GSF > GSF General

Galactic Starfighter: Rookie's Crash-Course

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Galactic Starfighter is an unusual little mode, squirreled away in the bowels of SWTOR. My experience has been that a lot of people are intimidated by it, or otherwise scared away from diving too deeply into it thanks to its intense learning curve and PvP focus. I think this is a shame, because it's the deepest, and in my opinion, best thing added to SWTOR since launch (possibly rivaled by Strongholds, but that's just me!).

This guide is intended to be very basic and easy to skim through for newbies looking for quick explanations. For a more thorough instructional series, I recommend checking out Derrad's excellent guide here.

halp how 2 lock s-foils in attack position??

Well I'm glad you asked! In this guide, I'm going to focus on getting you through your first 10 matches or so - specifically, how the Tier 1 Scout and Tier 1 Strike Fighter that you start with work, and how to learn the ropes from there. I advise all GSF newbies I fly with to expect a lot of difficulty in their first 10 matches - it's a steep learning curve, and it takes some patience to get the hang of things! So don't get discouraged if you seem to do poorly at first - that's normal!

Important Settings

Before you jump in, I recommend looking at the GSF settings buried in the options menu. Somewhere in there there's a setting that enables advanced tooltips for your hangar screen - I highly recommend turning this on, as it gives you much more information about your ship's equipment and upgrades!

Also be aware that the controls are very sensitive. Unfortunately, I don't think there's much you can do about it, so be prepared to learn very smooth, subtle movements to manoeuvre your starfighter!

In terms of keyboard controls, be prepared to use a lot of keys near WASD! You'll need your number keys, the function keys above them (F1, F2, F3, and F4), spacebar, and a few other odds and ends. Some dogfights can result in a lot of frantic button pressing as you desperately try to evade incoming missiles while recharging your shields and pulling a hard turn!


One last thing before you start blasting into the nearest furball - hangar setup! As a rookie pilot, you don't have too much to worry about yet, but if your character is high level and/or has lots of story progression done, then you'll want to look at your Crew options. Some basic crew are available to all characters, but as your progress in your class story you also get access to your class companions and even Legacy companions. Each companion has different stat bonuses when assigned to a crew position on your starfighter, and an additional active ability when chosen as your Co-Pilot.

For these rookie matches, I recommend choosing crew who boost Evasion or Accuracy where possible, and the Repair ability on your Co-Pilot - this will give you a self-repair ability on your 4 key. As you play more, you'll get a better understanding of the various crew options, at which point you should experiment and see what suits your playstyle!

This is it, boys. It's time to cut across the axis and try to draw their fire.

Hit that queue button! Sometimes the queue can be a little slow depending on the time of day. For some company - and helpful pointers - don't forget to /cjoin GSF

Hopefully, the most basic controls are mostly self-explanatory, but just in case: Holding W will make you move fast, holding S will make you move slow, and holding spacebar will use your Engine Power to boost at high speed across the map. Left mouse button fires your lasers, and Right mouse button uses your secondary weapon (for missiles, hold it down to lock your target, then release once you have a solid tone!). Press E to target an enemy in front of you.

Your Tier 1 Scout - NovaDive / S-12 Blackbolt

Scouts are fast, agile, hit-and-run dogfighters - your abilities help you get into fights and then get back out very quickly! If you find yourself getting damaged, don't try to 'tank' it - RUN! Hit your boost and BOLT! Tactically, you want to try to ambush enemies who are already engaged with one of your teammates, then zip back to safety when the enemy notices you. It's very difficult for a rookie scout pilot to successfully dogfight an opponent who's aware of them - you are welcome to give it a try, but if you're feeling outmatched, there's no shame in boosting to the nearest teammates in search of some assistance!

Familiarise yourself with your weapons:

* Rapid-fire Lasers - Unfortunately, these are terrible weapons for newbies. They are very situational, and you should focus the first Requisition you get on upgrading these to standard Laser Cannons.
* Rockets - These are very good but tricky weapons to use. They're actually easier than they seem - they hit anything directly in front of you, exactly like your lasers. Don't let the graphics fool you! Unlike your lasers, however, they have a very narrow arc - only shoot them at targets right in the centre of your screen.
Your special abilities are on your 1, 2, and 3 keys, plus a Co-Pilot ability on 4. Your defaults are:

* Engine Boost - This is your Scout's bread and butter. Piloted well, a Scout's lifespan is measured in its Engine Power Pool, and this ability recharges it! Use it as an emergency reserve, so you can boost out of a fight or evade a missile lock.
* Quick-charge Shield - Similar to your Engine Boost, this will zap a little extra life into your shields if they've been hit. Don't rely on it for much, though - Scouts are flimsy, and this ability only serves to buy you an extra second or two to enact a more viable survival plan.
* Barrel Roll - AKA Newbie Asteroid Collider. This is your default evasive manoeuvre - using it will break any active missile lock on your starfighter, and thus it serves as your last line of defence if you're being dogged by a persistent missile! Beware, however, as it propels your ship directly forward at very high speed, and many a newbie has detonated spectacularly against the nearest asteroid when panicked by a missile lock. It has its uses, but you may wish to consider upgrading to a more newbie-friendly evasive manoeuvre, such as Koiogran Turn.
* Co-Pilot Ability - This depends on your Crew assignments in the Hangar. For starting out, I recommend a Repair co-pilot if you have one available. Activating it will give you a partial (but potentially life-saving) health regen for your hull.
Your Tier 1 Strike Fighter - FT-8 Starguard / F-T6 Rycer

If frenetic, high-octane dogfighting isn't your style, you also have a basic Strike Fighter available to play. Strike Fighters are well-rounded, multi-role fighters with a lot of firepower. They don't have the engine capabilities of Scouts, but they're tougher and armed with an array of long-range missile options. As a Strike Fighter, let the Scouts zoom into the fray - you are better served sitting back and lobbing missiles into combat. Your lasers are powerful, but work best after softening up your targets with missiles.

Beware - if you zoom into a furball with no exit plan, you probably won't be leaving it alive. Strike Fighters don't have the engine power to boost in and out of fights at will, so pick your engagements carefully.

Your weapons:

* Rapid-fire Lasers - As above, these are not good newbie weapons. Luckily, you can switch to your alternate laser set with the 1 key.
* Heavy Lasers - These are the heaviest, slowest, longest-range lasers in the game. They're also pretty good! Thanks to their range, they combo well with your missiles, and can dish out a lot of punch to hard targets like Bombers.
* Concussion Missiles - Solid, all purpose missiles! Like many secondaries, they take a little getting used to, and benefit a lot from the first few upgrades (which reduce the locking time required to fire). These are good against all targets, though be aware that any decent Scout pilot will almost certainly evade your missile, so Strike Fighters, Bombers, and Gunships are usually easier targets. Hold RMB while keeping your current target firmly inside the centre of your screen - too much deviation and you'll lose the lock! Once it's locked, release RMB to fire away! Practice, and soon you'll get the hang of firing off entire volleys of missiles!
Your default abilities:

* Switch Lasers - Your Strike Fighter can toggle its active weapon system with 1. Use it to switch between lasers at will - all lasers have advantages and disadvantages, and the Tier 1 Strike Fighter can capitalise on this to use the most effective type of laser in any situation. For now, use it to toggle to your Heavy Lasers, which complement your missiles well.
* Quick-charge Shield - As above. Your Strike Fighter's shields are slightly more durable than a Scout's, but this ability will still only buy you a brief moment to shake whatever's killing you.
* Koiogran Turn - A relatively newbie-friendly evasive manoeuvre that performs a Space Immelmann - you'll flip around 180 degrees, flying the way you came. In addition to being your go-to missile break, it's also useful for quickly turning around and boosting the hell out of dodge! Beware, until you upgrade it, it uses quite a lot of Engine Power, so it's very easy for a rookie to get caught in a missile lock, and no Engine Power left to evade!
* Co-Pilot Ability
Spending Requisition

After your first few matches, you should have completed your GSF intro mission and/or daily, which gives you a fair amount of Ship Requisition (plus whatever you earn in the match). Use this to upgrade your ship's existing components, or swap them out for other components. For example, you can use 2,000 Requisition to replace Rapid-fire Lasers (which are not newbie-friendly) with the much more useful Laser Cannons or Quad Laser Cannons. You can also upgrade those components, improving their stats significantly. I recommend upgrading your Evasive Manoeuvre, your Missiles, and your Lasers, but feel free to experiment!

Save your Fleet Requisition (the purple points) - for 2,500 or 5,000, you can buy a new ship, which then benefits from your daily and weekly reward - the more ships you have, the more points you get from your daily/weekly! Using your Fleet Req, you can try out the Tier 2 Scouts and Strike Fighters, which are very effective, or experiment with Bombers or Gunships (ew).

Switch all power to front deflector screens!

I mentioned the function keys - F1, F2, F3, and F4. These are very, very important, but might be too much to think about for your first few matches. Once you're ready to start boosting your effectiveness, it's time to start paying attention to Power Settings.

Each key correlates to a Power Setting:

* F1 - Weapon Power
* F2 - Shield Power
* F3 - Engine Power
* F4 - DefaultToggling to a given setting will prioritise that Power Pool - so hitting F1 will recharge your lasers faster and make them do more damage, but at the expense of your shields and engines. F2 will supercharge your shields, at the expense of your weapons and engines. F3 maximises your engine power and speed, but sacrifices your shields and lasers to do it. F4 is the standard, neutral setting.

Precise usage of these Power Settings is vital to mastering GSF, but is beyond the scope of this simple rookie crash-course. For your first few matches, try using F3 to boost around the map, then swap back to F4 once you get in a fight. Once you start feeling comfortable with that, experiment with F1 and F2 to suit your current needs.


GSF is a very deep and intricate game mode - there's a lot to take in, but hopefully this guide makes the bare basics more palatable. Although I'm not as active as I used to be, if you see me online, feel free to ask me any questions you might have! And I always love to fly with wingmen, especially rookies, so if you're looking for a partner for GSF and I'm online, don't hesitate to ask!

This is a great intro for folks looking to fly their first matches. Thank you for posting it, Iaera!

Like many lovers of GSF, I wish more people could discover this delightful mini game and learn to love it as I do. Of course it cannot be for everyone, but I do feel the steep learning curve is what drives most people away, even if they might otherwise have found the game enjoyable. But in this, as in most things, knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have going in, the higher the chance you will enjoy yourself... or at least be a little less discouraged when engaging in the uphill slog of the learning process.

The guide I wrote, which Iaera linked to in her post above, goes over a lot of the mechanics that are at work both behind the scenes and in front of them. There's a lot going on there, some of it pretty arcane, and while a working understanding of all the nuance is not necessary in order to dive in and start having fun, it might help to demystify some of a new player's most common frustrations, such as: 'Why can't I hit anything?' (the answer to which is not as straightforward as it might seem) or 'What does this glowy green light mean??'

The guide has 13 lessons to it, and while I do recommend them all, if you can't stomach that much reading but do want to give GSF a try I suggest reading at least Lesson 1 (Settings), Lesson 2 (Weapon Ranges), Lesson 6 (Firing Arcs), and Lesson 7 (Targeting).

Although the flow of the overall tutorial was meant to introduce those topics naturally, they can still be taken in isolation, and those particular lessons cover some absolutely crucial stuff for understanding how things work in the midst of what can otherwise be a frenetic, chaotic jumble of death and disorientation.

In the past I've considered hosting some GSF events for our RP community (even went so far as to decorate an entire Command quad for GSF school), and with Galactic Command making GSF more relevant I am seriously thinking of revisiting that idea. In the meantime, I am happy to answer any questions about GSF, or to group up with fellow RPers should I happen to be flying. If you get into a match and see Derrad in the lobby, and would like a wingman for the next match, shoot me a whisper! Sometimes I may be in a maxed group and unable to invite (once you've got thousands of matches under your belt the queueing system starts to skip you unless you're in a group), but a lot of the time I am trying to solo queue and could gladly spend the time between matches talking the ear off new players, to provide more GSF detail than people might actually want.  :grin:

Thank you to both of you for your guidance on this topic. I plan to become more engaged in GSF. With almost 42,000 prestige points in the Legacy achievement system, GSF is the only place I have a limited amount of time. This is due, like you said, to the seemingly intimidating mechanics and learning curve, but I'll soldier through it to hopefully become moderately adept at GSF.

As to the RP aspects of GSF, as GM of <Imperial Wild Space Command>, I'd be happy to bring on a Flight Training Officer and explore the potential of this idea. I have a fully unlocked/decorated flagship and the Hangar Deck has a sort of pre-flight briefing area if either of you would like to check it out and offer suggestions for improvements. I can usually be found in-game Imp-side on Nicohlas if you want to find me.

Awesome! Although I rarely play him, I RP my Sith Lord as a skilled fighter pilot in his own right - I'd love to come check out IWSC's hangar deck!

I'd be interested in your idea about the decorated command quad, Niarra.  If someone hosted a " gsf school", I'd attend.

At the moment I hate GSF, but I want to like it.


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