Like other Synths, Gunships were living creatures that have been artificially altered and augmented with Combine technology. They are powered by an array of jet engines on their underside, and maneuver using a rear-mounted rotor with fin-like blades. Compound eyes that bear a close resemblance to those of a dragonfly are positioned directly behind the Gunship's pulse gun. In addition, the chassis itself has one large exposed compound eye on either side, which is assumed to be used to detect enemies under normal conditions. Like most Combine Synths and vehicles, the gunship is invulnerable to small arms fire and can only be damaged by heavy weapons, such as rocket-propelled grenades. Because of this weakness to explosives, gunships will give any incoming explosives a priority over enemies and will attempt to shoot them down.
Although lacking the Hunter-Chopper's explosive mines and rockets, the gunship surpasses its aerial counterpart in maneuverability and accuracy with its pulse turret.
The gunship is generally deployed to attack enemies located in locations not normally accessible to ground forces, due to their dangerous actions or in remote locations where air power would be more convenient. In urban environments or when protecting highly important facilities (such as the Citadel dark fusion reactor, Nova Prospekt's outer defense or the Overwatch Nexus) Gunships are deployed in what appears to be a buddy system, in which one Gunship protects the other from missile attacks. However, when deployed to oversee vast spaces (such as the coast) they are deployed only one unit at a time.
Destroying a gunship with the RPG requires a unique strategy. Since gunships concentrate their fire on any incoming missile and attempt to shoot them down, the laser designator should be used to guide the missile in unpredictable loops and rolls on its way to the target, to make it as difficult as possible for the gunship to hit the missile. Ideally, perform evasive maneuvers with the missile until it gets close, then steer it around the gunship and hit it from behind. It is also sometimes possible to fire straight up at a gunship directly above the player and hit its belly before it has time to recognize the threat.
Gunships are one of the toughest enemies, and dealing with them presents a number of problems, doubly so if there are other enemies in the vicinity at the same time (or, worse, multiple gunships, they cover each other). Since it takes at least three hits (depending on difficulty) to destroy one, the player can only effectively fight one if they have a steady source of replacement ammunition for the RPG. It's also important to have plenty of overhead cover to use in between firing at the gunship, because whenever the player doesn't have a missile in the air, it'll be firing at them.
Gunships will always prioritize missiles over any other target, so if the player has, for example, one missile left and needs to get across open ground to resupply, just fire the missile into the air and steer it around as long as possible while moving to the next spot of cover. The gunships will be completely distracted by the missile, allowing the player to get to safety and/or resupply.
Like Striders, Gunships will often shoot ahead of the target before actually hitting it, as such, this will give the player a little time to take cover before being hit. The Gunships will also tend to shoot the explosive barrels when an enemy is near them, thus the player should always stay away from these barrels or detonate them before the Gunships do it.
Behind the scenesAs seen in Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, early Gunship concepts were quite machine-like, while the final version depicts a more ambiguous, synthetic look. During early playtesting, Valve found that the Gunship would accidentally consider rockets fired at it as the more interesting enemy and try to shoot them down. This played so well that the RPG vs Gunship battles were reworked into a game of cat and mouse.
Furthermore, Nova Prospekt was originally to feature a Gunship factory and maintenance site, called the "Gunship Bays" and located at the foot of the Depot, where naked Gunships stripped off their armor, as well as lines and tanks of fuel for the Synths were to be seen. The concept was heavily trimmed down and later reused in the Half-Life 2 chapter Our Benefactors, where Gunships can be seen mounted on the walls, being serviced by Stalkers.
According to Scott Dalton, Valve designed the Episode One Hospital Gunship battle to create a dynamic evolving experience while still keeping the player within a constrained area. Initially, the attic appears straightforward and provides plenty of cover. As the environment gets progressively more damaged, combat becomes more challenging; players are increasingly open to enemy fire, and the path to the rocket crate becomes more difficult to navigate. As the roof breaks apart, however, the Gunship also becomes more visible and therefore easier to hit, keeping things relatively in balance.
Further investigation with the use of external programs reveals more behind-the-scenes information. The entity names of the two Gunships fought in Nova Prospekt are 'Penn' and 'Teller', after the comedy and magic duo.
The Gunship does not fly independently, unlike the City Scanners, but instead exclusively follows path tracks set in the game;
info_target_gunshipcrash entities are used to suggest spectacular crashing points for defeated Gunships.
In the Half-Life 2 model viewer, the Synth's "dragonfly" eyes can be seen to possess the ability to extend downwards and sweep left and right.
As seen at New Little Odessa (in
d2_coast_03) and during the City 17 uprising (in
d3_c17_07) in the Half-Life 2 leak, the Gunship was also to fire a beam similar to that of the Strider with its belly cannon. While the cannon is still visible on the final model, this weapon is never seen demonstrated in-game, though it can be used in Hammer. In N.L.O., the Gunship fires its cannon to the shack where the "RPGGuy" is hiding, exploding the shack and killing him, allowing Freeman to grab the RPG. During the City 17 uprising, a Gunship attacks the bridge set beyond the plaza where Alyx gets captured in the final game (she just remains hidden there for no apparent reason in the leak). In the final game, the bridge is already destroyed, while in the leak, it is destroyed under Alyx and Gordon's very eyes.
Originally, the Gunship was also to launch projectiles, as seen in the leak model files.
The aircraft encountered at the end of Half-Life 2: Lost Coast is in fact a Gunship using the model of the Hunter-Chopper.
|Where Cubbage Fears to Tread (5G)|
|Defend Little Odessa from the Gunship attack.|
|One Man Army (5G)|
|Destroy six Gunships in Half-Life 2.|
Half-Life 2 (cut)
|Kill both Gunships in the Nova Prospekt courtyard.|
Half-Life 2: Episode One
|Destroy the gunship in the hospital attic.|
- In the Half-Life 2 model viewer, the Gunship's "dragonfly" eyes possess the ability to extend downwards and sweep left and right.
- In the Half-Life 2 chapter Our Benefactors, Gunships can be seen mounted on the walls, being serviced by stalkers.
- According to the Overwatch Voice as heard in the Half-Life 2 chapter Sandtraps during Freeman's invasion into Nova Prospekt, the Gunships may respond to a different part of Overwatch called 'Airwatch'. This term is also heard on the Bridge in Highway 17.
- Gunships are not fought in Episode Two, but they can be seen flying over a bridge escorting a Combine marching column right after exiting the Antlion caves in the chapter Freeman Pontifex, though they were supposed to be in the Strider battle near the end of Episode Two. Only Hunter-Choppers are featured to attack the player.
- The Gunship is controlled by the game and does not fly independently like the City Scanners or Shield Scanners. It exclusively follows Path Tracks which were set in the game. This gives the gunship a more realistic flight look to it.
- It is possible to 'hit' the Gunship in the air using the buggy in the Highway 17 chapter of Half-Life 2 after using the magnetic crane. However, it does not appear to do any damage to the Gunship and the buggy passes through the Gunship without collision.
- During the final battle in Half-Life 2, numerous Gunships emerge from the brewing portal in order to stop the player. If the player ignores them and destroys the Citadel core instead, the Gunships will also be destroyed for unknown reasons.
- The Gunship's belly cannon is not used in Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, and they will only use it if a Gunship is spawned through a console command. The belly cannon will not harm the player if he is in the beam but it will harm nearby NPCs.
- In depot_01 the player was to fight a early version of the gunship. This gunship was to use its pulse cannon and belly cannon.
List of appearances
- Half-Life 2 (First appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar
- Half-Life 2: Episode One
- Source Particle Benchmark (Game files only) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Half-Life 2: Episode Two (Only flying by the bridge).
- Portal: The Flash Version MapPack (Non-canonical appearance)