Battlefield 4 Guide: How to Play Commander Mode
From my time playing as a Commander on PS4, I’d say that a good amount of players are overwhelmed, confused, or simply don’t know how to play as a Commander in Battlefield 4. It’s a shame too, because a good Commander can be a huge, if subtle help to your team, and playing as a Commander is a totally different experience. This guide will tell you how to get started, what to do, and offer strategies on how to push your team to victory.
Commander mode can be played in many ways. Depending on whether you’re playing on PC with a mouse, console with a controller, or through the tablet app, the controls are a bit different. I’m not going to go over the specific controls, but I will explain what you have access to.
The first thing to take note of is the left side of the screen, which lists some of your abilities, referred to in-game as assets. You’ll always have access to a few core assets, but to unlock better assets like Infantry Scan, Vehicle Scan, and the Cruise Missile, your team will have to capture objectives. You’ll aid them in this by providing intel, revealing enemy targets, and even directing squad leaders toward objectives.
On the right side of the screen you’ll see a list of squads, which you can scroll through and give orders to attack specific objectives. They can accept the order (by opening the Commo Rose and selecting “Accept Order”) and that will the squad’s new objective. In addition, highlighting a squad leader on the map and opening the menu will give you access to squad-specific assets.
Squad Assets require points, which are represented by a green bar that looks like the Field Upgrade bar in normal gameplay. As you get points for helping out your team, you can spend them to provide specific squads with promotions, ammo drops, and quicker respawns.
In essence, the flow goes like this -- provide your team with guidance and intel, and if they follow your orders you’ll get points to spend and boost your squads’ abilities. Better squads will be better at capturing objectives, and more captured objectives means better abilities for you. Now let’s dive into what each ability does!
Commander Assets (aka Your “god powers”)
Scan UAV - Highlights all the enemy targets in an area for your teammates. Their positions appear on the players’ mini maps. This ability has a very short cooldown, so you’ll want to use it as much as possible, specifically in hotspots around objectives where it will help your team.
EMP UAV - The EMP is a counter to the Scan UAV. Using it will block intel in an area temporarily, allowing you to mask the movements of your team from the enemy commander. The cooldown is longer for the EMP, so you’ll have to pick your battles with this one. Blocking an objective as a large amount of your team goes in to capture it would be a smart move.
High Value Target - If an enemy attains a killstreak of 6 or more, they become a High Value Target. Selecting them and marking them as a HVT will paint a giant target on their head for your team. You should keep an eye out for enemies with an orange box around them to use this.
Evac Order - Selecting an area and calling an Evac Order will warn teammates in that area of danger. This can be used in a couple ways. For one, you can warn of a large enemy presence or an incoming vehicle. The more direct use is to counter the other team’s commander if they launch a cruise missile, alerting your team to clear the area.
Order - This is your basic order to direct a squad to an objective. Select a squad and then select an objective to use. One thing to consider is that just because a squad leader is near an objective doesn’t mean the rest of their squad is. You want to give direction that is useful to the squad as a whole.
Infantry Scan - Initiates a scan for enemy soldiers that runs from the left side of the map to the right in a single pass and marks infantry as it hits them. There’s no real strategy to using this one other than making sure you use it regularly.
Vehicle Scan - Same concept as the Infantry Scan, but for enemy vehicles. This scan passes from the top of the map to the bottom and should also be used as often as it is available.
Cruise Missile - You know those sniper roosts in some of the larger maps where 18 Recon guys set up with a spawn beacon and just ruin everyone’s day? The Cruise Missile is the definitive answer to that. It takes a long time to reach its target, but when it gets there it causes quite a mess.
Gunship - The Gunship is an AC-130 that circles whichever objective you choose to deploy it on. Other players on your team can spawn inside it and fire from the sky or use it as a parachute drop point. It's best placed over an enemy held objective that your team is pushing towards.
Squad Assets (aka “cookies for the best squad”)
Promote Squad - Promoting a squad transfers points from your Squad Asset bar to their Field Upgrade bar. Promote squads and their abilities improve, allowing them to more easily claim objectives and, in turn, bring points to you. The trick is figuring out which squads to promote. Use the squad selection to see what squads are hanging on to their field upgrades, claiming objectives, and kicking ass. That, or level up your friends, because we know that’s what you’re really going to do.
Supply Drop - For the teammate who survives long enough to run out of ammo, or the Engineer destroying vehicles all day long, ammo drops are like a gift from the heavens. Unfortunately, many Support players don’t drop ammo unless it’s beneficial to them too, so ammo starved players could use your help. Either keep an eye out for ammo requests, or drop packs near higher concentrations of teammates.
Rapid Deploy - If a squad is pushing an objective hard, defending a conquest point, or running a bomb, you want to keep that squad alive. They’re the only ones who are guaranteed to be able to spawn off of each other and stick together, and Rapid Deploy helps them do this even more efficiently.
Vehicle Drop - It’s the usual Battlefield nightmare scenario -- you spawn in, run to a vehicle, and then another player grabs it and drives off. Now you have a five minute jog between you and the closest objective. Commanders should keep an eye out for these poor, abandoned players and offer them a vehicle drop. Or, if you need a getaway vehicle for the bomb carrier in Obliteration, this is an excellent option.
Now get out there and command!
Once you’ve got the interface down, and you know what each asset does, playing Commander is all about keeping tabs on the battlefield and knowing what abilities to use next. At the very least, using whatever is available to you at the time and doing that continuously throughout the match is a good and helpful start. From there, once you have the hang of it, you can start making tactical considerations. Guiding your team to victory from a 2D map screen might not be as fun as scoring a bunch of headshots, but it’s a really cool way for strategy fans to change it up and fill a role that not enough players seem to have the guts for. So don’t be scared, get commanding, and share your experience and tips in the comments below!
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