For a select few, even the hardest levels of any given run and gun title just don’t offer the right kind of experience. If you’re one of those battle-hardened FPS veterans, a new early access title called Squad (by a group of developers who worked together on the Project Reality mod for Battlefield 2) should definitely be on your radar.
Currently Squad is all about the infantry, with staggering 50 vs. 50 battles on absolutely massive maps! More modes are expected to be added in the March update. Vehicles in particular are a big addition still on the horizon, as Squad lets the player base test out new features and discover whether or not the game will be able to compete with the likes of War Thunder or World Of Tanks.
For now though, players will have to be content with an on-foot experience in Afghanistan-inspired maps. Early access is projected to continue through the end of the year, with a full release towards the end of 2016/beginning of 2017.
The name of the game here is difficult realism: don’t expect to even see your killers for the first hour or so of trying out Squad, and it will probably be longer before you actually manage to effectively return fire and hit anybody who isn’t on your team. Before jumping in and getting annihilated (and very likely ticking off your team), there are some important Squad tactics to learn ahead of time.
Keep in mind that as an early access game, any of this information could change at any time.
Read The Manual/Master The Firing Range
How often are video game manuals actually necessary or even remotely useful? Somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.001% of the time? That is not the case with Squad, where the manual is not only useful, it is absolutely mandatory.
This is the big leagues folks, and there is zero hand-holding to be found here. If you don’t know the difference between FOB, RP, and BCP, you aren’t ready to play Squad.
There’s no mini-map with an arrow pointing to your objective and a bunch of red blips revealing where the insurgents are hiding. With the exception of a loading screen explaining the keyboard layout, Squad doesn’t tell you what to do or how to do it.
Even the tutorial map – which you absolutely should spend some time on learning how movement and combat works without anyone shooting at you – doesn’t have a single on-screen message explaining what to do or where to go. Presumably some hints and tips or a more full tutorial experience will be added in with a future update, but for now, this is a game for people who thought Arma III wasn’t hardcore enough. And being successful starts with cracking open the manual here.
The firing range is where you should live until you know your gun
After reading the manual, head into the tutorial map and bring up the console by tapping the ~ key. Type “AdminAllKitsAvailable 1” (without the quotes) to make all roles and weapons available, and then grab whatever you’d like from the ammo dump outside the starting spawn point. This will likely be removed in the final release, but for now this is the best way to learn how each weapon works, what their reload times are like, and figure out how to gauge bullet trajectories and distances at the firing range.
Communication Is Key In Squad
A microphone should really be listed under the system requirements, as there’s no HUD giving away the position of the enemy or clearly explaining where to run and what to protect. You absolutely have to talk to your teammates in order to relay enemy positions and find out where your squad members need backup.
The first thing you should do when joining a server is vocally announce your arrival and continue to check in every few minutes. The more people are talking, the better your squad will do in any given map. Listen in and follow your squad leader’s instructions, as he or she will know where you should be putting pressure on the insurgents and where you should be fortifying and standing your ground.
Voice chat isn’t just for planning assaults or letting squad members know where to aim their fire – you also have to verbally call for a medic when you are incapacitated. This is key, as you’ll be tempted to give up and just respawn when you go down, but in Squad that’s actually a bad tactic. Instead, wait for backup to revive you so you can help keep your allies alive longer.
Unless you all got killed by a grenade – don’t immediately respawn!
If you don’t have a microphone setup (and again, you absolutely need one to be successful in Squad), you can take part in inefficient text chat instead by tapping the “L” key.
The enemy team doesn’t hear your chatter (although they do hear the in-game scream when you are incapacitated, which may give your position away), so don’t worry about tipping them off to your plans. The only way to communicate with the other side is through global chat (accessed with the “J” key), although there’s very few reasons you’d ever need to do so.
Use Your Ears First, Eyes Second
Each gun sounds different, and the echo will tell you more about where it came from than the explosion of dirt next to you. The main exception here is with tracer fire, which your squad leader will use to show where you should be firing. When you see green and red rounds going in any direction besides towards you, its a good bet you should be shooting at that location too, even if you can’t see the enemy yet.
If those colored rounds are headed your way however, the origin point is the direction to be looking for an opposing squad, and it’s a good bet there will be several enemies in that area for a target rich environment.
Don’t get all trigger happy yet though – until you feel comfortable in your ability to return fire without getting torn to shreds, the very first thing you should do as soon as you hear gunfire is to drop to the ground and stop making yourself a target.
Your vision goes blurry and accuracy decreases when being targeted by suppressing fire from the opposing side, so in this case it’s better to get out of harm’s way and try to maneuver to a better position than to blindly fire. Remember that friendly fire is always on, so unless your squad leader has specifically told you where to fire, be sure of your target before you pull that trigger.
Know Your Role/Squad Combat Basics
You will be tempted to take the rocket launcher or marksman roles right off the bat. Don’t. You won’t live long enough to make use of those shiny toys, and your teammates need a medic much more than they need someone who will ineffectually destroy a patch of field 30 yards away from the enemy position anyway. It’s better to learn the ropes in the rifleman and medic roles, and then work your way up after you’ve figured out how to survive more than a few minutes at a time.
You can choose your equipment kit from the “Roles” option in the map respawn menu screen, with more types of kits available as more players joint the server. If a specific role is still available, you can also change your role on the fly at ammo crates instead of waiting until you die and respawn.
The first thing to keep in mind during combat, even before aiming and firing, is your stamina. If it’s depleted from running, your accuracy will go down and you won’t be able to jump – which can be deadly if there’s a tiny stone wall between you and the cover of a building. Staying crouched will reduce your chances of getting torn to pieces by gunfire, but don’t forget that walking while crouching does not recover stamina! You need to be standing or prone to recover.
Tiny walls are big killers here…
When actually in a firefight, keep track of your ammo and always take into account reload times, which are best learned on the training server and not during an Advance And Secure mission. Reload times are much longer here than in your typical FPS, and those few seconds are all it takes for some insurgents to gun you down.
There’s not a ton of ammo lying around like in your typical shooter, so be sure to resupply when you can at the ammo crates. There’s always one at the Base Control Point (the first spawn point on a map that the enemy can’t take control of), and if your squad leader is on top of things, they’ll also be available at Forward Operating Bases.
No matter how quick you are, eventually you are going to get hit, and most wounds cause bleeding, which darkens the screen and causes constant health loss. Eventually you’ll die from wound bleeding, so to stay in the fight a little longer you can apply a field dressing to yourself even if you aren’t the medic. This won’t revive you (or anyone else) while incapacitated, but it will stop you from bleeding out before getting shot again. Pull up the field dressing option by cycling through your equipment with the mouse’s scroll wheel.
Respawn Effectively and Focus On Objectives
To be most useful to your squad, you need to choose the right spawn location: the BCB (Base Control Point), a FOB (Forward Operating Base) conquered at strategic locations further into the map, or a temporary RP (Rally Point) setup by your squad leader.
You are least likely to get killed again at a BCB, and are guaranteed ready access to ammo – but these maps are huge and hoofing it across the area takes forever, so in most cases it’s better to start much closer to the action. Spawn times are reduced on any FOB, and keep in mind that each RP has a limited number of spawns: once used up, that RP will no longer available to your team, so use them wisely.
If you land at an FOB, be on the lookout for new structures placed by your squad leader. You can fortify these structures using your shovel and build up better defenses for an edge, but don’t get bogged down by digging in to heavily.
Fortifying an FOB
Focusing on the map’s objectives is always a better idea than going on the defensive. In Advance and Secure for instance, you have to capture specific locations in order, so you should always be in communication with your team as to how you are going to approach the next point and dislodge anyone already camped out there.
Time is of the essence in Insurgency mode, however. You should always be searching for enemy weapon caches to destroy them as quickly as possible, while following squad leader orders to avoid getting caught out in the open.
One day your squad will be this in sync!
That’s it for the basics, and the best way to learn is to play, so jump in and put these Squad tips and tricks to work! Stay tuned for our next tactics article about playing specific roles, and be sure to let us know if you’ve come up with any solid strategies that consistently see your team to victory.