Several terms are used in the article that may require definition:
- Elements:A flight of four fighters is split into two elements. If we use as an example a flight of four X-Wings designated Red Group, Red Leader and Red 2 would make up the first Element, while Red 3 and 4 would constitute the second element. In this example, Red 3 would lead the second element, while Red Leader would lead his element as well as the flight group.
- Flight/Flight Group: A flight, aka flight group, is a unit of fighters operating together. Larger flights are divided into elements.
- Package: A package refers to several flight groups operating together, such as a flight group of TIE Bombers with a TIE Interceptor flight group providing escort.
- Trail: A formation is often built in such a way that the second element flies a distance behind the first. This is referred to as flying in trail.
- Wingman: A wingman is a pilot whose starfighter belongs to your flight.
Organizing a formationEdit
Those who have attempted it know that forming up with other fighters in a Battlefield series game is difficult, even more so if you're attempting to form a tight formation, or if you're not just attempting to fly near one another, but also trying to form and maintain one of the organized formations described below. Using the method described below should make things a lot easier.
First of all, when forming a formation, you should preferably create a squad, which all members of the formation then joins. This squad should be named after starfighter type or task (for example 'AWINGS', 'BOMBERS' or 'ESCORT'. Even if you don't form a squad, you should still designate a 'flight leader' to lead the squad, as it's very important that all pilots in the element know which fighter to form on, otherwise they easily end up chasing each others' tails.
Once a flight leader has been designated, he should fly straight and level and wait for the others to form on him. A common mistake the flight leader makes at this point is to slow down to allow wingmen to catch up - while doing so sounds perfectly reasonable, it all too often causes the wingmen to overshoot, as their natural inclination is to boost their engines to catch up with the flight leader. The same applies for altitude - to avoid oscillation, if you're trying to stay at a set height in relation to each others, only one of you should adjust your altitude.
Finally, when forming up, remember to not wander into enemy territory, away from whatever you might be protecting, or off of the boundaries of the map. When ordering your wingmen to form up, it's preferable to point your fighter into friendly territory, and to make sure you have a clear path ahead of you. The less you need to divert your altitude or heading, the less work it'll be for your flight to catch up with you.
Another concern when forming up is to actually find your flight, and at times this can be surprisingly difficult, as the First Strike minimap only tell you where your wingmen are on the horizontal plane, and thus doesn't tell you their altitude. Having your element 'squad up' helps, as it provides you with arrows that shows the location of other fighters, but sometimes even this is insufficient. An even better solution is to simply ask your flight leader what altitude he's at. You may also try to gain some distance from your flight, as it may be easier to spot from a distance.
When formed up successfully, your wingmen should report in that they are ready by calling, for example, 'Two, in position'. Once all fighters appear to be in formation with you, ask them to confirm that they are ready to head out. Once they all acknowledge, set a course for your destination. When leading a formation, it's a good idea to make slow, smooth turns so that you don't lose your wingmen, and to signal your course and altitude adjustments in advance by VOIP and, in the case of turning, rolling the fighter in the direction you intend to turn before you actually change your heading. Never turn without telling your wingmen what you're about to do.
When working as a team, always remember to communicate. Give your wingmen orders and tell them what you expect of them. An example 'briefing' could go 'OK, flight, let's stay in formation until we are 1000 meters from that freighter. At 1000 meters, Biggs will bracket left with me, and Wedge and Hutch will bracket right, then we'll make attack runs on her from two directions.' Also try to keep track of your wingmen's ammunition and hit points, as well as making them state their status (such as 'engaged', 'forming up', 'engaging', etc.) regularly. It's your responsibility as flight leader to know how your wingmen are doing and what they are doing, and to take action accordingly. For example, if you learn that three out of four of your fighters are badly damaged after a dogfight, you should abort your flight and make for a freighter for repairs.
On public First Strike servers, you will inevitably find players who do not have headsets. This is enough of a problem in ground combat situations - when flying starfighters it becomes even more so as you'll often find yourself unable to send messages as typing would require you to 'take your hands off the controls'. One good way to counter this is to use the Commo-Rose features - for example, FS players frequently use the Repair Request function to report that they're damaged. In addition to this, agree in advance on certain code strings for various situations. Like chat room abbreviations, these should be things you can rapidly punch into your game when you need to. For example, 'aa' could mean 'Say Altitude', 'd50' could mean 'I'm damaged - my hit points are down to 50%', and 'rr' could mean 'returning to base'. Initially you should create and memorize only one or two code signs, but if you find yourself flying with the same people repeatedly, you could very well develop more than those two. Or you could buy those headsets already. That'll work too.