The new crew skill system introduced changes and improvements to all the skills that existed before and added new ones. Today, we will take a look at the pilot skills.
The pilot skills are now split into two categories, the universal ones that work constantly throughout the battle, and special pilot skills that are activated automatically if a certain set of conditions is met.
Fire Resistance (1 skill point) — decreases damage taken from fires and shortens the maximum fire duration by 10%. This effect stacks with the effect of Self-Sealing Fuel Tank equipment.
Eagle-Eyed (1 skill point) — increases the pilot’s sight range by 20%.
Battle Tested (2 skill points) — decreases the chance of pilot injury by 20% and decreases the negative effects of critical damage to an aircraft’s wings and tail. Remember that an injured pilot cannot shoot accurately, while critically damaged wings and tails drastically decrease the aircraft’s turning rates over the roll and yaw axes.
Engine Guru I (2 skill points) — increases engine power by 3%. This affects both the acceleration rate and boost effectiveness. This skill can be nicely augmented with Engine Tuning equipment.
Engine Guru II (3 skill points) — further increases engine power by 2% and additionally adds 2% to maximum speed. To purchase this skill a pilot needs to purchase Engine Guru I first.
Marksman I (2 skill points) — increases shooting accuracy by reducing weapon spread by 5%. Note that this skill is most effective for aircraft that are armed with particularly inaccurate weapons like machineguns, and close and medium range cannon batteries. For “sharpshooter” machines like the Yak-9 this skill will be beneficial only when shooting at extreme range. Naturally, this skill stacks with all kinds of weapon sights available in the Upgrades panel.
Marksman II (3 skill points) — further decreases weapon spread by 5% and improves accuracy when shooting at a maneuverable target by 10%. In terms of game mechanics this means that you will score 10% more hits when aiming at a lead-compensating aiming point imprecisely. To purchase this skill Marksman I needs to be purchased first.
Demolition Expert (2 skill points) — increases damage and splash radius for rockets and bombs by 15%. This is a great skill for attack aircraft, heavy, and multirole fighter pilots.
Aerobatics Expert (2 skill points) — increases the maximum rotation speed over all axes by 2%. Stacks with effects provided by Lightweight Airframe, Control Surface Adjustment equipment, and Reinforced/Heavy Duty Control Surfaces consumables.
Aerodynamics Expert (3 skill points) — improves the effects of the following equipment by 20%: Polished Covering, (Improved) Aircraft Polish, Lightweight Airframe, Control Surface Adjustment and Improved Flaps. Basically this skill increases the effect provided by modules that increase maneuverability and maximum speed.
Protection Expert (3 skill points) — similar to the previous skill, this one provides a 20% boost to modules that improve aircraft survivability. Those are Concealing Livery, Improved Covering, Reinforced Airframe, and Additional Armor Plates. When installed, these equipment pieces decrease the chance of critical damage to aircraft, and increase HP points and durability under anti-aircraft fire.
Expert Rocketeer (2 skill points) — improves the chance of scoring a direct rocket hit on an enemy aircraft. With this skill it will not be necessary to hit the aircraft dead on, the rocket will explode and deal damage even when passing the target at close range.
Special Pilot Skills
Fire Fighter (2 skill points) — allows aircraft to quickly extinguish fire via active maneuvering. To activate the skill certain conditions must be met: the aircraft must be on fire and turning with high angular velocity over the roll axis and slightly over the pitch axis. A typical example of such a maneuver is the aileron roll. After the skill is activated the fire will be extinguished in 2-2.5 seconds. Keep in mind that the aircraft must first reach the necessary roll speed which does not happen instantaneously, which is why this skill is most effective for the maneuverable fighters rather than heavies or attack aircraft.
Cruise Flight (3 skill points) — increases the pilot’s sight range by 20%, and improves engine power and maximum speed by 3% if the aircraft has not sustained damage in the last 20 seconds. The skill is automatically activated at the start of the battle and is disabled temporarily if you take or deal damage to enemies, including ground targets. The effects of the skill are stacked with similar effects from other skills and equipment. This skill will be useful for attack aircraft pilots who are able to reach enemy ground targets faster, detect them, and choose the approach direction from further away, as well as retreat to a safe place and hide from the enemy fighters later in the game. It also helps high altitude fighters and heavies reach their optimum altitude faster once a battle starts. Tournament players can also benefit from Cruise Flight since the ability to detect enemies from farther away can be crucial to a match’s outcome.
Resilience (3 skill points) — once the aircraft’s HP drops to 30% this skill will automatically remove all critical damage to modules and crew injuries, extinguish a fire, decrease current engine and armament heat levels by 50%, and increase engine power and maneuverability by 5%. This skill is activated only once per battle and continues working until it ends or the aircraft is destroyed. It will be most useful for fighter pilots, providing a significant momentary advantage that can tip the scales of an engagement in your favor.
Evasive Target (4 skill points) — decreases damage taken by an aircraft and the chance of critical damage by 25% during dogfights. To activate the skill, the aircraft must maintain a high rotation speed over the pitch axis and be slightly rolling. The speed must be no lower than 20% of optimum airspeed. Evasive Target is disabled if the rotation speed over the pitch axis decreases or after 2 seconds pass since activation. It is very beneficial for light and multirole fighters that engage in dogfights and perform a lot of sharp turns.
Raptor Strike (4 skill points) — increases the chance of dealing critical damage or setting a target on fire by 50% when diving. To activate the skill your aircraft needs to reach at least 60% of its maximum dive speed (you can find it in the aircraft specifications panel), the dive angle must be no less than 45%. The skill is deactivated when you exit the dive. Raptor Strike is a great choice for machines with a high altitude, especially for heavy and multirole fighters with high caliber armament. It not only emphasizes the advantages of this kind of weaponry, but also works great with the playstyle typical of these aircraft, namely boom-n-zoom.
Adrenaline Rush (4 skill points) — this skill is activated once the player destroys an enemy aircraft, decreasing weapon heat level by 25% and improving shooting accuracy by 10%. This skill works for only 10 seconds but can be reactivated by further frags. Keep in mind that a series of frags does not increase the skill duration by 10 seconds every time, it only resets the timer and starts it anew. So, for example, if you manage to get 3 frags with a 1 second interval between them the Adrenaline Rush will be active for 12 seconds, not for 30.