(Updated to v14.17)
As of Version 14.17, there is no reason to pick Aquila for Oldschool and Hellwalker. Aquila's utility has dwindled compared to other heroes such as the extremely powerful Swann and Tassadar who can provide Protective Sensei and Force Fields. Additionally, every single other hero deal have greater utility and deal more overall useful damage than Aquilla.
Aquila has the ability to:
- Provide a free mastery point to allies
- "Bond" with an ally and provide it with useful buffs
- "Void tear" strong enemies drastically reducing their attack speeds and increasing their ability cooldowns.
- Call a mothership that defends the CP base and engages strong enemies
- Delay the progression of enemies with her "Blades of Aiur"
Clearly, in an efficient Oldschool or Hellwalker game, since enemies are not powerful enough in those difficulties to force teams to pick Aquila. A team composed of other heroes can quickly overpower even the toughest bosses of Hellwalker.
However, for a beginner-level Hellwalker team, Aquila is possibly the best hero to have, as she is incredibly defensively designed. Combined with Tassadar's Protective Sensei, the team can proceed cautiously forward and tackle the game with more confidence.
For Oldschool and Hellwalker, the downside to Aquila is that she slows down any game by being a hero that is the weakest pusher and damage dealer of all heroes. That is why intermediate to advanced players quickly ditch her when making private lobbies for fast efficient games.
Aquilla's Perks for OS and HW
Since Aquila is an incredibly defensive minded hero and quite a good base clearer with Mothership, her perks should complement this strength of hers:
- Air Support
- (Hellwalker) Compartment
For quick entry of Perks at the beginning of the match, type (without quotes) "-perk lahc".
Many beginners pick Onslaught with Aquila. However, even after her 25,000 ELITE upgrade, her damage with void tears is too insignificant to warrant using a perk slot for Onslaught. Unless Aquila is the nuking hero of the game, in which case, there are better heroes to chose from in the game creation lobby to begin with for the purposes of nuking. In other words, if Aquila is picked, it is far better to use perks that synergize with her abilities.
Thus Leadership, Helldivers and Air support are the obvious 3 perks that Aquila must have.
For Hellwalker, because she needs to pick Lightweight Equipment mastery anyways, we pick Compartment.
Aquila is a strong starter, and her utility dwindles as the game does by except when it comes to void tearing bosses. Therefore, she should start strong to further boost her strong start with Air Support and Helldivers.
Her only significant utility towards mid to late game is to void tear strong enemies such as bane lords, the elite brutalisks, the general and the Yagdras. However, those enemies are easily dealt with by a team of experienced players. Therefore, and once again, Aquila is an excellent hero for inexperienced teams to proceed cautiously, but is dropped by the more experienced and confident players in their games.
Last but not least, you do not need Onslaught with Aquilla since it is best for heroes who actually need Onslaught to nuke.
Aquila's Mastery Order for OS
On Oldschool, Aquila manages the game mechanics of that difficulty best with the following order of masteries:
- Level 0 = Mothership
- Level 10 = Altruism
- Level 20 = Lightweight Equipment
- Level 30 = Revenge of the Fallen
- Level 40 = Zamara's Guardian
- 2K Streak = Interwoven Reality/ Shadow Stalker
- Level 50 = Shadow Stalker/ Interwoven Reality
On OS, Zamara's Guardian does very little to delay the progression of Ultralisks, which are the main dangerous enemies encountered in the various traps that exist for that difficulty. Many intermediate players unfortunately pick Zamara's Guardian before Level 40.
Aquila's Mastery Order for HW
Aquila picks Compartment as 4th perk for Hellwalker, and therefore her mastery order changes slightly as she obtains Lightweight Equipment for free:
- Level 0 = Altruim + Free Lightweight
- Level 10 = Mothership
- Level 20 = Zamara's Guardian
- Level 30 = Revenge of the Fallen
- Level 40 = Interwoven Reality/ Shadow Stalker
- 2K Streak = Shadow Stalker/ Interwoven Reality
- Level 50 = (Flexible)
Given that Captain Smoker has a shield from 1:30 to 2:30, he can easily handle up to 9 or 10 mastery picks without assistance. Therefore, given a competent team that understand this, Aquilla can provide Altruism and allow the other 3 players to pick another round of masteries in the time frame between 0:50 to 1:20.
If the team cannot manage picking 8-10 masteries in that specific time frame, it always means a team of inexperienced players (or incompetent players if they happen to be highly ranked). In this case, there are 2 fundamental questions to be asked:
- Why is this team even playing Hellwalker? Unless it is a clear case of a veteran willingly carrying a team of new players.
- Why is Aquilla being picked? Her major advantage lies in the Altruism mastery and early game pushing power.
After level 40, the 2K kill streak for Aquila is usually very close. Interwoven Reality completes Aquila's role in the game, which is to void tear enemies and delay their progression, allowing team-mates to handle them with greater safety. Shadow Stalker potentially allows Aquilla to trigger bosses if the other heroes cannot do so safely. In some situations mid to late game, Aquilla can escape sticky situations with Shadow Stalker.
Aquila, whether on Oldschool or Hellwalker, should always pick Altruism and Mothership early. In Hellwalker games, Altruism should always be the first pick to allow players to pick their masteries in the time frame from 0:50 to 1:20.
Zamara's Guardian is the third most important mastery for Aquilla, far behind Mothership and Altruism, and should never be picked before those two in Oldschool and Hellwalker games for 2 reasons:
- Zamara's Guardian add little to tanking abilities against hordes of banelings and ultralisks.
- Choosing Zamara's Guardian over Altruism further delays the whole game since the other 3 heroes have 1 less mastery point to pick, making Aquilla's allies much less powerful. An extra mastery at level 10 is much more consequential to heroes compared to an extra mastery at level 30 or 40, where it would have much smaller effect, since Heroes reach their 2500 scores by then and have already picked their ultimate masteries.
Therefore, sacrificing extremely important masteries (Mothership + Altruism) in favor of Zamara's Guardian is an extremely ineffective way of playing Aquilla. For example, in this replay: https://cp2.shortbit.de/details/replay/18721 Both Mothership and Zamara's Guardian were needlessly picked early, resulting in the other heroes, being weaker by exactly 1 mastery. Both Dune and Atlas would have been much stronger right from the beginning at level 0 with +1 mastery, with Smoker not being at risk due to his Shield.
An even more horrendous example would be in this replay: https://cp2.shortbit.de/details/replay/15981, where Altruism is picked after 30 minutes, after level 40, completing negating the advantage of Aquilla as a strong early game booster. In which case, it would have been better to just pick another hero that has both stronger early game benefits and late game benefits compared to Aquilla, such as Dune, Pyro, Anvil, Atlas, Nova, Swann, etc.