There are 4 progressions of strafing in planetside –
- Sprint Strafing
Make sure your strafe is wide enough that it actually displaces your character model but tight enough that you’re not just moving in a straight line for too long.
In engagements where you have a bit more space to play with and don’t have concerns about ending up in a 1 vs many situations, movement becomes much more important.
The whole point of aiming down sights in FPS games is that you get improved killing power at the cost of being much more vulnerable. Slow or stationary targets are really easy to headshot.
Just a little movement by alternating pressing the A and D keys will cause your opponent to miss more rounds in 99% of engagements. How you time your A and D switches has quite a big impact on how effective this is. If the gap is too long, your opponent will get their tracking aim back on you more easily, but too short and your overall movement amount is so small that they’ll hit you by accident often enough just aiming at a rough area.
There’s a rhythm to good ADAD that will come with time but most players leave too long a time between switching directions so if in doubt try alternating the keys a little quicker and see how it works out for you.
One thing that makes ADAD much more effective is 0.75 ADS speed weapons. When you aim down sights, most weapons apply a movement speed penalty of 0.5, but a handful set it to 0.75 and this makes ADAD more effective.
These weapons include SMGs, the NS15 and NS11 weapons, the Zenith, Bandit and Jaguar Carbines and some Assault Rifles. You should take full advantage of ADAD and peek advantage with these weapons as it’s one of their major strengths.
Sprint strafing is a way of mimicking ADAD movement but using full speed sprinting. It is one of the most effective forms of dodging enemy fire available and doesn’t depend on creating much of a warping effect. The way it works is simply down to movement speed and changes of direction in a game that has no movement acceleration, so you can spin around 180 degrees without losing any speed.
It’s called sprint strafing because the changes of direction are done to mirror ADAD movement but at a much faster speed.
Basically you sprint in a direction and then continue to sprint but very quickly turn 180 degrees with no loss of speed. As with ADAD movement, the changes of direction should be repeated and done with quite short gaps in between so that your opponent doesn’t have enough time to get their aim on point in between turns.
Sprint strafing is most effective when done at an angle perpendicular to your opponent. This maximises how fast you move across your opponents screen.
Sprint strafing is a valuable survival technique that buys you time. When you get caught reloading, taking a medkit or are otherwise unprepared to engage it can be used to gain precious seconds. In this clip VIRT kills a couple of enemies and then gets caught by a third while reloading. He quickly sprint strafes and then snaps to target as soon as the reload is complete, securing the kill. Without the sprint strafe he would almost certainly have died.
In this clip VIRT gets shot at by an enemy that he doesn’t expect and doesn’t immediately know where he is. He immediately starts sprinting around until the attacker backs off to reload. VIRT uses this opportunity to place his crosshairs where the enemy was and when he repeeks, the kill is quite straightforward. He then gets caught reloading by a second enemy and zigzags to reduce the number of hits taken before he can shoot.
There comes a point when you have to decide to stop sprint strafing and the right time to do this varies with the situation. If you were doing it to buy time to complete a reload you might decide to stop and aim as soon as the reload completes. However, if you can hear that your opponent is using a Carbine or Assault Rifle (weapons with smaller magazines) you might wait a little longer until he stops firing. This would indicate that either a reload or switch to secondary is taking place, giving you a short opportunity to aim without being shot.
As a general rule, if the other guy stops firing at all, that’s your opportunity to try and take him. In such situations you should always try to aim for the head, as you’re likely a little low on health and shields and need to make up for that with a rapid TTK.
The disadvantage of sprint strafing is that you don’t actually get anywhere. It’s very effective dodging but you aren’t escaping, just buying time. The alternative that allows you to still make some progress, is zig-zagging.
In effect this is exactly the same thing but you change the 180 degree turns for a shallower angle (135 for instance) this means that you can still move in a direction while dodging.
The downside is that the dodging is less effective because your movement speed across your opponents monitor is reduced due to the angle you’re running at.
This well against semi-auto and bolt action weapons and can be used to cross ground that’s covered by enemy snipers if you absolutely have to. Automatic weapons will generally still land shots on you, although a lot fewer than if you were running in a straight line.
The Therum shuffle is a technique named after the player that made it famous. It’s very similar to sprint strafing or zig-zagging but with embellishments. This should definitely be considered an advanced technique. Most players are probably better off just sprint strafing.
A lot of people confuse shuffling and sprint strafing but the major difference between them is that shuffling messes up your character animations more, making it harder to read where you’re going.
Start off with zig-zagging, doing repeated 80-100 degree turns across the line you want to travel in. However, don’t run in straight lines, keep twitching the mouse a bit to make your feet slide around in the running animation.
Jumping is a key part of the shuffle because when you land your character model bends its knees to soak up the inertia, but your character can keep running which creates even more weird sliding.
As a Heavy Assault, the jumps also give you an opportunity to tap your overshield on and take a medkit. It’s better to do this in the air because then it results in no less of movement speed. Be careful not to hit jump too many times in quick succession though, as this will apply a movement speed penalty.
The overshield should not be used to shuffle while on the ground because it halves your movement speed.
This is what shuffling looks like with a little packet loss. The warping and misleading animations become more extreme and the player becomes extremely difficult to shoot. If you have packet loss like this then you should not be playing Planetside but perhaps a slightly higher ping playing at a time when the servers are running slow and you can get a much reduced level of this effect.
As you can’t see your own character animations, mastering the art of shuffling takes two people. You really have to practice it with someone watching you so you can establish what mouse and keyboard techniques work best and how to time them for the best effect. You can do this on the Test Server, Jaeger or simply in VR Training.