“The Sweet 16”: BF3 Fundamentals
Multiplayer appetites are a cyclical phenomena it seems, and Battlefield 3 is on the menu again (listed right there next to pork scratchings). Listeners, long-time community members, and newcomers alike have all had their community-based “Wolfenstein craze” reignited by the Podcast crew’s enthusiasm for these so-called “epic BF3 sessions.” So much so, that an overwhelming number of them have found themselves repurchasing the game, forking over for Map Packs, or peeling the cellophane off a shiny new Premium Edition. But twenty-some-odd gigabytes of downloads and installs later, many have been left scratching their heads in confusion & cursing our names in frustration.
Whether you’re returning to the Battlefield after a long hiatus, have struggled with it in the past, or are putting the disc in the tray for the very first time, a few cursory but important fundamentals never hurt anyone. After all, the learning curve for BF3 is admittedly steep when compared to pick-up-and-play one-trick-ponies like Call of Duty. But it’s Battlefield’s added complexity & features that pay such dividends and make the epic battles and desperate firefights you’ve heard about all possible. There is arguably no comparison to the intensity, fun, & gratification of the cooperative teamwork involved in a proper tactical Battlefield session. And frankly, if you’re gonna rock the 360G Clan Tag, you’ll want to ‘represent’ right?
Let me be clear, I’m no Battlefield expert. Far from it. But I do have a pulse, a laptop to write this, access to the 360GamerCast website, a long history with the BF series, & it wouldn’t be the strangest thing in the world to find me at or near the top of the scoreboard from time to time. And you will be too if you follow these simple fundamentals & calculated considerations:
1. Beauty is Only Skin Deep
Install The HD Texture Pack that’s included on the disc. For eye strain, enjoyment, enhanced situational awareness, pixel perfect gunplay accuracy, & simply because you paid for the damn thing. You might as well use it.
2. Frostbite “Too”
Don’t jump into a game just yet. Visit the ‘Options’ menu first! Most gamers have a quick peek at the control scheme & perhaps adjust their aim preferences/sensitivity in every new game they try. Go ahead & do that here. But novice players might want to avoid overwhelming themselves with the control schemes for vehicles just yet. Let’s stay focused on the fundamentals. And in doing so, DON’T NEGLECT THE VIDEO & AUDIO settings. The BF series has won several awards for its sound design and you don’t wanna miss it. Might I suggest the “War Tapes” setting here. Adjusting your audio can also help clue you in to where those enemy rounds are being shot from. In addition to audio, the visuals of the game will need to be tweaked as well. For better or worse, Frostbite 2 is a very contrasty engine. Shadows turn to pitch black & highlights turn to blinding white with not much gradation in between. So sort out your happy medium or get used to not being able to see in dark rooms and sun stricken fields. I find that Plasma TV’s benefit from reducing contrast and increasing the brightness a bit. You can’t kill what you can’t see.
3. When you “Assault,” you make an “Ass” out of “u” and…
As you would “Create a Class” in COD, so must you configure your loadout in BF3. Go to “My Soldier > Customize.” You’ll notice rows of gear (kits) for the four classes on the left and a bloke on the right. (Incidentally, you’ll later customize your vehicle loadouts here using the right & left bumper tabs at the top). But we’re going to solely concentrate on the top row; the Assault Class. Why? Because the Assault Class is the most well rounded, versatile, familiar, easiest to learn/use/succeed with, & offers the ability to heal yourself, assist your team, & gain shite loads of XP in the process.
Highlight this top row and hit “A” for loadout. Great, that just brought up more bloody rows! Moving the thumbstick side to side scrolls through the locked and unlocked weapons and equipment available for this class. Don’t get your hopes up, there’s no SaintsRow3-style tactical purple dildo. They’ve missed a trick there. However there are a few things I’d recommend. You’ll want to unlock/equip one of these 3 primary weapons: M16A3, M416, or the F2000. “But I like the look of this gun H34CA5E. Why only those three?” Well hypothetical noob, simply put, the statistical attributes of these guns are advantageous over the others, they’re easier to learn/manage, and they’re widely known to produce the greatest success. Of the three it’s down to personal preference. If I had to suggest one, it would be the do-it-all M416. This is the real life firearm that ended Osama Been Hide’n.
While highlighting your chosen gun, click “A” for accessories. Lots of accessory trial & error await you but here’s some suggestions. As far as optics go, use either the Reflex [RDS], Kobra [RDS], or Holographic [HOLO] sights. Why? They’re FPS player-friendly & offer the best balance of speed, target acquisition, and accuracy. Plus, there’s an Aim Down Sights speed penalty for any sight with a greater magnification than these. Under the barrel of the gun, let’s attach a foregrip to this slot. This is going to add some much needed stabilization to your gun when aiming down the sights. And finally, I’d suggest adding a heavy barrel or flash supp(ressor) in the slot below that. The heavy barrel helps your shots maintain their damage and accuracy at range while the flash supp(ressor) helps with recoil & eliminates the beacon-like fireball coming out the end of you gun. I’d steer away from the the more advanced ‘full sound suppressor’ for now because it reduces damage at range and slows the velocity of each bullet often giving 1vs1 opponents the advantage.
On to selecting your sidearm. Reloading in BF3 takes a more “realistic” approach with lengthy animations. As with most military shooters, switching to a good sidearm in a hairy situation can be a life saver. I recommend the 93R, G18, or the M1911 Tact. The 93R is an automatic burst weapon with great accuracy. The G18 is a fully automatic machine pistol that can be difficult to tame but really slings the lead down range. And the M1911 Tact. is a high damage semi-auto pistol with a blinding tactical torch attached to it. The other unmentioned sidearms have their merit but require greater skill to master, are weaker, slower, have longer reloads, insane power/recoil, & are best suited for experienced players
Gadget slots are next. Gadget1 will need to be the Medic Kit itself. You’ll drop these on the ground in every spare second you have. Any teammate (and you, yourself) will regenerate health just by being in the proximity of one of these kits. And that translates to an arse-load of points for you, more time in-game rather than staring at a spawn screen, & rewarding teamwork. All of that just for littering bits of rubbish on the ground every chance you get. Gadget 2 should be the Defibrillator. In case your heath-regenerating med kits are too-little-too-late, simply approach your downed colleague (indicated by the Harry Potter style electrical bolt thingy over their body and on the mini-map) & zap that lazy git back to life! With the combination of health kits and defibrillator revives, it’s not uncommon for a good medic to propel their team to victory and reach the top of the scoreboard with nary a kill! This is WHY we’re specifically focusing on the Assault Class for entry level players.
Finally, the Specialization slot. This can greatly differ depending on which class you choose. For instance, an Engineer may select the ability to carry more explosives while a Recon class would have little need for this. For your Assault soldier, I suggest SQD COVR. BF3 has a suppression mechanic that emulates the real-world disorientation and panic a person would experience when getting shot at. In-game this translates to a pain-in-the-arse blurry/jumpy screen. SQD COVR reduces this effect letting you more easily spot who’s shooting at you and gives you a fighting chance at returning fire, killing him, and using his corpse as an impromptu cup of PG Tips. As you level up, these Specializations begin to benefit your whole 4-man squad. You can imagine the perks of having each player equipping a different one and sharing the compounded benefits.
4. Get Him to the “Geek”. Use the PC-style Server Browser!
The Quick Match feature is often anything but quick. Due to EA’s rent-a-server debacle, private admins are free to set game lengths (known as ticket counts) allowing games to last for ages. Thankfully you can use the Server Browser to search for the game mode and maps you’d like to play. Simply click the right-stick (Filter) and select the options you’d like. The list of servers will refresh and you’ll be free to scan the new list for official servers that say -[DICE]- in the title.
Conquest is essentially Call of Duty’s “Domination” mode on steroids, consisting of capturing and holding down several flagged areas on the map. Each map has its own pace depending on the number of flags and the distance between them. Rush mode, on the other hand (an attack/defend dichotomy that sequentially & progressively opens up the map as points are captured) is convoluted and somehow tarnished since the days of BFBC2 where it reigned supreme. So I highly suggest you stick with Conquest mode to learn the fundamentals of Battlefield.
6. “Squad” Down & Pick That Up For Me, Love
If you’ve been following along, your soldier is now pimped, you’ve used the server browser to get a good list of Conquest servers, found an official DICE one, and clicked Join. As the game loads, you are given a choice: Yes, put me in a squad or No, I’m a tw@t. Or something like that. The point is, you WANT to be in a squad. In fact, as soon as the game loads up you’ll be staring at your spawn/loadout screen. But before choosing your Assault Class and heading into battle, hit your “Y” button. This pulls up the Squad & Team menu showing the current squads on your team. Always join the fullest squad! (making it 4/4 ideally). Roll’n with a full squad gives you additional people to spawn on, greater coordination, more opportunities for scoring heals/revives, a better chance of winning, & an increased likelihood of getting that huge ‘top squad’ XP bonus.
7. Cover Your Mouth When “Spawning”
You’re now in the largest squad on your team, the Assault “+” symbol is highlighted, and you’re about to enter the game. You now get a choice of spawn points listed on the top-left of this entry screen. You can choose to spawn on any alive squadmate, any captured point, any empty/available vehicle seat, or your team’s base. The right choice is situational of course. I only mention these choices and the location of this list as many people have described a “where-the-f**k-am-I” sensation due to blindly hitting the respawn button without actively selecting an intended spawn point. Be aware and spawn strategically.
8. From “K/D” Middleton to Duchess Catherine
Ignore K/D (kill/death ratio). You heard me. You’re now in the game and people are fighting and dying… but are you winning? Battlefield is a Team-based game. No one will give a shite about the proverbial Own Goal you scored if your team is battering them and every cross you serve up gets scored by a teammate. Of course you’re gonna want to drop fools with fervor whenever possible, but focus on the objectives and assisting your team primarily. And try to forget about your K/D. You’re not 12, you’re presumably not grand wizard of the KKK, and in other words, this isn’t COD! Individual performance is great but the emphasis in BF is getting a win for the team. There is a saying in the BF community which has been abbreviated to PTFO. “Play The F**king Objective”. But don’t forget that “fun” is an objective too.
9. I “Recoil” at the Thought Sir!
Many players new to BF, or those who have been away playing other games, are shocked the first time they fire their weapon. BF recoil is a uniquely “realistic” twisting and jumping animal, and takes practice to master. Fire your weapon in bursts and reserve full auto and hip fire for short range emergencies. Also, remember that putting rounds downrange at targets is likely going to suppress those poor bastards with that blurry screen effect, thus helping your teammates finish them off and earning you assist points in the process.
10. Smash-in Their “Back” Doors
This should probably be No.1 in the list. You’re going to want to get used to hammering that back button on the controller. It essentially “spots” the enemy you’re looking at, adding his location to the mini-map, and an orange traffic cone above his head for your whole team to see. If someone else kills a player or vehicle you’ve spotted, you get points. In fact, when an enemy jumps out in front of me, I typically simultaneously spot them while shooting them. That way my teammates know who I’m shooting at, can assist, and in case I lose the 1-on-1, they can finish him off straight away. Additionally, squad leaders (little Star next to their names) can use the back button to issue attack/defend orders by simply pointing at a capture point. Effective use of back button Spotting mechanic is essential for cohesive team play and scoreboard climbing!
11. “Dpad” Dbags!
This one should probably be No. 2 in the list. You’re gonna need to work that Dpad. For the Assault class, the ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons dispense those medkits and equips the reviving defibrillator. Right-trigger is used for these Gadgets once equipped with the Dpad. ‘Down’ controls your fire mode (full auto or single shot). I only mention this in case you hit it accidentally. Leave it on full auto and use your trigger finger to control fire rate for now. Switching to single shot is an advanced technique for long-range engagements. ‘Up’ turns on/off any light or lasers you might choose to equip later. But remember to spam those health kits!
12. Don’t Revive Me Bro
The Defibrillator, with its enticing XP points and the Rambo Revive craze, has inspired entire BF communities and Podcasts known as “Don’t Revive Me Bro”. A Rambo Revive is when a medic (you) runs out into a death trap, revives a downed player only to get that player killed instantly again and more often then not, gets themselves killed too in an effort to squeeze out more revive XP points. DON’T DO THIS!. Winning the battle yields more points in the end and no one likes to play with these sh*theads. A revived player gets to choose whether to accept or reject a revive but a bad revive attempt just delays a much needed respawn. So use your head Rambo.
13. “Tanks” a lot H34DCA5E!
If you see a tank or enemy vehicle, spot it (back button), call it out verbally with your mic, strap on your big girl’s blouse, and run & hide. Your job in this case, as an Assault Medic practicing the fundamentals, is to be a mobile spawn point and a healer for the engineers equipped to deal with these vehicles. And you cant do that very well if you’re dead. Go figure.
14. Jack the Ripper
Knife kills in BF3 are uniquely different from other games. Unlike COD’s lunging insta-kill, a frontal knife attack in BF does jack squat (about 10 damage I believe). Knife kills are meant to be humiliating stealth attacks from behind or agile side-step counter attacks in extreme situations. The reward is a Halo-style assassination animation in which you brutally acquire the player’s dog tags. Right bumper is the default for this, you stick clickers.
15. “The Cockpit”, A Lovely Brighton Pub
Although we’re focusing on infantry, you WILL inevitably find yourself in and controlling a vehicle. And when you do, simply click the right-stick for 3rd person view for easy navigation and then click back to cockpit view to go to work with any applicable vehicle mounted weapon.
16. Mile High Club
When the temptation to try flying is too great and you’re ready to experiment, use EA’s greed to your advantage. There’s hundreds of servers just sitting there empty as EA collects the rental fee. Use the server browser to search for Conquest on a map like Caspian Border that has a good selection of vehicles and scroll down to the empty servers. Now you can crash, burn, and learn without your team suffering. This leads me to another tip. Avoid getting in any flying vehicle unless you are able to communicate directly with the pilot. Telling teammates when to bail out before a crash is a pilot’s duty… & most people can only perform one maneuver; a demonstration of gravity.
These are just some of the basics, the rudimentary fundamentals, and the prerequisites for initial success in my opinion. It’s not all of them, it’s not in-depth, and it’s certainly not advanced. But if you take note of these basic things, you’re sure to have more fun and success while learning the other more advanced aspects of this great game. We’ve only focused on one class, one setup, and one role in order to maximize a new(ish) player’s potential success. But the other classes, modes, and vehicles are not to be ignored. They are essential cogs in the BF microcosm and adept players are able to excel using all sorts of individualized roles. And now you’ll be able to employ these fundamentals when you too branch out and explore everything else BF has to offer. I’m off to Capture “B”. Feel free to leave comments below and I’ll see you on the Battlefield.