Author Topic: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?  (Read 1482 times)

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Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
I've been running through FS2 again on Insane for the first time, fully expecting it to be balls-hard, and it does not disappoint. But I know a lot of you vets routinely play everything on Insane or else it's not challenging enough. I'm curious about tactics and strategy that make missions beatable at this level.

AI wingmen are usually garbage at staying alive, so anything that depends on their support quickly falls apart in my experience, even if I focus on covering them. Enemy fighters will **** out missiles with wild abandon compared to lower difficulties as well, making things hurt Very Badly if you are in a slow-moving or shield-weakened ship.

Take for example the third mission in the game. The Iceni jumps, everyone gets mad, and then you have Lokis and two cruisers warp in. Invariably, my wingmen will waltz right into the cruisers' fire pocket and be pureed before I can lure any Lokis away from their big buddies. I can't tell my wingmen to hold position, so the best I can do is tell them to form up or cover me, but they still fly right into the beaming death traps. Then it's me in a Myrmidon vs like 3-6 Lokis, which are not exactly the best odds.

What do you do to survive that?

Also, another standout from my last runthrough on Hard: Rebels and Renegades. I had to play this like 30 times before I got through it successfully and, oddly enough, the last time I played it in the simulator earlier today on Hard, I managed to keep the Iceni and the Hinton alive (albeit with 3 hull). It seemed like pure luck that the Vasudan corvette jumped in at an awkward angle, making it struggle to bring its main beam to bear on the Iceni. The Iceni also managed to kill it, but only late in the mission when it was already too late for the Vasudans to win.

Otherwise, one of the following always happened: I got plastered by the Asar, the Iceni got plastered by the Asar, the Iceni got plastered by asteroids, I got plastered by fighters while trying to cut down the Asar's main beam, or a delightful cluster**** combination of all of them would show me the "are you sure you wanna keep playing this? I mean damn, dude" dialog.

Granted, it never occurred to me to take the Herc until I saw someone flying that in the playthrough on the wiki. That seemed like a brilliant idea and I can't believe I never tried it before, so maybe that explains why I completed it on Hard without much trouble this time. But it doesn't really explain why the Iceni wasn't shredded by the Vasudan corvette nearly as fast as the last 20-some-odd times. Did I just get lucky? Is the Herc too scary for the corvette to want to challenge, so it kept shying away? The world may never know.

But some of you obviously have ways to survive the most harrowing situations. What about the swarms of Dragons you encounter every now and then? What's the best way to fight those little ****ers off when you're in something slower and less agile than they are (read: anything besides maybe a Ptah or Pegasus, or maybe Perseus...  hmm. I'm spotting a pattern here)?

Also, how many of you use a mouse for aim vs. keyboard only vs. joystick? I've always used keyboard + mouselook and find myself having to drag my mouse like crazy in close dogfights sometimes, and have been considering a proper joystick so I can simply pull back and sit there all day pitching in circles forever. But does that really offer a mega Tactical Advantage(TM)?

Discuss! I-if... you know, if you wanna. No pressure, no pressure.

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
Joystick is no better than mouse or pure keyboard. They each have strengths.

The Romans Blunder and Rebels and Renegades are both big difficulty spikes on Insane.

Use C31 a lot to focus down one ship at a time.

Learn how to turn and burn right before impact to dodge all missiles.

Always put defense over attack.

Never fly into a situation without a clear plan of what to kill and how to get back out.

Don't go near AAA beams. If you must, go in behind wingmen or kill them ASAP.

Dragon swarms are always bad news, but if you're in a smaller ship you can evade them and take snapshots. Lure them to warship guns.

Play FreeSpace Blue, it's way more fun!

 

Offline Goober5000

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Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
What Battuta said.  You should also be aware that friendly wingmen actually get more intelligent at higher difficulties.  Use that to your advantage.

I've beaten both retail FS1 and retail FS2 on Insane.  Even though I beat FS1 on Insane later, I found it much harder.  Part of it is undoubtedly the different missile AI, but there must be other less apparent changes that affect balance as well.  Incidentally, I could never beat the last FS1 mission on Insane while staying alive.  I beat it, once, and died in the process.  That's when I discovered that you can win the FS1 campaign despite dying just like you can win FS2 despite dying. :)

I'll also leave you with this memorable quote by Setekh:

Quote
Originally posted by BD
I bet you were playing that one on "VE" :p :p :p

If you knew anything about me, you'd know that I play everything on Insane. Aeos Affair, Bearbaiting, ST. All on insane. (I got all four BFReds and the bonus on Insane, once; could never replicate it.)

 

Offline niffiwan

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Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
One tip for the early FS2 missions on insane; the Rockeye outranges AAA beams (1900 vs 1500) making it very useful in certain missions to safely disarm warships.

I'll also re-emphasis this point from Battuta:

Never fly into a situation without a clear plan of what to kill and how to get back out.
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
I'm pretty sure there's an exploit in the ETS system to grant effectively unlimited energy through shunts, but I forget how to execute it. It's not necessary for insane, just sprang to mind as curious trivia.

 
Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
I never understood why people found Bearbaiting so difficult 0_o - It's just a certain rhytmn.

But yes, to add to what other people have already said: Understand why Insanity is more difficult. On the lower difficulty levels, the AI is less likely to target you. Your ship is more durable compared to your wingmen. All fighters in the mission are less effective, including the ones on your side. Turrets fire slower, especially beam turrets. Playing on a lower difficulty level makes you think like you think in any "Ego shooter" as the Germans call it. You, as a player, are much more powerfull then anyone on the field. Not just because you have a brain, but also because your fighter is magically better then everybody else, warships have been powered down and the AI is hardcoded to de-prioritize you.

But on Insanity (or Reality as BP calls it), all those handicaps go away. Not only are the enemy fighters smarter. Your friendlies are smarter. Everybody's warships are more deadly to everybody (Take note if you ever plan on Fredding). The handicaps the AI got in relation to you go away, and all enemy fighters can decide to target you all at once whilst they had a hard-coded limit not to do so before. Suddenly, the game is not a Call of Duty or a Wolfenstein, it's an Arma or Rainbow Six. You are just as vulnerable as your wingmen, but your wingmen can also be relied upon a lot more, as can friendly warships. So spend a lot of time into figuring out how the AI thinks and what orders and weapons you can give them to make them more effective. A maxim-cannon equipped wing or a hornet-swarm missile equipped wing will smash trough enemy cruisers like it's 1942, for instance. Similarly, try using a few buttons you may not have used before: The "G" button targets enemies attacking your target, but more importantly is the "J" button: Target Target's Target. If a new bomber wing comes in, select a bomber, press J, and send a few wingman to cover that craft. It will make your life a lot easier: Bombers have a tendency to double down on the same target. Bombers with the same wing designation will always attack the same target.

This will unfortuantely not help you in Rebels and Renegades as you can't command wingmen there and all that jazz. That mission is just really hard :P - as are all the missions of SOC loop 1, actually.

 
Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
Another thing of note is that due to these factor difficulty is all over the place on insane. The early missions are among the more difficult due to the lack of effective tools at your disposal. Removing the limits on how many ship/turret can target you at once makes missions such as Slaying Ravana viciously difficult, while a number of missions become significantly easier.

Your wingmen can use fighters such as the Perseus to their full potential, flak guns have a much smaller random refire rate, etc.


Other have already mentionned a number of tactics, so I'll just add a couple tips :
- The key to survivability is not to get hit
- Related to the above, Heavy fighters are death traps, unless you plan to spam trebs and smash cruisers with the maxim
- Also related, learn how to make the best use of the ETS depending on the situation. Sometimes, putting all power on engine and bolt out is your best option.
- Use Tempests, Harpoons take too long to lock and are too easily evaded
- Trebs are overpowered, but your wingmen can't use it
- Your wingmen are just another weapon, use them wisely

 

Offline potterman28wxcv

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Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
In regards to AI, let's be honest - they are stupid. I'm not sure how the algorithm goes, but here are what I know based on what I have observed through my multiple playthroughs.

Engage All and Ignore My Target
By default, the AIs are in C-3-9 (Engage All). In this case, they will divide equally among all enemy present on the screen, and I believe also based on their closeness (they won't run to engage someone that is 9000 miles away, if you got enemies 1000 miles near you). However, the big con is exactly what you're describing in mission 3 : they tend to suicide into larger vessels.

In order to counter that, you need to tell your wingmen to Ignore the target (C-3-6). Usually, whenever a new cap ship jumps in, I immediately go to the fleet menu (F2 or F3, can't remember exactly), assign a F-something to all the cap ships one by one, and then, one by one I target them then C-3-6.

Engage All vs Destroy My Target
Now for the C-3-9 vs C-3-1.. Let's suppose you have a fleet two times larger than the enemy's. If you C-3-1 all the way, by the time you destroy the enemy fleet, the enemy will have destroyed at least 2 or 3 ships of yours. That's because when you order your wingmen to focus someone, they will focus him until they are hit by someone else - but when they are hit by someone else it's already too late to retaliate. This does not happen with a C-3-9, since you have a 2v1 on each fight, which almost guarantees that the 1 will be destroyed without damaging any of the 2.

However, for a C-3-9 to work best, you need to have all your fleet facing all the enemy fleet, and not scattered around. Indeed, if they are scattered, some of your mates will arrive faster than the others, so you won't have as much firepower in the "first strike" than you would if you had everyone gathered.

My tactic
Usually, what I do is that between each breathing I C-3-7 (or C-3-8 depending on my mood), and when the enemy arrives, I face them, then 2 to 3 seconds later I C-3-9. This is, of course, after having ignored the cap ships one by one. The result is usually deadly. You can later go back to the cap ships by C-3-1.

This is assuming you got superiority in battle in terms of numbers and/or ships. Which is the case of most of the survive-the-waves missions (the real challenge is to keep your mates alive in these missions - but you outnumber them at each encounter if you are careful enough)

If you are outnumbered
Now, if you are outnumbered, C-3-9 is definitely not the way to go. It will only contribute to scatter your team mates.. You need to have a bit of micro management. The best way is to C-3-1 a vessel, while you target another one. Whenever your mates have destroyed their vessel, switch to another one.

If you can, you can also try to dive in first so that the enemy focuses on you ; once they are on you, you C-3-1 each one of your assaillants. If you are say in a 3v6, it can be a way to get out of this situation (if you had just C-3-1ed or C-3-9ed, your mates would have died leaving you to a 1v3 or something like that..). But you need to outrun your mates, or put some distance between you and them, so that you really are the first to engage.

This was for general missions - fighters vs fighters. Now for protection missions, I need to discuss C-3-5.

Protect My Target
What your mates do when C-3-5 :
1) If no threat is nearby, they circle the vessel to protect. I find it very pretty - it's really impressive when you order all your wingmen to protect a single entity in the big missions..
2) If a threat is nearby (within 2000m i think ?), they will start attacking it, by order of priority: the bombs, then the bombers, then the fighters. (by the way, regarding my previous point: a good way to attract fire on you is to play a vessel labelled as bomber, and approach a capital ship. Guaranteed success ;p)

This is a great strategy when the enemy is outnumbered. But when there's not enough fighters to defend.. It's complete chaos. Besides, in some situations, you are better of ordering your men to attack the target before it comes close, so that you have more time before it starts launching the bombs (cap ships got turrets to take care of the bombs most of the time).

So when it comes to defending, I would say that C-3-5 is good when you're not here (when you have two sides to defend for example - you can't manage two battlefields at the same time), but you are better of ordering your men with C-3-1 and perhaps even C-3-9 (but beware that they will prefer fighters if you C-3-9, so you would need to take out the bombers yourself. Which is a good strategy if you want to minimize the loss of team mates).

Careful about non-retail missions
Be careful though - in some mods (Blue Planet for example), missions become unwinnable if you start ordering your mates here and there, because they already have really precise orders defined by the mission designer, and if you start messing up with it you will only decrease their efficiency (what they were meant to do). This is not the case for the retail missions as far as i know..

Only exception : if you see that your mates have the order "Attack Wing ..". This is a great one, it's a kind of C-3-9 but only for a wing, so that they won't scatter until the entire wing is destroyed. This is my favourite order of the game, and I wish it was implemented as an assignable one.. (I would love to tell say Squadron Beta to engage Squadron Psi while Squadron Alpha engages Squadron Mu)

When strategy does not work.. Take a heavy fighter and gun your way out until you achieve numerical superiority. The proper Alpha 1 way I would say :p

but more importantly is the "J" button: Target Target's Target. If a new bomber wing comes in, select a bomber, press J, and send a few wingman to cover that craft. It will make your life a lot easier: Bombers have a tendency to double down on the same target. Bombers with the same wing designation will always attack the same target.
This is a great advice, and this is what saved my life on that Blue Planet 1 mission where you got tons of bombers and need to protect all your capital ships that are numerous and spread out, with 4 wings at your disposal..

Incidentally, I could never beat the last FS1 mission on Insane while staying alive.  I beat it, once, and died in the process.  That's when I discovered that you can win the FS1 campaign despite dying just like you can win FS2 despite dying. :)
I could not beat the last mission of FS1 at all. Because I didn't have enough team mates to even got the slightest chance of hit those reactors..

I cheated in some way. I restarted the previous mission, but instead of killing everything, I just told my mates to protect the GTD Bastion while I went to the node. I was hit, hull at 50%, but it was worth it. All of my team mates being alive, the next mission was a piece of cake.

This makes me want to play Freespace again :) Especially since I didn't try this Freespace Blue yet..
« Last Edit: August 17, 2016, 04:17:05 pm by potterman28wxcv »

 
Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
Thanks for the pointers folks! I'm noticing a pattern: wingmen are absolutely critical. Noted, though with disappointment, because my god does the stock AI suck at almost everything. :)

I made it up to Feint! Perry! Riposte! and did fairly well. The Sixth Wonder was easy as always (as long as the Colossus doesn't take a nap), and so was the following mission, though I've been having more trouble than usual in FPR this go-around. Will try again tomorrow.

I tried Slaying Ravana two or three times with all three available bombers and my entire wing was wiped out before we could even deal with one side of turrets. Said to hell with that and `+K'd that mother****er and all the enemy fighters. Felt good, man. That mission is stupid by default, my god. Yeah, let's just send FOUR unescorted bombers to attack a destroyer that ****s out wings of fighters every few minutes! Brilliant idea, command!

Might just say enough is enough and switch to FS Blue, which I have yet to play (but am excited about). Though not on Insane, at least not the first time!

 

Offline potterman28wxcv

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Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
I tried Slaying Ravana two or three times with all three available bombers and my entire wing was wiped out before we could even deal with one side of turrets. Said to hell with that and `+K'd that mother****er and all the enemy fighters. Felt good, man. That mission is stupid by default, my god. Yeah, let's just send FOUR unescorted bombers to attack a destroyer that ****s out wings of fighters every few minutes! Brilliant idea, command!
I never achieved in Insane to destroy the Ravana all by yourself with your small wing. You can't achieve battle superiority here, because as bombers your team mates will suck at fighting, and so do you (you can't just slay the 4 fighters before they come close to the bombers).

What you need to do is just disarm her. If you destroy her Weapon subsystem, she will be a lot less accurate with her turret, and will eventually lose the fight against the Khenmu.

If I remember correctly, every single figher she launches will target your wing. They won't target the Khenmu ever (mission logic - target the Khenmu, which is a valuable target, or that bomber that is running away at 9000 miles from here ? Heck, go for the bomber, reveeeenge !). So you have two solutions after destroying her Weapon subsystem : either you run to the Khenmu and use him to defend against the wings of fighters. Or you just run, run, run, bump everything into Engine and run. Once the Ravana is destroyed, you can go back to base. It's not very brave, but it works.

If you want to watch the battle even though you're running, you can use the "target view" key + the "look around" key. Of course don't forget to hit the afterburners at all time, it would be a shame to be killed while you're grabbing pop-corn.

 

Offline niffiwan

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Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
Heh, I could only complete Slaying Ravana on insane by taking the most manoeuvrable bomber, the Medusa, then hiding behind the Khenmu... I possibly fired one set of bombs into the Ravana on the way past  :nervous:
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Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
What's funny is I did pretty much exactly that: go straight for the turrets, then weapons. We usually took out about half of the turrets on one side, and when I went for the AAA beam to expose the Weapons subsystem, that's about the time when everyone was toasted :P

Fleeing behind the corvette is a funny idea though! Though if I'm going to cheese a mission, I may as well just cheat-skip it at that point, and cheat-killing a destroyer is immensely satisfying :V

 
Re: Playing FS2 retail on Insane: how do you do it?
    In terms of tactics:
    • Keep your wingmen close, they might seem bad but they're as good as the enemy fighters and a lot of time the good they do goes unnoticed like taking fire away from you or killing fighters that would otherwise be a threat(but you don't really notice it if they weren't your target)
    • If you're engaging enemy fighters that aren't facing you it's worth to take a longer route so you get a better angle from above or below(if they're set up to attack you they'll always go head-on though)
    • It's important to know where AAA beams and flak are on capships and remember their effective range. Either use the techroom or the wiki to see the exact placement of these guns and use their blind spots to attack capships if its necessary. Flak is at 1000m while AAAs are at 1500m
    • A versatile loadout will often be better than a pure DPS one, especially if you're flying a fighter with a 4-2 gun configuration that doesn't get extra DPS by using the same gun in both slots
    • If you are playing FSBlue load up on rockeyes when availible, they got a carrying capacity buff and they're very good for getting an advantage in a "joust" or sniping off AAAs. They still don't take priority over trebs and tempests though(or tags if availible)
    • The support ship fully recharges your shields when resupplying you. Shields usually take ~50s to recharge so if you get a break in the mission where you can call in the support ship set up your ETS to recharge guns and afterburners first as those will not be recharged by the support ship
    • You might be able to get away with using a heavy fighter in retail but in mods where you're fighting anything with a decent damage output compared to the Shivan peashooters they're very likely to be deathtraps. Manoeuvrability, a small target profile, and speed are much more likely to help you win missions than having more guns.

    In terms of actual flying and combat
    • Barrel rolling is the #1 most useful manouvre in FS. Apply full yaw/pitch(whichever one is faster), full roll, and hit your burners. You will be extremely hard to hit by primaries and are almost guaranteed to dodge any missiles coming at you straight-on or from behind. If you're packing heatseekers you can shoot them while barrel rolling to maintain defence while pumping out damage
    • Simply aiming at the lead indicator isn't always the best. Sometimes it's better to give up a few shots to get in a better position in a dogfight where you'll be able to sustain shots without the enemy fighter being able to fire back. Flying "below" an enemy fighter and letting him leave your FOV before pulling up will get you a nice lag pursuit curve where you'll be safe and impossible to shake.
    • Guns, shields, and afterburners recharge at tabled rates on insane(in retail guns still recharge slightly faster for the player even on insane). Don't waste your burners right before a fight to get there faster because you'll be unable to use them in the actual fight due to the slow recharge rate
    • Kaysers might seem amazing but their DPS advantage over the PromS isn't all that high and they're extremely costly to fire. With tabled weapon recharge rates no fighter will be able to support a kayser loadout for long enough to fight back a swarm of Shivans. If you want to use them remember that you can rebind the transfer energy shield->laser command to something closer to your hands and use it to get an immediate bit of energy offensively or defensively with the transfer energy laser->shield command. They're on scroll lock and shift-scroll lock by default.
    • Use the target most recent attacker command as soon as you take damage and never get greedy with killing your current target. Staying safe is much more important than getting kills, you will often not be able to afford hull attrition damage in longer missions so use your shields to tank 1 shot and immediately get out of the line of fire. In mods like WiH where enemies have high damage you'll often have to start dodging before you take a single hit to prevent hull damage.
    • While the "turret mode" strategy can be very effective to kill a single fighter you should probably avoid using it in larger dogfights as it makes you extremely vulnerable. Keep your speed up to make yourself harder to hit and slow down to get a better shot only when you're sure it's safe.
[19:31] <MatthTheGeek> you all high up on your mointain looking down at everyone who doesn't beam everything on insane blindfolded