Learning how to play AR can be tough starting out, since the in-game tutorials are awful and the other documentation is almost non-existent. So I wanted to put together a few answers to questions that I hear asked over and over again. The thing you have to know first is that the game is kind of a combination between level/equipment and skill based game play. Even if you're really good, if you don't put in the time grinding (a term for horribly torturous NPC monster killing), it's going to be tough to compete. A big problem for players starting out is that they want to PvP, which is the main part of the game, but until you get to a decent level you're not going to be able to do much except explode. Which doesn't cost you anything since death to the opposing nation is free, but it's still not much fun. This guide is intended to get you a head start so you can get past the confusing starting levels and see if you really enjoy the game. It would really suck to spend the better part of a month trying to figure it out then finding out you don't like the part you got to. So here are a few tips on beginner levels, which is about from 1-50.
Sort of. Some players have gotten to near the top of the game PvP wise with not a lot of cash shop stuff paid. However, the stuff from the cash shop is a huge advantage, and it is possible to be totally skill-less and be really strong because of this. This isn't totally a bad thing though, since if you're going to put weeks, months, or even years of your life into one game you might as well put some money into it too, to try to make sure it survives. Items directly from the cash shop are untradable, but you can do things like trade weapons made with cash shop items to get around parts of that. That can lead to scamming, so you really have to be careful who you are dealing with.
Unfortunately until you get to the end of the beginner levels you're not going to be able to be able to tell what the PvP is going to be like on the gear you pick. The B-gear for example doesn't get its main PvP skill until 50, and until you get better versions of that skill it still stinks. So it can take quite a while to find out if you like it yourself. The way a lot of players decide is by getting up high enough to join PvP on their first gear and watching other players to see what they would like to emulate. Going "wow that guy is killing everyone," or "that guy is invincible," is a good way to motivate you to want to be one of those gears. But you've got to get high enough to be able to get near the fights in the first place, so here are a few things about the 4 gear types.
This depends on your gear type. In general, never add stats to a stat that you don't need for engine requirements. The exceptions are fuel and spirit. There are good gear guides on the forums for these, but here are some basics.
Starting out you only need enough spirit for 1 buff, but you'll need a lot more later on. You get an extra 1 SP per tick regen for every 500 SP you have, which is every 63 spirit points. A and B-gears will want around 500 SP by the time they get to 38 or so, since their grinding skills are toggles. So no SP means you've got to stop to regen, M-gears naturally get high SP because of engine reqs, and I-gears can go low SP for a while until they start doing a lot of PvP.
Fuel isn't just for flying around; it determines how heavy the equipment you carry can be. You don't want to have too many points in this either. Read a guide for more exact statting advice. A good way to make sure this isn't a problem is to save a point when you level up until you equip whatever new equipment you want to use. If you end up being overloaded, you can just add in the stat point and you'll be fine again. Your loadage is in your equipment screen under the gear picture as a percentage. If this percentage is under 80%, you're fine. 70-80% loadage is double fuel consumption, which is fine since fuel is really cheap. If you get over 80 you can't boost, and over 90 you can only fly at the engine's min speed. Over 100 and you can't even take off, so you've really got to be careful sometimes.
If you messed up your stats early, don't worry. Once you get to 53 you get a mission that gets you a free full restat. However, you only get one, so read a guide on stats for your gear or ask experienced players before you use it.
Another thing that new players need to be careful of is making a good build to grind up in. No matter how many points you add into defense or agility at a low level, you're still going to be killed in seconds by higher level gears. So the best thing for you to do is go for a build that utilizes the attack stat to kill NPC mobs faster. In the case of the M-gear, you can do this but since M-gear attack progression is so slow you really need to know what you're doing, so I don't know if I would recommend that without being very careful with a statting guide. Attack helps, but it's not completely necessary because of how the stat works, as it's designed to decrease your target defense rather than increase the base damage you do much. Generally you'll want to add enough base stats for a decent low level engine then pump attack, but read a guide for your gear to know what to use exactly. Usually the 27 engine will do for whatever gear you're using.
A chart listing bonus points gained per mission and cumulative bonus points per level can be found here.
Each stat can go up to 300. Although you can display higher the stat won't provide any additionally benefit afterwards.
Skills are bought at the Skill shop, and have various uses. Although you can double click on skills in your Gear Info menu to use them, it's usually better to use your quickbar to activate them. The quickbar is used for both skills and use items. Unfortunately, it can't be used to change your other equipment quickly. The quickbar has 3 sections, which you can rotate through by using the TAB key. To put skills on the bar, open up your Gear Info window and select the skills tab. The current skill list has a scroll bar on the side, and since skills are in set positions some skills might not be immediately visible, like the Charge Shot skill. Drag-and-drop the skill to the quickbar and press the corresponding number key to use it. Use items can be dragged from your inventory to your quickbar in the same way. Skills require skill points, which are determined by the spirit skill. Skills are separated into several categories with a few exceptions. Skills sometimes can be upgraded once you reach a certain level. Also, some skills have Final version, which requires an extremely rare Final Skill Opening card which is only dropped by Brog Salamanders in Lumein Volcano, and the Bishop bosses in the G-Ark map (Not to be confused with the G-ark engine room). Siegemode.com has a really good list of all skills.
Buffs have a set duration and cooldown time. When the skill is used, a set amount of SP is consumed. Most buffs can be rebuffed right after they expire. Buffs currently are cancelled when the gear dies, but the Episode 3 part 2 patch will allow gears to keep buffs after death.
Another kind of skill is called a Toggle skill. When activated these stay on until the skill is toggled off or you're killed. While on they consume a set amount of SP per tick. Learning when to toggle skills on and off to save SP is part of learning how to play the gear.
Target skills, when activated bring up a target which must be clicked on either you or on other gears. Depending on the skill, it might not work on gears of the same nation. M-gears also have a couple skills that can be used on formation members by clicking on their lifebars on the left side of the screen.
The last kinds of skills are final and special skills. These have a level requirement like normal skills, but cannot be bought until you have a rare card to unlock them. The cards are rare drops from gold mobs or bosses. They can also be bought for a large amount of war points in the war point shop. So if your luck is really bad and you can't meet the price people are asking to buy a card, you can save up WP over a long period and get it anyway. Generally you can find at least one card by the time you reach 80.
Each gear has one skill called a finishing skill. These are available at level 70. To get the skill, you need a Finishing Move Skill Opening Card, not to be confused with the much rarer Final version. These skills have a half hour cooldown, and aren't reset on death or by logging out. So no matter what you do, you have to wait to use it again once it's activated. The finishing skills are as follows. Every 10 levels after 70 the skill can be upgraded using a Finish Skill Strengthening card. These are created from a FMSOC and 10,000 of certain minerals, so it takes a very long time and a lot of money to make.
The 4 finishing skills are:
Special skills require the Special Skill Opening Card to unlock, and most are unlocked at a lower level than the finishing skills. The cooldown also depends on the skill. I and B-gears have 1 special skill, while A-gears and M-gears have 2. The special skills are:
When you get to level 11, you get the choice to choose ANI or BCU on whatever server you're playing on. The thing it doesn't tell you is that it's permanent, and if you want to change nations on that account you have to delete all the characters you have on that server. Also, if you have a character on a nation you can't pick the other nation on a new char on that account. The "tax" warning you might get doesn't help either. However, you don't have to worry that much. If you pick a nation and REALLY don't like it, you can always change servers or delete the char you made to switch nations. The game is very hard to balance, so one nation is usually dominating. The game is very teamwork oriented, so it can be very frustrating sometimes trying to do things yourself when your nation isn't motivated to do anything. But this is only when you're higher level, when you're starting out you can totally avoid any of the nation wars just by sticking to safe channels. If you like the game there are ways to enjoy it regardless of how the nation wars are going.
Once you choose your nation, safe channels come into play. The opposing nation can only go to your 0 channels. There are certain maps that have a 0 channel that the opposing nation can't get to but that doesn't come into play yet. There are also maps designated Mission Maps, that until 49 or so are not shared by the opposing nation. So if you're getting killed by red named gears, look at the map name in the upper left. If the number next to the map name says 0, you went to an unsafe map. Usually it's a good idea to town when this happens until you're at a good enough level to PvP effectively, since a lot of high level players think it's funny to pick on people they can kill in 1 shot. Don't encourage those people. You can still use 0 channels when no one is around, just be careful to get out when you get an Enemy has Appeared report. If you get killed don't worry about losing anything, it's free to die in PvP.
There are specific mission guides out there, but it never hurts to try to ask in-game. Before you do that though, you have to understand what chat does what. I cover chats in another section.
First you have to find people who are willing to help, and then have them join your formation. When you start the mission or warp to the map when they are in the same map as you, they will also receive an invite to go to the map you are warped to. Make sure that the people in your form are ready to go buy asking them in form chat, used with the # modifier.
If you have questions about a mission, try asking on war chat. If it doesn't work you can try trade chat, although because it often has a lot of macros some people might have disabled that chat on more crowded servers, so it usually depends on what chat seems to be the chat used most by that particular nation on that server. Occasionally people will yell at you for using it for what they don't like, but there's no rule against it, just ignore them. Never be afraid to ask questions, ignore the "lol noob" stuff.
Future patches include an option called Mission Master, which allows you to request help for certain missions. When you click it, it sends a message to join a form to everyone registered to be a mission master in their options. There is no drawback to using help this way, since the people helping with the mission receive medals which can be combined into various items. You can only use mission master if the mission has the option on the Missions screen, so if you're having trouble with a mission that doesn't have it, you have to ask for help the old way.
With one small exception, no chat can talk to members from another server or nation.
Normal typing in local chat will be seen by anyone within eyeshot of you, but this can be unreliable. You can usually talk to anyone in town like this.
Using ! green chat is shout, it's still local but goes to anywhere on the current map, and across all channels. So you can still hear it in Reynard (1) if the person talking is in Reynard (0), for example.
^ and $ are global chats. You can't use these until about level 20, so starting out you're going to have to look for help in town. Depending on the server and nation you're on people use them for different stuff. The game has a built-in macro for trade chat, which is used with $, so on crowded servers this may be too difficult for people to read since there's too much macro spam. ^ is war chat, but even though it's called that it's just a global chat without macros.
@ is brigade chat, which can only be used if you're in a brigade. I'll cover brigades in another section. Brig chat is of course only viewable by members of the same brigade. There used to be a bug that may still be present where if you joined a brigade the chat would not work right away, and you would have to relog. So if you join one and the @ modifier doesn't work, try that.
# is formation chat, and is very similar to brig chat except just for formations.
% is arena chat, which is viewable by everyone in the same arena room as you. This also works a lot like formation and brigade chat.
& is used for chat rooms, which are formed and joined much like formations are. These aren't used very often, but can be nice when you want to converse with people when you can't be in the same formation or brigade.
Formation, Brigade, and Chat Room chats can be seen on any map the person in the group is on. If you're wondering how to join one of these, I cover it in another section.
If you want to send a message without anyone seeing it, you can use a private message. You can PM people in 2 ways. You can alt-click on the person's name and select Whisper. However, the better way to do this is to use it like a normal chat. To PM a specific person, you have to use the " modifier. The format to PM a person is "(character name) (message). Once you PM a person, you can bring the person's name back up in the text box automatically by just pressing " again. The last person that you sent a message to or received a message from is the name that will pop up, so make sure you're sending it to the right person. Once the person receives a PM, a box will pop up in the upper right part of their screen. They can then click on it and bring up a box that can be typed in to send messages easier. If you are in the person's reject list or the person has PMs turned off, the message will fail and you'll receive a message detailing the problem.
Another way to communicate is with a letter. These are sent by bringing up the Community menu and clicking on the Letter tab. Use this menu to send a letter. The person receiving the letter will get a message in their system messages. They'll receive the letter whether they're logged in or not, which makes it a good way to communicate if the person may go offline before they would receive a PM. They get a message that they received a letter every time they log in until the message is read. Leaders can use a mass-mailing option, so make sure that you know the leaders of the nation by checking the control tower before replying to a message that may have been sent to everyone.
The last chat to be aware of is leader chat, used with *. Of course, if you don't have a nation leader position you can't use this. This chat is global and can't be blocked by turning chat off or by using reject lists.
There are also a few slash commands that you can use in the chat box. You can find these listed by typing in /help or /?. Some of these are disabled or GM only, but a couple are useful. /whisperchat will disable PMs for the remainder of your time online, which is useful if you just want to block it for a short time and not have to remember to turn it back on later. You can still SEND PMs, but no one will be able to send them to you, so make sure to turn it back on if you need to talk to someone, since you might not notice why they're not responding right away. /refusetrade and /refusefight block trades and duels in the same way, and should give you a notice that you auto-rejected one, although the other person won't be able to tell that it was automated. The last one that people tend to use a lot is called a ment, which is used with /ment. This can be used once you reach level 30. It displays a message next to your name. A little bit of trivia: this used to be the only way to communicate in-game with the other nation on your own account for the first month or so of the previous North American incarnation of this game. It was removed a long time ago though, so don't try it now.
There is also a function called /callGM (message) that allows you to send a message to whatever GMs are online at the time. You can use this as a last resort to deal with bugs or hackers. This can be unreliable, especially in AR where GMs are volunteers only and thus are not around very much. If you need help your best bet is trying to contact staff through the forums and not in-game.
It's called grinding for a reason; it takes a long time and it's really boring. But there are ways to speed it up a bit. You might have seen the friend list, with the xp bonus near the top of the list. This is NOT a good way to get extra xp at the start. The friend list bonus only works if you and the other person have each other on the list and both of you are online. There are 60 spots on the list, and each spot gives a .5% boost to the xp you get. Until you start playing for a long time, you're not going to know enough people well enough for them to want to start putting you on their list. Pestering people to add you when you're level 11 is a good way to annoy a lot of people, and there are better, faster ways to get xp than this.
A good way to get some bonus xp is to grind in a form close to your level. A full form can get you a 30% boost in xp, which is really nice. But, you've got to all be online and in the same map which can be tough to do sometimes. M-gears with their formation buffs also give you a huge help as far as being able to kill things quicker, but they're not always available. You might want to ask around a bit when you start grinding a map if there's a grind form up since even part of that bonus helps a lot. This is where the shout ! chat comes in handy. Form bonus works up to a 14 or so level difference, which won't be a problem starting out, but later there may be a larger level gap between people using the same map, so it's something to watch out for.
What you're trying to kill really matters too. The NPC monsters, called mobs, have names which change colors from dark blue, to white, to dark red. Along this color scale determines how hard they are to hit at your level. Even if your weapon has really high accuracy, a mob which is dark red is going to be nearly impossible to hit. Generally the best grinding is done on mobs that are from dark blue to white. The only gear that can get away with grinding red mobs effectively are B-gears, since their GBM does such massive damage that they still kill those a lot earlier than other gears can. Generally for a B using Bawoos, their best grinding is whatever they can kill in 1 hit consistently. If you're wondering specifically what to go after, there are good guides for that elsewhere.
There are also items called temporary adhesives, which are items that work for a certain amount of time before they vanish. They have various effects, but a couple of them give an xp bonus while you have them equipped, from 10-30%. The Cash Shop ones are 30% and last a lot longer, but I don't recommend buying those until you're sure you like the game enough to spend money on it. If you don't have any of these adhesives, I don't recommend trying to buy a lot of them, as the 10% ones can really be expensive sometimes when you're at a low level. Try to stick to form bonus and grinding on mobs that are easy to hit.
One more way to get extra xp is during a Happy Hour, which can be activated various ways. When there is a Happy Hour, you can hover the mouse over the Happy Hour symbol in the lower right side of your screen to see what it does. The most common HH is leader given, which lasts for 2 hours and gives 20% XP, SPI, drops, and rare item % drop increases for 2 hours. Competition for grinding spots can be tough, and the opposing nations often raid non-safe maps during these. So if you're grinding in a map that isn't safe, you might have a lot of trouble getting help. This makes safe channels crowded in maps that are more in demand, so you may end up getting your kills stolen.
The xp needed to reach a certain level can be found at http://board.airrivals.net/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=21145.
Yes, but since the game is build around PVP they're not considered a vital part of the game. They can rarely drop unique items or other good stuff, but more often you'll end up with nothing. This is especially frustrating if you take on a boss at lower levels, and spend half an hour on it only to get nothing. Some higher level players also have no problem trying to take it away from you too, so I highly recommend you hunt bosses in groups or wait until you're high enough level to do tons of damage before you try it.
If you've never seen one before, your best bet is probably Shirne in Relic for ANI, and Pathos in Zaylope for BCU. These 2 are pretty unimpressive, but you can get an idea of how tough they are if you try to go after them.
Gold mobs are like mini-bosses that spawn randomly in some maps. Other maps may have no gold mobs that spawn there. They don't start spawning when you start out until you reach Ardor or Blackburn. They're harder to kill and do more damage than the normal versions of the mob. They can potentially drop really great stuff like skill unlocking cards, but the chances of something like that can be as low as .05%. So you might have to kill tons of them to get anything good. Later on in the game golds tend to drop more stuff, but the chance for the really rare things stays the same. So go after golds whenever you can even if it seems like they're dropping crap, they will eventually pay off.
You can't really make much stuff from scratch. Most materials are used to upgrade other items. There are two kinds of upgrade classes, separated into 2 different shops. One of these is actually changing the item to another item, and the other is enchants. The former is what the factory is for. Materials like copper and DNA are used for this. To use those materials, you need a recipe detailing how many of each material you need. Some of these recipes are in the in-game FAQ, however this FAQ is very old. You can grab an updated FAQ from the Air Rivals forums in the Updated FAQ list (in-game) thread. Open up the FAQ and use the search bar to search for ‘kit' or your gear armor type. These are binder for I-gear, veil for B-gear, defender for M-gear, and guarder for A-gear. Basically, drag and drop the amount of items it requires into the factory's menu and click combine. The recipes only work if they're exact, so be sure to check your recipe carefully. You won't lose the items but it's a real pain to have to drag all the stuff back in again.
The other shop used for combinations is the laboratory. This is used to improve weapons and armor with cards. The two kinds of cards are called gamble cards and enchant cards. There is a third way to enchant a weapon that adds a trail, however this is done in the factory, and is cash shop only. The trails don't do anything besides change the look of an advanced weapon fire.
Gamble cards are weapon only. They're used to either add a prefix or a suffix to a weapon if the weapon doesn't already have one. If the weapon already has one, you can't add another one until the fix is removed, which can only be done with a cash shop item. If the weapon has a fix, the name of the weapon will be green. Once enchants are added with the other kind of card the weapon name will change to a dull orange, but the names of the fixes will remain green. The fixes add bonuses depending on the name of the fix. Weapons are referred to as “clean” when they have no fixes on them, and weapons found as random drops can often have random fixes on them. The two kinds of cards that add fixes are called normal and super gambles, referring to how strong the bonuses that the fixes give are. Normal fixes are usually pretty terrible, but you're better off not spending money on stronger fixes until you get to a higher level since you'll be changing weapons fairly often as you level up. The bonuses that are added may or may not be good depending on the weapon type. There is a third kind of fix referred to as hyper fixes, which are generally much better than super fixes, but are obtained randomly from super gamble cards. There is a super gamble fix called Hyper also, so this can be confusing sometimes.
The other class of cards is enchant cards. When you use them on a weapon or armor, the weapon will display a number representing the number of enchants on the item. Enchants can go up to 5 with no drawback. For every enchant over 5, the chance of success drops 10%. If the enchant fails, the weapon is lost for good. The only way to avoid this is using cash shop items called Enchant protects. With these a fail will send the item back to 5 enchants. Fails happen way more often than you would think though, so you can really blow a lot of money fast enchanting.
Enchanting weapons can be VERY EXPENSIVE to get something good, in both game and real money. It's not a good idea to go over 5 enchants until you're well into your 60s on weapons. Armor enchants are not going to help at all until you get higher level, so I would suggest staying away from those altogether until your 60s.
There are basically 3 ways to do it. Sell them to a NPC, trade them away, or set up a shop.
Most of the weapon drops you get won't be worth keeping, so you'll use the NPC shop a lot. Unless you get something really good, I don't recommend using the sell shop for it. To NPC an item, right click on it in certain shops. Just accept to get rid of it. Be careful not to sell valuable stuff. In a future patch a warning comes up if an enchanted item is going to be sold.
Trading between players is another way to get rid of stuff. You have to find someone who wants it first though, so you'll need to advertise. Some people use the /ment command to do this, or put up a sell shop with an inflated price to have people letter or PM them offers. There is also trade chat, which can often get pretty crowded. You can automate your trade chat messages by using a macro. To do this, click on the button just above your text entry box that displays trade chat only. Then click the wrench icon that's to the right of your text entry box. A box will pop up where you can enter in a macro, which will automatically send a message every once in a while on trade chat. This will stay up until you log off unless you remove it. To trade another player you can alt-click their name and select Trade, or hit F8 and type in the person's name. The latter option is good if the person is around but you don't see them. Trading only works if you're close, and if the person leaves the trading area the trade is automatically cancelled. You can trade items by dragging them into the trade window. Or you can click on your SPI then enter an amount to trade SPI. When both people accept the trade is completed. Some items cannot be traded, including temporary adhesives that have been equipped before. If you trade an item to a person, you are responsible for it. So if you give someone and item and they don't want to give it back, you're out of luck. This includes credit scammers who will take your item offering to enchant it for you, and then keeping the weapon. So make sure the person can be trusted before you give something to them.
A third way to trade items is to use a buy/sell shop. These are nice if you want to get rid of stuff without advertising. You can currently set up a shop anywhere in town, but the warehouse in AR is considered a restricted area, so you could get booted by a GM or receive a temporary ban if you do it enough. Anywhere else in town is usually fine, although the shops can really crowd town so only use it if you have no other good way to get rid of the stuff. Sell shops are a good way to show enchanted weapons to people without having to type out what's on it all the time. To use a Buy/Sell shop, either put it in your quickbar and press the button or double click on the skill in your Gear Info skill list. For a sell shop, drag the item you want to sell into the box and click on the SPI box under it to set a price. Any non-tradable item cannot be put into the sell shop. Also, any weapon with a cash shop trail cannot be put into the shop, which may or may not be a bug. Click on the confirm button to complete the item entry. Once you're done entering items, enter in your shop name and click start. If you have to close the shop, you'll lose everything you entered, and once the shop is started you can't change it. To use a Buy shop, load it up like the Sell shop, and click on the pull down menu in the Buy shop box. You'll have to find the item you want to buy in the menu, which can take a while if you don't know the category you're looking for. Once you fine it, set the SPI you're going to pay for it and click on the confirm button. Set the shop name and Start when you're finished. However, Buy shops have a bug that allows some people that know the exploit to sell any item in place of what you're trying to buy. This may never be fixed, so buy shops are put up at your own risk. If you get scammed, contact a GM using /callgm or by using the forums. You may or may not ever get your money back though.
There are 3 different ways to war: Duels between members of the same nation, basic wars which are against the opposing nation and arena fights which are against opposing players that can potentially be from another server. Dying in any of these won't cost you money, so if you think it did you probably got last hit by a mob or hit an obstacle.
Duels are probably what you'll run into first, as there are always some people that want to improve their duel record by running into players. They can be 1 on 1, against another formation, or against a whole other brigade. The latter 2 are used through /formfight (form leader's name) and /brigfight (leader of the brigade you're challenging). These can be a pain to set up and balance so they're fairly rare. A 1 on 1 duel is fought either by the /fight (opponent's name) command or by using an alt-click on the person's name and selecting 1:1 battle. If the opponent accepts a 5 second countdown will appear and then you will automatically target the other person. If you leave the map during the duel it's considered a loss. Duel records are kept but they don't do anything. Some people use duels if they don't want to use a town portal or kill themselves otherwise to return to town. So duel records are sometimes bad because of this. Basically, don't take someone's record too seriously. Duels can currently only be fought outside of town, although there is a glitch to fly around inside town. I am not sure if you could duel this way, but since it's a glitch to be even able to fly there I wouldn't recommend doing it. Any level can duel each other, but you'll get a notice telling you what level the person is close to so that will help you decide if it's winnable or not. Duelers also have a kind of etiquette that you may want to stick to. Usually the use of shield and repair kits, and other adhesives is discouraged, and you may get yelled at if you use them although it's not technically illegal. Some people also don't like the use of other skills such as form buffs, or unlockable special skills. It's best to determine rules beforehand with the person you're going to duel so as to not cause unnecessary conflicts.
The next type of war is a nation war. Basically, with a few exceptions players from the opposing nation can get to any 0 channel of a map unless the map name is marked as (safe). So potentially there can be war in any of these maps. This means that if you're trying to avoid war, or high level gears looking for easy kills, stay out of 0 channels until you're ready. If you're actively looking for war, check war or trade chat and see if anyone is talking about one in a certain map. If you've never heard of the map, it's usually not a good idea to go there yet. So before you start warring it's a good idea to explore where you can to learn the map locations a little. Most often normal wars will be in the middle of the 2 nations' maps, the Dens and Bark City. The reason for this is the fact that in most maps considered part of that nation's map chain, when an opposing player dies he's sent back a map. This gives kind of a “home field advantage” when you're not doing so well. In the maps closest to the cities, Tylent Jungle, Stones' Ruin, and Reynard Beach, when you die you are sent back to your town. It's a really long trip back, so keep this in mind if you venture that far into enemy territory. Basically it's a free for all between whoever is on the map at the time, nation VS. nation. Since any level can be there, you'll have trouble competing until you get to a good PVP level. However, you CAN still have an impact in what is called event wars, which I will discuss in another section.
Finally, there is arena. Arena is against another nation still, but can be against a team on another server as well as your own. Arena has level brackets of 20 level groups, so you can go against teams of people around your level. This sounds good for lower level players to find competition, but since the war point rewards are so underwhelming, few people use arena. Since you have to find a team that matches your level bracket and number of people in the arena room, it can take quite a while to find a match. Once the match is set, you'll be teleported to the arena map, which is on a neutral server. Some people tend to crash when being sent there, so if you're having problems that may be the case.
An event war is a planned war with an objective that the whole nation can participate in. These include Strategic Point spawns, Mothership Raids, and Base Wars. Generally, high level players do the majority of the damage in these events, but since the objective is different, a lower level player can still contribute. Some information on what you can do is in the combat advice section.
A strategic point spawn is a randomly spawned event that places a target in the middle of a certain map. In the map the SP spawns in and the map directly after it, mobs are removed in the 0 channel. SPs can spawn in the normal chain (not including the Rock's Nest maps), and in the Pandea chain. SPs also never spawn in the maps closest to the cities and Tylent Jungle. The attacking nation has 1 hour to destroy the SP before it despawns. If your nation either defends for the entire hour, or destroys the SP, you receive an award of 300 war points and a SPI cap which gives 150k-300k SPI when opened. If your side loses, you receive 100 WP. You only get the reward in the maps that the mobs have been removed in. If the SP is destroyed, that map loses the map-back for an hour, so enemy gears respawn in the same map until the time expires. In the case of Pandea SP spawns, if you aren't level 52 and done with the first Pandea mission, you can't go to that map chain. However, it is possible to get an M-gear who is already in the maps to use a Call of Hero to teleport you there. If it won't let you go directly to the map, you can try to get a Call to the map in front, and since sometimes a map you haven't unlocked that is the first in a chain doesn't allow Call of Heros to work.
Mothership raids are the biggest wars in the game. They're also the ones that require the most cooperation to win. It's very important to follow what the leader is telling people to do, even if some people are opposed to it. Even a bad idea can work if enough people follow it. These wars will last 2 hours. MS raids happen currently at every 100k multiple of the National Contribution Points of the attacking nation, up to a 500k spawn. NCP is the total kills of your nation that month. After this, there are no more attacks for that month. Once the NCP is within 3k of the spawn, a warning will appear to prepare for the MS raid. Once the NCP goal is reached, there will be a 15 minute countdown, after which the defending nation's mothership will appear in Tylent Jungle for BCU, and Reynard Beach for ANI. Also, a strategic point will spawn in every map that SPs can spawn in detailed above. Once the MS spawns, the attackers are towned in any enemy maps that had map-back before. This includes all normal chain maps, rock's nest chain, and Pandea chain. When a SP is killed, a nation leader can activate a gate in this map. After a short activation time passes, a gate will activate. The time until the gate spawns appears as a border around the picture of the gate in the mothership war progress menu at the top of your screen. Once the red indicator goes all the way around, the gate will activate. This only appears if you are the attacking nation however, so defenders must make visual confirmation that gates have been activated. This makes following leader directions on what map to head to critical. While the gate is active, if an attacker dies in one of the enemy maps, they will respawn at that gate. However, once the gate starts going up it is vulnerable to attack. When a gate is going up, it will appear to have a white swirl in the middle of it indicating this. When the gate goes up, it will appear as a black and red warp. When the gate is killed, it will still have a lifebar but will not be able to be damaged, so don't shoot at it. Every SP or gate your nation destroys gives you war points equal to a strategic point victory. However in a defense, a gate that is never activated won't produce war points. This is balanced out by the fact that defenders get the war points for the gate kill in any map they're in.
If the attacking nation succeeds, they each receive a mystery capsule and a 500 WP reward. The losing nation receives a 200 WP reward. Mystery capsules can be double clicked like SPI caps to give random items, but they depend on level. So it's a good idea to find a trustable high level player, or to save them until you're higher level to open them. 95% of the time you'll get junk but you can occasionally get good stuff. MS wars also have a reward based on level sometimes. 200k MS victories give the attacking nation a Happy Hour, discussed in the level section. 400k victories, which are fairly rare, give a Stealth Card which will keep mobs from attacking you first for 2 hours. It's very good if you need to do something in a dangerous map. The problem is that it's a temporary buff item, and can't be stopped once you use it. So you'll probably want to save it until much later when you really need it. 500k MS spawns are supposed to spawn bosses, but this may be bugged. The winning nation also receives a 5% regen for every 100k NCP they have. This lasts until the end of the month. Also, the attacking nation gets access to 2 maps, Hornian King's Habitat and Eopi. These maps are kept until the end of the month, or until the other nation kills the nation's MS. HKH is accessed in Tylent or Edmont, and is a map for mid 50s players. Eopi is for mid-high 70s, and at the end of the moon map chain which is accessible later.
Base wars are fights that are similar to SPs that take place on a neutral map. These wars are scheduled, and currently happen once a week per base. They last 2 hours. You can check the Tower which you can find on your map in town to check when the next base war is. You'll receive a warning that a warp will be opening 30 minutes before the base spawns. There are currently 2 bases. The first is Akron, which is accessible through warps in Bark City. The map that opens up is called Skies above Bark City. The second base is above Rock's Nest top, although it also connects to the Fantasy Flow map in the Island's Dream chain. This map is called Meso's Floor. The actual bases are in the Warp Shop, but unless you are a leader or belong to the brigade that owns the base, you can't use them. The objective of the attacking nation is to destroy the protector in the middle of the base map, allowing the nation to take possession of the base. Once the protector is killed, a CPU will spawn in its place which the opposing nation can then attack. This CPU is monstrously hard to kill as it has a ton of HP and a huge regen rate. However, in this form the nation can't take possession of the base. The leader of the brigade that did the most damage must activate the CPU by alt-clicking on it. Once he does this, a countdown begins. After 5 minutes possession of that base goes to the brigade, and all opposing gears in the base are towned. A new protector is then spawned which is a lot easier to kill. Because the CPU is so hard to kill, the side that is defending it will often wait until near the end of the base war time to activate it. If the CPU is not activated in time, possession of the base will go to the brigade that previously owned it when the war started. If the base was neutral, the base will go unclaimed. Base wars give rewards similar to SPs, with 300 WP for the winners in the adjoining maps and 100 WP for the losers. Instead of a SPI cap, the winning side receives a box that will give a random supply of kits, non-level dependent.
When the latest patch is implemented, MS wars won't depend on NCP and will instead be scheduled at certain times. Also, the MS level will change depending on how many of them have been killed that month. In addition, the SPs will be harder to kill as a handicap for strong nations. SPI rewards are also given depending on damage/heal contributions in addition to previous rewards, including a reward during MS raids depending on which brigade contributed the most damage. Base wars are also changed so that they happen at the same time, with a new base being added at the middle of the Pandea chain in the Sunshine Born map, with the base fight being in a map called Coronado.
War points are rewards for event wars or arena battles. They're used to buy items in the War Point shop that you'll find on your city map. If you have membership you receive double war points, so people with this get a ton more than those without. War points cannot be traded.
Fame is a tally of every enemy gear killed in normal or event wars. Arena fights no longer give fame. This counts every last hit, so sometimes you get kills you don't deserve. Fame does nothing except maybe tell you how much the person wars. Fame that gears get greatly depends on gear types. The current fame that gears get is currently M-gear < I-gear < B-gear < A-gear. Fame doesn't take into account the person's kill/death ratio or overall usefulness in wars, so it can be deceiving sometimes. However, high level players with really low fame are generally regarded as useless.
When you get the last hit in a normal or event war, you get a killmark. Arena kills don't give killmarks. Killmarks are given to whoever gets the last hit on an enemy gear. Killmarks are categorized by level brackets starting at 11 and changing to the next one starting at 22 and going up every 10 levels after that. Killmarks will describe the level bracket of the gear killed. You can use the killmarks by double clicking them if you're in the same level bracket or higher to receive a small amount of XP. This can add up if you get a ton of them, so it can sometimes be useful. You can also NPC them for SPI, which can make up for the costs of warring. The last thing you can do with them is to combine them with a Cube to make a CPU. These are not useful until you get B or A cubes later on in the game. Only a few of these CPUs are useful so make sure you do some research before you decide to make one. You need 150 or 300 KMs depending on the type to make the CPUs. A chart of killmark CPUs, their effects, and the killmarks required can be found at http://board.airrivals.net/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=18922.
First off, you'll want to learn how to barrel roll. Probably the first mob you will be able to effectively practice on are Missile Launchers, since earlier mobs don't consistently shoot out missiles. Barrel rolling missiles takes a lot of practice and good timing to be good at. Some higher level players will depend entirely on their stats to survive, which does improve their turning a bit since rolling makes you head straight while you're in the roll.
If you're an M-gear, check out the section on target heals for a better way to heal your form.
I grouped these together because they share a lot of functionality as far as creation and chat use. All of these can be formed or joined under your community tab. Once you join one of these, the chat (detailed in the chat section) is global, so you can talk to the members of the group wherever they are. Once you are in one, you have to leave the group before you can join another one. Functionally these things are very different though. To create one of these things, you use the corresponding tab in the Community menu. Be careful before you decide you want to create a brigade, detailed below.
The simplest is the formation. Anyone can make a formation, and they're the most numerous of these groups. Forms have many useful applications. There is a list of forms that are public in the Community list under the formation tab. It's not useful to join a form that you're not going to be on the same map with, usually. A formation allows M-gears in the form to use form heals and buffs. These only work on the same map as the M-gear. Additionally, a form provides a xp bonus per member within 14 levels of each other. The form bonus goes as high as 30% for a full form, but it can be hard to find. The form bonus only applies when the members are on the same map. Formations can be created as public or private forms. Private forms are simpler, as they can only be joined when the form leader invites a person. For the form leader to invite someone, they can either alt-click on the name of the person and select Form Invite, or they can use the invite button in the Community formation menu. The form member's name can be typed in, and when it's confirmed the person will get the invite if they are available. Inviting someone in the latter way works if the person is on any map or distance away, so this is the preferred method unless they have a weird name that's hard to type in. Some things prevent the person from being invited. The most common problem is the other person being the last remaining member of a form, since if they are the only one in the form they can't see any visual evidence on their screen of being in a form unless they check the form menu. Forms can also be made public, which adds them to the formation list on the community screen. These forms have a level restriction set by the form leader. These forms can also be passworded to make sure that only the people you want to join can join it. This is very useful if the form leader doesn't want to worry about sending invites all the time. Form leaders can set the form to public or private whenever they want in the community formation menu. Another feature of formations is the ability to form onto the form leader with F2. The formation pattern must be set in the form options, and you have to be close enough to the leader. The leader also cannot be on the ground, although in the case of A-gear leaders you can form on in the air and the A-gear can land while you stay formed on. Forming on is very useful for many things, such as forming on a fast leader to be dragged, or to form on a gear that is stopped or has a 0 speed engine for den wars or gate camps.
Chat rooms are the most rarely used of these. They are basically for communication of a large number of people from different brigades. Once a room is created it can be joined from the Chat room menu. A password can be set to make sure only people that know it can get in. This is used sometimes by high level players during event wars to more efficiently communicate with leaders.
Brigade creation requires you to be level 20, to not be a member of a brigade already, and to be the leader of a formation. However, once the brigade is formed the leader must wait a week once they try to disband it for the brigade to dissolve. Brigades are basically semi-permanent groups of players that are used primarily as pvp groups. Being in a brig of players you enjoy playing the game with is important, so make sure you do some research before joining one. Brigades have a limit of 30 members, but if the brigade leader has membership, the brigade can have up to 60. Some brigades like my own Iron Tempest, have had a couple hundred players in the brig over several years, so they can have quite a history. If you want to join one, you have to get into contact with the brigade leader somehow. Many brigs have requirements that you may need to meet before they can consider you. Determining a brig that you want to join can be tough to pick sometimes. One option is to try the brigade section of the forums to find brigade threads. They often have specific instructions so you know what to do beforehand. There is also an in-game brigade feature that some groups use, but it's not a very good way to try to apply since it's easy to miss. You can also just find a brig that you like when playing, and try to contact a member to find out how you can join the brig. I highly recommend that you don't make your own brig unless you really know how to deal with people, and have been playing the game for nearly a year. If you are just playing with a few friends, a brigade can be a good option for you to stay together, but since people tend to quit at different intervals you might find yourself alone before long. That's why it's good to do some research and find a brig that's going to be around. Some brigs will make efforts to help out their own players, but this is up to the individuals in the brig, and is very rarely a requirement. If you join a brig and start asking for a lot of stuff, you're going to wear out your welcome quickly. The best way to fit in with a brig is to help out as much as you can to show the other members that you're contributing, but not so much that you're taken advantage of.
Arena rooms are pretty simple. You join one of these at the Arena in town rather than the Community menu. If you log out or are disconnected, you're removed from the room. You can rejoin it if there's still space if you come back. However, if you crashed in the teleport to the Arena fight, you won't be able to participate and will be removed from the room.
This can be a pain. You need to first create the logo, which must be a 24 bit BMP file, with dimensions 24x12. If even one of these requirements is not met, the logo will give you an error. In addition, some programs save the file in a way that may make it so AR doesn't recognize it. So you might need to play around with it some before you can get it to work. The file must also be in the base directory of the Air Rivals folder, where the executable is. If you don't know where the folder is, right click on the shortcut to your game launcher, and select properties, then click Find Target. This should bring up the folder you need. If you're not using Windows, you're on your own finding it. Under the brigade menu there's a button called Mark. Press this button and enter in the filename with the .bmp extension. If the file is in a different place or is in the wrong format, you'll get an error message. The best way to make sure the logo works is to use Windows Paint, which will put the file in the right format with some rare exceptions.
Brigade logos can have transparent parts, but it requires some work. You need a program that will let you edit alpha channels such as Adobe Photoshop. GIMP, a free program is also a good bet to use if you want to try this. There are tutorials to do this in other places, I would have to go into to much detail for an explanation to be worth it. I'll just say that once you create the file you need, save it in a .png format, which should keep the alpha channel transparency. Then, open the file in Paint and save it as a 24-bit BMP file. The new logo should have the transparent parts from the other file.
There are 3 different leader categories: Presidents, subleaders, and base captains. They can all use leader chat, but base captains cannot send mass mailings or activate portals in MS wars. If the leader's nation owns a base, pres and subleads can teleport to them from the warp shop.
Presidents are voted on during the end of the month. To run for pres, you have to be level 60, have over 1000 personal fame, and be the leader of a brigade that has at least 1000 brig fame. The last reason is a simple restriction to make it difficult to just form a temporary brigade to run for pres. There is a period of registration, after which the people set to be voted on are locked. During the voting period you can vote at the control tower in town. You can vote once on each account, including alts if you're so inclined. At the end of the voting the leader is announced, but the lead doesn't change until the end of the NCP cycle, which lasts about 4 weeks usually. Presidents are marked by their green name and special mark which gives them 10k extra shields. They can also give happy hours, and use some rather useless nation buffs. The ANI leader is called the Chairman, and the BCU leader is called the General Commander. They also receive SPI periodically called War Funds, which is based on a percentage of the money spent in NCP shops. The percentage changes based on what how the MS wars have gone and what bases the nation owns, so leaders with poor nations don't receive much while nations that dominate receive a ton. It's a really tough job, and can be very stressful.
Subleaders are appointed by the leader, and are there to take the load off of the pres. They don't get any special perks other than being able to use the mailings and leader chat. It basically sucks to be sublead since you don't get as much respect as the leader. Active subleads are very important to the health of a nation.
Base captains are the leaders of the brigade that won the base war for that base. So, there is only one of each base lead in ANI or BCU at a time.
Here are a few maps and the requirements to go there. Restrictions on entering maps can sometimes be avoided by receiving a Call of Hero skill warp from an M-gear, but only to a map after the map you have to unlock to enter. For example, if you want to enter the Pandea chain on the ANI side but can't enter Atus yet, you can get a call to the map after that, Gjert road.
You can't go to Edmont Valley for ANI or Blackburn Site for BCU until you're level 17 and have done the mission at that level.
Both sides have a warp to Hornian Kings' Habitat, in Edmont Valley and Tylent Jungle. These warps can only be reached by the side that has won the last mothership offense. If neither side has won that month the warp doesn't work for either nation. Once you go in HKH there's no way out either than using a town portal or dying and returning to town. This map is mid 50s so you won't be able to do much there the first time you can reach it.
Once you're level 22 and have done the mission at that level you can go to all maps of the normal chain including the opposite nation's maps. The chain looks a bit like this:
Reynard Beach → Edmont Valley → Desert of Ardor → Crystal Cave → Plains of Doleful Melody → Herremeze Relic Site → Den of Site A → Bark City → Den of Site B → Redline → Starlite Valley → Zaylope Beach → Blackburn Site → Bach Mountain Range → Tylent Jungle → Stones Ruin
In addition to the chain, there are 2 warps that lead to dead-ends. Ardor has a warp to Violence Blizzard, and Redline has a warp to Sunken City.
City warps are at the end of both maps, but you can't go in the other city no matter how many times you go through the gate, so don't bother trying. All of these maps have safe channels for their home nation except Bark and the Dens.
Once you reach 22, you can warp to any map up to Relic or Redline on your side from the warp shop. Akron and Rakion warps are only accessible to the people that own that base or leaders.
The other warps in the chain are not immediately accessible. Bark City has 2 warps in the sky that look like cloud gates, these only open during the Akron war, or for whatever base owns Akron at the time. The map it leads to is called Skies Above Bark City, and there is a warp to land in Akron which is a small town with a few of the NCP shops from town.
Rock's nest is the next available chain, and the warps to it connect Relic and Redline. This map used to be available at level 42 after doing the mission, but may be able to be entered without that now. It's a good way to avoid the bottleneck in the dens when you need to get deeper into enemy territory. However, these maps can't be warped to directly from the warp shop. The chain looks like this:
Rock's Nest Bottom (ANI) → Rock's Nest Middle (ANI) → Rock's Nest Top → Rock's Nest Middle (BCU) → Rock's Nest Bottom (BCU)
The maps look the same on either side but are mirrored. The warps in these maps mostly resemble a storm cloud, so they are kind of hard to see and can be tough to enter sometimes. These maps have map back except for Top. In Rock's Nest Top, there is a warp in the lower left corner that leads to Meso's Floor, which is only available during the Rakion base war, or by people that can currently enter the Rakion base. Meso's Floor is a huge map, and has a warp to the Fantasy Flow, which is part of the Island's Dream chain.
The next series of maps becomes available at level 50 when the Enter the Moon mission is done. Once the mission is complete, warps to Denebola for ANI and Castor for BCU become available. You can only warp to the first map in the chain from the shop, you have to fly to the other ones. The maps between the two city warps looks like this:
Denebola → Alphard → Alioth → Polaris → Castor
Alioth has a side warp to Pherkad, and Pherkad has a warp to Eopi. Eopi is a map like HKH that can only be reached by the side that won the last MS war.
The next chain is the Pandea chain. These are available after reaching level 52 and doing the mission. SPs can spawn in the maps with map-back in this chain. The warps connect Edmont Valley and Bach Mountain Range. These maps are bigger than the maps in the normal chains, and are more recent additions to the game. The chain looks like:
Atus Beach → Gjert Road → Slope Port → Portsmouth Canyon → Pandea A → Sunshine Born → Daisy Catchment Area → Orina Peninsula → Nubarke Cave → Kahlua Beach
In a new patch, a new advance base becomes available in Sunshine Born. There are 2 warps in the map leading to a map called Coronado. The name of the base is Castle Corona.
The last map chain is called the Island's Dream chain. This becomes available at level 57 after the turning point side story mission is finished. The only warp from the shop goes to Island's Dream, but there are 2 versions of the warp. One is a safe chain, one for each nation that only that side can go to. The chain looks like:
Island's Dream → Chaos → Dimensional Corridor → G-ark Engine Room → Fantasy Flow → Lumein Volcano → G-ARK → Atum-1 → Atum-2
The safe chain only goes up to Fantasy Flow. There is a warp in the non-safe FF that has a warp to Meso's Floor, which is described above. None of these maps have map-back. The warp to G-ARK is hidden behind the heart of the Gigantic God boss, but it can be bypassed by running into it with a B-gear with chaffs up, or an M-gear with invincibility.
A somewhat-outdated map showing map chains and boss locations can be found at http://board.airrivals.net/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=14364.