Topic: Planetside 2 : Shotgun Zen

I loves me some Shotguns.  In any game where they're an option you'll find me using one.  Why?  Truthfully they tend to be overpowered.  At close ranges the amount of damage they do is usually hugely out of proportion to other weapons.  This results in a lot of one or two shot kills.  It can be very satisfying to wield and very frustrating to face.

So its no wonder that I've gotten around to them in Planetside 2.  Planetside 2 is a first person shooter in a persistent world.  Its Free to Play with a cash shop.  Enough of that.

Since I love shotguns I got one and I took some time to learn to use it.  For those of you that like hectic, improvisational, and tactical play, well the shotguns in Planetside 2 are your ticket.  Without further preamble here is the zen of playing a shotgun wielding maniac in Planetside 2.

What class should I play if I like shotguns?

A good first question.  Play Light Assault.  Speed and maneuverability are the hallmarks of shotgun play.  The Light Assault's jet pack and access to the Adrenaline Pump make this class the perfect choice for shotgun mania.  You can use a shotgun as a Combat Medic, an Engineer and a Heavy Assault trooper as well.  Of the other classes, if I was forced to choose, I would go with Combat Medic.  Its good to be able to defend yourself and your wounded in tight quarters.  But choices one through nine out of ten will be Light Assault.

To shotty or not to shotty?

Your first weapon in Planetside 2 should NOT be a shotgun.  Your first weapon should be a good close/medium range Carbine.  Get that and trick it out with the gadgets before you even begin to worry about getting a shotgun.  After that's done a shotgun becomes an excellent second choice.  Why?  Well that's what the next section is all about.

Shotgun prerequisites

Before you buy a shotgun you're going to need to spend some certifications (combat rewards enabling you to buy upgrades for your equipment) on you trooper.  Here's what you'll need, and this is regardless of the Empire you choose to play.

1) Jump Pack upgrade 4 - This will cost you 161 Certifications.  You'll need this so you can jump pack up onto roofs and land formations.  In order to be effective as a shotgun Light Assault you'll need to be able to play in three dimensions.  This sets the recharge time of you Jump Pack to a low enough point where you can shoot, jet pack and shoot again.

2) Adrenaline Pump - This upgrade will cost you 30 Certifications.  It makes your run speed 30% greater.  Doesn't sound like a lot, but when you're whole objective is to close the distance on your target, every little bit helps.  More on this later.

3) Personal Medical Kit - This upgrade will cost you 50 Certifications.  It's a one time shot you can give yourself to restore 100% of your health.  Great for when you're wounded behind enemy lines, which is where you're going to be if you're playing a Shotgun Light Assault.

4) C4 - This upgrade will cost you 200 Certifications, but whoa Nelli is it worth it.  You can blow up enemy vehicles using this explosive.  You can also put it down and blow up large numbers of enemies.

5. Dark camouflage - You might have to buy this item from the cash shop if you're New Conglomerate or Terran Republic.  Vanu Sovereignty's colors are black and deep purple, so at night you virtually disappear into the background.  In any case you'll be shotgunning at night so you'll want to blend into the background.

Once you've got these, you're ready to play with a Shotgun.  The next question is which shotgun.

Ennee, Meanee, Minee, Moe!

Every Empire has access to shotguns, and every empire has four types.  How do we pick?  I'll give you each type and then tell you which one to buy first.

1. Automatic - These shotguns are full auto.  Push and hold the left mouse button and you'll burn through the whole 6 shot magazine.

2. Semi- Auto/High Capacity - These shotguns are semi-auto, meaning you have to click the left mouse button every time you want to shoot it, but they shoot as rapidly as you can click it.  High Capacity means they carry 8 shells per magazine.

3. Semi-Auto/Low Capacity - These shotguns are semi-auto, meaning you have to click the left mouse button every time you want to shoot it, but they shoot as rapidly as you can click it.  Low Capacity means they carry 6 shells per magazine.

4. Pump - These shotguns require a manual operation of the pump mechanism between shots.  Your toon automatically racks the action (pumps the shotgun) between shots, so there is a small delay between each shot.  You can't just spam the trigger.  You have to give the gun time to cycle.

So how to do we choose one?  This is the tricky part.  Based on the above info it seems obvious that you'd pick an auto first, and then a semi-auto/high capacity and then on down to the Pump.  That's not necessarily the case.  Once you understand how damage works.

First off all of them have the same range.  You're going to want to be within 10 meters or less when you engage your target, so you're going to want the Shot gun that has the best damage potential at that range.  For that you need to know two things.  First is the pellet count of each shot and the second is the pattern.

Pellet count is the number of BBs held by each shell.  Each pellet does 143 damage at 10 meters and in, the same as a carbine bullet.  The kicker is that each pellet that hits does 143 damage, so you can deliver a massive punch in one shot from 10 meters in.

Pattern is how tight the grouping of the pellets is at 10 meters.  Tighter patterns are better, because it prevents pellets from flying off into space without hitting your target.  There is another trick to this calculation though.  Your pattern is effected by whether you are "Hip Firing" (not stopping to sight) or "Aiming Down Sight" (know as ADS where you look through the sights of your weapon before firing).  ADSing causes a tighter group, however as we'll see later speed and quickness are the hallmarks of shotgun play, so you won't get to ADS too much.

So your first shotgun is going to be the one that gives you the most pellets in the tightest group at 10 meters while Hip Firing.

Automatic shotguns carry 6 shots and have the lowest pellet counts of all shotguns.  They also tend to have very wide patterns at 10 meters.  Finally with automatic shotguns you have the question of recoil.  Each time you fire the shotgun will buck in your hands and each successive shot will tend to wander off target.  So while Automatics allow you to fling out a veritable wall of lead in an extremely short amount of time, they're more of a "Spray and Pray" type weapon.  The low pellet count will cause you to have to shoot a full health enemy four to five times at 10 meters.  That last shot can be a little dicey thanks to pattern and recoil.  That also means you're killing about 1 person per magazine.  So while fun and useful in the right situation (the very tightest spaces) they're not a good choice for your first shotgun.

Semi auto/High Capacity shotguns carry more shells (8), but again they have lower pellet counts (although slightly higher than Automatic Shotguns) and bigger pattern sizes at 10 meters.  You're still looking at a 3 shot kill at 10 meters.  Closer to a good all around shotgun, but not quite the right choice yet.

Pump Shotguns have huge pellet counts at 10 to 11 pellets per shell and they have nice tight patterns.  However they suffer from slower firing times and while you're racking the action the sighting circle comes off the target so you have to re-acquire your target after each shot.  Also reload times on these are long since you have to reload each shell manually.  Most hold 4 shots in the magazine.  It will take two shots at 10 meters to bring something down with these bears, but 5 meters and in this is a one shot killing machine, which is good because when you land this hay-maker, people notice and start running away.  They get much harder to hit with all the pellets when they're running.  That means you want to run up and stick this in your target's ear before you pull the trigger.  If and when you can do that, pick up a pump shotgun and you're a terror.  Until then, leave it alone.

That leaves our number one choice!

Semi Auto/Low Capacity shotguns are the right choice for Shotgun beginners.  Higher pellet counts that High capacity but lower than Pump and with decently tight patterns at 10 meters you're looking at a 2 to 3 shot kill at 10 meters.  If you get right up on them (inside 5 meters) and head shot them you'll one shot kill them,but you can still whip a lot of lead down range in a short period of time with no recoil or target acquisition problems.  So find out what your empire calls it's Semi Auto/Low Capacity shotgun and pick that up.

When do I bust it out?

Shotguns are situational weapons.  That situation is when you can ambush your enemy at close range.  As such you're going to want them in two situations.

1) When its dark.  The game has night and day, so at night its great to get out your shotgun and go tear assing around massacring things.  In your dark pajamas you can run up on people from all angles and blast them to kingdom come.

2) In tight, constricted buildings and groups of buildings.  You love corners and lots of floors (remember you can go up with your jump pack as well).  You love windows with ledges outside and banks of computers to hide between.  When they run passed you, leap out and shoot them in the back.  In tight spots you have the firepower advantage, so box them in and blast away.

Playing the Banzai Blaster

Shotgun play is exactly the opposite of Carbine play.  In fact when you first start playing a shotgun you'll feel very awkward and you'll probably die a lot because its completely the opposite of what you're used to doing.

With a Carbine you figure out where the "line" is and you go to it, find a spot and then wait for targets to come up.  You don't want to close the distance too much with a Carbine since you're looking at 10 to 11 shots to kill something at 10 meters and in anyway.  You get that same result out to 40 meters, so there is no advantage to charging into buildings carrying a Carbine.  Sometimes you have to do it, but mainly you're fighting with your teammates in the "line". 

With a shotgun you're going to go out actively looking for targets and trying to get in really close to them.  To do this effectively you've got to come from a direction that they're not looking.  If they see you before you get to 10 meters, you're going to get killed, so you've got to sneak up on them.  What does all this mean?  Well it means that as a shotgun player you're going to sneak around the flanks of your enemy and hit them 1) optimally from behind or 2) at least from the flank.

Also you're looking for enemies who are standing still or sitting still.  DO NOT CHASE RUNNING ENEMIES!  Just like in every other video game from DAoC on, that never ends well.  First off it takes a while to catch them, second you're moving so you can be seen, even at night and third they tend to lead you to other players and the more sets of eyes the more likely you'll be seen running up on them waving a shotgun.  If you've got puppy disease and are running after everything that floats by, prepare to die a lot.  If someone sees you coming and you haven't committed to your target (picked it and touched off your first round), its best to run away if at all possible.

Optimally you're looking for one or two things.

1) Solo or duoing enemies that are sitting still either medding, lining up shots, healing/rezzing teammates, or fixing vehicles.  All of these targets have a tendency to stand still while occupied with the other task, so that means you can get up close to them without them noticing and hit them with maximum damage from close range.

2) Big groups of enemies in very tight little spots.  This may be a group or squad of enemies that has found a small house with a doorway or a windo facing the right direction to shoot out of and they're all facing where the action is.  These large groups in tight spots tend to stand still as well to avoid shooting one another as they get lines of fire to shoot at enemies out the window or door.  Its like walking into the back of a classroom while everyone's looking at the chalkboard.  And as a special bonus healers tend to be in the back of the group holding their healing tools instead of weapons. 

Your pattern is to get into position, close ground as fast as you can and attack, move to a new position as fast as you can, reload, and get into a new position.  Don't double back for another crack at those you missed.  They're all nervous now and waiting for you.  Just move on and look for others who are unaware.

Parting shots

Here are just a few tips to help you become the shotty wielding terminator you're destine to become.

1) Death from Above! - Remember your jet pack allows you to go vertical.  It also allows you to drop down behind unwary enemies and shoot their butts off.

2) To Escape, go Ballistic - Just as your jet pack allows you to ambush enemies, it also allows you to get away from most of them by simply going up where they can't go.  Dive out the door and fly up to the roof.  While they're looking for where you went, escape across the roof tops and set up your next ambush.

3) Stairs = Death - From DAoC you'll remember that Sockfoot always said Bridges = Death. Well in this game Stairs are the same deal.  Never run up stairs.  (You can run down stairs to escape if and only if no one expects you to run down the stairs).  First off they tend to be long corridors and that favors the person with the longer ranged weapon (see anyone NOT carrying a shotgun).  Second they are shooting at the top of your head and head shots get a bonus.  Third, everyone is watching the stairs!  Instead fly up to the window ledges and blast them from outside the window, or drop down the hatch from the roof.  Or even better just stay downstairs and blast them as they come out the door feeling all smug and secure in themselves since they remembered to watch the stairs.

4) Natural Prey - Don't attack enemy Maxs.  Too many hit points.  Only attack enemy Heavy Assaults if you're sure you can land three shots (two with a pump) before they can react.  Otherwise stick to Healers, Engineers who are repairing vehicles and Infiltrators (there is nothing more fun than bushwhacking an Infiltrator, especially if they've just unstealthled to fire their sniper rifle). 

5) Turret fun - Look for Engineers manning their turrets.  They get tunnel vision when they're firing their mini guns and mortars so they're easy to sneak up on and can't run away until they disengage from their turret, which takes time.  After they're dead, finish your clip off by killing their turret for extra experience points.

6) Grenade Fu! - When you find a large pack of enemies in a small spot looking away from you, fling a grenade in the room and run in right after it BEFORE it explodes.  Why you say?  Well grenades show up on the ground as glowing red dots, so everyone sees them and begins to scramble to get out of the circular area of the explosion, which is pretty small.  I call it the Fox in the Hen House effect.  Everyone sees the dangerous grenade on the ground and they start running and screaming in an attempt to get away from it.  What no one sees in the middle of the ensuing bedlam is the mad bomber with the shotgun charging into the room and blazing away.  So in the resulting confusion, run in and start blasting and then run out.  With luck you'll shoot two or three dead,  some will blunder onto the grenade as it explodes as they try to avoid you and you'll escape with your life which means they will have to now commit at least two or three of their group to watch the back door you used to shoot their buddies.

7) Be patient, but when in doubt stay on the move - Seems kind of contradictory, but it really defines what you're trying to do.  You're an ambush predator behind enemy lines.  Find a good spot to hunt, but if you're not comfortable for some reason (maybe you don't like that window that overlooks your hide or you just don't have a good feeling about this place because there are two or three ways to get in and get out of it making it a tough place to ambush since you might not see the prey coming) then move out.  Remember to keep your eyes open as you move and don't sprint until you have picked a target and are moving to engage it.  Then get as close as you can (10 meters or less) and then open up.

8) Equipping my shotgun - Shotguns need very little in the way of upgrades.  A good investment is a 1X reflex scope which doesn't magnify, but has a laser dot in the middle of it that helps you center up your ADS shots.  Other than that I wouldn't buy anything else unless I was going to put slugs in my auto shotgun.  Then I'd get the front grip and the 2x reflex scope since slugs enable you to shoot farther.

9) Quick draw! - Learn to switch to your pistol to finish off wounded targets rather than waiting for your shotgun to reload (which could take between 3 to 4 seconds or FOREVER in a firefight.

So that's it.  Buy those shottys and get stuck into it.  Good hunting.

Son, you've got a panty on your head.