard armor. If you have the Reinforced Exosuit (Rexo) certificate, wear that one unless you intend to pilot certain vehicles that cannot be piloted with Rexo.
  • For faster equipping after respawning, make use of the favorites system at the equipment terminals. This also works for vehicle trunk space at a Repair/rearm terminal.
  • Lay mines, set up turrets and motion detectors inside and around your bases and towers and at strategic points like bridges and roads (requires combat engineering cert)
  • Destroy enemy AMS stations close to your own facilities. Finding them can be difficult. They show up on radar only when not deployed. Many enemy soldiers appearing out of thin air in your back yard are an indicator that an AMS may be present.
  • When your base has been hacked, terminals will no longer function. Use the lockers in various parts of the base and take out weapons and ammunitions that you have placed there before. Even though there are multiple lockers in multiple bases, they all act as if there was only one locker.

Lightning Tactics

Remember that the Lightning is a LIGHT tank, that means its armor is relatively weak. However it is very agile and can be operated by a single person. While driving you usually need to look forward, otherwise you might run into obstacles. This is a bad thing if you need to flee from a pursuing vehicle because it will be difficult to gun backwards while driving forward!

So there is a few guidelines for operating a Lightning successfully:

  • Learn to operate the gun effectively against moving targets. You need to lead and you also need to account for the arcing projectile. This can be difficult.
  • Use the chain gun against infantry targets and aircraft (switch firing modes)
  • Don't ever drive into large groups of enemy forces. If they all target you, you stand have ZERO chance. If you don't die instantly, you will usually die running away because gunning while fleeing is difficult (see above)
  • Don't take on fights with Battleframes (BFRs). They are more powerful and will typically destroy you.
  • Avoid charging heavy tanks like Prowlers or Vanguards, unless they are already damaged or you are engaging the enemy in a group.
  • Try operating the Lightning in packs for increased efficiency.
  • You stand a larger chance if your shields are fully charged. To charge shields, stay inside a friendly base's sphere of influence for a while (your empire needs to possess a linked Amp station on the continent in order to charge vehicle shields).
  • When damaged, seek cover in a safe distance from the fighting hotspot, leave the vehicle and use your Advanced Nano Dispenser (glue gun) to fix it. Watch out for enemy cloakers or aircraft while fixing your vehicle. If anything shoots at you, get back into the vehicle immediately. Your vehicle can also be repaired at a friendly base at a rearm/repair terminal.
  • The lightning can also work as mobile artillery because of its arcing projectiles. You can shell the courtyard of an enemy facility easily if you place the tank on a good location outside (e.g. a hill). Just watch for enemy aircraft!
  • Infantry are usually easy targets, unless you hit a group that is equipped with anti-vehicular weapons. You can also run over infantry targets to injure or kill them.
  • When you get hit, try to figure out what hits you and from where. Decide what is the largest threat to you and whether it is better to attack or reatreat. Spitfire turrets can be a great danger, especially if there is more than one firing at you. Sometimes running them over works best.
  • Wall turrets at bases are extremely powerful. Attack these from behind cover. It requires about 10 shells to take one out or more than 300 chaingun rounds!
  • MINES! Watch out for mines on roads, bridges and near enemy installations. Two mines can bring a lightning from perfect state to nearly destroyed ("lost control of the vehicle"). Three mines will destroy it on the spot. After hit by mines, stop, go reverse the same way you came and fix your vehicle.
  • Fire on mines using 3-4 shells or dozens of chaingun rounds on the exact location of an enemy mine will destroy them. However due to limited close-attack range it is difficult to target mines from a Lightning.
  • You can make use of the trunk space of your Lightning for storing useful gear (not just tank shells and chaingun rounds). You can store your Advanced Nano Dispenser in it if you dont want to carry it in your backpacks.

Infiltration Tactics

So you have become cloaker and want to be effective in what you are doing?


  • Never ever forget to enable your cloak (B key) when you suspect enemies nearby. To check this, you can wield a weapon, which should then appear transparent. The little armor icon on the HUD will also appear differently when cloaked. Last but not least you can use the third person view (T key) to verify your cloak is active.
  • Cloakers should enable the Sensor Shield implant when moving near turrets and motion sensors. The implant takes a while to initialize after respawning. Be patient.
  • If your stamina runs low and you need Sensor Shield, rest for a while to regain stamina.
  • Cloakers have limited space in their backpack and only one pistol holster. So they can only wield a pistol, a grenade or a remote electronics kit at a time. Carefully plan what you are taking with you. Don't forget the REK if you want to hack a base or tower.
  • Cloakers can use a melee attack against infantry (key: 5, wields a knife). Using the "melee booster" implant the knife can be lethal on the first strike at the expense of some of your stamina points.
  • Be aware that the enemy can use the dark light implant to see you. Be aware that some enemies can have graphics details settings or graphics drivers tweaked so they can more easily spot you. It is safer to approach an enemy from behind.
  • Laying mines or setting up turrets requires the combat engineering certificate on top of the engineering certificate (5 CP total). This ability can also be used as a non-cloaker, but it is not recommended when operating in the midst of an enemy presence.
  • Be aware that your location is given away if you operate weapons or tools, plant mines/boomers or other deployables.
  • Certain actions, like firing a weapon or using the REK temporarily negate sensor shield and makes enemy turrets fire at you. Don't use the REK on doors that have an enemy turret and a motion detector installed nearby.
  • You will also be visible when hit by enemy or friendly fire. Stay out of the line of fire.
  • Try to place boomers at spots often frequented by enemy soldiers or vehicles. Stay in visual range and operate the detonator in the moment an enemy passes over your boomer. You can stack multiple boomers to achieve a more powerful explosion! Boomers can also be placed on walls or overhead in doorframes.
  • You can use an unarmed ATV vehicle while cloaked. That is the "Wraith". Requires the cheap (1 CP) ATV cert.
  • You can easily infiltrate and hack a base when cloaked. You can also attack an enemy facility's generator. However plan for a counterattack after the enemy notices your presence. Coordinate with friendly troops to make sure the hacked command center gets defended.
  • You can also throw grenades (frag, plasma or jammers) at the enemy when cloaked. This briefly affects your invisibility, so its best to attack the enemy from behind.
  • Cloakers can eject out of an aircraft (e.g. a Mosquito which is hard to spot on radar for the enemy) and drop right on their intended target.

Advanced Knowledge

  • If your enemy has the Audio Amplifier Implant enabled, you need to use sensor shield AND crouch walk (C key) to remain invisible from his radar. Unfortunately there is no way to tell who has this implant and who has not.
  • You can hack enemy vehicles and take ownership. This requires the Advanced Hacking certificate (5 CP in total). Nothing is more annoying to the enemy than taking enemy heavy armor and using their own heavy weapons against them. Be aware that in some vehicles you can only be pilot or gunner but never both at the same time and you require the corresponding cert do pilot it.
  • Mines can be used to trigger boomers if you are not around. Mines can only be laid outdoors. Stack a mine close to a boomer and it will set of the boomer as well. This has a devastating effect!
  • If the detonator of a boomer dematerializes, the boomer also dematerializes and vice versa. That means if you get killed while there were detonators in your inventory, the boomers also go away! To avoid this problem, put the detonators into your locker or a vehicle trunk (but make sure the vehicle stays around long enough). You can also drop the detonators, at the risk of someone else (enemies) picking them up.

Burster MAX Tactics

  • NOTE: This is a guide for using The TR Burster MAX, NOT the VS Starfire or NC Sparrow MAX

I did this tonight with great success. Within a few hours I racked up 32000 experience points and 29 kills. The tactics described here may not be honorable, but it surely results in lots of kills.

  • Camp an enemy air tower or base that is likely used as a repair base for Mosquitos and Reavers or as staging area for aerial assaults (e.g. drops from a Galaxy transport). Climb a hill nearby, try to stay exposed as little as possible and wait for targets.
  • Anchor your AA MAX before shooting (B key). When anchored you have a limited turning radius. Make sure the anchor radius you selected suits your needs.
  • Mossies or Reavers hovering over an air tower's rearm pad are easy targets. Just pump a round of 20-25 projectiles towards the pad. Most of the time the target will be destroyed before the pilot knows what hit him.
  • Reload after shooting a magazine only partially (R key). It is frustrating if a target manages to escape because the auto-reload kicked in after a few fired rounds.
  • For moving targets, lead ahead. The further away the target and the faster it is moving, the greater the lead has to be.
  • Watch for revenge missions. Sometimes a downed pilot will return in a Mossie, eject right next to you and try to finish you off with his assault weapons. You have little chance in that case. You can either run and hide or try to duel it out. AA shells do not cause great damage to infantry, beware.
  • In other cases, the downed pilots will alert teammates in heavy armor to hunt you down. Try to disappear behind the mountain and pop up someplace else before they find you.
  • Hitting heavy targets like a Galaxy results in lots of BEP, especially if the Galaxy was loaded with passengers. If you happen to camp a staging point for a Galaxy drop, you can totally screw their intended mission and rack up lots of BEP.
  • Your BEP rewards can be increased by as much as 50% if you play on a continent where two other factions duel it out and your population is much smaller than the other factions. I got a funny chat message once, saying "lol. you have no business on this continent, TR!" after I downed an enemy pilot on such a continent.
  • You can move much faster by engaging the run mode (Q key), however your weapons are down while you run. BEWARE: You cannot come to a sudden stop, it will take a few seconds to slow down. (S key). So if you run towards a ledge, make sure you stop well ahead or you will overshoot the ledge and fall down.
  • SECRET TRICK: hold the S key while at the same time hitting the strafe keys (A or D) and you will immediately stop moving forward (you will move sidewards though). You can use this to dodge bullets or rockets that have been fired at you with a lead. You can also use this to avoid overshooting the position you are running to.


Written by:

(Astrala, TR on Werner. BR 12 when this guide was started, now at BR 15)