Complete night operations guide
What is nighttime?First let's define what nighttime is in EFT. I would define it as the time in which the use of flashlights and night-vision equipment has a tactical advantage over not using it. The edge of dawn and dusk times can be narrowed down to the following:
- 21:30 is the time of day where dusk transitions into night time.
- 05:00 is the time of day where dawn transitions into morning.
The passing of timeTime in EFT passes approximately 5.5 times faster than in real life. This equals to one ingame hour as 12-15 minutes real time. This is important to keep in mind when preparing for a night mission. If you plan to spend 30 minutes in a map, appoximately 2.5 ingame hours will pass. So if the raid is started at 03:00 ingame time, then the sun will start rising near the end of your raid.
22:00. Note the last light of the sunset towards the west.
02:00. If the moon is out, moonlit areas are significantly brighter than areas in the shadows.
05:00. The sun is almost at the horizon. Vampires and NVGS should get out.
Tactical differences at night
- Low visibility makes spotting targets more difficult.
- Low visibility delays spotting, increasing the potential for close combat, as players can more easily run into others without intention of close combat.
- Paradoxically, locating a shooter at night is easier than during daytime because of the muzzle flash. In EFT this is represented by the flash sprite and a light halo around the shooter.
FlashlightsThe ghetto option for night-time combat. They are cheap, commonly found on scavs and easy to use. Point them at something and they will illuminate what you are pointing at. To use one, it has to be mounted onto a 25mm ring which has to be mounted on a picatinny rail. To switch the light on or off, press T. To change its brightness setting, press CTRL+T.
Tactical uses for flashlights
IlluminationIt helps the user see in the dark. However the user can be seen from a distance at night by anyone with a direct line of sight.
Target designationThe flashlight can be used to point out targets to teammates quickly in combat. The light cone provides an easy way for others to see what the user's gun is pointing at.
BlindingThe flashlight can be used to blind targets and cause their return fire to be less accurate. This effect diminishes with distance and light conditions. However it still works with modest effect in daylight. This is very effective against users with night vision goggles as it will completely wash out their screen with glaring white.
Flashlight brightnessFlashlights have different intensities, and an easy way to figure out the brightness is to equip it in the modding screen and rotate the flashlight so it points at the camera.
Laser aiming devicesLAMs are weapon-mounted devices that project a laser beam parallel to the boreline of the weapon. The beam and the dot are visible in all daytime conditions, however they are more visible in darker areas.
The PEQ-15 features four different modes: Visible light, infrared, infrared searchlight and infrared searchlight + infrared laser. The IR searchlight and the IR laser modes are currently not functional, as the IR searchlight is almost invisible with night vision goggles, and the IR laser is too visible without night vision goggles.
Tactical uses for LAMs
Target acquisitionEFT is one of the few games where the laser projected in your first person view realistically matches to what the boreline is pointing at. This means for weapon-mounted laser dots, that within 30 meters the laser beam and the dot provide an accurate representation of what the next shot is going to hit. This also takes into account the sway, so if the shooter is out of stamina and wildly swaying, it will still accurately show where the impact is going to be. This effectively removes the need for the shooter to aim down the sights in close combat and can be used as an advantage against opponents with heavier weapons.
However, for long range shooting this is not as useful. The boreline is a straight line, which does not match the ballistic flight of a bullet. This problem can be shown when using a magnifying scope:
Target designationThe laser beam can be used to show your friends what you are aiming at, just like with the flashlight. However the laser is less visible and also works in daylight. The visibility of the laser gradually diminishes the brighter the environment is. It is a more covert option to point out things. Some LAMs feature IR lasers that can only be seen with night vision goggles. This adds another layer of obscurity to the laser. As long as the enemy does not have night vision goggles.
Combined flashlights/LAMsSome devices combine functionality of both systems and do not require a ring mount, they directly attach to a picatinny rail, and fit most weapons. They can cycle through flashlight, laser and flashlight + laser with CTRL+T. Combined devices offer features of flashlights and LAMs, however not all models have lasers with IR capability.
Ironsights with a radium or tritium component that glows in the dark. The high contrast allows for easier target acquisition in dark areas. These are items that passively assist the player and they don't get in the way during daytime.
Night-vision gogglesNVGs are head- or helmet-mounted devices that amplify light, allowing the user to see in near-total darkness. EFT currently features four different NVG systems.
Reference image. This is shot on a moonlit night at 02:30 hours.
Tactical uses for NVGs
Seeing in the darkNVG illuminate moonlit nights as if it was daytime, however the effect is diminished in shadow areas (moonlight shadows) and in moonless nights.
Seeing IR lasers and searchlightsOnce implemented, IR lasers and searchlights will be visible to NVGs, allowing the covert use of beams and lights that players without NVGs can not see.
Light sensitivityNVGs have one major flaw, they are sensitive to light sources. Environmental light sources will hamper the visual awareness of NVG users, and flashlights aimed directly at an NVG user will temporarily blind him, with more intensity than a flashlight would without NVGs. This is a very effective counter against NVG users. A well-timed flashlight will delete their tactical advantage and force them to disengage or turn off their NVGs.
Weapon scopes for night operationsEFT features three specialized scopes for night combat. The soviet 1980s NSPU-M, the Vulcan MG and the REAP-IR.
NSPU-MThe NSPU-M is a soviet, first generation starlight night vision scope. It can be mounted on any weapon system that features a russian dovetail mount. The magnification is 3.5x which makes it suitable for long range combat and ill-suited for close encounters (until BSG adds the feature to switch to ironsights).
Vulcan MG 3.5xThe Vulcan MG 3.5x is a modern 3.5x magnification scope.
Tactical uses for night-vision scopesTheir advantage over NVGs is that they only provide night-vision when the shooter views through the device. This is an advantage in an environment with mixed lighting. When encountering a flashlight, the shooter is not blinded as easily.
REAP-IRThe Reap-IR uses thermal imaging instead of image intensifying technology. Its main feature is that it can find the heat emitted from heat sources, such as living things with a body temperature that is higher than the ambient temperature. And it can do it in any lighting, day, night or total darkness. It is not affected by the presence of light sources like image-intensifying night vision devices. Unlike the other two night-vision scopes, it has no magnification and is therefore suitable for close combat (if you have the nerve to use this expensive item in close combat). There are two modes: Black hot (heat sources are black) and white hot (heat sources are white). This can be switched with ALT+RMB.
The device can spot heat sources at up to approximately 400 meters. Foliage like bushes can only partially hide targets which makes this system a very dangerous recon device on open maps. Shooting however is difficult. Because of two reasons. The first is that bullet impacts and particle effects are not rendered through the scope, which makes it hard to tell where the bullet impacted. The second issue is the refresh rate of the scope, it is very low (less than 10 fps). This makes tracking and shooting moving targets difficult.
SuppressorsSuppressors are devices fitted on the muzzle of a firearm. Their purpose is to trap propellant gas and slow down its speed to prevent a violent discharge when the bullet leaves the barrel. This cuts down the volume of a gunshot sounds substantially. Let's take a look at this demonstration video on the different audio effects involved in a gunshot.
In this video you might have noticed a delay between the muzzle flash and the sound of the gunshot. This is not a synchronization issue, the delay is caused by the travel time the sound needs to reach the observer. Light travels much faster than sound, and and the distance of 250 meters,the delay is approximately 0.8 seconds.
- The first segment features a shot without a suppressor and with supersonic ammo. The halo illuminating the shooter is visible and the gunshot, unique to each weapon, is heard with a delay. If you listen close you might also hear a second sound, similar to a whip crack. This is the supersonic crack, caused by an object flying past the observer at supersonic speeds (more than 334 meters per second).
- The second segment features a subsonic ammo and no suppressor. You can hear the gunshot, like before, but the supersonic crack is gone. This is because the ammo is subsonic, it flies slow enough to prevent a supersonic crack.
- The third segment features subsonic ammo and a suppressor. No gunshot or crack is audible. Only the sound of the bullet whizzing past the observer. The gunshot sound is caused by the bullet leaving the barrel and the gas pushing the bullet quickly diffusing into the surrounding area. This is masked with a suppressor. The supersonic crack however can not be masked, the only way to remove it is to use ammo that flies slower. Also the suppressor removed the light halo from the shooter's weapon. This combination of a suppressor and slow-flying ammo completely obscures the shooter and makes it very difficult for the target to locate the direction of the attack. However, slow ammo comes with its own challenges for the shooter.
Ammo selectionWhether a bullet is subsonic depends on two things, the cartridge and the weapon system. The muzzle velocity of a bullet can be seen in the examination screen. If it is below 334 meters per second, then it is subsonic. However the weapon system that fires it can modify the muzzle velocity. One particular example is the MP5SD. Its suppressor was designed to slow down supersonic 9x19 ammo to subsonic speeds. This is the only suppressor in EFT that has this feature. Despite popular folklore, normal attachable suppressors do not lower the muzzle velocity, they increase it, slightly.To check the velocity of the bullet you want to fire, view the weapon information screen. The muzzle velocity displayed shows the speed of the bullet currently in the chamber and its actual speed is calculated with the weapon system's features factored in.
Slow ammo challengesThe consequence for slow bullets is reduced penetration power and higher bullet drop.
- Slow bullets destabilize faster and suffer from accuracy loss at long distance compared to their supersonic variants. Correct kentucky windage is important because there is less room for error than with supersonic rounds. A ranging error of 50 meters can cause the shooter to miss the target, while the same error on supersonic ammo would only change the impact point by a few centimeters. The available solutions for aiming with subsonic ammo are not functional currently.
AKS-74UB dust cover with rear ironsight designed for subsonic ammo.
- Less muzzle velocity translates to less kinetic force on impact which limits penetration power of the bullet. The average assault rifle subsonic round loses approximately 40% of its penetration power compared to steel core rounds. Some calibers are designed to overcome this issue. The 9x39 caliber was specifically engineered to deliver high penetration at subsonic speeds.
- Slow-flying ammo is not necessarily low in hp damage. The opposite is the case. Slower bullets destabilize faster on impact and that increased instability creates a greater potential for damage on soft targets.
- Some calibers are inherently subsonic without the intent of use with suppressed weapons. They are simply low-power calibers. An example is the 9x18 caliber. Most of its ammo types are subsonic.
- Required for a completely silent shot:
- >50 meters distance from target, to mask the sound of the suppressed gunshot.
- Subsonic ammo (<334 meters per second).
- Subsonic ammo trades penetration power for silence.
- Subsonic ammo has more than average hp damage.
- Subsonic ammo is harder to shoot because aiming errors multiply faster.
This concludes the night operations guide. The next part will talk about some issues with night time in EFT and how the negatively affect the game. With some solutions suggested.
Night time needs fixesIn this part of the guide I would like to point out several technical flaws in the game that limit night time from its full potential. These are flaws, some of which are bugs that are not fixed and some are intentional features that are detrimental to the realism of the game. With your help, and if you feel like doing so, I would like to write a few support tickets so the developers can take note of these issues.
Night fogRemember the screenshots above showing the NVGS? They looked reasonably bright. But that was because the screenshots were taken with the moon out. If the moon is not out, then there is a very bad night fog which ruins the NVG experience.
This fog is apparently there to prevent players from gamma cheating by increasing their gamma settings to see in the dark. However this feature ruined the NSPU-M scope. See for yourself:
If the camera is viewing an area with some light, there is a clean picture with contrast. But when the view points at a very dark area, the graphics engine tries to adapt the player eyes to the darkness and this fog floods the view. This has to be an unintended issue related to the eye adaption feature used in daytime, it simulates the eyes adjusting when entering a dark area. But it backfired on the NSPU-M because in real life that does not happen. The scope is able to create visible contrast in near total darkness. But ingame, it only works in areas where it is already well lit.
And that is not realistic. I have written two support tickets about this, one 11 months ago and one 4 months ago. I would like to encourage you, the readers to also write a ticket, so the developers can see players care about this issue. Because it would be a waste to have such a nicely created an immersive scope be useless because of a graphics bug. And what is worrying is that the Armasight scope has none of these issues. Because that might indicate that BSG considers the NSPU-M "good enough" right now. But that should not be the case. Because it is not realistic. The NSPU-M has a 3.5x magnification, means it was made for night combat at a distance. But anything beyond 100 meters is soaked in this night fog making it useless at this distance.
Here is a video of the real thing. Yes it is blurry and does not have sharp focus, but it has none of that HDR eye adaption shifting, plus it actually works in near total darkness with no visible moonlight.
So please, help me get the developers' attention to fix it.
Night vision gogglesAlso NVGs suffer from night time related issues. They are oversensitive to light sources, and they are useless when you actually need them, in near total darkness. They only provide a reasonable advantage in moonlit areas. See for yourself:
Reference image. The moon is hidden by clouds. Note the thick black fog covering the building.
The same with the GPNVG-18.
As you can see, the NVG does not intensify any image, (thats what it is supposed to do). It just paints the existing blackness green.
As you can see, all NVGs in the game suffer from the night fog and they fail to intensify the image, they just recolorize the blackness.
GrainThe next problem is the grain. In real night vision goggles there is grain, but it is more transparent, blurry, and not as noisy and does not animate as fast. But ingame we get this:
But this is how the grain should appear:
The grain should be soft and almost transparent.
General lighting issues
The night is not dark enough. Even in areas with virtually no bounced light from light sources, the game provides too much light. All objects appear to have some form of reflective mask. As shown here:
The characters are in a very dark area, but all equipment parts, the helmets, backpacks, guns have a reflective glow, this is visible in total darkness. The game should change the way dark areas are rendered.
This is how dark it should be:
Then flashlights would truly be a necessity in a hallway that does not receive any bounced light from lightsources.
- The night fog soaks the NSPU-M in one solid fog color when there is no bright area in view. This is the opposite of what should happen. In real life it provides a clear picture with no HDR light autoadjusting the brightness.
- There is no night-fog in real life just because it is night.
- The NSPU-M can not be used at long range because of the night fog auto-fogging the view.
- The night fog prevents all NV devices from actually intensifying the image, they can only recolorize the darkness.
- NV only "work" in light conditions where the player does not need the NVG, like in moonlit areas. Where the NV is actually needed, in near total darkness, they fail completely.
- Dark areas are not dark enough and don't require any flashlights.
- Light source have an exagerrated effect on NVGs. They should not turn useless because there is a distant light source. They should only blind the user if the light source is directly pointed at the user.
- The night fog could be removed set it more transparent for the player with night vision.
- Another solution would be to make players who are in shadow, render in the same color as the shadow, this way gamma cheating will be not as effective. (The splinter cell games do that since 2004).
So, if you agree this should be fixed, then write a support ticket mentioning the issues here. Night time can be something great, so let's not leave it in this mediocre state.