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I started Planetside 2 a short while ago, so I have limited Cert points and I don't want to invest real money in the game yet. Is there anything I can do to defend against enemy aircraft?

They frequently kill me with one hit and I don't seem to have anything which is an effective weapon against them. Well, there are AA turrets on some installations, but those aren't always available. Sitting in an AA turret also makes me a very easy target because I can't move.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Planetside 2 is a teamgame. On your own, you are always an easy target against ESF - Empire Specific Fighters, i.e. Scythe, Mosquitos and Reavers - and Liberators. You need to work together with a squad to deter aircraft, otherwise your best bet is to hide in a building and hope they go away.

Apart from friendly ESF, Burster MAXes are currently the most effective aircraft deterrent but a single Burster MAX will quickly get picked off by experienced pilots, especially if you only have the one default Burster arm. You need at least 2 Burster MAXes using both Burster arms to scare away ESF and 3-4 against Liberators.

As a beginner, search for the protection of a platoon, you won't be able to deal with aircraft yourself. When you shoot them with your one Burster arm, ESFs will still unload their rocket pods on you before they move away to repair and Liberators will laugh at your tickling and continue to bomb everyone in range for several salvos before they have to return to a base to repair.

This might sound unfair and make ESF and Liberators appear overpowered but it is by design and in the spirit of the game. It is a teamgame, you should not be running around on your own, and Burster MAXes scale incredibly well with numbers to a point where 6 Burster MAXes can defeat an infinite amount of aircraft as long as they have an engineer providing ammo.

If you are alone, your only option is to get your own ESF and try to fight them air to air - no matter what others say, default ESF loadouts ARE able to 1v1 upgraded ESF, i've done it myself and i'm not even a good pilot. Ram enemy ESF if you can't fight them, it's a common and valid strategy.

For completeness sake, the purchasing options:

  • For Lightnings you can purchase the Skyguard Cannon... but don't. It's weaker than a Burster MAX and currently considered completely useless. It's nice if you have a few of them in your armor column to deter aircraft without having to stop and have Burster MAXes hop out of and back into your Sunderers all the time but unless you have a lot of them, you only have a tiny chance to even hit any aircraft.

  • For Heavy Assaults there are two different launchers you can purchase that can lock-on to aircraft.

    • Depending on the faction, the first is either the "Hawk GD-68", "ASP-30 Grounder" or the "Nemesis VSH9". They all perform the same and do less damage than the default Rocket Launcher but can lock-on to aircraft and so have a better chance at hitting. They also still have the dumbfire mode of the default rocket launcher against ground vehicles.

    • The second is the Annihilator, which can lock-on to both aircraft and ground vehicles but does even less damage than the empire specific anti-air launchers. It also doesn't have a dumbfire mode, so you always need to lock-on to ground targets which takes a few seconds. On their own, neither of the HA rocket launchers really prevent aircraft from destroying you, they just flare your rocket and then kill you before they start to destroy everything you hold dear. However, in a group together with Burster MAXes, they can become effective.

In summary:

  1. Find a platoon.
  2. Find a platoon.
  3. Find a platoon.
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Despite the importance of playing with a platoon or outfit, it is perfectly possible to go lone wolf, although staring out it isn't wise –  MapCavalier Feb 20 '13 at 19:50

The only ground unit which has an effective anti-air weapon without investing cert points or real money is the MAX unit. Heavy assaults can also damage aircrafts with their LMG and rocket launcher. But the LMG inflicts only minuscule damage against them, so they are only a threat for a pilot when there are a lot of them. And the default launcher's rockets fly so slow, that you will only hit very inexperienced pilots who make the mistake of hovering very close to your position.

So your best bet against aircrafts is the MAX.

You can't choose the MAX unit when spawning. You have to interact with a weapon terminal to get it. The anti-air cannon, called "NS-10 Burster", is an optional weapon for the right arm which is available from the start, but not equipped on the default loadout. To equip it, interact with a weapon terminal, choose the MAX, click onto "Primary Weapon 2" and select the NS-10 Burster.

The Burster fires projectiles which deal good damage against air units, but they move slowly. So when you use the Burster, make sure to lead your target. The ammo is very limited, so ask a friendly engineer to drop his ammo pack near you (the "need amunition" voice macro works on some people). Engineers are your best friends when you play a MAX, because a MAX has no regenerating shield and no equivalent to the med or restoration kits of the other infantry classes, so you depend on engineers to replenish your health.

When you invest 1000 cert points or 700 station cash ($7) you can get a second Burster for the MAX unit. Other options for the same price which help you against air units are a heat-seeking rocket launcher for the heavy class and the Skyguard AA gun for the lightning tank.

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Shrike, or whatever the starting rocket launcher is for VS/TR can be quite effective against ESFs if you get them to hover for a second or two, and once you get used to the rockets slow speed it can be an effective AA weapon, there is also a 250 cert AA lock-on rocket launcher that can be effective, since just being locked onto in the first place unnerves many amateur-intermediate pilots.

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