Thanks to Sierra Hotel @ gamereplays.org
New to the Battlefield series, vehicle specializations are a gameplay element that utilizes and emphasizes teamwork, and spices things up when it comes to tank and helicopter combat. In previous Battlefield titles, a few key principles defined the tactics and strategies used when deploying Armor assets: The rear and sides of Tanks are weaker, use “Hull Down”, (I’ll explain later), Helicopter Pilots can be sniped out of their cockpit, and the tank that received the most fire concentration generally blew up in the spectacular fashion we’ve been used to since the early days of Battlefield 1942. In Bad Company 2, all of these principles remain true, and with the addition of Vehicle specializations armored warfare can turn out to be a game breaking element.
Vehicle Electronics Package
The Vehicle Electronics package is the one of the first specializations to be unlocked. It doesn’t change any of the vehicle’s stats, rather, it acts with the same principles as the motion sensor ball. When the player hops into their vehicle of choice, a sensor starts blinking in their mini-map; anyone that is detected within the radius of the sensor will be displayed both on the mini-map, and in the players’ field of view. This also detects mines and C4 explosives!
A useful perk for the Attack Chopper gunner’s seat, or a minigunner on the UH-64 Blackhawk, the Vehicle Electronics Package detects enemies even if they’re hidden from line of sight. It’s generally pretty hard for a Chopper Gunner to see enemies in their thermal camera, and this package will spot them for him. It’s a lot easier for a Chopper Gunner to aim at a red triangle than to search for a moving object.
Vehicle Enhanced Armor Package
The second vehicle specialization unlocked is the Enhanced Armor Package. In short, this package makes your tank or helicopter either take less damage, or nullify certain types of damage. A generally safe and rewarding choice for anyone operating a vehicle, the package protects against RPGs, tank main gun fire, chopper gunner fire and rocket fire. Another added perk that you may observe when fielding this specialization in a tank, is that it will sometimes reflect tank shots to your frontal armor. You may hear a “thud” from a hit, but you may also notice that you didn’t take any damage. This is a valuable compliment to whatever specialization your partner is carrying, but it does not stack; if more than one player in a vehicle has the Vehicle Enhanced Armor Package, you will only have the effect of one.
The Vehicle Enhanced Armor Package isn’t just for Tanks, it will vastly increase the durability of helicopters. Normally, one RPG hit will bring these behemoths down; with the Vehicle Enhanced Armor Package, one RPG hit will bring it down to 15-20% Health. This gives you the opportunity to get out of dodge, land and repair, and go back ready to rain hell from above again.
Vehicle Improved Warheads Package
Usually the third or so vehicle specialization unlock, this spec’ increases the damage of tank main gun fire, light tank main gun fire, helicopter gunner fire and helicopter rocket fire. Another generally rewarding choice, it’s best to use this specialization if you’re familiar with the handling of the said vehicles; the specialization only pays off when you hit your target. Remember to take into account moving targets, gravity and shot placement; hitting the rear armor of another tank with this specialization will ruin anybody’s day. That being said, it does deal a significantly heavier blow, but only to armored targets. Its explosion radius isn’t higher, so it’s not ideal for use against infantry. Again, this specialization does not stack; if more than one player is equipped with the Improved Warheads Package, it will only act as if only one is equipped, and the other specialization is wasted.
The Light tanks (M3A3 Bradley and BMD-3 Bakhcha) benefit vastly when equipped with the Improved Warheads Package; you’ll find that when enagaging a Main Battle Tank, such as the T-90 or M1A1 Abrams, your shots will deal significantly more damage, and, with clever maneuvering, may even defeat these fearsome armor assets!
Vehicle Improved Loading Racks Package
The Improved Loading Racks Package drastically decreases the amount of time it takes to reload. Helicopters will fire Rocket salvos with fewer seconds in between, and the same with the Helicopter Gunner. Main Battle Tanks will pump out rounds at an alarming rate, and APCs will fill the air with chain gun fire relentlessly. This specialization has both passive and real-time benefits; real time being a shorter reload length, and the passive benefit is being able compensate for the loss of accuracy when firing on the move. As opposed to the Vehicle Improved Warheads, this package compensates for missing a shot. If the player misses the target with their first shot/salvo, another shot/salvo is quickly up and ready to fire again; this is quite common when engaging enemy armor while on the move.
When piloting or gunning for a chopper, don’t be afraid to release your full salvo, known as “Alpha Striking”. The Rockets and 25mm Cannon only reload their full salvos after they’ve depleted their current ones; you may have one shot left, without knowing it, and when the time comes that you need to obliterate something, you’ll be stuck firing one shot and then reloading. It’s also better to put 6-8 rockets on a target – you may hit the surrounding infantry if the shots don’t necessarily land directly on target, and with the the Improved Loading Racks Package, another salvo will be ready in no time. As a result, your opponents will be bombarded by salvos of missiles and cannon fire with very little time in between.
Vehicle Smoke Screen Package
First introduced in the acclaimed Battlefield 2, the vehicle smoke screen has proved invaluable to many tank crews. Originally, it just provided a smoke screen to allow the driver to retreat back through the smoke and make field repairs. In Bad Company 2, the same tactics apply, but now the smoke doubles as an evasive measure; popping smoke will remove tracer dart plants, remove current spots,and prevent future spots for a brief period of time. Although vastly misunderstood and underused, this specialization is more useful than many people think. The next time you ragequit because a swarm of RPGs came out of nowhere bang on target, equip the Vehicle Smoke Screen Package and disappear… as well as you can hide a 47 tonne tank. Don’t worry, the smoke lasts a respectable amount of time.
Directional Smoke Deployment
Unlike in Battlefield 2, the smoke screen deploys in six directions, creating a hexagon of smoke concealment. This provides the opportunity to both sprint backwards through the smoke, or hop out immediately to start repairs. Either way, the smoke will provide cover and concealment.
The UAV is also equipped with smoke launchers; right click and this versatile UAV will lob 3 smoke grenades in the direction of your crosshair. Is there anything this UAV can’t do? Use this often! The assault players are usually reluctant to equip the 40mm Smoke grenade, so if you see a squad going for the M-COM or a Flag, pop smoke! It can save their skins, and 3 smoke grenades work a helluva lot better than one!
Vehicle Enhanced Optics Package
Many players have experience using this in the “Heavy Metal” mission in singleplayer. The Enhanced Optics Package provides a zoom, and a very powerful zoom at that, for Main Battle Tanks and APCs. The magnification is bigger with Main Battle Tanks than with APCs; MBTs would ideally use it’s powerful main cannon to hit enemies at longer distances, much like a Sniper, and APC’s would use the zoom to scan for areas to pummel with it’s chain gun. It does take a bit of getting used to, when controlling a Main Battle Tank, it feels a bit different as opposed to using the standard view. Most notably, you’ll observe how dramatically gravity affects the shells at long ranges. For Battlefield 2 veterans, you may feel comfortable already using the standard view, seeing as that was the only way to engage at long distances in Battlefield 2. Nonetheless, using the Enhanced Optics Package may give you the ability to strike foes without fear of being struck back.
For added defensive protection, you can position your tank in a Hull Down position. In essence, you place your tank in front of or on a slope, and position yourself so that only the hull, the armor next to the main cannon, is exposed.
Vehicle Alternate Fire Package
One of the benefits of purchasing the Limited Edition of Bad Company 2 is instant access to a versatile specialization called the “Alternate Fire Package”. If you don’t have the limited edition, just keep playing with vehicles; this specialization is last to be unlocked. I feel this section deserves a little more depth then the previous ones, as this spec’ enhances each vehicle differently.
Main Battle Tanks: Co-axial Machine Gun
The Co-axial machine gun is, simply put, a machine gun located next to the Gun Barrel that shoots using the same aiming reticule. It adds another machine gun that can serve the same purposes as the .50 caliber mounted on top, but doesn’t require a second player. However, it isn’t as accurate or as powerful as the mounted .50 caliber, so having a second player hop in isn’t, and never will be, out of the question. It is very useful for situations where enemy players are too close to engage with the main cannon.
APCs: TOW Guided Missile
The TOW Guided missile, equipped on the M3A3 Bradley and BMD-3 Bakhcha, works the same as the mounted TOW Missiles you find in the maps. The missile will follow wherever the red, flashing square on your crosshair, even after you’ve fired it. The TOW Missile is very strong against’ all kinds of armor, including Main Battle Tanks, and can give you a first strike bonus when encountering opposition. It’s also quite nifty at punching holes in walls.
Guiding the TOW Missile
When deploying the TOW missile, you can manipulate the path of the missile and use it to shoot “through hills” or “around corners”. If an opposing piece of armor is spotted, but a crate, or house is in the way, you can shoot the missile to the left, right, or above the obstacle, and as soon as the missile clears the it, place the cross hair on the spotted target, the red triangle. It takes a bit of getting used to, but when used correctly, your opponents won’t know what hit them.
Attack Helicopter: Tracer Dart, (Gunner), and Hellfire Missle, (Pilot).
The Attack Chopper gains the most deadly alternate fire, yet it also gains the most difficult one, too. When a player equips the Vehicle Alternate Fire Package with the Attack Chopper, the gunner is equipped with a tracer dart, deployed by pressing the default Right Mouse Button, and the pilot is equipped with a hellfire missile, the same missile used in conjunction with the UAV. Consequently, the most difficult to use alternate fire is the most deadly, and here’s a quick rundown on how to use it:
- The gunner finds an armored target.
- The gunner right clicks on the target, deploying a tracer dart.
Anyone else’s tracer dart works, too! Help your fellow squad members from the ground!
- The pilot maneuvers the helicopter, so that they face the target, crosshair roughly on the red square. There should be some distance, but not too much, to allow the hellfire to maneuver.
I went out and tested this, and it seems that this is the most crucial part; I found that keeping the chopper at a steady hover, and cross hair directly on the target, and the hellfire will most likely find it’s target. You do not have to wait for the red square to lock on, like the RPG tracing mechanism.
- The pilot deploys the Hellfire, you should hear the sound of the missile launching, and you should see a reddish projectile streaking towards the target.
It’s a very fickle thing to use, and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work. If anything, be glad that you actually know about the Hellfire. In the description, it claims that the specialization equips Light Tanks and Helicopter Gunners with a TOW missile…just be clear that it is wrong, for now.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): Co-axial Machine gun.
The UAV is upgraded with a co-axial machine gun, and works much like the co-axial machine gun mounted on the Main Battle Tanks. It isn’t the most accurate of machine guns, but most of the the enemies on the ground won’t realize what is hitting them; when players take gunfire, they usually assume it’s from another person on the ground. It gets more accurate the closer you are, but the trade-off there is that you are exposing the flimsy UAV to all kinds of fire. It’s also quite good at picking snipers out from windows… without bringing down the whole building.
The Battlefield series is known for its authentic and balanced implementation of land, sea, and air vehicles, and we should always make use of them! If you feel you are too unfamiliar with a vehicle, hop into an empty server and practice with it! This is especially helpful for those yearning to pilot attack choppers. Once you get a good feel for handling the armor, go ahead and see which vehicle specializations fit your gameplay style best.
In addition, make sure that the your team’s vehicles are always under your team’s control; don’t let the enemy steal your base’s Helicopter, even if that means blowing it up before the opposition can jump in it, and don’t let your opponents whore all of your armor assets; one of the best ways to fight tanks is with tanks of your own! Now get out there and show some Armored Fury!