Part 5: Intro to TanksI'll have episode 2 of the single player posted tonight, but for now, enjoy a break from infantry combat and watch me wreck shit in a tank:
Multiplayer Video: Tanks
In this episode of BF4 multiplayer I showcase the Main Battle Tanks. There are three in the game, the classic M1A1 for the US, the Russian T-90 and the Chinese Type 99 MBT. They all look different and have some HUD variations, but they all function the same, so no one side is at a disadvantage because their opponents have better tanks.
Tanks are more or less meant to be front line units; leading charges, protecting objectives and generally giving infantry and other armor something to be afraid of. A good tank pilot can basically win a game for a team if they are well supported by Engineers and catch some lucky breaks. In the video I don't get any help from other engineers, so I'm constantly repairing myself and relying on my gunner to keep the enemy from blowing me up while I fix the tank. Below are my write-ups of all the available weapons, optics and countermeasures of the tanks in BF4.
Tanks have a few major parts to their heads up display that may take a moment to figure out.
1:The weapon in use is listed here, next to it is the status. If reloading the "Ready" text switches to a red "Waiting." Next to the status text there is a cartoon of the tank showing your orientation and where the passenger is pointing their gun if they are on board. Useful if you get turned around.
2:Your current ammo and health. Tanks in this game have a magazine on their main cannon, you can only carry a max of five shells at a time. When at least one shell has been expended the white bar below the shell count will start to fill. Once it has a single shell will be replenished. The bar fills slower than you can fire the shells, so running out of ammo is a real possibility. Vehicle health is the top bar in the status rectangle, the lower bar is your personal health. You can't be shot out of a tank like you can a helicopter or transport vehicle, but they let you know where you are in case you have to get out.
3: Countermeasures status is shown in text on the right side of the screen. This text will let you know what you have available and if it is active or not. If it is recharging it will count down the time before you can use it again.
The MBTs in BF4 have a number of unlocks available, but quantity doesn't mean quality and a baseline tank can generally hang with someone with a ton of service stars if they play their cards right.
Shells are fired from the main cannon of the tank and are meant more to damage other armored units rather than killing infantry. You start off with the AP (Armor Piercing) shells, eventually unlock the HE (High Explosive) shells and then move on to Sabot. From what I've heard the AP shell is flat out the best all around shell, dealing damage equal to the HE shell on armored targets while having less drop and a larger explosive radius. I really suggest sticking with AP until you unlock Sabot, and then immediately switching to Sabot. While Sabot has no explosive radius, when fired it flies further before it drops, then it drops less than other shells and it flies faster; inane distance shots are a lot easier when you factor all that in.
Tank pilots have a number of options when it comes to secondary weapons. You start off with the coaxial LMG (light machine gun). This gun is mounted to the main cannon, so you don't have to reorient yourself or anything, you just hold down the fire button and make things die after like 20 bullets. The LMG isn't bad, but it really isn't something you want to have to rely on; it's not very accurate, it doesn't do a ton of damage and it overheats fairly quickly. Guided shells are fired from the main cannon of the tank and as such it takes a moment to switch over to them. Then you need to maintain a lock before you can shoot. I've never seen a guided shell kill anything in this game. The coaxial HMG (heavy machine gun)is the choice of champions. It does high damage to infantry targets, can damage helicopters and just sounds awesome. The only problem you may have is the fire rate and bullet drop. The LMG shoots faster and seems to have less drop over distance, but it isn't such a big deal when you can kill most people in a couple shots with the HMG.
Don't use the canister shell, they do almost no damage and take a while to load into the main cannon, just like the guided shell. I've seen a number of people mention the STAFF shell, though. If you fire the main cannon and then hammer the weapon change button and the fire button at the same time you can activate a bug that allows you to immediately fire the STAFF shell instead of having to wait for it to load up. This is dangerous because the STAFF shell takes about zero effort, just point it in the direction of the vehicle you want to hit and fire, the shell will shoot up in to the air when it gets close and slam down on the vehicle for (against tanks) 21 points of damage. When combined with any other shell it makes someone using the bug pretty tough to kill. Unless you are infantry as they would need to hit you with a shell to kill you and that's easier said than done this time around.
You have three choices for both pilot and gunner optics on the tank. They are activated by clicking the right mouse button on the PC as if you were aiming down sight as infantry. The first is the Zoom Optics, which give you a 3x zoom on both the tank cannon and secondary weapon. This is especially useful if you are engaging at a distance and need to fine tune the aim. IRNV gives you a heat vision mode, but the depth of field isn't great. Thermal Optics gives you better range on the heat vision. I call one a night vision and one heat vision in the video, I always thought of IRNV as a heat vision more than anything else for some reason.
Tanks start off with Maintenance, and it isn't a bad choice. If you need to sneak off and lick your wounds and don't have an engineer nearby to fix you up it will let you get back into the fight a bit faster. Thermal Camo is useful if you are being locked all the time by laser guided weapons, but that happens infrequently (unless someone is exploiting a glitch) so at this time I don't suggest it. Autoloader lowers the time it takes you to reload the main cannon by a fraction of a second, only really useful in bad situations where you need to put out a shell slightly faster than an opponent. Reactive armor was a near requirement to be a good tank pilot in BF3, but in BF4 it simply increases the threshold for an enemy to score a mobility kill on you. Useful, but not as over powered as it was before.
At their most basic, Countermeasures are abilities you activate to get you out of a bad situation. You start off with IR smoke, which will break any laser or radar locks on your tank. Useful to a degree. If you pop it when someone fires a STAFF shell or LAW rocket at you it will also cause them to disengage, but it's rare you have time to recognize the danger before they hit you. Smokescreen is like IR smoke, but without the breaking the lock completely, instead it makes getting a critical hit near impossible...supposedly. I've not really toyed around with it, but from what I've heard it sort of works. Fire Extinguisher is only available when you are in a bad way and could be the difference between you dying outright and being able to recover. Though if you need it you are probably already screwed. Finally, the last unlock is Active Protection. AP is the flat out best choice for a tank pilot in terms of counter measures. All the rockets people can lock on you with? AP kills them dead. Tank Shells? Aside from Sabot and STAFF AP stop. Engineer Rockets? LAW and supposedly the SRAW can get though, but not much else. Bombs, cruise missiles TOW missiles also get destroyed by AP. The thing is that IR smoke and Smokescreen don't protect against any of the non-guided weapons, and against STAFF shells and LAW rockets it only does something if you deploy at the right time. Plus, AP doesn't obscure your vision the way smoke does. The downside to AP is the recharge time and the relatively short active time. I believe it is five seconds before it turns itself off. I mention in the video it is only active for a few moments, but that's sort of off, it runs so long as stuff is coming at you, then recharges. Time it right and you could survive Armageddon itself.
Gunners get a few things options here, but keep in mind you can unlock these by piloting or gunning in the tank, you don't have to sit in the gunner seat and grind out points or anything. You start off with the belt feeder unlocked. It's not a bad choice by any means, but like the auto loader, it doesn't change much. Proximity scan is a motion detector that will pick up on infantry and vehicles in your vicinity, though it doesn't always work. SOFLAM gives the gunner a laser designator that will allow teammates to lock on to vehicles if you maintain line of sight long enough. Incendiary fires a grenade that sets people alight if they get too close to the tank. I've never seen it actually kill anyone.