I've played a game called BZFlag for coming scarily close to a decade now. The game makes heavy use of low level and passive strategy and thinking. It's not a game for the faint of heart. It's a game for the hard and quick minded. Simplicity, predictability and laziness in movement is what gets you prematurely killed. It's a game of lots of smaller games. The biggest one, outplaying and out thinking multiple enemies at the same time. I realised that BZ and Sector's Edge are very alike, and so, if you'll allow me, I'd like to share some of my knowledge straight from BZ, adapted to and from Sector's Edge. These games translate well, from the strategies to environmental awareness. So let me, and us, show you what’s really behind Sector’s Edge.
The Sector's Edge HandbookBuildingEnvironmental awarenessPositioningHow to use: weapon classesClose rangeStealthSniperExplosiveEar healthMatching a load-out to youSurvivalMidi & diggingBeing considerate
Building is your way of controlling your environment. Got a rail on you? A heavy plasma?
The most common action I see is people using them to put a barrier between them and the one shooting at them. While this in that capacity works wonders, it’s hardly the most effective use. Used right, structures will force your enemy into close quarters combat with you, forcing them to switch to a weapon ideal for shorter range. Adapt your environment in real time to work the best for you, and worst for your enemy. Doing this in a ‘hot-zone’ is ideal. But first we must understand ‘hot-zones.’
So what is a ‘hot-zone?’ A hot-zone is a naturally occurring location where all players converge on a map. Hot-zones are often an important element of a play space which is often completely overlooked, and fully controlling these easily dictate the direction of a match. You know those capture points in Breakthrough? Those are artificial hot-zones, I say artificial as those aren’t accidentally there by nature of the terrain, they’re placed there as the soul point of the game-mode.
Let’s see an example of hot-zones from above.
Here you can see that I’ve circled the hot-zones in red, and paths with arrows. With the paths visualised, is it now easy to understand why this basic understanding is so important? Being able to calculate all of this during a match in real-time, and able to act accordingly makes you unstoppable. So now that we understand hot-zones, let’s talk about using structures effectively…
Let’s arc back to what I said earlier: got a rail on you? A heavy plasma? If you’re in the open, make your location closed. Is your enemy out of your range? Make your location only accessible to your range. Always tailor your environment to suite your needs. Setup walls, shielded stairs. And if your enemy can use your location to their advantage, then you’re doing it wrong. Think of the ‘smoke the enemy’ scenario: Knowing where your enemy is visually is the be-all and end-all. Do you smoke your enemy so that they can’t see you, but in doing so losing their location, or do you smoke yourself? What about the 3rd option? Not smoking them at all unless you actually have to.
Ideally, the less blocks that are placed, the harder it is for the enemy to determine the current natural hot-zone on the map; think about it. When you see a clad of structures tightly packed in one location, do you think ‘eh, pretty,’ or do you converge on it expecting gunfire? Control a hot-zone and you’re set. But that doesn’t mean being directly on it. Discretion is always key!
To properly hold mid in any map, you must first have it under your thumb.
Knowing your environment is the single most important aspect to any game. Imagine you’re on the new Temple map. The whole enemy team is on point in the bottom left of the map over from Helix spawn. The point is right over from the spawn zone, so which direction do you think the enemy expects you to come?Directly from your spawn? If your teammates keep running at them head on, after not to long they’ll get sloppy. So instead, wouldn’t it be better to flank them? Or maybe approach from underneath? Orb them from the tree above? Patience is your best bet. If you don’t consider any of these aspects when going into a fight then you’re affectively, what’s called ‘going in blind.’
Have you even considered who’s on the enemy team? People garner their own styles and fighting personalities, so look out for them. No matter what skin they have, always, always focus on their actions and work off of them. If you’ve watched the ProLeague, you might have noticed that some teams all shared the same character model and colours. This was to remove as much visual identity as possible. When in a given situation, who do you target first? The biggest threat. How can I gauge your threat level when I don’t know who you are? Let alone intentionally target you first. Other than studying your movements and actions, that is. The true and only way to judge a player’s skill.
In BZFlag, the more you can do with less, the better you are, and it’s about the same here.
Positioning’s important. Not only does it make or break you, it guarantees your survival whether your a handy shot or not. It’s about knowing where to be, and when to be. People who’ve nailed this can often predict what will happen sometimes a few minutes ahead with good accuracy. Box yourself in, wall yourself in. But make sure you can’t be cornered, and leave plenty of space for escape. The strategist always wins over the gun nut. Know when there’s a fight you can’t win, you’ll be golden.
Arcing back to the ‘smoke the enemy’ scenario mentioned earlier; I saw someone walling off our spawn on Breakthrough. While it was seemingly a good idea, we couldn’t see out and they couldn’t see in. That platform which they’d made, once the tides had turned and we were losing badly, was used by three high levels to snipe into our spawn from. Since a teammate had also removed the train carriages, they had full view, and thus non of us could even get to the front of spawn without our heads coming off.
|Short range||Medium range||Long range|
|Light Plasma||Beam Rifle||(⬅ soon)|
|Double Barrel||Assault Rifle||Rail Gun|
|Plasma Pistol||LMG||Mini Gun (specif)|
|Grenade Launcher||Combat Shotgun||Orberator|
How should we use these weapons?
The weapons in Sector's Edge are well balanced in usability. The rail can be hip-fired with enough accuracy for short range, the grenade launcher is a great mid and long distance aerial assault weapon while also being a great, fast paced, short range barrager. With enough effort and skill, all of these weapons can be used at nearly any range. It just comes down to whether it's practical for you to do so.
It's always best to keep tension on the enemy. So for example with long range weapons, move around a lot. Place yourself at key points which will be hardest to see and preferably above ground level if you're going to be stationary for periods of time. And make sure to be out of reach from flankers. It might do to wall off the entrance points to you with thick layers and if you're in a wall make a mini maze for distraction purposes. If you make a larger, straighter path people are so much more likely to follow that than smaller, forking tunnels or T-junctions. Of course, once it comes to entering combat, everything switches up dramatically. From casually jumping and jiggling to deter sluggish snipers, you need to be quick and agile on your feet to get anywhere. If your setup has high sensitivity, you'll be fine whizzing around doing 180s, but if you're a lower sens player it's something you really ought to put some thought into. You might want to hold back a bit before bulldozing into the fight. And with this whizzing around, make good use of your melee! It's a two hit kill, so don't make the mistake of going in for a melee on someone who's full health. This is where shotguns shine, especially the double barrel. The DB is the go-to weapon for rushing and paired with an SMG you're pretty much set. Weapons like Assault and, at the time of writing this, LMG, are good for picking enemies off one by one at mid-range. These are certainly weapons for someone who plays like a tank, no doubt. Sit back and mow down your enemies with historically easy recoil and ammo capacity with a few completely expendable rounds.
I know this is a lot to take in, so please bear with me! Let's go a little deeper into making a typical loadout for the specific play styles mentioned above. So you're agile? Are you a bull in a china shop? Do you like rushing? I presume, by your play style that you'll enjoy rushing. So let's talk about making a typical SMG loadout made just for that. Light Plasma should work relatively the same for this, as well. Since you'll be up against multiple enemies, you need as much health as possible, so that's easy. Just use Regeneration III but hold up! Will you require a secondary weapon? any of the equipment? What about Speed? Not only will you need quick regeneration to remain in the fight, you also need to remember to make this loadout compliment your style. If you're going to be spending the most important and longest times in close quarters combat, all you'll most likely require is a pistol for a secondary. Which in that case you can have Regen III and Speed III. An absolute nightmare for enemies! And you still have a point left over. Which I personally recommend you use on Kinetic. That way any explosive weapon experts have a harder time killing you, since even just Kinetic level I has plus four-hundred explosion knock-back and minus ten self-explosion damage. But what if you want something which can kill quicker? The double barrel is your only option, but that makes your loadout over-powered. If you simply must have DB then use either Regeneration I with Speed II, or reverse them. Whichever works for you.
For the stealthy player, of course, it doesn't take a lot of brain storming to figure out that you need the Stealth mod. And, let's say you are using the heavy plasma? Chances are you don't need a secondary at all. Maybe just the pistol? Each weapon category: Sniper, Explosive, Heavy, Light, Shotgun, Pistol, has exactly the same power as the others in the same category. So the Assault Rifle, Heavy Plasma and LMG all have a base power of twelve individually. The light weapons all have a base power of eleven individually, and so on. However this isn't the case for all of the weapon categories of course, being that the rocket rifle functionality wise is a Rail Gun which fires explosive rounds with of course slower projectile speeds, and no scope or ACOG sight. RR and the Revolver are both alike in this respect. They don't fall in form with the rest of the weapons and in their categories; but I digress. You'll need Stealth. but maybe you can use speed too? And with no noise increase. So an inaudible, un-chasuble person wielding an extremely powerful weapon. Sounds like a plan! And without a secondary, you're able to have Regeneration I, which adds a twenty per cent health regen increase.
For Rail Gun users on the other hand, Regeneration should be your top priority. The longer you're waiting for your health to hit back to a hundred per cent from fifty four is plenty enough for that other rail or LMG to relocate. Or possibly even eventually flank you since they now know your location. I, for one, can't use modifications on my Rail loadout as I'm a long distance and close combat fighter. So I have both Rail and Double Barrel which hits the max of fifteen loadout power. But since you're a sniper, might you want the Building mod too? Since you'll most probably be using your own structures for cover? Just a thought.
Rocket Riles fall very much into the grey area between a sniper and the traditional big boom, high damage, big splash damage explosive weapon. It's more of a gun for modest snipers who prefer mid-range fighting but don't want to carry around a hulking great piece of a metal composite and plasma around with them. And of course, then there's rocket jumping! This one's easy. Hydraulics III and Kinetics III. Unless, of course you need health regen, which I can see why that would be needed. But with the nature of the Rocket Rifle, it would only be on rare occasion that it's actually beneficial, so you could kind of say; 'what's the point?' But if you really do need a secondary, then please, only lower Kinetics to II. Not hydraulics.
I'm not even going to bother going into this as it's dead easy. Find a balance between the mods used in the Rocket Rifle loadout and the ones in the short range loadout. And if you need a secondary weapon, which I'm positive you'll require no sooner than leaving the spawn, if you have Orberator, of course, then maybe a pistol will suffice? or a Combat Shotgun? Expensive, I know. Or if you're feeling brave the Grenade launcher makes for a great secondary if you can use it right. For that, you'll probably at least want Kinetic I and Regeneration. Maybe speed as well. Speed would definitely help wonders with certain loadouts at short range. Basically, kill them before they kill you. With big, destructive and pretty explosions!
Very few games today use this method of sound delivery!
All of this I'm sure is a lot to take in, so let's have a break and talk about one thing that you depend on to do all of this.
Your ears are extremely important tools in games, and definitely in life. This isn't covered anywhere near as much as it should be in articles like this. What compelled me to cover this here? I recently bought a new set of headphones which has also subsequently opened me up to the world of ear health. Many people have their headphones turned up way to loud. We're all guilty of this, and if you wear earbuds and care about preserving your hearing, throw them out.
Like your eyes, your ears need a break too! Be aware of how loud you have sound playing and don't listen to the same audio for to long. Repeatedly listening to the same song, type of sound, etc is how one sound engineer got permanent hearing damage. (Tinnitus, certain recessed or muffled frequencies in hearing), and he's not alone! My personal advice with headphones, unless noise cancelling/dampening and especially with cheaper pairs is that: if you can't hear the person over from you talking, they're to loud. Police sirens, ambulances, they all do permanent damage. And if night clubs and those 'parties' far beat those in volume, think carefully the next time you say 'you'll get used to it' to a friend. And even more so if it actually hurts your head. The perfect way to wreck your hearing. Use ear protection, anything. Discrete, invisible or industrial! How will you hear those sneaky footsteps if you're deaf?
What's your play style? What's your focus? Is it agility? Stealth? Are you a counter-attacker? Are you a tank?
Use the same logic used in other games, the one that instantly comes to my mind is Insurgency. Tanks are stationary for longer, and dish out bullets while not doing as much damage as, say, an agility focused player who's darting into combat with a high damage but slower firing weapon like a shotgun, before disappearing. Or the stealth who will have a more discrete weapon like the Heavy Plasma, waiting for the right moment before striking, and hitting hard. Or are you an attacker? Maybe the assault or SMG are more suited to you in that case. Little less damage, higher fire rate but fast reloads allow for rushing head long into combat and with quick reflexes and thinking you'll floor everyone. I must mention the player and content creator, Silly, for this tactic. If there's anyone who can single-handedly force a retreat by maintaining pressure on the right map locations, it's him. Most notably he's able to do this because of his impeccable aim, but just because you have snappy and accurate aim doesn't mean you can single-handedly carry a team. Another player, DeWolf is equally able, however he's a lot more relaxed; picking people off in his own time. Now look at the weapons Silly uses verses DeWolf. Silly uses, and no surprise here, an SMG. What does DeWolf use? A rail. Assault, SMG, and way back when was a Heavy Plasma main. Oh, and a quick bonus, play with Rocket Launcher at least a few times whenever you play. You'll thank me later! 😉
Survival is everything. It's strategy, it's how you compose yourself. It's the way you think. Here you can see that Silly uses basic survival strategy to great effect. He walls off as many possible locations that enemies can appear from which allows him to focus on just one or two different open outlets. In other words, controlling the direction enemies come from without them realising it. This also allows Silly not to worry about anyone following him, or coming at him from the side as he'd know instantly by digging noises or an explosion. Always face your enemy, as they say! And notice how he doesn't chase kills. He knows when it's time to retreat, and when to attack. If they aren't bothering him directly, he doesn't actively go after them. Only when he's in danger does he engage. Even when he's intentionally put himself amidst combat.
Take some time to reflect. Can you take a fight? Can you take someone in a 1v1? Judge them. See the way they move compared to the way you move. Are you a tank? Are you a strategic camper? (If you're just a camper you're stuffed, sorry!) If they're extremely agile the chances of you coming out alive are grim. So then it comes down to something else: aim accuracy. It doesn't matter so much about movement if you're bearings are hard to lose, and if you're aim is much quicker and sharper than theirs is. I'm sure some of you who've fought with and against me are wondering, 'well, you're talking about all this movement stuff, be he doesn't do any of it himself.' Yes, and you'd be perfectly right -it's because I can't. I'm unable to whizz around, jynx and confuse people because I'm just to slow. Not only that, but I'm physically limited by my setup's low sensitivity. So why bother? It's not the way I play anyway. It's not how I play and importantly it's not how I have fun. Leave that jiggling and 700% speed ballet dancing to the professionals and people who care.
Take recommendations, sure! But don't let other people's opinions, let alone hard facts like weapon stats, dictate how you play.
Ah yes.... This. that thing with many names. The 'Midi,' 'Digger, Thermator...' The Midi, once called 'Thermator' before the two merged, is arguably the most important tool in the game. This is what you use to place blocks, your blueprints and drill 'Agg-aaarrrrrr-mun' heads and human heads with. Blueprints are a murky topic, so I won't go there.
You can bind different blueprint selections to specific keys which will automatically activate the midi and into build mode once pressed, bypassing the circular blueprint menu accessed with the Z key (by default). Too, you can add a binding which allows you to change the digger mode to go from 1x1 block mining to 5x5. This is especially great for quick getaways and tight spaces. Build a hollow box blueprint without a floor which just so happens that the blueprints are 6x6, so the 5x5 grid fits perfectly inside allowing you to quickly dig directly down and away to safety, placing walls behind in the tunnel to slow down any hunters who might be after you. And if they're hot on your tail, make a mini maze; maybe even switch to 1x1 digging mode and make a small crevice for yourself. The smaller the whole, the harder to spot you are of course. And with a lot of twists and turns in a 2x1 wide passage, with a good head start most people won't be bothered navigating you through that! But do be wary of grenades and Orberator plasma balls! Those things will instantly kill you if you're close enough, let alone the splash damage. A good trick which a few players over the times have embraced is boxing their enemies in a 6x6 hollow box, like mentioned earlier and then orberating the box. Quick, easy and efficient.
Is this really something that actually needs attention? Considering how game-modes are removed, added and changed around so often, just like with balancing (hence why I haven't had a go at different weapons in detail), I think it would be appropriate to talk quickly talk about what your thinking should be in these different game-modes and how to appropriately support, and treat your teammates. I'll be referencing particularly to Breakthrough since it's the faster paced, and of course, Salvage. And a lot of these cover all of the team based game-modes. I'm sure I'll add more and others to this down the line! So this will be short.
Deathmatch is something which won't be getting much attention, since deathmatch is deathmatch. So instead, let's talk about the earliest game-mode: Salvage.
As seen in the picture at the start of this article, Salvage is a game-mode where you have to drain canisters of the Sector's Edge material called 'Soltrium.' Isn't the lore great?! These canisters spawn randomly after depletion at the choice of a small number of locations in the map('s)'. It's important that you take regard of your teammates locations and respect them. Don't block a teammate's rail, for example, if your team mate is in position and posed. Even if the enemy is fully capable of taking you two out, even if you yourself don't have the range and full view of you and your teammate. Only seriously consider placing if your Rail Gun partner can easily and seamlessly relocate. And the worst thing you can do is walk directly in-front, let alone into your teammate's field of view when in their personal space. If an enemy is directly in front of you, your teammate cannot see them. And if you're moving, likely cannot hear them either. Thus when you die, your teammate doesn't have the time to react. All this would never even be possible if certain people, we all know at least one or know of one person who does this, were considerate and aware of personal space. If you do this yourself, please don't do this. It makes others sorely dislike you, just like when entering someone's personal space in person. Whether they're polite or not! Don't mention it, or not!
I'd forgotten how much I love writing! The feeling of completing something at any rate... It's always fun delving into these long and lengthy topics. Hopefully you've gotten something out of it! This article's been on my to-do list for a long time, but since the release, and before release, certain mechanics are really maturing now.
But in all seriousness, what really makes this game special is the community. Since the game's official launch in Q4 2020 it feels like it's shrunk, but at the same time it's grown massively. That will be because all of us regulars and fairly regulars all know and recognise each other. So when new names come who you don't recognise the world generally would feel like a bigger place, and of course that's a good thing! The more the merrier, as they say. The official Discord server for the game is where pretty much all of us are. And the branches off of that like the ProLeague Discord, Sector Is Edgy, and whatnot. And that's not even mentioning the content creators in the community. Everyone's so nice! And we pretty much all know each other! It really is a tight knit community. Of course there's https://sectorsedge.com which is the game's main website, but there's the much active forums too. And then there's the r/SectorsEdge community where C.O.T.W (Clip Of The Week) is posted, from the official SE YouTube channel. Vercidium's own channel where he uploads some bits and pieces from TikTok and clips from development. And let's not forget the official Twitch channel! Which you can go to here.
This is the naughty part where I make a shameless plug! This page goes with a video series on the game, of which this article will be made into. Here's the series.
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