Reply To: Controls


I’ve not looked on GOG to see what’s there. They do have a habit of missing important scans. Wing Commander has a fantastic in-universe manual in the shape of the Claw Marks magazine which I’d like to think they haven’t missed. It’s well worth a read but possibly doesn’t offer much in the way of actual useful advice.

Since you asked here’s an off the top of my head guide for what newbies need to know. Starting with controls:-

A – autopilot. This takes you directly to the next nav point on the map. As a general rule if the autopilot light on your ship is lit, use it. The action in Wing Commander essentially takes place at hot-spots with nothing inbetween.

+.- speed up slow down. In combat you will nearly always want to be flying at maximum speed. Allegedly 250 is the safest speed in asteroids.

TAB – afterburners. These will greatly increase your speed but use fuel which will eventually run out. You can still fly as normal when this happens, it only stops afterburning. Best used to get somewhere asap (e.g. getting to a ship you are protecting). Can be useful in a brief burst during combat to stay near to someone in your sights and try to tail them.

T – cycles through visible targets. It’s usually best to concentrate on one enemy at a time.

L – locks to the currently selected target. The box around the ship will be a complete box instead of just corners. You may need to do this to use locking missiles (can’t remember for sure)

W – selects a missile type. You have a limited number of these which varies depending on the ship you are flying. The missiles are dumbfire – goes in a straight line so use at close range. heat seeking (locks onto the exhaust of a ship from the rear only). IR – locks on from anywhere. FF goes for the nearest enemy without locking. I tend to only use missles at the start of an encounter to thin the numbers down a bit. I’d usually beat the shields of the enemy down a little first in the hope of the missile finishing them off. Missiles usually work best when tailing a ship flying fairly straight

G – cycles through the various gun types. These drain energy as shown on the HUD but this recharges over time. The guns have differing damages and ranges. I’d usually go with full guns – you’ll want to be fairly accurrate if you do this. Lasers are longer range and neutrons are shorter otherwise.

C – Communications. Opens up a menu for your communications – select options with 1-4. About all you really need are to tell your wingman to break and attack (or attack a specific target). You can also taunt the targeted enemy which might stop them attacking a ship you want to protect.

I think that’s the essentials. Here’s some general tips:-

As a rule don’t shoot at the enemy until they are around 3000-4000 away from you, possibly nearer depending on how fast your guns drain in the ship you are in. If using full guns try to hold back for sure hits. Try to stay as close as possible without crashing into them

The combat pretty much boils down to shoot at the enemy. Turn as fast as possible to get the enemy back in your sights and repeat. You can potentially tail ships if you can stay close to them during one of these turns and get a few shots off before another chicken run. If you are getting pummelled by another ship while doing this, turn away and/or use afterburners for a few seconds.

Landing in WC1 is a bit tricky. Target the tigers claw with the T key. Use C to communicate with them and request landing. You can only land from the front so look to fly around until the runway is straight in front, then just fly at it until you dock.

There is some dumb luck to asteroids and you can get hit out of nowhere through no fault. Don’t try to shoot them unless you really have to. Keep your speed around 350 and just give them a wide berth.

You’ll probably notice quickly that wingman are fairly useless. I just let them do their own thing – be a little wary when on the last enemy as they don’t necessarily mind shooting through you. They are very good at taking down cap ship shields later in the game.

That’s about all I can think of for now. It’s a simple enough game when you get into it, way more arcadey than the likes of X-Wing or Strike Commander.