Equally useful as a strategy aid for Battlefield Live, paintball, airsoft or even traditional lasertag this was originally posted to the Battlefield Live forums on April 18, 2008. Since Mike wrote it, he’s reposting it with only a few slight modifications. Enjoy! We also highly recommend pole dancing (not like what you’re thinking!) as a drill to teach new and experienced players alike the strategy behind using cover.
The first instinct of new players is to avoid fire by running directly up to obstacles and huddle up close. When they decide to fire they then turn, bring their gun to bear on the target and fire. Unfortunately, this is not the most efficient tactic and can open you up to taking the first shot, which is a situation to be avoided.
When you approach cover, maintain enough space that you can have your weapon raised and sighted between you and the obstacle. This eliminates the vulnerable fraction of a second when you would otherwise need to raise the weapon after stepping into the open. Be aware that this will reduce the “safe” area your cover provides! If you are under suppressive fire or are certain of an opponent covering you with point fire it may be to your best advantage to in fact hug your cover and call for an ally(ies) to engage your attacker(s).
There is not only a proper technique to using cover to avoid fire but also for using cover to provide a platform to rain fire on your targets. There are essentially three ways that you will fire on your opponents when using cover: Firing over the cover, firing from the side of the cover and firing under your cover.
If you have maintained an appropriate distance that allows you to keep your weapon raised between you and your cover then firing over your cover becomes a far safer affair. By maintaining your distance from the cover you’re hiding behind you will find that you don’t need to raise up more than a fraction in order to shoot targets that are taller than the obstacle you’re hiding behind. Even if the targets are the same size or smaller than your cover, the distance between you and your cover allows you to more easily control the exact exposure of yourself from beyond the cover.
To understand why leaving space between yourself and your cover allows you to better control your exposure, grab yourself an apple and a ruler. Let’s represent you with your left fist. Put your fist right next to the apple with your thumb on top. Hold the ruler so that it rests on your thumb and the apple. Notice that small movements of your thumb make the ruler tilt quickly, but if you move your fist back 10cm or more from the apple the same movements from your thumb tilt the ruler more slowly. It can be hard to make very small or exact movements with your body, especially if you’re crouched and leaning, but distance from your cover allows the same gross movements to have a finer or more exact effect.
When firing from the side of your cover it is far preferable to fire from the side of your cover that your trigger hand is on. Your opponent will have less time to react and attempt to fire first if you do not need to move your bent arm and full body out from behind cover before you fire. Again, by maintaining distance from your cover you can open yourself up to return fire only as much and as long as absolutely necessary with a minimum of movement.
When you want to fire from the off-hand side of your cover, a quick step that brings you completely or almost completely into the open but allows you to step just as quickly back is rarely preferable to leaning, even though leaning is generally slower. Try to minimize the distance that you have to lean by staying back from your cover. Leaning will almost always give you a much smaller profile and the motion can be made much more slowly, which makes it easier to avoid being seen. Learning to fire with your off-hand is not a very useful option in the long run since you are unlikely to learn off-hand shooting as well as you can fire with your preferred hand. If you are trying to eliminate a skilled opponent you will be better served to use a method that allows you to engage with the highest accuracy and speed, which means using your preferred hand.
Firing under cover is typically inadvisable. Crouching is a slow method to move yourself into a firing line, giving your target plenty of time to either sight on you or simply move. Rolling can be uncomfortable, can be hard to precisely control and disorients you before you can fire. If you have a low opening in your cover that you intend to fire through you will probably be best served by approaching it as firing from the side of the opening, rather than firing from the top. Low openings in cover are generally far more useful if you use them to determine that an opponent is passing by and ripe for an ambush than if you use them to fire from.
One additional note should be made regarding firing and cover. Always take your shot in such a way that you don’t open yourself up to incoming fire from vectors you can’t see. If you are firing through a window do not extend your barrel through the window. First, you have a sensor on your gun that everyone will be able to shoot. Second, you may allow another opponent to visually confirm your location when they would have otherwise only heard you. Human auditory perception is not designed to discern distance or direction very well. Don’t give your opponents an advantage that you can deny to them. This same principle applies to doorways, fences, cave openings, tubes, etc. Be aware that you have a visual silhouette and prevent your opponents from identifying it.
Last but not least are two notes regarding aspects that should be emphasized with Battlefield Live gear. First, we do not fire a solid projectile like paintball or airsoft, so you should never be afraid to start firing a split second before you actually expose yourself from cover, especially if you know with relative surety where your target is. There appears to be a slight delay between pulling your trigger and firing and at the least there is approximately a 33 millisecond delay for a signal from your opponent’s brain to reach their finger, after a 10-30 millisecond visual recognition delay. Take every advantage you can or your opponent will benefit against you.
The last caveat I offer is that it is crucial to learn when your cover is no longer offering you any benefit. It is a misconception that cover is beneficial as long as it protects you from being immediately shot. Cover becomes useless when you can no longer LEAVE it and move somewhere else without being shot, too. If you are in a 1-on-1 showdown and your opponent has a Spitfire at a distance where they can cover both sides of the tree you’re behind then the tree is essentially no cover; you will be hit and the only question is when. Likewise, do not repeatedly expose yourself to the same side of your cover if your opponent is already sighted on the location that you are moving to.
A related example of this is that cover is useless once your position is overrun. Your position is not overrun when there are opponents on your side of the cover but rather when you can no longer leave the cover safely. This could be because you are flanked or because the opposition has an advantage of height over you. Either case is difficult for your teammates to rescue you from.
Aside from your gun, cover is the thing you are going to use the most when playing. Take care to use it appropriately and you’ll find that you’re winning more often.