Steven L. Cox from agut played a lot of Onslaught (UT2004) some weekend, and would like to share some thoughts about the efficient usage of vehicles. I archived them here.
© Steven L. Cox and Sybren Stüvel. Written in 2004.
Speed is the key to this game, its the difference between cutting off your opponents node chain a second before he cuts you off. Vehicles are fast. So A to B to C, vehicles are the key to the game :) If you’re complaining about how large the levels are because it takes you too long to get to places on foot you’re simply not playing the game right. Even the tank is faster than hoofing it, get a vehicle and get to the contested nodes!
Be careful with abandoning vehicles. Think of it this way, if there was a powerup that gave you a speed booster, armor, and better weaponry would you be casually tossing it away? A vehicle abandoned out in the middle of nowhere hurts the entire team, now a resource that nobody can use. Even worse, a hijacked vehicle costs your team resources and give the opponent more! Don’t do this!
A specific example seen enough to single out. Don’t hop out of your Raptor from low earth orbit just because you have a missile lock on your tail. You’re going to splat when you hit the ground anyways, and either the raptor is still taken out with the missile or the launcher disengages when he sees you bail and now your unmanned raptor falls to the ground - it likely survives the impact and is now abandoned.
It many cases its simply best to go down with the ship. Don’t hop out of the tank while in the enemy base hoping to get a coupla final shots off before you die, you likely left the opponent a wounded tank that they can now heal and send against you. Die like a warrior and the tank comes back to your base in 10 seconds!
Vehicles make good roadblocks. On the Frostbite level, park the hellbender in front of the castle’s front entrance to the node, try to wedge it into the entryway. This keeps scorpions and sometimes even the dumber mantas from driving right over the node defenders, and might even block the first tank shot or two. Sure, once you’ve left the hellbender its now vulnerable to a hijacking, but most folks don’t bother and even if they do - its a bigger target than the other vehicles, and its wedged and difficult to manuever :)
In general, a vehicle parked on top of a node isn’t a bad idea, it’ll block the first few incoming shots and give you more time to respond to incoming threats.
Leave the superweapons to either the Raptor or Manta pilots. It greatly increases their utility when they can be rapidly deployed to a needed location. Draw out an imaginary circle of where those pilots can get in 10 seconds, and now draw out the same circle for yourself on foot. Thats your field of engagement, and yours sucks.
Use the best tools for the job. Just because you’re manning the tanks machinegun doesn’t mean you are forced to use it against a Raptor at long range, hop out of the tank and pop off an Avril shot instead.
Turn the Right Way
Vehicles have profiles, try to keep the narrow one towards the enemy. The tank is particularly notable, I hate seeing a comrade turning the long side towards our foes, an incoming shot that might have been a near miss is now a hit. Bad form.
Share the Manta
One of the things that bugs me is when starting Torlan for example, several players make straight for the Manta, and the first guy to reach it, zooms off in it, leaving the others stranded, as the other vehicles have often gone by then.
If I get to the Manta first, I usually have a quick look around, and if nobody else is there, I go. If there are others, I stand on the wing and let them get in, carrying us both (or more) to the first node. The passenger can jump off and create the node, while the Manta pilot continues to start another.
Too often I see the Manta driver hovering there at the start, while other players are jumping up, trying and often failing to get on. Its a waste of precious seconds!
Use the Teleports
If you never teleport from node to node (or node to base) to acquire resources then you’re being wasteful of time and resources. When I first started playing 2K4 I’m ashamed to say that my first thought of node teleporting was “why would I ever ‘port away from the enemy lines? going backwards won’t win any games!” Was I wrong on that one! The obvious proof against this notion is the presence of “good” vehicle in your base. Most bases have more vehicles than nodes offer, and many players never visit their home base as they get closer to victory. For example, if I need a Raptor on Severance I always know where to find one, sitting there unused in the base just waiting for me. Vehicles near contested nodes are generally already in use, so if you need transportation its often better to take 1 step back to go 2 steps forward. In many cases I can get to a contested node faster by porting backwards and grabbing a fast vehicle than I could on foot from the closer node.
Oh, and not all weapons lockers have the same weapons available. For example, on Torlan you can always port to your base if you need Avril shots, or spider-mines on Primeval, etc.