A Battlefield 3 mini-guide/tip collection on using tanks
As all of you know Battlefield 3 includes various tanks and other heavy vehicles with varying strengths, weaknesses and usable situations.
I was trained in my country’s defense forces as a 12-month peace-time conscript with a duty to drive a BMP-2 (of which’s modernized version is available in BF3). Alongside driving I was taught general tank use (the commanders role, the gunners role, the mechanics role and so on), tactics and overall military strategies.
I am not saying that my word will be the same as from someone who has served in war or trains tank crews, but hopefully my experience in peace time training missions and situations will be of use through this small tip collection.
Although Battlefield 3 is not a simulator, most of these tips do count even in virtual warfare. Some of these tips can even be utilized in infantry combat.
I hope to see some great tank operators in BF3. Enjoy!
(Note that english isn’t my first language so some typos and term mistakes may appear in this guide. Sorry!)
Use large obstacles to hide behind.
Big tanks need big obstacles behind which to hide. This may include large rocks, buildings, log piles, and so on. Trees and bushes are a good choice too, but offer little fire cover if your tank is spotted. Trees and bridges are the best cover against air enemies. Parking under a group of trees blocks the view for choppers and fighters. The smaller your tank's silhouette is, the harder it will be to hit and see.
Use terrain irregularities when moving.
If you have a choice to drive through a small sink or a larger ditch in the terrain use it. There is no reason to keep your tank visible on top if a hill. Find hidden routes to fire positions and you shall only be seen when using the fire position to lay shells on enemy tanks and positions. If you need to go high ground to scout, consider using your radio to command infantry to do the scouting for you before proceeding and giving away your position in the open.
Cross openings as fast as you can.
If you’re forced to move through a large opening (fields, highways, marketplaces, etc.) be sure to make it quick. With no cover and the possibility to hit you from all sides makes you a good target for the enemies.
Before charging off through the open area make sure you have found a good spot to rush towards. There’s no point in moving forward in the open with no idea where you should be going.
Keep your eyes open, there can be an anti-tank squad in the bushes.
No matter how big your tank is it can be blown to hell by a single anti-tank missle launched to the tank’s rear from a bush you just passed by. Keep your eyes open, even for infantry and smaller vehicles hiding in places near you. Look to the horizon and spot choppers before they spot you. Don’t forget to watch the road ahead of you, mines are a threat even when enemies are miles away.
If possible use the third person view of your vehicle to view the immediate surroundings of your vehicle, there might just be an engineer dropping mines under your tracks or drilling through your side armor.
Also, if being engaged by close-up infantry fire, think twice before leaving the tank by itself to engage your enemies on foot. Someone may grab the tank for themselves.
Keep your face towards your enemy during combat.
All tanks have weak spots. Most probably this means the sides and the back of the hull. During combat keep the front of the tank pointed towards the enemy to minimise received damage (the armor is the thickest on the face of the tank). Also when you keep the front towards the enemy you silhouette will be as small as possible, making you a smaller target. Remember to keep an eye on your tanks angle when positioned downhill. You could leave your tanks roof open for fire.
Slow down when firing your cannon.
Although modern tanks have advanced turret control and stabilization systems, no tank gunner can fire the most accurate shots as possible during rough rides. If you want to make sure you hit your enemies, halt for a moment when firing. This brings us to fire positions.
Use fire positions during combat.
Fire positions are positions where the tank can achieve the best shot at the enemy. In defensive combat fire positions can be planned and built in advance. During offensive combat fire positions must be found in the heat of battle.
Two earlier points are important here: large obstacles and terrain irregularities. The most optimal fire position includes cover, stability and a quick hidden entrance. This means that only the turret is visible (allowing the cannon to operate while the hull is hidden), the tank is not angled in any way (minimizes cannon inaccuracy) and the tank can enter the fire position from a hidden route (surprise element). Using fire positions allows the tank to stay in cover (or in immediate vicinity of one) while laying fire on enemies.
Of course not all those points can be covered in a single fire position, but are the main things to look for.
Fire positions are not meant to be camping spots, once you use a fire position your enemies will know exactly where to fire the next time. Find as many fire positions as you can and switch between them randomly.
Pick the right targets to shoot at.
If you have a choice to select from a few targets you can as yourself these questions:
Always go for the target you can neutralize, knock out for a few moments or poses an immediate threat to you. IFVs can’t handle large battle tanks, but are quite effective against lighter vehicles, infantry and even choppers. Large battle tanks should not be used directly at infantry (aside from the machine gun mounted on them), but can blow in buildings and other fortified positions. If two tanks are in sight but only one is engaging you, you should engage back to minimize the chance of you being knocked out.
- Will my cannon be effective against the target? No point in trying to penetrate the armor of a large battle tank with your smaller cannon.
- Which enemy’s silhouette is the largest? Increase the chances of actually hitting your target.
- Can I hit a side or even the back of an enemy tank? Always fire on the weakest spots of your target.
- Should I go for the infantry? If the infantry poses a threat to you or your team mates by using anti-tank measures you should keep it in your list of targets. Still you need to weigh in the other targets and their importance. If a foot soldier is grabbing a RPG and aiming at you that is the target you should be shooting instead of the tank aiming away from you.
- Should I try to take out the chopper? If the chopper poses and immediate threat to you and have no other target choices, then yes. You can try and use the main cannon to take one out, but takes extreme precision and a cool head. If possible keep the chopper busy with your machine gun and let your friends take care of it. If you're facing other targets you need to be sure your best target is the chopper before proceeding. No point in wasting ammo and time on a target you can't hit when three visible enemy tanks are aiming at you.
- Do I have friendlies helping out? Coordinate and select targets that fit everyone. Arrange concentrated fire and help out smaller tanks engaging larger ones. Order anti-air capable units to engage choppers and jets and use infantry to spot your enemies for you.
Back off when you’re damaged.
Always stay updated on your tanks condition. Even if everything seems alright you may have someone bigger coming against you who can just take you out with a single shot. If you’re damaged and the situation allows you to, back off a little to a covered position to fix up your tank. If possible be an engineer or carry along one to fix it.
Battlefield 3 features an EOD bot which you can use to automatically repair your vehicle. Just make sure one is following you whenever possible.
Work with others.
You have your team mates to help you and they have you to help them. Never forget to let others know of your situation, be it combat or upcoming threats you’ve just seen. Use your radio to send and ask for information.
Never work alone. Nothing is more idiotic than taking your tank straight to the enemy without backup. You’ll be blown to bits before anyone even notices you left. Take a quick look behind you to check if you’ve got anyone covering your advancing. Make sure to do the same to others.
Tanks and infantry work best when combined. Infantry are great spotters and tanks help infantry with great fire power and covering fire.
Rely on air support when the enemy grows strong. Designate targets which you can’t destroy or get access to for the choppers and fighters to engage. Be sure to let them know of possible anti-air armament locations.
Know where you are and where you are going.
Never move without a plan. A plan can be a control point, a fortification or an enemy tank. Headless race driving around the terrain will get you somewhere, but not as well as a good planned trip would. Be aware of you current position and your team mates’ positions. Coordinate your moves and destinations. Everyone needs to know where they are going and what lies there. Use your map and plan accordingly.
Information about unlockables
Battlefield 3 features unlocks for many things such as weaponry, items and vehicles. Here are listed some unlock information regarding tanks. In case you see mistakes (names are a bit off, wrong slots, wrong point counts, etc.) please reply with a correction! Thanks.
Main battle tanks (M1 Abrams and T90-A)
Unlock Slot Points needed Description 1. IR smoke Gadget 800 pts Aids in keeping your tank hidden (no laser designation and harder to spot) and misguides enemy fire (guided missiles, etc.) 2. Coaxial LMG Weapon 2 100 pts Allows you to switch between your main cannon and a secondary light machine gun 3. Autoloader Upgrade 4 400 pts Increases main cannon's reload speed 4. Zoom optics Gadget 7 600 pts Provides an enhanced zoom to your main cannon and coaxial machine guns 5. Maintenance Upgrade 12 000 pts Decreases the time needed to repair your vehicle 6. Coaxial HMG Weapon 17 700 pts Allows you to switch between your main cannon and a secondary heavy machine gun 7. Proximity scan Upgrade 24 700 pts External sensors detect and reveal enemy positions near you on your minimap 8. Guided shell Weapon 33 200 pts A "fire-and-forget" shell used to engage laser designated targets, even when the target is out of sight 9. Thermal optics Gadget 43 200 pts Allows you to spot enemy targets more effeciently with IR optics 10. Thermal camo Upgrade 54 800 pts Increases the difficulty of spotting your tank and decreases the time your vehicle remains spotted on the enemy map 11. Canister shell Weapon 68 100 pts A shotgun-like close quarter combat shell used with your main cannon 12. Reactive armor Upgrade 83 200 pts A one time use enhanced armor for absorbing impacts from anti-tank weaponry 13. CITV station Gadget 100 000 pts A third crew position for using target laser designation and proximity scanning
(Thanks for CRTurtle for the list.)
Infantry Fighting Vehicles (LAV-25 and BMP-2M)
Description 1. IR smoke Gadget 800 pts Aids in keeping your tank hidden (no laser designation and harder to spot) and misguides enemy fire (guided missiles, etc.) 2. ATGM launcher Weapon 2 300 pts A wire-guided missile against armored enemies 3. Belt speed Upgrade 4 700 pts Allows you to fire faster with your main gun 4. Coaxial LMG Weapon 8 300 pts Allows you to switch between your main cannon and a secondary light machine gun 5. Thermal optics Gadget 13 100 pts Allows you to spot enemy targets more effeciently with IR optics 6. Proximity scan Upgrade 19 200 pts External sensors detect and reveal enemy positions near you on your minimap 7. Zoom optics Gadget 26 900 pts Provides an enhanced zoom to your main cannon and coaxial machine guns 8. Maintenance Upgrade 36 000 pts Decreases the time needed to repair your vehicle 9. APFSDS-T shell Weapon 47 000 pts An armor-piercing and fin-stabilized shell for penetrating armor without an explosive effect 10. Thermal camo Upgrade 60 000 pts Increases the difficulty of spotting your tank and decreases the time your vehicle remains spotted on the enemy map 11. Guided missile Weapon 74 000 pts A laser guided missile launcher that works with SOFLAM 12. Reactive armor Upgrade 90 000 pts A one time use enhanced armor for absorbing impacts from anti-tank weaponry
Anti-air vehicles (LAV-AD and 9K22 Tunguska)
Description 1. IR smoke Gadget 400 pts Aids in keeping your tank hidden (no laser designation and harder to spot) and misguides enemy fire (guided missiles, etc.) 2. Anti-air missile Weapon 1 200 pts Missiles that lock to and track enemy aircrafts 3. Belt speed Upgrade 2 500 pts Allows you to fire faster with your main gun 4. Zoom optics Gadget 4 400 pts Provides an enhanced zoom to your main cannon and coaxial machine guns 5. Proximity scan Upgrade 7 000 pts External sensors detect and reveal enemy positions near you on your minimap 6. Thermal optics Gadget 10 000 pts Allows you to spot enemy targets more effeciently with IR optics 7. Air radar Gadget 14 000 pts Increases the range of your minimap and reveals enemy and friendly aircrafts 8. Maintenance Upgrade 19 000 pts Decreases the time needed to repair your vehicle 9. Thermal camo Upgrade 25 000 pts Increases the difficulty of spotting your tank and decreases the time your vehicle remains spotted on the enemy map 10. Reactive armor Upgrade 32 000 pts A one time use enhanced armor for absorbing impacts from anti-tank weaponry
Thanks for reading
As I get my hands on BF3 I could probably come back and update the guide once I get to play some more. Current tips are quite general and have little BF3 specific stuff, but I'll probably update this one to include some BF3 specific things later on. The current guide most probably has some mistakes in it. I’ll be fixing them if I find them or someone spots them for me.
If anyone has suggestions and additions feel free to post them and I’ll add them in if they fit somewhere.
UPDATE (25.10.2011): Added a few points on keeping an eye on your surroundings, the whole map and engaging choppers.
UPDATE (26.10.2011): A bit about the EOD bot and added the unlock tables for MBTs, IFVs and AAVs.
UPDATE (09.11.2011): Added short descriptions for most unlocks, need some help in determining what the rest of them do to add them in too. I have a slight idea but making sure never hurts.
UPDATE (01.12.2011): Finalized the unlock tables.