I know I harp on this, but as I play this game so regularly I see first hand that I can’t really harp on it enough. Battlefield 3 is a squad-based tactical FPS. Whether you like the squad interface or hate it, bemoan the lack of VOIP or understand it doesn’t exist because VOIP is inherently broken, it’s hard to dispute the fact that a team with well-rounded squads working together will dominate every map, every time. No only that but squads that work together invariably get more points, their individual members tend to get higher scores, and everyone gets that fantastic green ribbon with the death’s head on it. It also leads to more fun during your time in game if your squad is working together and playing the objective.
With that said, I’d like to lay out a few of the strategies and tactics for squads, squad leaders and squad members. Some of these I learned in BF2, evolved through Bad Company 2, and finally adapted to BF3. They all play a little differently and squad tactics have, by default, changed over time with these games.
You are a squad leader, so act like it! I can’t count how many times I’ve jumped in a match, joined a squad, only to find myself stuck with a squad leader that is either long-range sniping, in a one-man vehicle, afk, or just running around with no rhyme or reason. I generally leave these types of squads, or I ask the squad leader to do his job and see what happens. Usually I’m met with silence, or some jerkish response having to do with them not caring and only playing for themselves. Sorry guys, if you are playing this game just for yourself, stick to TDM or go play something else, honestly.
So, what makes a good squad leader? Well, there’s an old adage I learned back in my BF2 days that has stuck with me and remains true today. A squad leader with a high score, isn’t doing his job. That still holds true, though you can have a much higher in BF3 compared to BF2 because of all the spawn points, and teamwork points. You should still have a relatively low kill count, but also an equally low death rate if you are doing your job.
First and foremost, call flags. I know the communication in BF3 isn’t as good as BF2, but it’s not completely broken (except for the current squad leader bug they are working on), so use it. Call flags, mark enemies, warn people about tanks, etc. Tell your squad where you need them and what you need. Pay attention to kits, and ask your squad mates to work together with a mix of kits and squad perks. The last thing you need is a squad of engineers if it’s not a vehicle map. Even if it is, your engineers need ammo, and health, and a soflam doesn’t hurt.
Second, be mobile, stay hidden, and be a spawn point. Part of your job is to remain alive and help your squad get on the objective. This is the part where your kill count should be low. Unless you are silenced, and hidden, and taking guys out that can’t find you, you should be staying still and quiet close to a flag so your guys can get on you and get in there. Once they are on the objective and cleared it, get in and help them take it. I’m guilty of not following this one all the time, as I tend to play aggressive, but there are times where I will just act as a spawn point and keep my butt out of the fight. Even if you are a sniper laying down a spawn beacon, you want to stay alive in case the enemy finds it. It makes noise remember. Also, if you are going to be a squad leader and a sniper, please play close combat, or run with an RPD or shottie. Nothing is more frustrating than spawning on your SL and being 600 meters from the flag he wants you to take.
The above also relates to vehicle use. A squad leader should never be in a single person vehicle unless it’s to get his butt to an objective fast and get out so his squad can spawn on him. It was a common tactic back on BF2, the SL would tell his mates not to spawn until he said go, jump in a jet, fly out to a far flag, jump out and give the spawn order. Suddenly a flag deep in enemy territory has a squad of troops popping up around the one guy that just landed there. Other than that if you are going to fly, or drive AA the entire map, give up the SL position to someone else, or lock yourself in your own squad so no one is looking for you to play your role in the game.
Just like the SL has a job so do the squad members, and since BF3 doesn’t have the same type of communication options that previous editions had, you have a little more responsibility. Your SL can’t always call out flags, due to game bugs. Keep this in mind and pay attention, stick with him, and use your best judgement to figure out what his plan is. You can be sure though, if three of your squad members, including the SL, are at A, and you are taking D, you misread his intentions big time. When in doubt, ask. Not always perfect, sometimes language barrier, or someone not paying attention, or just not wanting to type, can break down text communication in BF3, but try anyway.
Part of your responsibility, along with paying attention, is making sure you are part of a well-rounded squad. Find out what kits your SL needs, or try not to duplicate your other squad mates unless the map or tactics require it. Try not to duplicate squad perks either. Talk to your squad mates, and work out what each of you should be running to get the most bang for your buck. Stick close, watch each other’s backs, call out enemies, and keep each other alive to get those objectives and help your team win.
Finally, if even after all this, you are still selfish enough to only be worrying about your score/points, keep in mind, you get more points overall if you work with your squad instead of just for yourself. With assist points, capture points, heal, revive, repair, resupply, spot bonuses…the list goes on, you tend to get more points in the long run from these if you are with a squad as opposed to camping on your own out in some remote part of the map. Don’t get me wrong, I like my score as much as the next guy, and a lot of times I’m working to unlock or complete some kit, or get some award, but if I’m going for sniper kills and my SL needs support I switch. Also if I’m running recon for the sniper points, but the map calls for fast and close combat, I equip a PDR or shottie. Adapt to the map, work with your squad, pay attention, and I guarantee you will wind up with higher scores per map than you would alone.
Finally here are a few tactics I’ve picked up in these games, and in real life training, that have helped make squad play fun and full of win. Watch each other’s backs, maintain spacing, check your corners. This is pretty standard squad tactics anywhere you go. They are used by real life military units and they translate well into the game. Watch each other’s backs, when you are moving, or covering a point, don’t all be facing the same direction unless you see the enemy. Again, when you are moving, or covering a point, watch your spacing. If one grenade or well-placed rocket would kill more than one of you, you are too close together. Check your corners…when you round a building, walk through a doorway, or enter a new location, check all those places a person could be hiding.
Shoot and move, leap-frog tactic. This one is harder if your squad isn’t using a voice chat, but it’s a great tactic when you are. Another real life strategy, it involves half your group laying down suppression fire, while the others move ahead. Then the movers stop, lay down suppression fire while the other half moves. This procedure is repeated until you overcome your objective. This tactic works better in this game than any other due to the actual suppression feature that hasn’t existed in any other game. Laying down cover fire has a real and tangible advantage in BF3.
Use common sense on vehicles. Repair guys get out and repair while the other guy covers in the main or secondary gun. If you are playing rush and using a tank or the amtrak to get to an objective, the gunner should always stay in while everyone else gets out and plants/covers the M-Comm. Constanly ping targets while in a vehicle so the other guy sees them too, you might miss a shot that he can get with a different weapon or from a different angle. Here again, listen to your SL. If the order of the day is to move fast and take flags, only use jeeps/quads and move fast. You aren’t helping if three of your squad mates move to a flag in a jeep and you show up after they have moved on because you were driving a tank. Oh, and if you are in a weapon that has no chance against another vehicle, don’t draw their attention. So many times I’ve been killed when my jeep gunner opens up on a tank, or the attack chopper.
I could probably go on all day, but I think these basics will get you started toward having fun in BF3, ensuring everyone else has fun, and getting tons of ace squad ribbons. I can’t guarantee you will always get ace squad, unless your squad is the only one working together. If that’s the case you will be all the other squads hands-down. Get out there and play the objective!