It may be hard to believe, but we finally have a handheld first-person shooter worthy of some Tips for Fun & Winning. I typically reserve these articles for competitive online games like Battlefield 3 and Halo 4, where there’s enough depth to make a list of tips viable. Surprisingly, Killzone: Mercenary on Vita actually fits the bill perfectly, offering online multiplayer on a handheld that’s every bit as in-depth as its console counterparts.
That said, here are my tips for getting the most out of Killzone: Mercenary multiplayer. Note that, at the time of this writing, the game still has some annoying connection issues, and playing on the same team as friends is a huge pain. My first tip for now is to hold out for an upcoming patch, which Guerilla Cambridge has said will at least address the connection problems. Don’t go forwarding a million ports on your router as some folks are suggesting unless that’s something you really enjoy doing.
Experiment with the controls
Killzone: Mercenary’s default control scheme isn’t great, so I spent some extra time experimenting with different control schemes. And it was worth the effort. First, you may want to switch sprint from the back touch panel to the circle button. I found the back touch sprint to be unreliable and difficult to perform regularly. On the circle button, the controls are more intuitive — stand still and press circle to crouch, walk and press circle to sprint.
In addition, you may want to increase your aim sensitivity. The starting sensitivity is rather low, and I’ve heard of people cranking it all the way up in response. I go about 75% of the way on horizontal sensitivity and a little lower for the vertical sensitivity. That seems to work well for me, but you’ll want to adjust until it feels good for you.
Lastly, you should try this at least once: Turn on motion sensor aiming and crank the sensitivity of that all the way up to maximum. This allows you to tilt the Vita while aiming down the sights to fine tune your aiming. Combining high sensitivity aiming with the motion sensor allows you to make quick turns and fine adjustments for cross-map sniping. It’s a skill worth mastering.
Buy these things!
The Vita thumbsticks simply can’t compare to those on an Xbox 360 controller. That said, you can improve the grip on the Vita somewhat with rubber thumbstick covers. These little guys are somewhat tricky to find online. Try searching “PS Vita Fight Button Kit” on Google or check out this seller on eBay for some cheap ones. My question: Why doesn’t the Vita have some nice, grippy thumbsticks to begin with?
Play through single-player first
Killzone: Mercenary’s single-player campaign has a few things going for it — it’s fun, open-ended, and short. You get to enjoy a blend of stealth and action, unlocking weapons for multiplayer along the way, and it never overstays its welcome. If you want to play more, the game’s Contracts mode allows you to play more challenging versions of the levels with additional goals. The best aspect, though, is that you can unlock some items for MP without getting killed over and over by players with a bunch of better toys unlocked. The campaign gives you a vital head start.
Play Warzone mode
Though it is the third gametype on the list, Warzone is the mode you’ll want to spend most of your time in. Not only is this what most players seem to be playing, but it’s easily the most fun mode in the game. Warzone is divided into multiple phases featuring unique objectives that allow you to get the most out of the tools you’ve been unlocking. The phases vary from traditional team deathmatch to claiming objectives and interrogating downed opponents. With the starter gun and no unlocks, you might do fine in deathmatch, but to really do well in Warzone you’ll want to…
Explore less traditional weapons
Did you know Killzone:Mercenary has an unlockable sidearm tranquilizer gun? How about proximity mines and toxic gas that can be used for area denial? What if I told you that you could simply turn off any enemy Mantys Engine (those really annoying drones that people like to go on killing sprees with), by placing down a jamming device. This game has a lot of really fun toys that you can use strategically in Warzone mode. Experiment with unlocks you wouldn’t normally go for in these kinds of games and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Focus on the objective and push for vanguard capsules
“PTFO,” as the Battlefield fans say (or “Play the f***ing objective”), is a good piece of advice in Killzone’s Warzone mode. There’s no denying that KZ focuses pretty heavily on deathmatch-style play — even its objective mode features deathmatch phases within it — making it easy to forget that aiming for the current objective is the only way to win. Kills are cool and all, but they aren’t always the key to winning. Stick with your teammates, push for the objective, and don’t be afraid to run from a fight if it means living a little longer and hacking a Vanguard.
Have your own Killzone: Mercenary tips to share? Share them in the comments below.
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