With Battlefield 3 having sold more copies at launch than all of the other games in the series combined, there are obviously going to be a lot of new players getting involved in the legendary BF multiplayer for the the first time right about now. This is a good thing. New blood and new people with whom to share the rich tapestry of incendiary wonders that is Battlefield. Positive stuff.
But Battlefield can be confusing at first. Over-awing, in fact. There are many things you need to learn to do, and many thing to need to learn to absolutely not do ever. It isn't like other multiplayer shooters, but its rewards are much greater. So I've compiled here a crash course of tactics, tricks, etiquette and basic good Battlefield manners to make sure that you're both useful and well-liked in the fight. It'll make you better at Battlefield, and it'll make you a better human being overall.
1. Don’t fly the chopper if you can't fly the chopper
Seriously, don’t do it. I know it’s tempting to sprint from your base deployment directly to that big shiny whirly-bird ahead of you the very first time you play Battlefield 3 online. You want to be the cool one. You want to be the soaring, unseen killer. You want to be the guy raining flame and death from above in your nigh-impervious, vengeful sky-chariot. You want to be the guy who gets the chirpy salutes and earnest, meaningful, slow nods from your team, as you fly away into the sunset knowing that once again it was your safe transportation that got your men where they needed to go, and got them there safe.
But seriously, those things are a f*cker to control at first, and if you don’t get some solo practice in before you set yourself up as the bus driver of the heavens you’ll just plough your entire squad down into a barbeque of twisted metal and disappointment within seconds of lifting off. And that’s going to give the group respawn a really bloody awkward atmosphere.
2. Don't drive off in the jeep if it isn’t full
There’s a reason it has multiple seats. If you hear gunfire coming from behind you as you speed from your base the second after your battle-eager arse hits the driver’s seat, it’s not because the enemy have suddenly appeared. It’s because you’ve accelerated an empty car away from a few prospective wing-men who don't have head-sets, just as they got close enough to see the ‘Enter vehicle’ button prompt. And they’re now really, really pissed off with you. And they’re right to be. You’re a twat.
Oh yeah, treat a jeep as a special personal transportation meant just for you if you want to. But good luck when an unexpected hail of gunfire leads to a flaming radiator and you realise that you left your vehicle-fixing Engineer jogging along in your dust three quarters of a mile back.
3. Don't f*ck with a tank unless you have heavy explosives
Don’t. Just don’t. If you’re not carrying anything in the way of C4 or rockets, treat the incoming rumble of caterpillar tracks as you would the sound of a volcano beginning to erupt underneath your feet. A tank cannot be bargained with. It cannot be reasoned with. It absolutely will not stop, ever, until it has mulched you into fertiliser and posted you back to your mum with a note saying “HA HA!” in really big lettering so that she has a cry. And it won’t even care.
Seriously, pick your battles. There’s enough going on at any point in a Battlefield game that you can always fall back, regroup, and find a new purpose elsewhere. Or else team up with an Engineer, come back properly equipped (having spotted the tank to track him), and blast that f*cker to Pluto before mopping up his stinking, cowardly crew as they bail out. They were going to make your mum cry. They deserve it.
4. Capture zones are bigger than you think
Don't assume that you have to be right on top of a flag in a game of Conquest in order to capture it. The viable area can actually be pretty big. Once you see the countdown ticker start, move around a bit to get a feel for where the boundaries lie. You'll find that you have more space, and therefore more cover options and more ability to set up a defensive perimeter than you might expect.
5. Respect your medic
Seriously. Your Assault guy can help you. Pay attention to him. If you knew the number of times I’ve chased down a troubled friendly squad in order to help them out, risking life and limb by sprinting through an unholy horizontal rain of lead in order to reach the building in which they’re hunkered down, only to have them ignore my medkits and immediately sprint out into yet another hail of gunfire and become immediately 100% less living… Well, you’d know a big number and it would make you feel sorry for me.
Pay attention to which classes are around you and act accordingly. They might be trying to help you. In fact if they’re even a half-decent Battlefield player, they definitely are.
6. Don't kamikaze with a tank
If you’re in a tank, you should know that it’s not just the blunt force implement it at first appears. Yes, it’s tempting to just wade up to an objective and start pummelling away until everyone, including yourself, is dead, but there’s not a great deal of point in that, especially if you’re on the attacking team in a Rush game. Remain stationary in a contested spot, and the opposing team will just roll in a tank of their own and initiate a pointless, attritional Mexican stand-off, in which both tanks have a 50% chance of losing, and in which neither battle-beast really does any overall good due to being forcibly tied up with fighting its opposite number.
No, as a tank driver, you want to be a rolling threat, there to intimidate clusters of the enemy away in order to pave the way for your ground troops. You want to scatter the opposition to allow your troops to more easily cement their presence at an objective, before you move on to herd around the wider fight as you see fit. See yourself as a big violent sheep dog. With massive guns. Do it that way, keep an Engineer on your crew for repairs, and you can have a long-term, persistent effect on the battle while seriously saving on the respawns. If you park up and just start firing, you’re simply turning yourself into a big flaming roadblock with a very limited lifespan.