Perspectives War Robots

Perspectives: Movement and Accuracy 101

Guest author Bahogilok offers up a primer on the fundals of movement and accuracy in War Robots!

Bahogilok has been asset to Aurora Nova iOS from the outset, and it’s clear he has a terrific coaching and development mindset. I’m delighted to feature his wonderfully wonkish primer on two of the most important War Robots fundamentals. It’s easy for seasoned players to take basic game skills for granted, but even experienced players may find something of value. I know that I certainly did. -Jay

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Welcome pilot! Today we will be covering the two most basic skills needed to play War Robots: movement and accurate shooting. While these two concepts are briefly covered by the in-game tutorial (the one that appears during your very first match),the aforementioned tutorial does not teach the more subtle techniques that I feel would make you a more competitive pilot – hence this guide.

Disclaimer: This guide is “aimed” (pun intended) at newer pilots. I am not an expert,and I am still learning myself. If you find any mistakes, or wish to contribute, please do so!

HEDR

“Life requires movement” –Aristotle

I’d like to think that it wouldn’t an understatement to say movement is the most important aspect of the game. It is not simply getting from point A to B; it is how you find an opportunity to have a clear line of sight to your enemy, as well as how much you leave yourself exposed are to enemy fire. It is how efficiently you can get into a position to attack, as well as defend. It is how you find the opportune moments that win the game.

1-A: Basic Movement

There are two basic hand movements that control your robot’s movements. The first, which is the button on the lower left corner of the screen (red circle, image 1), controls your robots’ legs.

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Image 1. Red circle shows movement interface. Blue arrow points to the small hexagonal button that controls movement. Green arrow points to outer border of movement interface. 

You drag the little button in the middle (blue arrow) towards the direction you wish to travel. Take note that the further the little button is from the center of the bigger “outer” circle (green arrow), the faster your robot travels – but if your finger extends from the outer edge of the big circle, your robot does not move any faster.

The second movement is done via the “aim” function, which is done by swiping the screen left or right to move your robots’ main body. This by itself does not move your robot, but the interface controlling the legs (the button at the lower left corner) moves relative to where your robot is facing.

What does this mean?

Lets say you want to go right. You have two ways to achieve this – The first is to “aim” your robot right, then use the movement interface to go forward.

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Figure 1. The green circle represents your robot. Red arrows represent the direction the robot is facing. The blue arrow represents the direction of input from the movement interface. In this diagram, the robot is “aimed” in the direction of travel before dragging the movement button forward

The second method is to face straight ahead and use the movement interface to go right.

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Figure 2. In this diagram, in contrast to figure 1, the robot is aimed straight ahead, while at the same time dragging the movement button to the right- perpendicular to the direction you are facing. 

Of course, there are many variations to this kind of movement, and it is not limited to moving sideways.

Putting it into Practice

So what is the difference between the two ways to go right? After all, isn’t the end result the same?

That would actually depend on the situation. For example, the second movement type (where you are not looking in the direction you are travelling in) is good for those times you need to keep your crosshairs at something, like when firing at an enemy while moving to cover.

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Figure 3. Note the black rectangle, representing cover. Red circle depicts an enemy.

Another good use for this type of movement is strafing, or moving your robot side to side while firing on an enemy. This makes it much harder for the enemy to hit you and is a great tactic at close range.

Not the best example of strafing, but you get the idea

 Another useful time you would want to use this type of movement is to take advantage of the Galahad/Gareth’s shield while moving. Activating the shield mode changes the shield’s position from the side to the front, but greatly decreases move speed. This is great for fighting, but the decreased movespeed is less than ideal for running around the map when not in combat.

To keep yourself protected while not actively in combat, you turn the shielded left side of your robot in the direction of enemy snipers, while using the movement interface to go in the actual direction you need to move in. This can be a bit tricky since you will sometimes move in a direction without actually having direct vision. It is a good idea to take note of the commonly used paths, as well as obstacles in the way to prevent running into them.

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Figure 3-1. Take note the direction of your robot that is facing the threat (red circle) must be at a 90-degree angle to the right to allow the shield (green lines) to protect you while moving quickly. Blue arrows indicate possible movement via movement interface i.e. approaching an enemy, or backing off. For combat, simply turn left and face the target, while activating the shield (deploying to the front).

1-B: Optimizing Turning Speed

If you haven’t noticed by now, your robot’s legs have a slight delay when abruptly changing directions using the movement interface. This may not be a problem on light bots, but it is a big problem on heavy bots.

Note how the cumbersome Rhino takes a few seconds to “align” his legs before moving in the opposite direction.

This delay will cost you a few seconds, which could be fatal when under fire. For example, some weapons (like the Orkan) can discharge a large amount of damage in a very short time – each second you are exposed is directly proportional to how dead you will be. Naturally, you would want to get to cover ASAP.

One way to decrease the time it takes to “align” your legs would be to anticipate the situations you need to do so ahead of time, and position your bot accordingly.

Putting it into Practice

Probably the most common use of this tactic is moving out of cover to empty your weapons, then moving back into cover. If you simply move from left to right, as soon as you finish firing you will take a few seconds before starting to move back to cover – and subsequently, you will be prolonging your exposure to retaliation. You can avoid this by “aligning” your legs and moving at an angle away from the enemy even before you are out of cover, as seen in Figure 4.

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Figure 4. Note how the robot’s lower legs (depicted by blue arrow) are already in position to duck back into cover

Now, compare it with Figure 5, where you move perpendicular to cover:

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Figure 5. Inefficient movement; moving perpendicular to cover to get to position 1, where it will take a few seconds to ‘align’ your legs before moving back to position 2

To further illustrate the concept:

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Image 2. Note the position of the Rhino’s legs.

Another Example:

In the second video, you will notice that the movement is less “fluid”, with the poor carnage stopping for a few seconds during the leg alignment phase, in an almost epileptic dance that would more often than not result in death.

1-C: Terrain

Here is a short list of things you should keep in mind when navigating in your robot:

  • Moving effectively requires knowledge of the map you are playing on. You should know which paths are shorter, where the beacons are, and most importantly which areas are less exposed to enemy fire.
  • Random objects in the map will “trip” your bot up. For instance, there are elevation differences on the ground that will cause your bot to “fall” for half a second.
  • As much as possible, use ramps. Sometimes it will tempting to save a few seconds by falling off cliffs, but keep in mind that when you land, you will be unable to move for half a second – enough time for a salvo of aphids to cripple your bot. (Aphids will hit 100% if you stay still, but have a high chance of missing more than half of the salvo if you simply move)
  • Learn to use objects in the environment as cover.
  • Even under cover, always keep moving. Need to stay in one spot to defend a beacon? Move in a small circle, or rock softly back and forth.
  • Hydras and Spirals in the air means HUG ALL THE WALLS.
  • One thing overlooked by many newer pilots is the identification of areas covered by enemy midrangers. You should get to know how far 500 meters actually feels in game, and make sure that the area you are headed to is not covered by midrange splash.
  • Always know where the enemies are, and if possible, identify targets and threats. For example, Trebuchets glow brightly even from 1000m away, and you should be behind cover before the sniper even gets a shot off.

How you navigate the map depends largely on the range of your weapons, as well as your role in the group. An excellent example of how you approach terrain can be seen in the Hydra Doc guide, featuring the Hydra.

HEDR

2-A: The Basics of Aiming

As shown by the in-game tutorial, aiming is done by swiping your finger across the screen: swipe left to make the big robot face left, and swipe right to make him face right. Seems simple, right?

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Image 3. Red circle shows optimal place to swipe with right thumb- in easy reach of the fire button, as well as ability button

There are actually several factors affecting accuracy other than your swiping skills, and you will need to adjust them to fit your specific playing style. We will be going over them in this section.

2-B: Screen Protectors

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Image 4. A screen protector

Almost everyone uses screen protectors these days, and they generally come in two flavours – glossy and matte. Tempered glass has become increasingly popular, and they fall into the glossy category.

The less popular matte screen protectors (aka anti-glare) are generally not used due to the fact that images may look a bit blurred on the screen. However, they are great for gaming; swiping becomes so much easier – you can be more accurate, even with smaller movements compared to glossy protector users. Glossy screens tend to “stick” to skin, especially when used in a humid environment.

Take note that this option depends completely on personal preference, and your mileage may vary.

2-C: Display Sensitivity

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Image 5. The battle menu

During a match, when you hit the menu button (located on the upper right), you will gain access to your display sensitivity. Take note that the lower your display sensitivity, the more accurate you will be. This is due to the fact that a larger hand movement will be needed for a given movement of your in-game crosshairs. This means that you will be able to do more precise movements when aiming. Inversely, the higher your sensitivity, the harder it will be to aim, especially when targets are further away (when crosshair movements need to be smaller).

Do keep in mind that the lower sensitivity you use, the slower your reaction time will be. You will need more hand movements to quickly turn your robot left and right – and if a fast bot catches you, your chances of making it out isn’t too great.

In a recent survey, members of the Wiki Forum, as well as Aurora Nova clan members were asked, “what level of sensitivity do you use?” Answers were divided into high, medium and low settings for consistency and ease of quantification. The results showed that majority (53%) preferred the medium setting.

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Figure 6. Results from an impressive sample size of 30

The medium setting allows a good balance of accuracy and reaction time. On the other hand, 36.7% preferred low sensitivity – these pilots most likely prefer accuracy over reaction time, and would probably have more than one midranger in their hangar. Only 10% use high sensitivity – this population would have the fastest reaction time, and would most likely excel in chaotic CQC.

With this in mind, you should go ahead and play around with the sensitivity settings, and go with what “feels” right. There is no best setting, only a setting that complements your playstyle.

2-D: The Three Cardinal Movements of Aiming

Now we move on to the main contents of this section. The three cardinal movements of aiming will allow for more accuracy regardless of display sensitivity, but each movement requires practice and has varying levels of difficulty. Naturally, mastering the movements using lower sensitivity settings is easier than higher settings.

First cardinal movement

The first cardinal movement is the basic swipe across the screen already covered in the first part of section 2. You should think of this as the “coarse” adjustment of your aim. This movement is capable of doing fast and large adjustments, and to a lesser degree, fine adjustments. However, this may be inadequate for long range weapons that do not inherently have aim assist – more specifically, the long range rockets family composed of Pins, Tulumbas and Tridents. Unlike most other weapons that automatically “aim” at the center of the target as long as your crosshairs are within the hit box, you have to manually aim your long range rockets.

Second cardinal movement

The second cardinal movement is a bit more complicated than the first, and requires a bit of practice. This is done by keeping your thumb in contact with the screen, and “rolling” it, as illustrated by figure 7:

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Figure 7. The green circle represents the anterior view of the thumb. Note that the thumb is in constant contact with the screen (black horizontal line) during the rolling motion. Rolling motion can also be done in the opposite direction.

If the first movement is the “coarse” adjustment of aim, then the second can be thought of as the “fine” adjustment. Proficiency with this technique will allow more minute and precise aiming than possible with only the first movement. Personally, I have had better success using the second cardinal movement on a device with a matte screen protector.

Take note that during gameplay, you are not limited to only the second cardinal movement. Use coarse adjustments and fine adjustments depending on the need. How fluidly you switch between the two, and how accurately you can do it requires practice.

The third cardinal movement

The third and final cardinal movement of aiming is done via the movement of your robot’s legs. This allows the most precise aiming possible, since your perpendicular movement in relation to the target determines how far your crosshairs travel.

In this video, you see how moving the robot left and right allows for precise aiming. Note how the carnage aims the crosshair slightly to the left of the target before moving out of cover. This is done so when it moves right the crosshair would be dead center on the target.

This method requires the most practice, as well as being aware of obstacles near your robot. This works quite well when used with the other movements discussed previously, but as usual, it takes a fair amount of practice to get right.

Miscellaneous tips to improve gameplay

  • Leading the target – when your target is moving perpendicular to your location, aim your weapon slightly ahead of him. How far you would have to lead would depend on the weapon’s projectile speed, the enemy’s move speed and your own speed. This only applies to weapons that have manual aiming such as Pins, Orkans, Piñatas, Tulumbas and Tridents. Practice makes perfect.
  • The best cover you can have is a high priority ally. An Ancilot for example, will draw fire from most enemies. Use this to your advantage, and flank them while they are distracted.
  • Never leave an injured enemy alive, always go for the kill (if you can). You will never know if they have enough firepower to bring down an allied bot.
  • Focus fire. If you see an ally engaging an enemy, help him bring it down ASAP. One less enemy means the total damage your team takes during that encounter will be less. If you engage a different enemy at the same time your ally is engaged with the first one, then it will take twice as long to bring both enemies down, making the encounter twice as dangerous for your group.
  • Do not over extend. It may be tempting to rush into the heart of enemy territory in the heat of battle, but always assess and evaluate the situation before making a decision. Sometimes it is better to wait for an opportune moment to strike.
  • Don’t take the game too seriously. You will play better when having fun.

That concludes this mini-guide, I hope you had fun reading it. If there are any mistakes, or if you would like to contribute then please let me know in the comments below!

-Bahog Ilok

1 comment on “Perspectives: Movement and Accuracy 101

  1. Well written. I’d never thought of a textured screen cover for better tactile feel. Also, cardinal movement #2 is great advice, I’ll have to try that for sure.

    I’ll add this article from the wiki that covers peeking:
    http://warrobots.wikia.com/wiki/Using_cover_correctly

    You sometimes need to trail a bot too. If you are jumping laterally while firing at a stationary target, you aim behind the bot and your rockets will “curl” into your target. If they are moving the same way, decrease trail, opposite direction, lead them more than you normally would.

    Use caution when trying to finish off an enemy. It’s a good idea most of the time, but you need to avoid target fixation.

    Like

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