What vehicle do you turn to when you need to turn the tide on the battlefield?
Most people turn to the tried and true Main Battle Tanks (MBT) in order to gain superiority of the ground. But what if there was another option that could achieve all the same goals, yet get you there faster and stay on station longer?
The Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) in Battlefield 3 offer a unique and powerful alternative to the larger MBTs. The issue for many, however seems to be a steeper learning curve that can often leave inexperienced users feeling that the IFVs are weaker. This view is wrong.
In expert hands, the IFVs hit much harder than a MBT in one-on-one combat and offer better speed, maneuverability, and armor. Below is a quick explanation of the different IFVs in game and how to choose the best loadouts for them.
There are 3 IFVs in Battlefield 3; the American LAV-25, and the Russian BMP-2M and BTR-90. Each offers a main seat with a 6 shot auto-cannon usable against light armor and infantry, a gunner position with a light machine gun, and 4 passenger positions, each with a limited visibility light machine gun. This makes IFVs capable of carrying a load of firepower into the fight, and allows you to ride around with engineers for fast repairs.
The BTR-90 only appears on the Back to Karkand expansion maps, and as such is one that many people have little experience with. It is a wheeled vehicle, allowing for extra speed with the drawback being less maneuverability in close quarters.
The BMP-2M is the other Russian IFV and is the only option in the class for a tracked vehicle. While slightly slower than the other IFVs, the BMP can turn on a dime and seems to offer a more stable platform for firing off of sloped terrain.
Finally, we have what many players feel is the best IFV, the US Marine’s LAV-25. This wheeled vehicle offers a ton of speed, letting you get in and out of situations as necessary. It also has one advantage over the other entries that cannot be overlooked: it floats! This allows even more avenues of attack to open up, leaving no place for your enemies to hide.
So how should any of these beasts be loaded out? Many of the options for the IFV mirror that of the MBT, but with a couple key differences.
For the passive armor slot, you can choose between Belt Speed, Proximity Scan, Maintenance, Thermal Camo, and Reactive Armor. Of these, only Proximity Scan and Reactive Armor are really viable.
Proximity Scan allows you to see all threats close to your vehicle, whether they are moving or cowering in a corner. Reactive Armor allows your IFV to absorb the first shot it takes to each side, leaving you in the fight longer. If you plan on being more aggressive and battling enemy T-90s and Abrams, reactive armor will be the way to go.
In your active slot, you have IR Smoke for dodging enemy lock-on missiles, Thermal Sights to spot targets concealed by the environment, or Zoom Optics to take accurate shots at distant targets.
This is mostly a personal preference, as some people prefer Zoom Optics to Thermals. With the Main Battle Tanks, the choice is more in the air, but here it will almost always be thermal sights over zoom optics, as thermals are more useful while on the move and up close to potential threats. The IR Smoke is a nice default and something you should switch to if the enemy seems to be loaded up with Javelin users.
Finally we have the secondary weapon slot. Similar to the MBT, you can choose the guided missile for locking onto armor and equipment, or the Coaxial Light Machine Gun for taking down infantry targets. Uniquely, you have access to a TOW missile launcher, which fires a wire guided projectile at enemy armor. It is somewhat difficult to use, as it requires to keep your cross-hairs on target the entire way, but the payoff is massive damage, often disabling tanks in one shot.
There is one final secondary weapon attachment that makes the IFVs a true force: APFSDS-T shells. This provides you with 6 armor-piercing rounds that deal high damage to tanks and other armor. A full salvo of these plus the main 6 shells is often enough to disable a tank, if not outright destroy it, and all before the other player can often react. These shells offer a limited anti-infantry effect as they don’t have any area effect damage.
An IFV with reactive armor and the APFSDS rounds is a formidable foe. With a competent gunner/repair man, you have all of the tools to rapidly outflank enemy tanks and positions, hit hard, then get out before your light armor becomes a liability.
Your advantage is your speed, so always use this and remain mobile whenever possible to maximize your results.
One strategy that can carry over into other games but seems even more important with the IFVs is to always have an escape route. On tight urban maps such as Tehran Highway or Strike at Karkand this will usually be a side street you can duck down to avoid unexpectedly fierce resistance. On bigger, more open maps, use rocks, trees, and hills to pillar off of and avoid enemy fire.
How aggressive you ultimately play with the IFV depends largely on whether you have a competent gunner with you. If you’re running solo, it is necessary to not only have an escape route, but to use it much earlier. Getting disabled while alone will leave you dead more often than not.
If you have a gunner or are even lucky enough to have multiple friendlies in your IFV, you can be much more aggressive and stay on point much longer. The extra sets of eyes will protect you from surprise C4 rushes and the extra people can even repair you and allow you to get out of some more sticky situations.
So there you have a brief synopsis of the Infantry Fighting Vehicles and what attachments to use. It seems counter-intuitive that the most dominant vehicle on the Battlefield is a piece of light armor, but with the tactics and weapons described above you can be just that.