Shattered Horizon

Shattered Horizon

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Stabbing guide - A Tactical Guide of Seriousness
By polomi and 1 collaborators
With its unique gameplay, Shattered Horizon offers many possibilites that are foreign to other FPS. Among them, stabbing takes a new dimension, and mastering the miners pick effectively can make the game a lot more fun.
Introduction to stabbing
Stabbing with the pick is the close combat attack in Shattered Horizon. A stab kills isntantly, ripping any space suit off. The challenge of getting close to an opponent and succesfully stabbing him can be really fun. Here is a video demonstrating stabbing:

Be aware that in most situations, simply shooting with whatever weapon is more effective than stabbing. Stabbing requires getting close to the opponent, and one may get shot during the approach before even getting in range for a stab. The only situation in which stabbing gets effective is in a surprise close range encounter, such as an enemy popping right in front of you at the corner of a corridor. Otherwise, one is better off just shooting.

However, stabbing is fun. And that's the only reason why some people do it. It may not bring you the best kills/deaths ratio, but you'll enjoy every moment of it. It will also make you better at manoeuvring which is the most important thing in the game, and at stealth as well.
Stabbing basics
The default key for stabbing is V. Whenever that key is pressed, the pick will sweep the screen, from overhead to ahead.

The stab hits where you are aiming at with the crosshair, so you need to aim at your target during the stab animation. There is no exact moment during the animation at which the stab occurs, instead there is a whole time frame during the animation in which anything aimed at will be stabbed. Therefore, it is important to keep aiming at the target until it gets hit. If the target is moving, move the crosshair with it to keep aiming at it.

Timing is essential. The distance at which to stab is determined by your relative speed to the target. The fastest the relative speed, the sooner you need to stab. Getting the right timing requires a fair bit of practice.
Stabbing strategies
There are many ways to approach an opponent with stabbing in mind. But they can roughly be sorted in two categories. Either a sneaky covered and discreet approach, or a more risky frontal approach.

The sneaky approach involves getting close to the target without it noticing you. It minimizes the risk of getting shot by the target. Here are some advices to successfuly approach an opponent silently:
  • If you don't shoot for a while and if nobody aims at you, you won't appear on radars.
  • When boosting, you get surrounded by the glow of your thrusters. It can give away your position. Try to boost when your target boosts or when anything distracting happens. Use the chaos of various surrounding events to your advantage.
  • Same as above with noise. Most movements make noise, so try to minimize suspicious and sudden movements that will stand out from the ambient noises.
  • If there is nothing happening around your target, decoy grenades can come in handy to lure it and distract it.
  • Even when following a target, keep as hidden as possible. If your target is a good player it may turn around to check for stabbers like you now and then.
  • Guess where your target is planning to go and anticipate its moves.
  • Alternatively, some people like to use the silent mode of their space suit. However, this will slow you down and hinder your movements a lot. It may actually make the job much harder. With practice, it is possible to be as inconspicuous as a shadow without the silent mode. However, the silent mode has its uses: it makes you disappear from the radar and immune to EMP.

The risky frontal approach is more of a kamikaze tactic. Approaching in plain sight of your target increases the odds of getting shot. But there are ways to still achieve such a fling. Here are some advices:
  • Be as fast as possible. The faster you move, the less time the target will have to shoot you before getting stabbed. Effective use of "MPR boosting" should help a lot.
  • Be disorienting. Use jiggly, sharp, sudden and unexpected moves, such as "bunny hops" (F key by default). Check this video for an example of such a game style:
  • One way to disorient the target would be to shoot an MPR at it. Although there are several ways to do that, a good one is to make the MPR explode behind the target to project it towards you, and stab it on the way.
  • You can use ice grenades to cover your approach and make yourself a harder target to aim at. Be aware that the glow of thrusters can be seen in ice, keep that in mind to stay masked and also use it to spot your target.
  • Similarily, flares also can help to make it harder to aim at you if you shoot it in such a way that you are between the flare and the target.

Some special techniques deserve additional explanations:
  • "MPR boosting" is using MPR grenades to propel yourself at high veolcities. Shoot a MPR against a wall in such a way that it bounces off and explodes behind you. It will take a bit of practice to shoot it properly and get propeled in the right direction. It requires being at the right distance from the wall, shooting the MPR at the right angle, and so on. The wall can be any surface around you, the ground, some floating rock, and so on. Once the MPR explodes, it will not only propel you but also make you spin. This needs to be thwarted, try to look ahead and counteract the spin with your mouse. Furthermore, once the MPR explodes, boost as well using your thrusters. This will make you go quite fast.
  • A "bunny stab" is a stab performed during a "bunny hop". A "bunny hop" is a move done with the F key by default. Aim at any surface close enough to you (the crosshair changes when you are close enough), and press F: you will boost towards that surface and your boots will stick to it. This is a quite fast move, and you can stab while doing it. It can be very effective.
Stabbing tips
  • If you have a mouse with a thumb button, it is a good idea to assign stabbing to it.
  • It is not possible to stab while boosting and during a short delay after boosting. You need to be careful and always stop boosting before getting in stab range or else you may end up too close to the target without being able to stab it.
  • It is possible to interrupt reloading a weapon by stabbing. Beware of reloading opponents, they are not as vulnerable as you may think.
  • Stabbing the tank of an opponent will make an explosion that will send you flying away.
  • It is possible to stab several targets with one stab, if the targets are close to each other, by swapping the crosshair over them with the proper timing during the stab animation.
  • Use a light weapon like the SMG. It allows faster movements, which is a crucial point.
How to practice stabbing
Since there are bots, practicing stabbing is easy. However, there are more effective ways if you have humans to play with.

If you are a beginner, the easiest targets are the motionless ones. For instance, snipers. Most snipers just stay in a remote area and don't move. So when you spot a sniper, don't shoot him. Instead, find some cover, then get around him using a path that keeps you hidden from him. Once you're behind him and in stab range, well, stab!

A very good way to practice stabbing is to have another player with who you agree to only kill each other by stabbing. If the opponent is someone who already is quite good at stabbing, it may be quite difficult for you. You'll keep loosing because the opponent will have a better mastery of the timing. But this kind of practice will be invaluable, as when you will manage to stab your opponent, it will mean that you did it with the good timing. This will allow you to learn this proper timing little by little, by trying to repeat the succesfull stabs timing.

Finally, try to stab whenever you see the chance to do so. This is really the only long term way to get good at stabbing. It may get you killed because the opponents will often shoot you before you even get close, but hopefully you will have fun and you will improve a lot in various aspects of the game, most notably manoeuvring.
How to avoid getting stabbed
If you keep getting stabbed, chances are that you actually didn't fully adapt your playing style to Shattered Horizon yet. It is important to realize all the implications of the six degree of freedom. More specifically with regard to stabbing, you need to be aware at all times that there are many ways for an opponent to sneak behind you without you noticing it.

Indeed, if you keep getting stabbed, you most likely get stabbed from behind. It may happen that you get stabbed from ahead, if the opponent was too fast or surprised you, but this usually won't be an issue: if you see the opponent ahead, you can shoot him before he gets close. So most often than not, you will get stabbed from behind.

How to prevent this? There is only one way. Be paranoid about it. Look behind you every few seconds.
Use your radar, try to hear the thrusters of your opponents, look out for the glow of their thrusters, ... But don't rely only on this. The most important thing is to actually turn around and see with your eyes if someone is behind you. Every few seconds.

If you don't, you will get stabbed. That is how the game works. It allows for a wide range of approaches and strategies, given the six degrees of freedom. But it also compels you to be aware of what is happening all around you at all times, if you want to survive in space.
In addition to the videos featured above in the guide, here are some stabbing videos:

Here are some older videos before the current weapons were available. Those videos still are very good, as general stabbing strategies are similar:

There is another very good guide about stabbing: The Art of Stabbin' - A Tactical Guide

There is a team of players that focus specifically on stabbing: The Stab Command (TSC). More informations about them on their Steam group.