10 tips and tricks to become a better Battlefield 3 player
Battlefield is back. Veterans and newcomers alike are flocking to DICE’s trademark take on combined arms warfare, and already the digital body count is greater than any war in the history of mankind. It’s a lot of fun, but it can also be overwhelming: there are dozens of weapons and class abilities, a healthy assortment of vehicles, intricately detailed maps, and ten times as many unlocks as Bad Company 2. There’s a good chance you’ll be biting the dust a lot when you first log on, so I’ve compiled a few tip and tricks to help you get a leg up on your quest to dominate the Battlefield.
10. Start with small matches.
New players tend to rush for the biggest match size possible. On consoles this is just 24 players, but on PC it’s 64. Conquest Large is a sight to see, but it’s also the most difficult to play off the bat: there’s so much going on that it can be overwhelming, and you’re likely to die so often that you don’t get to do much between respawning. By playing 32-player matches on PC and 16 on consoles, you’re going to get shot at less and have fewer enemies to track, allowing you learn the maps and weapons quickly. As a side benefit, you’ll probably rack up more kills and thus unlock goodies faster.
9. Stick with your squad.
Battlefield has always been a team game first, and BF3 automatically puts everyone in a squad, typically consisting of four players. Every squad member can spawn on every other squad member, and by playing different classes you can more effectively support each other. Spawning on your squad is usually the best idea unless one of your control points is under attack; if nothing else, there’s power in numbers. On the other hand, try going it alone and you’re likely to run into enemy squads. 4-on-1 isn’t good odds, so stick with your buddies.
8. Focus on one class….
The classes in BF3 are fairly balanced, and each has a ton of unlocks. It’s tempting to constantly switch between them for the sake of variety, but when you’re starting out it’s best to pick a favorite class and play it most of the time. Not only will you learn to play it well, but you’ll reach the higher-end unlocks much faster than if you were spreading your time among the 4 classes, allowing you to have a competitive fallback when times are tough. If you’re not sure where to start, try the engineer: his carbine is almost as good as the assault’s rifle and more versatile than the support’s machine gun or recon’s sniper rifle, and his rocket launcher allows him to deliver powerful long-range damage to infantry and vehicles alike. Add in the ability to repair nearby vehicles and you have a class that can do pretty much anything.
7. ….but don’t hesitate to switch when the situation requires.
If the situation asks for a class that isn’t your favorite, go for it. If enemy tanks are attacking the M-COM station, spawn as an engineer; if snipers are pinning down your squad, spawn as a recon to counter-snipe them. And if everyone in your squad is support or engineers, spawn as an assault so you can heal and revive them.
6. Don’t waste your grenade.
Each soldier gets one grenade: it’s an instant kill if used right, and a missed opportunity if it isn’t. It’s tempting to throw you’re grenade in the general direction of the enemy and hope you get a free kill, but this doesn’t work nearly as often as you’d like, and you’ll be kicking yourself when you see a squad clustered nearby and are empty-handed. Wait till you know where the enemy is, give it a toss, and be prepared to rush in as soon as it goes off. The exception is the assault’s grenade launcher, the second unlock for the class: you get 4 projectile grenades, which is enough to fire a couple towards the sound of gunfire for a cheap kill. There’s a reason this was known as the “noob tube” in Battlefield 2.
5. Be prepared to use your knife.
When an enemy takes you by surprise at close range, the instinct is to hold down your trigger and pray you kill him before he kills you. Don’t. Hitting the melee keys activates a near-instant knife attack that’s a one-hit kill. Do this early and often; once you fall into the habit of shooting it’s that much harder to retrain yourself. I say this as someone who’s brought a gun to a knife fight and lost more times than I can count.
4. Take vehicles when they’re available.
There’s a reason there’s a limited number of vehicles on each map. While the jeeps are mostly for getting around quickly, the IFVs and tanks can wipe out an entire squad of infantry when used correctly. Other players are usually eager to be your gunner, and with your powers combined you are Captain Planet a force to be reckoned with. Aircraft aren’t as powerful as in previous Battlefields, but it can be useful in the right spots, and the steep learning curve means you’ll want to get as much practice with the helicopters and jets as you can.
If worse comes to worse, you can always bail out of your vehicle before it’s destroyed and fight at full health. Think of it as a 1-Up Mushroom.
3. Use a joystick or gamepad for planes.
If you’re playing on consoles, this is already taken care of for you, but most PC players will start out trying to fly planes with mouse and keyboard and rarely make it a minute in the air without crashing. The mouse doesn’t allow for continuous turning, and the keyboard doesn’t allow for the degrees of speed control you need to be a good pilot. The best solution is to use a joystick. If you don’t have one, no sweat: you can get a full-featured joystick for $34 or a basic-but-perfectly-usable stick for $14, usable for Battlefield 3 as well as the wide array of flight action and space sim games in the PC’s back catalog. If you don’t want a joystick, a gamepad also works well. They’re also an improvement for helicopters.
2. Keep your back to cover.
It may seem like you’d want to spend more time ducking behind cover, but A. You’re not going to get any kills that way, and B. Every map has multiple entry points to pretty much any location, and enemy players are eager to knife you in the back and steal your dog tags. By keeping your back to cover, you can engage approaching enemy targets without worrying about someone taking you out from behind. The exception is when engaging snipers at low range: you’ll want to stay behind cover until you can get close enough to take them out.
1. Play with friends.
For better or worse, Battlefield 3 has scrapped BF2’s in-game voice chat in favor of “party chat” with your friends. This means it’s a lot harder to coordinate with your team on a public server, but it also means a well-organized group of friends can dominate. In an informal survey, Gamespy found that “when a full four-player squad is partied up and working together communicating with mics, the amount of XP typically gathered in a single match was triple that of playing with randoms and not using voice.” You’ll perform better and probably have more fun on top of it.
If you’re playing on PC and have no friends who play, don’t fret. Join me in the Crabs on Wheels platoon, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son cap a lot of points and crack a lot of jokes.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be off to a good start. Remember to have fun, and don’t take grenades from strangers. You don’t know where they’ve been!