As the Battlefield 4 Open Beta comes to a close, I feel it's about to time to start sharing my thoughts on the latest entry in the franchise and what I think lies in its future. There is no doubt in my mind that Battlefield 4 will pan out much better than 3 did, and I'm excited for the full release. But, that's another post for another time. Today, I'm going to go over some basic tips to help tide the battle in your favor no batter how bad the situation (or your teammates) are.
Editor's note: AA in this article stands for Anti-Armor not Anti-Air
Posted by: Consecrated
1. Owning the Streets
It's no secret that Battlefield is known for it's vehicles. And that doesn't change with Battlefield 4. However, in this installment, properly using vehicles can quickly turn the match over in your favor if done properly. Each Squad should have at least 1 engineer at all times, especially if your squad has control of a vehicle.
With the ability to both repair and deal serious damage to vehicles, an Engineer should almost always be near a vehicle. The Vehicles responsibility is to provide cover for the Engineer so he can focus on AA infantry and keeping an eye out for flanking armor. If he goes down and there's not a medic nearby, that can be 10 seconds you couldn't afford. So, when you're noticing your armor is low, make both your lives easier and RETREAT. Learn to memorize shell/rocket reloads as once you're in the 25% mark, unless the enemy hasn't fired yet, you can duck behind one of the tower's for cover. Siege on Shanghai is perfect for 1 on 1 armor fights where you can use the many offices and buildings for cover to get a quick repair and jump right back out in battle.
Same for engineers, learn to know when it's time to hop out of the gunner seat and start repairing. Position yourself out of enemy view as much as possible, and keep an eye out for flanking AA. If you notice you're about to die or you're outnumbered just hop back in the tank (if a seat is open) and tag and kill. If the vehicle is full, sprint to the other side, the nearest building, or just take as many lives with you to hell! Remember, the engineer/tank synergy is almost required if you want to win in this map, as tanks can quickly wipe out entire teams that aren't properly equipped to counter.
2. Owning the Sky
Another staple of Battlefield games, the current beta only has helicopters to deal with. And when I say deal with, I mean fear run and hide and PRAY the pilot didn't see you. As it stands, helicopters handle much better than they did in 3, allowing for more advanced pilot maneuvers and the ability to dominate a capture point with little resistance.
The beta is the perfect time to practice your armchair piloting. Take the time to learn the new physics and movement for the helicopters and soon you'll be strafing buildings wiping out entire sniper nests on rooftops with ease. More than ever, helicopters tend to last more than 1 minute which means both land players and those flying in the air must constantly be aware of an opposing heli.
A good tactic is to harass C if your team doesn't own it. When the skyscraper is up, strafe the rooftop (I suggest having the side guns mounted in the helicopter if you can convince people to do so), and dip below the roof level to avoid rocket fire. If/when C is toppled, take advantage of hovering just off the south shore, taking out both land and sea infantry attempting to capture the point. This can effectively lock out the enemy from a spawn point that allows them easy access to both sides of the map.
3. Owning the Sea
Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze River which means naval combat is important. Because A, C, and E are all easily accessed by sea, naval domination is a must if you want to win.
Capturing C gets you a boat to use in the water, which can be handy for harassing the shore lines and preventing swimmers from crossing the border...I mean crossing your territory and invading C. You can also use the PWC, or Jet Skis for civilians like us, to zip across the ocean to get to a capture point with almost no resistance. They're fast, handle like shit, and almost no one knows they exist. I suspect this will change when the game comes out, but for now, use them to your advantage to get a group of 4 on 2 deep in enemy territory for a surprise cap (A/E depending on your side).
But the winner of the Beta is the LAV/ZBD-09. Holy shit, these vehicle dominate. Equipped with 25mm cannons, a HMG, and multiple firing windows, these vehicles scream "here comes the pain". Load one of these fuckers up, hop in the ocean, and you have the equivalent of the Kraken owning the sea and striking fear into players hearts everywhere. Since they are both amphibious you can use the LAV/ZBD-09 to quickly jump from A, B, C, D, and E within half a minute, taking the river to bypass high traffic Anti Armor sectors like the bridge and almost all of the US territory. And trust me, nothing is more satisfying than rolling up to C and blasting the fuck out of everyone camping the gravel filled island and laughing as the entire enemy team posts "wtf kill that fucking boat". Except you're not a boat, you're a fucking angel of death sent to reclaim the souls of the living no matter WHAT THE COST. Oh, and they do pretty good as troop transport too on land, if that's your thing...
4. Following the Leader
New to Battlefield 4, 5 man squads means more variety for each squad's classes and more chances to control certain parts of the map. And with every squad comes the responsibility of a squad leader. The beauty of having small squads instead of 64 players running around is FOCUS. If you have at least 4 decent squad leaders in game, your chances of winning will increase 30% at least. I calculated that percentage out of my ass, but let me explain.
The squad leader is responsible for communicating and assigning orders. I almost always recommend the squad leader be the most focused on capturing objectives and not making kills. If you don't want the responsibility of handing out orders and being there for each capture (or defense), then please make someone else in the squad leader. You can focus on your KDR then while the rest of the team takes the map over.
Being a squad leader means being aware of your mini map- keep track of which points are being captured, which points are being contested, and where your squad is in general to the nearest capture point. If your whole squad is at A, for example, don't send them to E just because someone else is capturing it. Unless your plan is a sneak attack, most likely defending your territory or moving up to B/C is a better choice as it prevents your squad from stretching and keeps you close to hot territory that the enemy wants back. Try to request who needs what in the squad and what their best roles are. If you're an excellent assault player but notice the engineer in your squad isn't doing anything productive, swap over and pick up the slack. Remember, every squad should have 1 engineer and 1 assault for healing.
On the flip side, follow the orders of your squad leaders please. They're looking out for you so you can win. The game's UI is FULL of hints. Green arrows, audio cues, squad chat, mini map pop ups, FUCKING BIG ASS OBJECTIVE MARKERS AT THE TOP OF YOUR SCREEN. You can't miss it, and if you follow orders you'll gain more points than if you went loan wolf doing your own thing. A healthy squad with great teamwork can choke off the enemy's territory by capping their first 2 points, leaving them spawning at home base and making the long trek to A/E.
5. Learning the UI
Last but not least, learning the UI can make you battle aware and help you take initiative and focus on the task at hand. Let's take a look at a screenshot from my latest game in BF4
The green guy in the heli? That's my squad leader, who isn't leading the squad. Unfortunately this is the general truth of playing pub games without clansmen or team players. But alas, this is about the UI. Learn to understand the different icons per class: + is Assault, the wrench is Engineer, the ammo is Support, and the reticule is the Sniper. Green guys are your squad, blue is your team mates, and red is the enemy.
As you can see in the lower left corner, the BF4 Beta minimap is much more pronounced. Every time someone calls out for help say "Need Ammo" or "I need a medic!", they flash on the minimap as well as in your peripheral view for about 10 to 15 seconds. This means you don't have to spam commands while playing and usually someone will see that you need assistance and come give you a helping hand!
The new UI can be a bit, abrasive, at times though. Often when you're in a highly populated area your screen can be bombarded with tons of little class, drop, and vehicle icons that it can be dizzying to focus on the enemy. For the time being, I suggest getting used to it or shrinking the ui in the menu, though there's not way to reduce the traffic. Maybe that will change in due time.
Tag all enemies and vehicles you see so you, and your team, can be aware of bogies in the area. I have mine mapped to "T" although I believe the default is "Q". Learn to tag, though, as it can mean life or death for someone who's running around a corner blind.
You can zoom in and out of the Minimap by pressing "N" and you can pull up a full screen minimap by pressing M or hitting esc. This can be useful for observing the immediate area or getting a broader picture if you're the squad leader. Also, not pictured, current objectives will have 4 green arrows around them, easily cutting their way through buildings so you can find your objective quickly.
Map spawning has changed slightly, you can click individual names to spawn on squadmates directly, or you can click their arrow on the map. You can spawn in team helicopters, and you can parachute out of C if the skyscraper is still standing.
Overall, as the beta comes to a close, one thing is for certain: Battlefield 4 is an evolution not a revolution. And that's okay. I enjoyed BF3, and after playing BF4, I have a feeling I'll be spending multiple nights staying up late, and multiple mornings with eye drops and coffee. If you haven't had the chance, hop in before 10/15/13 to see what all the fuss is about!
I'll see you on the battlefield