If you’re one of the many people who unwrapped a copy of DICE’s wonderful Battlefield 3 this Christmas, you may well be feeling the late-to-the-party pressure right now; especially if you’ve arrived fresh from the haphazard Call of Duty boulevard. Battlefield 3 patently isn’t a lightning paced run-and-gun mash up, and because its matchmaking system isn’t shy about lumping newcomers in with hardened vets, the online learning curve can appear to be quite bewilderingly steep at times. Here are ten very elementary pointers to assist you…

1. Spot your enemies

The most fundamental suggestion, and always the first port of call on lists like this. By hitting the Spot command as soon as you have any enemy infantry or vehicle in your sights, you immediately make their location known to everyone on your team. If you’re playing Battlefield 3 correctly you should be spotting even as you’re about to pull the trigger on an opponent; that way even if they win the gunfight, you’ll highlight their location so that one of your teammates can go and finish them off.

2. Don’t stay in one place for too long

It’s always best to assume that you’ve already been spotted by a member of the opposition. Even if you haven’t, Battlefield 3 is rife with players who are either looking to flank you (in order to score a sly melee kill) or hog mortar stations that obviously thrive on stationary targets. Keep moving.

3. Make sure you’re in a squad

If Battlefield 3’s squad matchmaking tool isn’t working for you – and it can occasionally hang you out to dry in a permanent dead zone for some reason – try to join a squad manually via the pause menu. Your teammates act as mobile spawn points, and they’re utterly invaluable when you need to get back into the heart of the action quickly, however…

4. Don’t spawn on a squad mate when they’re in a gunfight

Unlike in Bad Company 2 – which granted you a brief spell of invincibility whenever you spawned on one of your squad – here you’re vulnerable as soon as you appear back on the field. If your squad mate is getting hammered by enemies next to an objective, it’s smarter to either wait for some downtime or spawn on another member of your team.

5. Experiment with each class

One of the most rewarding things about Battlefield 3 is the way that the entire trajectory of a match can shift after a series of well co-ordinated decisions, and the easiest decision that you can ever make involves changing your class to fit a given situation. If (for example) your squad are comprised of engineers and support troops and they’re getting bombarded by vehicles beside an objective, spawn as Assault infantry in order to drop health packs and revive downed members of your team.

6. Forget about your K/D ratio

Unlike in CoD it doesn’t pay to be obsessed with your kill-to-death ratio in Battlefield 3. There are a great many ways to rack up points here and scoring kills is rarely the most valuable one. So hanging back to score kills as a Recon sniper when you’re supposed to be attacking an objective in Rush, is usually a surefire way to get yourself booted from a proactive squad.

7. If you’ve got the time, reload twice

Standard assault rifles and carbines have thirty rounds in each clip, but if you hit reload again after reloading once, you’ll be given a single extra bullet. It’s inessential but you’ll be surprised by how often that final round delivers the kill shot that you so desperately need.

8. If you manage to place a spawn beacon in a perfect location as a Recon soldier…

…don’t re-spawn as Recon again after perishing or your beacon will explode.

9. Use suppressing fire

When you lay down fire around an enemy’s location – even if they’re in cover – it has a profound effect on their field of vision; if you’re at a safe enough distance it can render them basically immobile. And heavily susceptible to attention from other members of your team, provided (of course) that you’ve spotted the enemy for them first.

10. Don’t be shy about changing your weapon loadouts between spawns

Although it’s cumbersome at first, it should only take a couple of minutes for you to become adept at manoeuvring briskly between Battlefield 3’s loadout menu screens. On maps that switch between indoor and outdoor terrain such as Operation Metro, changing the features of your primary weapon (such as furnishing it with a heat-sensitive scope or adding the torch peripheral) can be helpful in the extreme. Similarly, equipping shotguns on the fly for close quarters skirmishes, and then adding mortars to your loadout when the scope of the battle fluctuates, is a technique that’s capable of giving you the upper hand almost immediately.

Battlefield 3 is out now on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. To read our full review, click here.

Battlefield 3 also placed highly on our recent countdown of the 25 best games of 2011; to view that list in full, click here

Watch the Battlefield 3 launch trailer below:

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