Battlefield 3 Vehicles: Tank Edition

Vehicles are one of the differentiators in the Battlefield franchise and one of the many reasons I love to play. Here is the start of a series of blogs in which I share some tips on how to use them. I’ve broken the classes up into offense and defense. Offense focuses on gameplay using the vehicle, defense focuses on gameplay against the vehicle.

Main Battle Tank (MBT)

Tanks pack a big punch but their slow acceleration and turret rotation speed make them unwieldy in tight spaces. Used correctly and you can dominate the battle field.

Communicate

Offense, defense, driver, gunner, it doesn’t matter. Get into a voice channel and communicate with your squad. The engineer in your squad won’t hear how loud you’re frantically hitting the spot key on a tank rolling up on your position.

Offense

Driver

Tank hunter. Go to where you’ll be the most useful. Provide support for infantry who are struggling against a MBT or IFV.

Don’t lead the charge. Move up with infantry to support you. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you’re surrounded by enemy AT infantry. That said, know when to blitz an enemy position. A tank rushing will scatter enemy infantry and make way for your infantry to move up.

Know when to pull back. Your tank is probably the only reason why the enemy isn’t overrunning your position. Use the smoke unlock and back up to evade incoming projectiles.

Face your enemy. Your front armor is the strongest, your rear armor is the weakest and your side armor is somewhere in the middle. An RPG hit in the rear will do 3x as much damage vs the front.

Prioritize targets. Take out the big threats first, MBTs, IFVs and AT infantry. If you suspect the vehicle your fighting is being repaired, place a couple of HE rounds at the ground near the rear of the tank to kill the repairman.

Range. Your shells can travel half the length of the largest maps. With the zoom optics or guided shell unlocks you should have no problem hitting distant targets in wide open maps. Remember to lead your targets and account for gravity.

Blow up stuff. If you saw someone run behind a wall or into a building, blow it up. Even when you can’t destroy cover the HE shells have area of effect damage so the wall or floor near the enemy to kill them.

Make it rain. When an HE tank shell goes off next to you, your view shakes and blurs, your ears ring, debris flies everywhere, dust clouds your vision. You’re suppressed. Keep firing shells where you think the enemy could be hiding. It will make it pretty miserable for them and sometimes they’ll break and make a run for it and give you the opportunity to gun them down.

Use the spot key. You can’t shoot everywhere at once. When you initially roll into an area and the enemy scatters you’ll have a better chance of keeping track of everyone if you spot them first.

Using the thermal vision makes it easy to spot both enemies and AT mines.

Gunner

Use the spot key. If you’re the gunner, you literally have nothing to do with your left hand but push the spot key.

Prioritize targets. Ignore MBTs and IFVs. After spotting these vehicles don’t waste your time shooting at them. You can’t hurt them anyway. Look for AT infantry to gun down.

Repair. Hopefully you brought your repair tool with you. Usually you’ll need to hop out and repair when going toe to toe with another MBT.

Always be scanning. You don’t have to worry about driving so you are free to look for enemies. Look down alleys, into windows and along fence lines. Keep your eyes peeled for infantry waiting for you to pass by and give them an open shot to your rear armor.

Watch the sky. Look out for helicopters and planes that are lining up for a strafing run. Your LMG can be effective at taking out air vehicles but don’t bother shooting at something half a map away when you should be looking out for immediate threats.

Watch your back. Unless you’re driving backwards, the driver is probably looking forward. It’s your job to look for sneaky C4 planting infantry that only want to ruin your day. If you’re extra paranoid the third person view will allow you see the sides and rear of your tank.

Defense

Use the spot key. Armor and AT infantry on your side are just itching to blow stuff up. Even mortars can destroy tanks if they’re damaged, but they won’t know where to drop their rounds if you don’t spot the tank.

Unless you’ve got something that is going to do some damage, don’t shoot the tank. Small arms fire It will just give away your position.

Flank. Hit the sides and rear armor when possible, they’re the weakest. An RPG will do ~22% damage to the front, ~44% to the side and ~60% damage to the rear. A javelin will always do ~33% damage.

Scatter. The MBT can only track one target (two with a gunner) at a time. If your whole squad runs to the same spot, you’ll all die together.

Drop some AT mines around heavily trafficked areas. One mine to disable, two to destroy.

Spawn with something to fight back with. Stop hiding behind destructible cover and bring the fight to them. If you start hitting them with RPGs or rockets they’ll think twice about sticking around. You might even get them to abandon their tank.

Don’t panic. Wait for an opportunity to contribute. If you can sneak up to a tank with C4 be sure to plant two. One won’t cut it. If you don’t have something that will damage the tank, sit tight until someone else does some damage. After the tank is disabled you might see someone jump out of the tank to repair. Shoot that guy. If you catch them both out of the tank you might even be able to repair and steal it.

Don’t be an asshole

If you see a teammate jump out of a tank to repair it, don’t steal their tank.

Don’t get in the way. Work with other vehicles, not against them. Don’t block their retreat by pulling up behind them and don’t block their view by parking in front of them. Space out so you can cover a wider area.

What did I miss?

Let me know in the comments.

37 Comments
37 Comments
Posted by gpbmike

Vehicles are one of the differentiators in the Battlefield franchise and one of the many reasons I love to play. Here is the start of a series of blogs in which I share some tips on how to use them. I’ve broken the classes up into offense and defense. Offense focuses on gameplay using the vehicle, defense focuses on gameplay against the vehicle.

Main Battle Tank (MBT)

Tanks pack a big punch but their slow acceleration and turret rotation speed make them unwieldy in tight spaces. Used correctly and you can dominate the battle field.

Communicate

Offense, defense, driver, gunner, it doesn’t matter. Get into a voice channel and communicate with your squad. The engineer in your squad won’t hear how loud you’re frantically hitting the spot key on a tank rolling up on your position.

Offense

Driver

Tank hunter. Go to where you’ll be the most useful. Provide support for infantry who are struggling against a MBT or IFV.

Don’t lead the charge. Move up with infantry to support you. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you’re surrounded by enemy AT infantry. That said, know when to blitz an enemy position. A tank rushing will scatter enemy infantry and make way for your infantry to move up.

Know when to pull back. Your tank is probably the only reason why the enemy isn’t overrunning your position. Use the smoke unlock and back up to evade incoming projectiles.

Face your enemy. Your front armor is the strongest, your rear armor is the weakest and your side armor is somewhere in the middle. An RPG hit in the rear will do 3x as much damage vs the front.

Prioritize targets. Take out the big threats first, MBTs, IFVs and AT infantry. If you suspect the vehicle your fighting is being repaired, place a couple of HE rounds at the ground near the rear of the tank to kill the repairman.

Range. Your shells can travel half the length of the largest maps. With the zoom optics or guided shell unlocks you should have no problem hitting distant targets in wide open maps. Remember to lead your targets and account for gravity.

Blow up stuff. If you saw someone run behind a wall or into a building, blow it up. Even when you can’t destroy cover the HE shells have area of effect damage so the wall or floor near the enemy to kill them.

Make it rain. When an HE tank shell goes off next to you, your view shakes and blurs, your ears ring, debris flies everywhere, dust clouds your vision. You’re suppressed. Keep firing shells where you think the enemy could be hiding. It will make it pretty miserable for them and sometimes they’ll break and make a run for it and give you the opportunity to gun them down.

Use the spot key. You can’t shoot everywhere at once. When you initially roll into an area and the enemy scatters you’ll have a better chance of keeping track of everyone if you spot them first.

Using the thermal vision makes it easy to spot both enemies and AT mines.

Gunner

Use the spot key. If you’re the gunner, you literally have nothing to do with your left hand but push the spot key.

Prioritize targets. Ignore MBTs and IFVs. After spotting these vehicles don’t waste your time shooting at them. You can’t hurt them anyway. Look for AT infantry to gun down.

Repair. Hopefully you brought your repair tool with you. Usually you’ll need to hop out and repair when going toe to toe with another MBT.

Always be scanning. You don’t have to worry about driving so you are free to look for enemies. Look down alleys, into windows and along fence lines. Keep your eyes peeled for infantry waiting for you to pass by and give them an open shot to your rear armor.

Watch the sky. Look out for helicopters and planes that are lining up for a strafing run. Your LMG can be effective at taking out air vehicles but don’t bother shooting at something half a map away when you should be looking out for immediate threats.

Watch your back. Unless you’re driving backwards, the driver is probably looking forward. It’s your job to look for sneaky C4 planting infantry that only want to ruin your day. If you’re extra paranoid the third person view will allow you see the sides and rear of your tank.

Defense

Use the spot key. Armor and AT infantry on your side are just itching to blow stuff up. Even mortars can destroy tanks if they’re damaged, but they won’t know where to drop their rounds if you don’t spot the tank.

Unless you’ve got something that is going to do some damage, don’t shoot the tank. Small arms fire It will just give away your position.

Flank. Hit the sides and rear armor when possible, they’re the weakest. An RPG will do ~22% damage to the front, ~44% to the side and ~60% damage to the rear. A javelin will always do ~33% damage.

Scatter. The MBT can only track one target (two with a gunner) at a time. If your whole squad runs to the same spot, you’ll all die together.

Drop some AT mines around heavily trafficked areas. One mine to disable, two to destroy.

Spawn with something to fight back with. Stop hiding behind destructible cover and bring the fight to them. If you start hitting them with RPGs or rockets they’ll think twice about sticking around. You might even get them to abandon their tank.

Don’t panic. Wait for an opportunity to contribute. If you can sneak up to a tank with C4 be sure to plant two. One won’t cut it. If you don’t have something that will damage the tank, sit tight until someone else does some damage. After the tank is disabled you might see someone jump out of the tank to repair. Shoot that guy. If you catch them both out of the tank you might even be able to repair and steal it.

Don’t be an asshole

If you see a teammate jump out of a tank to repair it, don’t steal their tank.

Don’t get in the way. Work with other vehicles, not against them. Don’t block their retreat by pulling up behind them and don’t block their view by parking in front of them. Space out so you can cover a wider area.

What did I miss?

Let me know in the comments.

Posted by ericdrum

Nice write up. Good info and tactics aplenty.

One thing I do when I'm a gunner is if the driver needs to stop for whatever reason, I immediately turn the gun around and watch for C4 support players approaching from the rear.. I rarely get hit by C4 when moving, but when the tank is stopped, it happens a lot. So I have conditioned myself to turn that gun around when the tank is halted to watch for sneaky C4 players.

Edited by natetodamax

Cool post! Tanks are a lot of fun to use in Battlefield 3, and it's partially because they finally move at the speed a tank should move instead of slowly grumbling along waiting for a rocket to connect. One thing I like to do in Conquest when I'm capturing a flag in a tank is to put the rear of the tank against a building so nobody can hit me with a rocket in the rear.

I'm looking forward to your post about jets, since I recently got all the unlocks (without boosting!) and I want to share some of the tactics that I use.

Posted by evilrazer

If you're being hit from every possible side, shoot the smoke, back up your tank a little get out and start fixing. If enemy soldiers are not that smart, they will assume that you're still standing where you were standing before you used your smoke screen.

When playing as a gunner remember, that to bail out of a tank safely, you should turn the cross hair of your gun to the spot where you want to bail out. If you want to fix the tank, you should turn cross hair of your machine gun to the back side of the tank and you will be able to fix the tank and don't take any damage.

Edited by Giantstalker

Coming from an actual AFV driver/gunner here, these are really solid and surprisingly accurate tips. Nice writeup gbpmike.

EDIT: Might want to add a section regarding the CITV station though, it's a fascinating and under-used feature right now.

Edited by big_jon

As a tanker, I can say the three most important things you can do are.

1. Keep moving, it makes you a much harder target, it also makes enemy infantry wary of going anywhere near you do to your unpredictably, and the fact that it will often result in them being run over.

2. Keep an eye on your flanks, always be looking behind you periodically, this seems like a no brainier but it is emencely important, and is often the key to success.

3. Have en escape plan made, know where cover is for your tank and be ready to get the fuck out of dodge when attacked unexpectedly

I have over 5,000 kills in Tanks in BadCompany 1, 10,000 in BadCompany 2, and 1,000 in Battlefield 3, these are the main things that I have leaned to master in that time.

Posted by AlexW00d

@big_jon: You have a thousand kills in tanks and helis already. You go girl.

@gpbmike: Very well written piece dude, you should be cheeky and stick it on the community strip on the front page...

Online
Edited by big_jon

@AlexW00d:

Don't hate because I'm a pro in the tank.

Also, is your type of girl broad and hairy?

Posted by AlexW00d

@big_jon: No-one's hating, I just kind of wonder how much time you must spend in this game to amass so many kills already.

And I'm not even sure what your edit even means.

Online
Posted by big_jon

@AlexW00d:

You called me a girl, I'm big, and hairy, that's all.

I think I put in about 50 hours so far, not sure, I'll look later.

Posted by bwmcmaste

@big_jon said:

As a tanker, I can say the three most important things you can do are.

1. Keep moving, it makes you a much harder target, it also makes enemy infantry wary of going anywhere near you do to your unpredictably, and the fact that it will often result in them being run over.

2. Keep an eye on your flanks, always be looking behind you periodically, this seems like a no brainier but it is emencely important, and is often the key to success.

3. Have en escape plan made, know where cover is for your tank and be ready to get the fuck out of dodge when attacked unexpectedly

Agree with the above. Also, use sprint often. I also recommend the proximity scanner: I've been using it since BC2, and I find it essential when capturing a flag.

Posted by gpbmike

I have ~100 kills and ~30k points in the MBTs. I hope that doesn't discredit my tips.

Posted by big_jon

@gpbmike said:

I have ~100 kills and ~30k points in the MBTs. I hope that doesn't discredit my tips.

lol

no

Posted by Giantstalker
Mine Rollers

Little off topic, but anyone else think these should have been in the game? Would be nice for clearing mines and crushing dudes. Well, strictly speaking the second use isn't so nice, but you get my meaning.

Posted by big_jon

@Giantstalker: That is a cool pick of a leopord 2.

Posted by Wuddel

@gpbmike: Good post. No brainer for the vets, but solid beginner guide. Four little comments:

- I haven't "measured" it, but RPG damange on the top seems to do tons of damage. (like from the roof of a building, aimed at the top of the turret)

- Do not underestimate IFVs and stationary launchers. Their ATGM do tons of damage. More importantly. Their missiles can fly around corners. Janking the mouse/stick left/right at the right moment can make for a unpleasant surprise.

- When you exit the tank, especially at as a gunner who wants to repair in a tank face off, point your gun at the side you want to exit. You will pop out there, ideally using the tank as cover.

- As a gunner, while you should not shoot at enemy tanks, keep an I on the enemy tank - especially tank mid face off. Maybe you can eliminate enemy gunners unaware of the fact above.

Posted by bwmcmaste

@Wuddel said:

- When you exit the tank, especially at as a gunner who wants to repair in a tank face off, point your gun at the side you want to exit. You will pop out there, ideally using the tank as cover.

Assuming that this is correct, you have just saved me many instances of future grief.

Posted by Solskugga

Great blog post. i find that i cant play without the ir vision and LMG. they are to good at spotting crawling infantry and those pesky enginers. Also. dont back up in a 1on1 fight with a tank if you got a repairman, it will most likely expose him and get him killed by the aoe from the oposing tank.

Posted by Wuddel

@bwmcmaste said:

@Wuddel said:

- When you exit the tank, especially at as a gunner who wants to repair in a tank face off, point your gun at the side you want to exit. You will pop out there, ideally using the tank as cover.

Assuming that this is correct, you have just saved me many instances of future grief.

It absolutely is correct.

Edited by Swoxx

Good stuff Mike, hopefully some people will take this into consideration, they're solid tips!

Don’t be an asshole
If you see a teammate jump out of a tank to repair it, don’t steal their tank.
Don’t get in the way. Work with other vehicles, not against them. Don’t block their retreat by pulling up behind them and don’t block their view by parking in front of them. Space out so you can cover a wider area.

Especially this!

Posted by Jackel2072

IR smoke can come in handy for more then just breaking a lock. If im being shot at by another tank or some AT guy from a distance. i quickly put up a smoke screen and get the hell out of there. works great! 

Edited by AhmadMetallic
@gpbmike:   I postponed reading this until I had played enough as a tanker to know how they handle in BF3. 
 
Spot on with all your tips, but one very important thing I think you forgot to mention is that, during defense, when trying to kill a tank with your RPG, be patient. Too many times have I seen people die from wanting to kill that tank ASAP.. If you hide and wait one or two seconds and let it pass by you, you get a great chance to hit it in the rear, rather than jumping in front of it and hitting its sturdy front, and getting killed.
 
If you shoot one rocket at it, take a break and go around a building and attack from there. Pretend like you're two distant people carrying RPGs and play both roles, otherwise you're getting a shell to the face, and the damage you made will heal right up. 
  

Edit: Something froze and went funky with my first post, thought I doubled posted there for a sec.
Posted by Mikemcn

I need to use MBTs more often, I got really good with them in Bad Company 2.

Posted by Extreme_Popcorn

The canister shot is the best secondary you can roll with in my opinion. It destroys infantry and is very effective against choppers.

Edited by sopranosfan

I love the tank and I don't care if I'm the driver or the gunner. If I am with another good tank person we can usually dominate a couple of capture points on Conquest. Just the other day I went 21-3 and had over 10k points before the ribbons even started getting applied I believe that I ended up with about 15k points in one round. The key is one or both having the repair tool. Now that they have made the mines show red on the map you can fly around and focus on the enemies. BTW as somebody with literally almost a 1/3rd of my kills coming from a tank I still don't think they should have made the mines red because now they're just too easy and anybody that drove the tanks much knew where they were mostly placed and I could almost sense them. I also agree with Extreme Popcorn that the canister is awesome.

Posted by Wuddel

After having unlocked everything for the MBT I can say that coordination of perks in a 3 man team makes for an unstoppable tank. Thermal camp, IR smoke & Guided shell on the driver. Scanner on the gunner or the laser designator, and you can shoot at everything.

Posted by gpbmike

@AhmadMetallic: Agreed. Also I should point out that there is a minimum distance an RPG has to travel before it will arm and explode on contact.

@sopranosfan: I agree. Although there have been times when I've hit AT mines while rushing across the map, if I'm communicating with my tank crew we'll see 99.9% of the mines pop up on the map before we hit them, and then it's just easy points. And a note for mine-layers. You don't need to put more than two next to each other. If you put all six down in one spot, they'll all blow up when from a tank shell and that just gives them 6x20 points.

@Wuddel: I'm a fan of the proximity sensor on urban maps and zoom optics on open maps.

Edited by LibertyForAll

Does spotting from vehicles even work? I have tried so many times without success that I assumed spotting from within vehicles was broken or not allowed. Maybe it's just hard to get the turret in the right place.

I like the thermal imaging perk quite a bit. It will really pop out any nearby mines and infantry. And guided missle will be your best friend if people are soflamming. Espcially against aircraft which tend to be one of the major threats to your existence. You can switch seats very quickly with f1 and f2, hop into the gunner seat if you're by yourself and infantry are threatening or to try to scare off a heli...

don't backup and run over your own engineer repairing you on harcore lol

yeah I need jet tips too. I unlocked all the tanks stuff pretty quickly, but only have 18 jet points because I got a kill assist once....

Posted by gpbmike

@LibertyForAll: Yes, spotting from vehicles works. I use it all the time. I also have much love for SOFLAM/CITV + guided shells, working together rocks. It's too bad you don't get any points as the SOFLAM or CITV dude. You probably won't see any jet tips written by me anytime soon. I've only flown in a jet a handful of times and never lasted longer than a minute. Maybe I can get my brother to ghost-write the air vehicle posts. He's unlocked everything and is a competent pilot in both jets and helicopters.

Posted by Wuddel

@gpbmike said:

@Wuddel: I'm a fan of the proximity sensor on urban maps and zoom optics on open maps.

I used to "roll" with that. I feel though after the patch the tides have turned and protection against the Javelin/Guided Missle onlaught is 1st priority. Also on a 3 man team 2 two others can use scanner since it works with them also.

@gpbmike said:

@LibertyForAll: Yes, spotting from vehicles works. I use it all the time. I also have much love for SOFLAM/CITV + guided shells, working together rocks. It's too bad you don't get any points as the SOFLAM or CITV dude.

No. Thats not correct. You get 10 points for every marked target as teh CITV operator and certainly while avtively controlling the SOFLAM (not sure about passive mode). Only though when someone on the team is actually using guided missles in their loadout. I am not sure if this is the case when you are the only person using them. So far when using the scout chopper with laser painter and guided missle I always was getting the "tagging" points. You get additional points when someone hits your target. Since targets can get out of line of sight you can get mulitple tagging points for the same vehicle.

Posted by gpbmike

@Wuddel: Sorry, I meant next to no points.

Person who shoots down laser designated helicopter: 100 * kills + 100 disable + 50 destroy. Person who designates: 10 for designating and if they're lucky 50 for damage assist (though I've rarely gotten this while playing). So that's 300 pts to the person who did nothing but point a guided missile/shell at a flashing light and pushed a fired. Maybe if the damage assist points were more consistent I'd be more content, but if you're manning the CITV station, you get screwed on points.

Posted by Wuddel

@gpbmike said:

@Wuddel: Sorry, I meant next to no points.

Person who shoots down laser designated helicopter: 100 * kills + 100 disable + 50 destroy. Person who designates: 10 for designating and if they're lucky 50 for damage assist (though I've rarely gotten this while playing). So that's 300 pts to the person who did nothing but point a guided missile/shell at a flashing light and pushed a fired. Maybe if the damage assist points were more consistent I'd be more content, but if you're manning the CITV station, you get screwed on points.

True. However, when you man the CITV station you have unlocked everthing for the MBT anyway. So I am willing to take the hit on points for the teamplay especially when I am helping fellow duders to unlock stuff. It only really makes sense when you are in voice chat with the other two guys. Without that it is convenient to be albe to spawn/ride in tanks.

Posted by gpbmike

@Wuddel: I don't know what "pushed a fire" means and my math doesn't add up... I'm defaulting to your comments.

Posted by mfpantst

Well written.  Tanks are probably my worst vehicle, so it's nice to see some helpful advice.  Usually I try to play tank killer.  Hadn't thought of the dropping 2 mines at a time instead of 6...  That's pretty smart.

Posted by Liber

@gpbmike said:

Maybe I can get my brother to ghost-write the air vehicle posts. He's unlocked everything and is a competent pilot in both jets and helicopters.

Battlefield 3 Vehicles: TV missile camp on a mountain edition coming soon !

Posted by sopranosfan

The key to laying mines has been adapting to how people played. Haven't dropped one since the "red" patch and didn't use them when I planned on being in the tank because the repair tool is worth a lot more when in a tank than a few mines laying around. But come up with a plan and adapt. When the game first came out placing them around capture points were great but of course it only took a couple of days to figure those out. Then I started laying the six in a commonly used road(not too common though) in a huge V pattern along the road with 3-4 going completely across the road from left to right and then the other 2-3 stretching back across the road.

Posted by TotalEklypse

like 100 hours in and already spent like 10 of em in MBTs. Would be more by now but Ps3 version is a buggy mess of shit right now. Constant freezes since Karkand came out. Anyone else having that problem?

Also the same fucked up VOIP as every other console BF game. Coordinating is kind of a moot point now.