As promised in the last segment of this series I’m going to get into vehicle usage today. This article will be mostly oriented toward games I’ve recently played such as Halo PC and Unreal Tournament 3. I will have to save weapons for a future article, however, as this became longer than I had intended.
The title refers to one of the most popular and well-designed game vehicles to my knowledge, the Warthog of Halo. The jeep-like utility vehicle is very basic, a simple construction with limited options, but it is highly drivable especially in the PC version. Players (like myself) of driving age find to their delight that the physics of this offroad automobile are so close to real-life that their physical driving skills apply to the Warthog piloting experience. Starting and steering, particularly when using a mouse, are a driver’s delight. But this responsiveness is a double-edged sword, because it makes the ‘hog highly vulnerable to terrain and other game conditions. This makes skilled drivers a necessity, and they are highly valued.
One rule of thumb in multi-occupant vehicles separates the good drivers from the bad: never drive off alone unless you have a very valid reason. One mistake that constantly costs teams is solo operators of all kinds, but it is especially true of vehicle operators. Driving alone limits your combat capabilities and increases the chances of the enemy capturing your vehicle and (in games that support this) allowing them to use it against you. And thus we get to the single-most important strategy related to vehicles: collecting them.
In medium-to-large maps, vehicles take on a high degree of importance. Very often, games cannot be won without their effective use. To that extent, you want to keep the enemy from using theirs. This makes raiding parties a crucial aspect of your strategy.
The most basic approach to vehicular theft and usage is to steal enemy transport of any kind, return it to your base for defense use, and then utilize your own vehicles for general field operations. This tactic improves your odds of maintaining a disproportionate stable of vehicles. If your crew is assaulted infield, there is a reasonable chance that their ride will respawn back at your team’s base of operations. Likewise, if you lose an enemy vehicle and it respawns back at their base, you haven’t really lost any of your original inventory. Of course, making this work requires a coordinated team effort but by this point in the series you should already be there. ;)
Some of the most fun I’ve had in FPS games has involved raiding parties. Pair up with a good gunner or driver, hit the enemy hard and fast, and then split up to rush back to your base with the goods. This should in fact be among your first operations, even prior to seizing objectives. Control the vehicles, and you control the game.
Prioritizing depends on the game and its array of vehicle options, of course, but generally you want to steal whatever the enemy prefers to use. This can usually be determined at the outset of the game. My favorite ride is the Halo Warthog configuration with a mounted rocket launcher on the rear. It’s very effective at long-distance disruption of enemy plans! The key to its use is to lead moving targets a bit so as to let them run into the rockets– otherwise you’re liable to hit behind them. This logic applies to any FPS game that employs distance weapons on vehicles and similarly demonstrates accurate emulation of real-world physics. There are so many possibilities that I can’t cover them all, but I will add that aircraft tend to be the single most strategic asset you can steal, so keep that in mind as well!
Again, these suggestions are not necessarily directly applicable to every FPS game; your mileage may vary. And just as controlling vehicles is important, so it goes for weapons as well. That’s next!