I'm getting very consistently demolished by charging Cloakers. As they are designed, I never really see them coming, and on the occasions that I do see them, I tend to panic and miss a lot of my shots. How can I keep myself (and my teammates) from getting charged at and destroyed by a Cloaker? Is there any way to tell where they are coming from without having to rely on spotting them?
Cloaker spawn locations
Each level has a place where cloakers regularly spawn or camp. Remember where the cloaker spawn or camp locations are. If it's a manhole cover or air vent, it is most likely a cloaker spawn location. Avoid standing below air vents.
If you're using trip mines as an equipment, put them at or near cloaker spawn / camp locations like air vents or manhole covers and set them to sensor mode, so they will highlight cloakers.
Also, try to always point at or highlight cloakers (F by default, in the PC) to make it easier to see where they are.
Avoiding cloaker downs
Cloakers have two types of attacks that can down you: the "drop-kick" and the "charge" attack. Cloakers need a straight path (no obstacles that are jumpable over) to you before they can drop-kick you. If you see one nearby, try to retreat to a position behind a non-jumpable obstacle, or behind a wall or obstacle edge to lessen the chances of them downing you. Avoid positions where there is a clear path or jumpable obstacle to you.
Cloakers are fast and can catch you if you are running directly backwards. Move sideways when retreating from them to avoid them connecting the drop-kick.
Drop-kicks can also be dodged fairly consistently by walking to the side in the last moment. However, the charge attack always connects. If you have light armor, no heavier than an HBV, you actually have enough speed to outrun a cloaker, and buy yourself enough time to shoot them before they reach you.1
Counter-Strike Ace skill
The Fugitive skill tree's "Counter-Strike Ace" skill will allow you to counter-attack cloakers.2
Basic: When charging your melee weapon you will counterattack enemies that try to strike you, knocking them down. The knockdown does not deal any damage.
Ace: You can now counterattack Cloakers.
1 Reddit /r/paydaytheheist posts by users, SgtTittyfist, laagone and Kazzei
2 PayDay wiki. Thanks to MadMAxJr for mentioning the skill in his comment.
Cloakers make a high pitched screeching sound when they are nearby. This is most likely your first line of information that lets you know that a cloaker is close. Unfortunately cloakers like to camp and stay hidden until an opportunity presents itself, so its advisable to travel in a group.
Cloakers can also spawn from vents or manholes so be they can seemingly appear out of nowhere. Again the best advice is to move as a group to reduce the risk of being downed alone.
The biggest threat a cloaker poses is its melee attack that downs the player in 1 hit. So when engaging a cloaker always maintain range. When someone is downed by a cloaker, the cloaker will stick around and camp near the victim. So it is adviseable to prioritize killing the cloaker over reviving your teammate. And if you're ever downed by a cloaker try to point them and let your teammates know so they can react accordingly.
Another thing no one's mentioned - Cloaker's take 4x damage to the head, so always aim for the head if possible.