Game-On Guide: Battlefield

*note: this guide is not intended for established, or veteran Battlefield 3 players.

I have a standing history with the Battlefield franchise. It started with Battlefield 2, through 2142, BC 1 & 2 and now Battlefield 3. Throughout my development as a gamer, I have seen the difference proper tactics can make to the outcome of a round. Conquest, the main game mode in Battlefield is frequently misunderstood by players, and the results can be catastrophic, even if a team has a few well-performing players.

The following guide is intended for players who know their way around general objectives and game play, but still need to get their knee over finer details in the game’s structure and general tactics of the Battlefield 3, conquest game mode. Even though Battlefield 3 is a multi-faceted war game, I will primarily focus on infantry tactics in this guide, as it is the primary unit type, and has most relevant tactics with regards to the conquest game mode.

To understand why it’s important to grasp where and why someone should apply proper tactics in a round, you need to understand conquest. As you know well by now, Battlefield conquest works with a ticket system, tightly bound to the relation of ally/enemy flags captured and kills made by either faction. Contrary to a death-match mode, kill’s carry less overall weight in round progression, and is more closely bound to an individual’s score than the progression of a game.

Ticket bleeding is a term for decreasing ticket count on a side, and it has various causes and contributing factors. The goal of conquest is to keep your team’s tickets higher than the enemies count, but as you will find out, in Battlefield, the best defense, is offence. It is a good strategy to always have more than half the total flags on a map in allied possession, and for a duration that is sufficient. But keeping a central position is easier said than done. With constant enemy pressure and a relaxing  team, it would just be a matter of time before they push through. And so, having one or two squads trying to get a further flag can be sufficient to split enemy attention from one goal into two or more, and that may just give you the edge. This action can be used in reverse as well. Sometimes when in a tight spot, with one flag and waves of converging enemies, it may be beneficial to leave the defense momentarily and capture a flag far from enemy attention. This will open up some opportunities for further offence, and lessen the load on your ‘super suppressed’ buddies at the home flag.

Lastly: Some people argue that chasing kills, and not flag objectives, is a rewarding and acceptable tactic; I beg to differ. Having one or no captured flags may not influence a players own score immensely, and does give some opportunity for kills and thus score, but conquest is designed around capturing flags, not kill count. As a result, someone playing conquest correctly can have a far greater score than another player who, for example, plays as a camping recon, even if this sniper has 20 more kills than him. And more often than not, that guy rushing flags has 20 kills more than that recon unit, because he’s where the actions at, and not on a rock in the distance.

So, now that you know what works and what works better, we can start getting into how you can achieve your goal. There are hundreds of things a player can do to give him or his team the edge in conquest, but following are a few of the core basics you need to grasp to set things in motion, and give you the opportunity to, in time, refine and devise your very own game winning tactics.

The mini map is regularly underestimated in its ability to assist a player in regular conquest. On servers that have more than 16 players on both sides, looking at the mini-map regularly will help more than looking over the barrel of your gun.

The mini-map displays the position of friendlies, and enemies, the latter only visible when shooting or spotted. Marking enemies with a quick tap on ‘Q’ while they’re in scope, greatly benefits your team in many ways. Firstly, the player that spots an enemy infantry unit or vehicle before they are destroyed instantly receives 10 points to their total. Marking units that are either too many or too far for you to kill allows closer players the tactical advantage over your foes, making the chance of offensive, or defensive success all the greater. Marking allows you to keep track of moving, hard-to-see, or well camouflaged units, allowing quick reaction when they appear again. In terms of the mini-map, spotting helps to quickly populate a seemingly empty area with potential targets or places to avoid (for now), helping you ‘see’ them even when you can’t see them.

All in all, the mini-map and spotting is an easy-to-use and legitimate tool to help give you and your team the edge.

Too many times have I joined a squad where each man is either on his own mission (the sniper on rocky slopes), or selfish (like stealing my kit instead of reviving), or rude (drive away with the buggy when I asked for a ride). The thing players need to realize is that playing in a squad is ten times more effective and rewarding than being a ‘thorn’ in the side of society. Even a squad with relatively inexperienced players can make a massive difference to their own score and a rounds outcome if they grasp and apply proper squad game-play.

To illustrate: Imagine a full squad, two assault units, one support unit, and one engineer unit on a large conquest map like Caspian Border. They can potentially keep playing for the whole round without having to re-spawn for ammo, or another kit (your squad already has one or more of the three frontal classes), and when killed, there is big chance of at least one assault unit still active in your squad, sporting a potential K:D saving revive.

Squads come with other perks too. At a certain level, a player receives perks that don’t only apply to their unit, but the whole squad. Perks like ammo, grenades, suppression, cover, explosives etc., all help in giving your squad the edge in a face-off against another. It doesn’t make sense to have more than one of the same perks active in a squad, as they don’t stack, and are thus rather useless. A good load-out can really benefit a squad and its individual members either when in a tight spot (here ‘cover’ would help), or when they or on the offensive (here ‘suppression’ is applicable).

Sometimes playing in a proper squad isn’t practical, like when on a public server with no one but a few guys messing around or base raping, but when you can and when the opportunity arises, give proper squad play a chance, and see the benefits. A good idea is to join a public or clan-based voip (voice over ip) server, as available on Teamspeak, Ventrillo or Mumble, and from there join a match and a squad with people you can easily communicate with. (In-game chat feed is useless with tactics.)  If you haven’t done this already, I promise you will find a whole new dimension in gaming, and one that is much more challenging, rewarding, social and fun than playing with only the sound of the soft rumble of your PC’s fans, and the impersonal sounds of war generated by Battlefield.

Contrary to what many believe, Battlefield is more about strategy than running and gunning, or millisecond reactions as applicable in the titles Modern Warfare, Crysis, HALO and the like.

Out-thinking an enemy player can allow you the chance to shoot (or better, knife) another, even if they are a better shot. To illustrate: Running towards a enemy crouched behind a rock, and aiming his scopes at your face, is a stupid tactic. Rather shift his attention to another position by chucking a grenade behind a bush, or waiting for a far off team mate to wave his arms and say ‘over here’. This time gap allows you to swiftly flank the enemy, and make the kill, or if chance allows, go in for the knife. It’s thinking that increases you chances of escaping a close-by tank, and wit that lets you baffle the guy that lies waiting for you, when really you went the other way,  now proceeding to claim his dog-tags.

As a final note I include some general tips than can either help you, the individual, or the team. There are far too many to mention all so I’ll stick to those most useful, or often overlooked.

  • Dropping health and ammo packs at the right place at the right time is very rewarding. Not only does your team benefit by a well-placed pack, but score-wise, packs can be a jackpot in the waiting. Remember, only the first pack set in an area is active (used). If there are 10 packs in a heap, and yours wasn’t there first, you’re not getting anything, or helping anyone. Packs are easily destroyed, so when a grenade destroys the packs close to the window/door/corner you shoot from, make sure you are the first one to drop a replacement, giving you the associated benefits.
  • Relevant camouflage is more useful than you may think. Most people still play with default load out camo, and generally it’s fine, but camo that caters for specific environments or maps can make a difference to your livelihood. Wearing black spec-ops camo in a desert map like Operation Firestorm is not recommended, whilst the desert camo can help you slip away beneath the prying eyes of elevated snipers. With the premium package boasting special camo assignments, there are now even more options to choose from. Compare the pattern and color of a set with the environment to find a match. There really is something for everywhere.
  • A well-placed grenade can make the difference between 3 suppressed enemies and 3 dead ones. Time your grenade tosses, and aim them well. Suppression is nothing when you can get kills with the same effort.
  • Do the dodge. Anything from a series of sniper shots, to tank shells, to pistol bullets, and  (believe you me) even an assault rifle volley can be dodged to a certain degree. It won’t always work, and you’ll often end up hurt, suppressed or both. But when you are surprised by an unknown enemy or a sudden volley of rifle fire, doing the dodge can save your life and allow you to kill the enemy upon their reload. Dodging is more an art than a science (in other words you’ll have to figure out what works best), but it usually entails a lot of jumping, running and side-stepping, ending in a spectacular prone (although prone is best used when seeking cover from long-range attack). When doing close-range dodging remember that the enemy will eventually run out of ammo and would have to reload, so don’t shoot back when dodging (you’re suppressed anyway). Wait for him to have his fun, and then put him out of his misery. A good practice is to move sideways while in direct confrontation with the enemy at close range, but this takes getting used to (you need to adapt your aim). Nevertheless, it’s beneficial.
  • Anticipate enemy movement.  If a map consists of 5 flags, and the enemy has two, the obvious choice for attack is the allied flag closest to their external flag. Thus don’t camp “in waiting” at an unthreatened flag when it’s certain the battle is at another.  Believe me, I’ve seen people camping at home flag for the entire a round, while the battle is being fought far on the front lines. Yet, if you know a sneaky guy just para-dropped behind your lines, by all means, go give him a homely welcome party.
  • Using hip-fire at close range is much more effective than first laying aim before firing. When surprised by an enemy, in cases like turning a corner or entering a building, a quick spray of hip-fire is a much faster (and thus better) method than using a scope. At close range Battlefield becomes much more like the run-and-gun reaction speed games I spoke of earlier, all too well proven in the newest DLC release: Close Quarters.

I’ve left out many things that you have already discovered or will still discover in playing Battlefield, and I’ve included many things you may take as common sense. But I hope this basic guide can help you see the effect that proper tactics, strategy and planning can have on the course of a round, and the score you are awarded.

At whatever level you are, remember that Battlefield is a game where each person has to find their own way to become accomplished. So should your intention be recreation, progression, or simply doing one round at your friends’ place; applying these tips could improve your performance, and help make your time in Battlefield, the best it could be.

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