Dirty Bomb just hit the open beta phase, and it’s actually a really good F2P-Shooter. However it’s also quite punishing for beginners as the game is quite fast-paced. There are also a lot of veterans around already, so don’t give up when you have a bad streak. You will get better as you learn from your mistakes, and sometimes you need to give up old habits to be successful in this game.
While reading this, please keep in mind that I’m not a veteran in this game by a long shot, but I still think that passing on some of these tips can help you a great deal especially when you are rather new to shooters in general.
Further down within this article I’m also trying to evaluate all currently available mercs based on their value you get for your money. I’ll try to keep this posting updated as I go.
Tip 1: Play with your team
Coming from other shooters this may be more or less hard to get used to: this game really rewards you for team play. Your Kill/Death ratio is not even shown until the match is finished! Focus on your team instead and be rewarded:
- You get more XP for sticking together
- You get XP for staying near the objective
- You get XP for reviving and re-supplying your teammates
- You get XP for…well i think you see where I’m getting at.
Yes, as a veteran you can be successful playing solo, but you will notice that more experienced players usually know their strengths and weaknesses and try to stick in groups of at least 2 or 3 mercs. You’ll be amazed how much longer you stay life simply by acting together.
Tip 2: Learn the maps and their objectives
Every day I still see tons of players that don’t play the objectives. Planting C4 or repairing objectives does not only help your team to progress, it also rewards you with much more points and thus credits at the end of a mission. Even if your team does badly overall you can still leave your mark the score table, making the loss much more endurable in terms of money and XP gain.
Also, don’t be that guy that misjudges a situation or blindly runs into traps over and over – that’s what mad people do. If your team hits a brick wall of defenders for more than 5 minutes it may be a good time to reconsider your strategy. Every map offers at least 2 paths to the objective, and further ways can be opened by destroying generators spread throughout the map. Inform your teammates about it if necessary. With just 2 or 3 people in your back you can easily manage a surprise flanking attack on one of the other objectives, thus drawing a lot of attention and pressure away from the rest of your team.
When attacking you also need to keep the clock in mind: don’t camp in a small room when there’s just a minute left on the timer. On the defending side you don’t wanna run around when the last objective is on the table. Respawn times in this game are rather short, so try to make a last suicidal effort run for your goals if need be. A last-minute C4 or defusing interrupt can decide the final outcome of a game, and you’ll feel great for doing your team the favor afterwards!
Tip 3: Learn, change and play each class often!
I can’t stress this often enough: Each of the classes has advantages and weaknesses your should learn about first-hand – so make use of the weekly free merc rotation and step out of your usual comfort zone. When selecting a merc, don’t just look at raw damage output or gun loadout, because many of the weapons in this game dish out comparable damage. Instead keep your class abilities in focus and play what your team currently needs! Via the scoreboard you can easily spot which merc your teammates are currently using, so complimenting the team might bring you a lot further than just playing what you feel like. You can also ask teammates to switch if you feel like a certain class is needed.
Also: If you are not using your mercs abilities when they are off cooldown it often means you’re wasting potential. Place ammo and medpacks packs in your team’s route whenever it is off cooldown, relocate your healing injector to follow the fight, revive nearby teammates even within a firefight to overwhelm the enemies with numbers and place airstrikes whenever you see a good opportunity. Besides shooting there’s always something to do, and it often can be done in less time needed than reloading your gun!
Tip 4: Hipfire is good for you!
This game has very little recoil or realism to the guns, meaning that you can pray and spray most of the time. Aiming down your sight is something only few classes ever need to do, instead it’s much better to learn how to hipfire correctly and go for the enemy’s head for double damage. Once you learn how the guns work in this game you’ll be amazed how you can strike down enemies at a much faster pace than before, simply by learning how to handle things like firerate and spread. And btw: headshots also work great on shotguns!
This doesn’t mean that aiming down your sights is always bad – it’s just very situational. You’ll lose a lot of walking speed and offer yourself for sniper headshots, so try to hipfire whenever possible and find cover before aiming down your sights.
Tip 5: Try multiple loadouts for your favourite class
Loadout cards are quite easy to get in this game. You might not get the best quality drops right from the start, but you can work towards your desired loadouts by trading up your bad quality cards into something better. If you get the first tier (“Lead” quality) of a card, don’t just discard it as it may gives you access to the different guns available to that Merc. Getting a bronze level loadout for your favorite class can yield noticeable increase in power. Testing combinations of perks and guns can completely turn your initially negative impression of a merc around.
Tip 6: Learn to improve your movement
As mentioned before this game is fast-paced and quite similar to games like Quake or Unreal Tournament. You can jump of walls 2 times successively, which not only makes you less predictive but also allows you to climb up to elevated points or take shortcuts. The following moves can be performed:
- Double / Triple Jump: Look slightly in direction of a wall, then jump again. You can do this twice in quick succession.
- Long Jump (coil jump): Run, quickly press crouch then jump for a longer more speedier jump. Quick classes like Nova or Proxy will get boosted quite a bit by this.
Always keep in mind that your walking speed is greatly influenced by the weapon you are currently holding, so take out your melee weapon whenever possible (e.g. at each respawn) to get back into the action more quickly. Switching to the knife also allows you to jump wider gaps or get out of a risky situation more quickly if need be. Learning the map layouts and practicing specific jumps or unexpected paths can also give you an edge over the enemy. Many players simply do not expect flanks or unexpected angles (i.e. a Bushwacker turret placed at an elevated point) which can give you the game-deciding seconds in a firefight.
Tip 7: Get the right mercs for the job
The most important part of this game: Your 3-man merc team setup. Try to get a diversified team that fits almost every job. Usually it’s good to have at least 1 medic, 1 offensive class and 1 objective specialist in your setup, as this allows you to react to almost any situation where your team falls short in a certain merc role. In the following section I’ll also try to rate the current available mercs towards their value and power in a star rating. This doesn’t mean that a merc with fewer stars is “bad” per-se, but harder to master or less effective in the hands of newer players.
Arty: Arty has been improved a lot lately, but still is in a weaker spot compared to Skyhammer. His choice of main weapons has a higher skill curve and his artillery strike is situational as you need an open area and some time for the spotter to make it work. Especially as a beginner I’d recommend sticking with your (free) Skyhammer merc instead: He’s much more effective as his airstrikes can wipe a much wider area with tons of damage, plus his gun doesn’t feel as weak in close combat. You can switch over to Arty once you got the hang of it and want to cover some long-range needs whilst still being supportive to your team.
Aura (starter): As one of the default starter mercs I found Aura to be amazing to play. Yes, you are more fragile than SawBonez or Phoenix but the healing station can make a huge difference whenever you have to hold your ground on defensive maps. Playing or moving the station at the right time can make you super tanky and ensure sustained fire from 2 enemies at once. Both Weapons of Aura are quite usable and her access to the Remburg shotgun is a devastating thing if you can handle the gun correctly.
Bushwacker: Very recommended pick if you need an objective specialist that also has a very easy to use ability. Bushwacker is awesome for defensive missions, but also can put up a lot of pressure with his tower and decent main gun. Being an objective specialist makes you quickly repair, plant and defuse. He’s a bit pricey atm but worth the money.
Fletcher: As a newcomer Fletcher is a nice alternative to Bushwacker. His sticky bombs are a kind of separate primary weapon in itself: they are versatile to use, recharge fast and pack a punch, making Fletcher also viable when it comes to damaging the EV, flushing out enemies or locking down a path effectively. Being an objective specialist makes Fletcher a useful asset to every team, but his tricky to use sticky bomb ability requires effective aim and flanking, this keeping him 1 star away from a full recommendation. He’s definitely a challenging character to play, but also tons of fun once you learn to master his moves.
Kira: As a newcomer Kira is not quite as easy to master. Her ammo dispenser and orbital laser strike are both quite powerful, but can backfire hard as you need to stay nearby to aim the laser and also make sure that your ammo station isn’t (ab)used by the enemy team. Even if it doesn’t cover a wide area the laser can be more effective and devastating than Arty’s artillery as you can reposition while firing and surprise enemies from behind with it. Overall Kira is more for the more advanced players, which is why I cannot blindly recommend her to newcomers.
Fragger (recommended!): You’re good at shooters? Then go with Fragger as your get-go-grunt. He’s the second most durable merc in the game and has powerful weaponry at his disposal. His grenades require some skill to use, but can be “cooked” in hand before being thrown, allowing for pretty nasty and unavoidable surprise attacks. Fragger has been brought down a bit due to his high damage output, but he still consistently scores very high in most (competitive) games and excels at the frontline role. It’s a merc made for killing your enemies, nothing more, nothing less.
Nader: Nader is one of those “I really like her, but..” mercs. Her main gun is not top-tier and her grenades – while offering suppressive support – can be rather easily avoided by skilled players and don’t kill most enemies with 1 point-blank hit. She’s quite sturdy, making her close-combat viable and allowing for a more suicidal style of play. You may dive deeply into a crowd of enemy players and still be useful as a “grenade” for your team after you die, given that your enemy cannot react quickly enough. Aside from her constant hail of grenades Nader doesn’t offer any real team benefits. She’s OK overall, but definitely not first pick in many objective situations.
Phantom: Phantom is a niche character for the stealthy (read: dirty) approach on Dirty Bomb. When playing him you will experience a wide contrast of emotions, ranging between mass-murder and utter disappointment, as his efficiency greatly depends on the enemies capability of spotting you. His main strength is to pick apart weak, unattentive or separated team members by using his cloak and powerful melee at an opportune time. To fill this role he greatly suffers in his overall team-utility, giving him only a niche role in a mostly objective-focused game. He’s nice to have but definitely no must-buy.
Phoenix: Phoenix fills a niche in between SawBonez combat abilities and Aura’s “multi-people” healing capabilities. His self-revive is not really a tool you should fully rely on, as most experienced players will down you before it comes into effect anyways. His heal has a long cooldown, but is instantaneous and can heal a whole team around you instantly – something that other medics can’t do. Phoenix has an awesome set of SMGs to choose from, making him a viable choice for front-line combat whilst sacrificing some of the healing power that the other medics can provide. Get him when you feel comfortable with SawBonez or try him during free rotation first to see if you like him.
Proxy (recommended!): Quick objective specialist with a powerful shotgun. If you like to play a “Scout” from TF2 you will love Proxy. Proxy is not made for frontal assault. Instead, use map opportunities to surprise enemies around corners, which enables you to one-shot most mercs with your powerful “Remburg” shotgun. Her Proxy mines are also easy to use and allow for some nasty “around the corner” surprises. I found proxy to be a ton of fun to play: She’s cheap, fills up your roster with a much-needed objective specialist and offers a ton of versatility. She’s my recommended pick to complement your starter mercs!
RedEye: RedEye is a tough one to describe: He’s a mixture of Vassili with some Phantom thrown in. He can mark enemies with his IR goggle and snipe pretty well with this selection of semi-auto rifles. On the other side he’s one of the most challenging mercs to play right and has a huge potential to screw up his own team with a wrongly placed smoke grenade. The fact that the smoke can easily be countered with any kind of explosive makes RedEye rather easy to counter. He’s one of the Mercs with the highest skill ceiling: incredibly hard to master, but also insanely powerful when played correctly.
Rhino: I’ll be honest – I haven’t played him much yet as he’s as new as Kira. Most of the time I have been on the receiving end of his minigun, which is not a lot of fun. Rhino has the biggest HP pool in the game, making him near indestructible with a medic like Aura in his back. If your team doesn’t have grenades to flush him out of a room with a healing inject you will have a bad time fighting him. As he has the biggest HP pool out of all characters he is a viable alternative to Fragger, but also keep in mind that you are playing a very slow-moving tank here that’s not suitable for long-range combat. He excels greatly at killing the whole enemy team IF he has the proper team-support.
Sawbonez (recommended!): SawBonez is a viable alternative to Aura, as he has a larger HP pool and easier-to-use medpacks instead of the healing station. He also uses different weaponry, which can be a good thing if you don’t like the guns of Aura. However keep in mind that his medpacks don’t heal as much as Aura’s health station, meaning that you can’t simply tank damage while standing in a heap of medpacks. Still I highly recommend SawBonez due to his high team value and cheap acquisition costs.
Sparks: Another medic? Yes, why not!? Sparks has a long-range revive gun that allows her to stay out of trouble unlike other medics. Her rather weak main TMP is a tradeoff for the fact that you can also “snipe” enemies with her revive gun, given that you are patient enough to charge it and aim well. Headshots with that thing can be deadly, but also mean that Sparks has a much higher learning curve than Aura, Phoenix or SawBonez. Her small medpacks and low health pool make her risky to play, but also very versatile in her support role. Due to the high risk involved I’d not recommend buying her first as the other medics are cheaper (in Aura’s case: free) and fulfill the same role. Get Sparks if you just have too many credits to spare, but definitely try her during her free week first.
Skyhammer (starter): Ammunition for your team, sturdy, good choice of weaponry and an Airstrike that can easily pick apart 4-5 enemies at the same time if placed correctly. His abilities are easy to use and “fire and forget”, so you can’t go wrong with picking Skyhammer. He’s a must-have in any mission where you have to attack the EV (vehicle) as one airstrike instantly destroys it (and usually the team behind it), which is a “service” that Arty and Kira usually cannot provide. Important: Pick up the habit and never forget to supply your teammates with ammo constantly, even when they do not ask for it.
Vassili: It’s a sniper. He snipes things. You like sniping? Get a sniper. Currently Vassili is the only character with access ot a bolt-action sniper in the game, and if you always liked to play the backside-coward with mad aiming skills, go for it (yes, he’s not my class! 😉 ). I’m only rating him 3 stars as I don’t see the need for this class in a team-based and objective focused game, however his low hiring costs and heart rate monitor (which makes enemies visible through walls) is a nice addition to the game, adding at least some team value to his kit.