The Basics of Situational Awareness

Created by Hunger

Situational Awareness (or SA) is absolutely crucial in every competitive multiplayer game. SA is your ability to observe and react all at the same time. This guide will help you as a player to develop better SA so that you can quickly assess a situation and react accordingly on the Battlefield.

When playing Battlefield 3, there are tons and tons of audio and visual cues that indicate that enemies are in your area, some obvious, and others quite subtle. Someone with a high level of Situational Awareness would be able to count and call out a number of targets without even seeing anybody, while those with a low level of Situational Awareness would awkwardly bump into numerous enemies while running around and end up either extremely lucky, or embarrassingly dead. If you understand what is going on around you, you have the upper hand in combat against the unsuspecting.

Mini-map Awareness

Understanding the mini-map is the first step to better SA. Surprisingly, many players tend to ignore the bottom-right corner of their screen when playing Battlefield 3. What is doubly surprising is that the mini-map is absolutely essential to success when playing.

The map is capable of relaying the following information on top of the map layouts:

  • Enemy positions and direction they are facing
  • Teammate positions and direction they are facing
  • Your team's dropped equipment (i.e. Ammo/Medic boxes, placed C4, etc.)
  • Flags/Objective positions
  • Dead teammates

These elements of the mini-map are all crucial to your understanding of the combat situation at-hand.

Enemies can be revealed on the mini-map in a number of ways, and their tiny blip on the mini-map is the most obvious visual cue to let you know about their positions aside from actually seeing in-the-flesh. Enemies can be marked on your map either by being spotted by your teammate, or by firing their weapon without a suppressor equipped.

Spotting is a big part of the multiplayer in Battlefield 3, and was introduced in the Bad Company games. By pressing the Spot button while looking at an enemy (Q on PC, Select on PS3, Back on 360), the enemy spotted will be marked on the mini-map for everyone on your team for roughly 8 seconds. Alternatively, looking at an enemy will mark them on the map for the duration that you have a line of sight. Knowing enemy positions and the directions their facing, combined with knowledge (or improvisation) of the map layouts will bring great flanking opportunities where you have the drop on your targets. It's all up to your weapons at that point.

On top of the enemy blips on your map, you can also use the other aspects of the mini-map to scope out nearby enemy players. See equipment on the map that isn't marked on your map? That's because it doesn't belong to your team, it's likely the owner of said equipment is somewhere close-by. See the old skull-and-crossbones representing your dead teammates? There's a reason they died, and their murderer(s) may be lurking around (bonus points for seeing where the bullets came from either visually or audibly). See your team's objective marker flashing? That's because the objective is being taken by an enemy.

The map is so incredibly helpful, it's a damn shame so many ignore it.


Battlefield 3's sound design is, to say the least, pretty freaking amazing. With such high quality audio, it has never been this easy to hear where your enemies are before you feed bullets into their face! Follow your ears, and you'll soon be following your enemies!

There are two ways to use the audio to your advantage:

  • Listen in on your enemies shoot, shout commands, or stamp their feet around nearby
  • Make your enemies shout out their position.

Battlefield 3 has directional audio, in which the sound of footsteps and guns can be heard so you can determine from what direction they are around and how close enemies. Following that, and watching the mini-map to see that there is no friendly marked around there should let you know that there is trouble afoot. In addition, reloading makes a very distinct sound, and hearing that along with your enemy shouting "I'M RELOADING!" is a good time to rush and catch them with their pants down.

The first method of using audio to your advantage is obvious, and the second way to use sound tactically is widely-underused, but surprisingly easy.

You yourself can make enemies shout out their positions by, combined with knowledge of the map layouts, throw grenades to normally troublesome areas of a map. If there are enemies around, you can hear enemies (or teammates) shout something along the lines of "GET DOWN, GRENADE!", in which by then you will know how close and from what direction they were calling from. If they're dumb, they'll be dead. If they're smart, they'd retreat away from the grenade but not far from their original position and would be in a state of confusion until you find them and shoot them.

Inversely, if you see someone doing this to you, you will know that there is someone within grenade-throwing distance of you, and if your eyes are keen, you can see from which direction it came from and rush the person who threw it.

Closing Comments

In retrospect, the content covered in this guide are very simple things to look out for, but it's absolutely mind-blowing that so little people actually focus on every part of their screen to get the most intel out of the match. These tips on improving Situational Awareness, combined with your knowledge of the game's maps, weapons and vehicles by playing naturally will allow you to very quickly assess a situation, call out targets, and react accordingly. All it takes is a little looking, and a little listening to improve your game that much more.

And after all, knowing is half the battle.

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