The most important aspect of movement is arriving at your destination. If all you had to do was hang out and sit on your couch, we wouldn’t need to have this conversation. So what’s the best way to safely traverse the battlefield from point A to point B?
Section 1 – Overwatch
There are thousands of bunny hopping ‘no-scope’ kiddies running around screaming ‘BOOM! HEADSHOT” at the top of their lungs with sniper rifles and that’s whatever. Most people just starting out with shooters pick up the sniper kit real quick because it’s very low risk and high reward. You sit back and pitch your tent far away from the action where you wait for bad players to walk into your crosshairs so that you can pull the trigger and say that you’re good at the game.
When you’re ready to put your big boy pants on and actually help your team complete objectives, you might be able to graduate to the Overwatch Sniper. Recon kits are particularly suited to this position due mainly to the long range visibility offered by their default primary weapon. Several modern shooters also offer additional concealment with player skins and outfits. Ghillie suits are becoming common enough that you may even have several different options.It’s like a damned wookie convention in ARMA III.
When choosing someone to be on overwatch, you’ee looking for a few qualities. The most important of which is to find someone with good communication skills. Quick, precise and easily identified directions such as “two men 1 o’clock 50 feet” is far more useful than even “There are two guys about fifty feet in front of you.” You can extrapolate from here the importance of having someone who doesn’t get tongue tied when you’re moving across hostile territory. The five extra seconds it takes for them to speak could mean the difference between which squad gets wiped.
Now that your man on overwatch is calling out enemy positions, how do you get to the objective. Certainly one way is to just move when your guy tells you it’s safe, but rarely will he have a view of the entire area. Trees, vehicles, rocks and buildings get in the way. You’re going to need to navigate your path through enemies and terrain, some of which will have no advanced warning. That means that you need to keep maximum vision as well as protection, which means bounding overwatch.
Section 2 – Bounding Overwatch
The hunter isn’t running around the jungle parkouring over logs and scaling trees with a rifle in her hand. She’s moving deliberately, methodically over terrain while tracking her prey. All the time masking her scent and trail from potential predators. These concepts make up the heart of bounding overwatch.
We touched on formation toward the end of the BT – Fields of Fire article. I’m not going to go much further in depth with different formations at this time except to remind you to be aware of your fields of fire while you move.
As with most new ideas, when you start out practicing this technique with your squad, you’re going to fuck them up. A lot. Trust me when I say that once you reach the opposite side of the learning curve, the frustration is worth it.
- The concept is simple – One or two men move from cover to cover while the rest of the squad stays in cover scanning the area ahead. Switch roles and repeat.
2.02 – The Rabbit and the Owl
There are two roles here that we’ll call the rabbit and the owl. You’re going to switch off between the two. Everyone starts out in cover. Whether it’s staged in a doorway or behind some trees your whole squad is safe behind bullet proof environment. The Rabbit is up. Pick one or two of your guys (dependent upon how much you trust each others spotting and shooting skills). Right now, these are your rabbits. Their entire job is to quickly – read ‘under 2 seconds’ scan the area immediately in front of you in the direction of your objectives and run there. That’s it.
This is the reason that you need to trust everyone on your team to sight – acquire – fire in a timely manner. It is not the rabbits job to stop and shoot enemies. It is the job of the owl. The practical reason that rabbits should not stop is that it’s more difficult to hit a moving target than a stationary target. If you keep running, you might make it to your destination. If you stop running, you likely will not. Many modern shooters won’t allow you to fire your weapon while running. Instead, your gun swings back and forth useless in front of you. If you want to shoot, you first have to get through transition animations to walking as well as the raise weapon animation. While these animations take, in most cases, only a few seconds, it takes about 1/50th that time for your opponent to simply click the mouse button.
Therefore, the Owl, safely behind cover, must watch over his rabbits and kill any other predator that may seek to take his meal from him. Not that you’ll be shooting your own guy and eating him, but you get the idea. Those rabbits are yours. The Owl sits behind cover scanning the area for enemy shooters. Where the rabbit would have to stop and watch animations before firing at an enemy, the owl has but to aim and fire. In addition to being faster, the Owl is more accurate than the rabbit. Modern shooters also take into account movement when deciding a weapons accuracy. Since the Owl is stationary and in many cases crouched – his weapon is more accurate. This adds to the probability that the owl will kill a threat faster than the rabbit.
See why I said you need trust and skill here? If your owls are terrible shots, the rabbits will likely die. So you can go two by two or you can have one rabbit and three owls. This is slower but also safer.
Once your rabbits reach cover, everyone take a moment to scan the area and clear it. The case may very well occur that once your rabbits find cover, more enemies appear. Take a moment to kill them before moving on. After all, the goal here is to reach your objectives with your entire team intact.
Now that the area is clear, the roles change. The owls become rabbits. Find a place AHEAD of the previous rabbits. You want to make forward progress. This is where the ‘bounding’ part of the title comes into play. You’re basically leap frogging ahead of one another over and over, keeping each other protected.
If you practice this technique with your squad frequently, you’re going to have an edge over 90% of all the people you ever meet in random public games.
Section 3 – Isolation
So here you are with two hours to kill before school or work and you dive into a game. Your normal squad is off doing something else and you’ve found your way onto a pick up group who refuses to work together. How do you get from one place to another. Here we’ll assume that you’re not in berserker mode – which I’ll cover in a future article [found here].
The best way to stay alive is to be your own overwatch. Here you’ll start in cover. Scan the area around you while you’re safe. While you’re looking and listening for the enemy, find your next vantage point. You should be looking for something that affords you at least two sides of cover. I understand that this isn’t always available, but it’s what you’re shooting for nonetheless.Here’s the tough part. When you’re moving – who’s going to cover you? I just spent all this time telling you that stopping to shoot someone is a mistake. Well this is one area where experience is the best teacher. Each situation is going to be different and each person is going to be different. As you play each game, your goal is to internalize the timings of animations, run speed, amount of health and armor you have and damage.
Should you stop running to shoot when you’re alone? Sure. Sometimes. There are too many variables here to consider for me to give you a definite answer. With your crew it’s a clear ‘probably not.’ When you’re alone it’s a crap shoot.
You will want to take into account the next article where we look at cover and concealment.