The Let's Play Archive

Battlefield 4

by Lazyfire

Part 12: Attack Helicopters

Attack Helicopters

OK, there's a lot to cover here that the video simply isn't good for. Attack Helicopters are one of the more frequent topics when it comes to balance in BF4, mostly because they are a symbol of overreaction by the developers. In BF3 (mind you I played BF3 on a console so PC players may have had a different experience) an attack helicopter could dominate almost anything that got into its vision, sometimes even jets were in danger of being downed by an attack heli. Tanks could be destroyed in a salvo of rockets, infantry killed by the gunner in moments. More dangerous was the fact that they were fast and agile, able to dart behind cover or dodge rockets. If you did get a lock on one the flares on attack helis recharged pretty quickly, and in the early days of BF3 the gunner seat had flares as well, meaning you were often out of luck if trying to get a kill with a lock on weapon. The gunner flares were removed, but the attack heli remained a formidable vehicle. In the hands of a skilled pilot people could put up crazy numbers in either seat.

BF4 seemed to err on the side of caution with the balance changes. As such the Attack Heli is completely neutered to the point of uselessness. For one, the rockets do less damage, have a smaller splash radius and recharge incredibly slowly. The recharge rate is a real problem that people often overlook when talking about this vehicle, as the total sum of rockets you can carry at once isn't that large and you'll expend half your rockets per pass at the least you will end up flying around waiting for the ammo to regenerate. Same with the gunner seat as there will be times that the gunner is just out of bullets while the ammo pool regenerates. Second, the speed and agility of the attack heli is greatly reduced from BF3. Part of that is clearly due to the changes in how momentum and forward progress work with helicopters in BF4, as you need a lot of built up speed to go anywhere near as fast as in BF3, but at the exchange of being able to stop well or direct the helicopter in any major way. As such, the attack heli can best be described as lumbering. This is a major problem considering the proliferation of lock on weapons like stingers, as the countermeasure timers is set at 25 seconds just like with the jets. This results in a lot of shot down attack helis. We're at the point where the lowest kills per minute vehicle is the attack heli followed by the Mobile AA, and that has extenuating circumstances. DICE has made some effort to test out fixes. First, they've boosted the damage done by the second rocket unlock, and they've added some splash and damage rate to the gunner's cannon. Many players are now asking for a return of an unintentional ability, below radar. With Below Radar you could stop lock ons by flying low to the ground. So low that tanks would be able to shoot you down if they can get the targeting right. To many, that is a risk well worth not having to hear the lock on tone all the time.

Here's the chopper HUD. It has way more stuff than the jets, and I'm not going to pretend to know everything here.

1: Degrees
Like the plane, the heli gives you an idea where you are orientated on the map with this helpful degrees display.

2: Countermeasures
Depending on what you chose you'll see them here. If you can use the countermeasure it appears as "Ready" and otherwise it will be counting down a timer to when they will be ready again.

3: Speed?
Not totally sure, but maybe speed in Kmh and Knots? No idea what the 18G is.

4: Orientation 1
No, this isn't so you can meet your future classmates and wander the campus while it's empty, this crescent shaped indicator always points to the sky. This is helpful if you are like me and spend a great deal of time "sidestepping" left and right by tilting the helicopter to the desired side. The problem is that it is easy to lose the sky in that situation, which leads to disorientation and crashes.

5: No idea
I'm thinking there are at least a few like this that a military expert would be able to help on. My guess is that this displays speed in miles.

6: Altitude
One of the changes from BF3 to BF4 is that helicopters have a ceiling lower than jets, which means helicopter can no longer loiter in the skybox unmoving and firing down at all without any real risk to them. Altitude lets you know how far off the ground you are and where the max level is.

7: Lock
When someone has a lock on you you'll get the "Threat" and "Warning" notices in this space, along with a white semi-circle at the center of the screen pointing to where the lock is coming from. Popping flares too early can be a killer, waiting too long will get you killed. I always deploy flares early for some reason.

8: Targeting
When using rockets the I shaped icon represents where you can expect the rockets to impact the ground or targets. As you gain speed or adjust angles this thing will track all across the screen. It takes some getting used to, but it is much better than the jet's crosshair.

9: Orientation 2
This one is kind of neat if I have this right. If you are traveling straight forward, with the tail and the front of the helicopter aligned then the circle and box in this space will be aligned as well. If you are turning or spinning they won't be. It's a neat way to let you know when it is best to go for full speed and when to hold back.

Weapons are divided by the position in the helicopter. Gunners get their own set of secondary weapons and upgrades. Pilots get rocket types, countermeasures, secondary weapons and missile choices.

Hydra rockets are what I used during this run. They fly pretty quickly, you can hold 14 at a time and they do decent enough damage. These were the only rockets available in BF3 and are the starter weapon in BF4 attack helis. Zuni rockets function much the same, but are larger and have a smaller magazine size. To make up for that they do a lot more damage and have a larger splash radius. Smart rockets are like mini-LAWs, they travel straight, but adjust to hit targets. I've never seen these in action.

Heatseekers are literally the same weapon as on the stealth jets. TOW missiles are vehicle based SRAW launches, but these do more damage. I can't imagine using one on an attack heli.

More items that appear on jets. Flares distract incoming missiles and break the ability to lock on them for a few seconds. Still not enough to keep things in the air. The Extinguisher is used to bring the vehicle out of a critical state, but rarely used. ECM jammer blocks any held locks and stops new ones for a few seconds. The Flares and ECM are on long recharge times by any standard.

The stabilizer is on by default and keeps you from having to make an insane number of corrections while you are losing control. Saved more lives than anything else in the game. Airborne radar is active scanning for vehicles, nothing special. Stealth coating works just like it did on jets, it keeps rockets from locking them for a little longer.

Gunner upgrades
Though at the mercy of someone else to fly the helicopter, it doesn't make you helpless. You have a cannon that has insane swivel on it and a few things to help along the way.

You have no primary weapon choice, and your secondaries are kind of weak. You can have a Laser guided anti tank missile that lets you paint targets now. The TV missile lets you fire the missile at someone and possibly hurt them if you guide the rocket into your target, which is harder

Your optics should look familiar if you have been watching. Zoom to spot targets at a distance, IRNV is used to find nearby targets and Gunner thermal captures everything at longer range than the other visual options do.

Belt feeder reloads the gunner seat faster. The gunner proximity scan hasn't worked properly since release, but theoretcially it would let you get an idea of who is moving nearby.