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While completing missions to increase my rank with the guilds, I commonly come across missions that require me to raid a Planetary Harvester. When I had accepted this mission, I received coordinates to a location on one of the planets within the star system. This ended up being a depot that I needed to destroy.

After I reached the destination and hopped out of my ship, I was greeted with an army of sentinels that included drones, dogs, imperial chicken walkers, and an automatic level 5 sentinel alert. I had attempted to just destroy the depot, but the sentinels made this too difficult to achieve. I was forced to retreat and spent a few minutes trying to deactivate the sentinels.

As these types of missions offer a pretty good reward if I complete them, I would like to be able to stand a chance against the sentinels. How can I effectively fight against an army of sentinels?

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For these specific missions where you have to destroy a depot, I destroy them with my ship. When you are within the atmosphere of a planet, no sentinel spaceships are deployed, so you are pretty safe if you remain inside of your ship. You will still get the cargo that the depots contain (so long as you have inventory space in your ship). After you destroy the depot, simply fly away from the sentinels (but remain in the atmosphere) and they will eventually back down (unless you get a 5 star wanted level - see below).

If you decide to venture on foot, some things I've noticed when being chased by sentinels is that if you go inside of any building, they will not attack you. In fact, they can be in the building with you, and they will still begin the "searching" process with the countdown timer. If you let the timer tick down, you can escape them. I think the reason for this is because when you enter a structure, it forces your character to put away their multitool, leaving you defenseless. I think the developers of the game realized this, and as such, made the sentinels stop attacking you.

If no buildings are around, and you are taking some heat, use your terrain manipulator to dig a tunnel and get away. You might have to dig quite a bit, but the sentinels are generally not smart enough to follow you into the tunnel (most of the time they can't even get in it).

If you want to fight them, I've found that so far a scatter blaster is one of the best weapons against them. It can nearly one-shot the small flying sentinels if you are close enough to them, and as for the Walker units, it can destroy their leg armor very quickly. After you destroy the four leg armor pieces, you are able to begin shooting the Walker head to destroy it. I've found myself destroying Walkers in as little as a minute. If you are taking a lot of damage, you can dig a tunnel (remember, the sentinels aren't bright enough to follow you into most tunnels) and allow your shields to regenerate or use some resources to recharge your shield.

From an old answer that I've posted, once you reach a "5 Star" rating with the sentinels, they will not back down, even if you try the building trick (although they won't attack you in the building still). The only way to lose a 5 star rating is to fly out of the atmosphere of the planet you are on. This will in turn place a 1 star level on you, and a sentinel starship will begin to hunt you down. There isn't much you can do to run away from the starships. You can fight them, but this will just raise your wanted level further. You either need to dock your ship on a freighter/space station to lose the starships, or land on a planet again. It may be hard to reach a freighter or space station however, since you cannot engage your pulse engine when you are engaged with the sentinel starships.

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    Also, if you just plain don't want to fight them or escape them, save your game by any means, quit to mode select, then load your save back up, and you no longer be wanted. – Timmy Jim Aug 6 '18 at 20:37
  • This has a lot of great and detailed information. Thank a bunch! I was talking to a coworker about this, and he too attack’s the depots with his ship. As far as going on foot, i’ll hunt for the upgrades you mentioned on make them easier when doing exploration and harvesting – Wondercricket Aug 6 '18 at 22:38
  • That's great info! One personal anecdote on this topic: I had a 3 star level near my base, and when I ran inside, the sentinel drones still fired at me from the doorway if I was within range, and one of the dogs came in the base and attacked me... I had to run past them to my teleporter and GTFO – Taegost Aug 8 '18 at 13:21
  • @Taegost with personal bases, I'm not sure how sentinels react. I know that using any other kind of building such as the ones that you break into by destroying the door will cause them to go into search mode. – Timmy Jim Aug 8 '18 at 13:32
  • @TimmyJim - that's good to know, I haven't messed with the sentinels enough to figure out how they work, and I've been a bit hesitant because of my experience being chased in my own base ;) – Taegost Aug 8 '18 at 19:42
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I found that having maxed grenades will let you to oneshot anything, including self ;) except walkers, which need 1 shot into legs (destroying armor on both) and 3-4 into head. Once you have recipe to craft Unstable Plasma getting charges is really cheap (oxygen and ferrite dust are very common resources).

Refer to this reddit guide, maxing shield allows you completely ignore sentinels damage (consider to use personal shield at beginning to completely negate lazers damage hitting you into face).

As for another answer, I'd avoid doing "destroy planetary depot" missions on a ship, they often badly bugs. They expect you to trigger 3-5 star rating and to destroy at least one of depot canister.

Do it on foots always:

  • land a bit away;
  • make sure you have enough grenades and recharges as well as oxygen/hazard protection full, then just run to depots, throw 1 grenade into each (important to see that circle what shows armor, otherwise grenades may bounce);

Then you can farm a bit sentinels and depending on what kind of mission is it:

  • [npc missions] just run to save spot/ship, save and reload, that would remove stars completely and is a fast way to continue doing whatever without hassle;
  • [freighter mission] run to ship, fly, once in space - summon freighter (make sure you boost for 2+ seconds, you can't summon freighter too close to planet), go inside, turn in.

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