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General 'real life' tactics that work in Insurgency and any other tactical shooter.
As the title suggests, this is a brief overview of simple general tactics that are useful in the game. This is not a guide on how to roleplay or things that are even specific to Insurgency. This guide will hopefully improve your play in every high-stakes, high-damage tactical game.
To start off, I'll discuss some general tactics for the lone wolf, before moving on to more team-based oriented tactics. This is ofcourse because of the nature of public multiplayer in general, because you won't be lucky enough to find yourself in a team that uses VOIP to communicate and coördinate. Therefor sometimes you might find yourself on your own or playing alongside but independant of others in your team. But by employing better tactics as a lone soldier you'll be a bigger help to your team when you do manage to set up a communicating fireteam, as hopefully you won't get shot right away.
These are general tips and basic principles that will work in any tactical game. Pictures are courtesy of www.tangodown.nl, a Dutch tactical gaming community which I am a part of. One of the pictures therefor has a Dutch title, but with the description I added above it you'll get the point.
In addition, in the sections below I mention cover and concealment, but ran out of space to go further into it. Wherever I refer to cover, I am talking about hard, solid objects, preferably impenetrable like thick concrete walls, but this also refers to cars and such. Concealment on the other hand is, like the word says, something that merely hides you from plain view. This refers to trees, bushes, and any other object that will give you the same amount of protection as a smoke grenade would... Generally speaking you will always prefer hard cover over soft concealment, because when the enemy does a 'probe by fire' (randomly picking targets and putting a few rounds into them in the hopes of getting a kill), concealment won't do anything to protect you.
1. Playing as a lone soldier.
So maybe your team doesn't communicate and work together. Maybe your entire team got shot and you are all that's left. In both cases, you'll have to fight for yourself, and while the odds will be stacked against you, you might come out on top.
A. The art of seeing without being seen. (AKA Situational Awareness)
The best way of surviving combat is ofcourse to not be seen. Insurgency maps are rather smallish (especially compared to a game like ArmA or even Rainbow Six: Raven Shield, or the original Ghost Recon), but there are still plenty of ways to conceal yourself while stationary or while moving.
Primary among this is ofcourse keeping a low profile. Kneel or go prone where ever the situation allows for it to keep yourself out of sight. This might not always be the best option! If you find yourself in a small room for instance, you might not be able to get out fast enough when an enemy soldier throws a frag grenade into the room, especially when he 'cooks' the grenade. I make it a general rule to only kneel in urban environments, unless I find a particularly nice spot in which to hide that calls for me to go prone. I generally only go prone in outdoor environments.
When you move, move from cover to cover. Once your back in cover, do some 'tactical waiting'. Whereas in other games you might be called a camper for sitting still behind cover or waiting in a corner, those games generally have higher moveability for the player, and you can get away with being a bit reckless. Thus sitting and waiting in corners can be considered cowardly. But in a game like Insurgency or other tactical shooters, the fact that you move slower and you'll die very quickly from a hit or two, changes this completely. Ofcourse, this is no excuse to just sit in a corner for an entire round, especially if you are the last man left. But a tactical shooter is a game of mice, and thus of waiting for someone to make that first mistake that gets him shot. Move forward, but do so sensibly: from cover to cover, peak out before you move again, and scan your environment for movement as you go. Move methodically. This is absolutely critical to seeing without being seen, and thus the difference between being the shooter and the one getting shot.
Take care that you don't move too much while in cover, because movement gives you away. But as a sidenote, don't move too little either. If you sit TOO still you can't keep a proper eye on your surroundings, which means you might get flanked. Avoid tunnel vision, but be methodical in your movements. Maintain situational awareness at all times!
B. Outdoor environments.
Pay attention to your surroundings. While it is easy to hide from sight completely in urban environments, in more open environments like you'll find on the map Peak it is far harder. A major issue here is called 'skylining', which is the act of standing on the crest of a hill with just the sky behind you as a backdrop. This makes you stand out like a sore thumb, and will get you shot within seconds. Generally you'll want to stay away from the tops of hills, either standing just behind them to shoot over it (in which position you can see, but also quickly kneel back into cover when shots are returned in your direction). If you can, make sure you have a background that isn't sky. Desert camo and clear blue skies don't mix well.
To counter that statement, ofcourse hilltops provide the best overview. Walking through a valley gives you tunnel vision, as enemies might move to your left or right without you knowing it. Try to find a happy in-between.
In addition, keep in mind that objects that offer you cover or concealment come in two forms: hard edged en soft edged. This being a difference for instance between a rock with a smooth surface, or a bush with branches sticking out on all sides. Standing behind the rock might get you noticed sooner, because your silhouette does not blend in with the environement. However, hiding under trees with low-hanging branches or behind bushes is an excellent way to break your silhouette, which makes you less recognizeable as an enemy combatant.
C. Close Quarters Combat.
As I said earlier, hiding in CQB is much easier than a sparse outdoor environment like Insurgency's deserts. All it takes is for you to step to the side or duck, and depending on if you haven't backed yourself into a corner and you have some directions left to take, you could be anywhere. You could be taking a big detour, or simply be waiting a few seconds to let off some rounds again. That said, there are still some things to consider while fighting in close quarters.
One example is windows. Don't stand too close to them, or your barrel might stick out. Then all that needs to happen is for an insurgent to notice this and toss in a frag grenade. Stand more towards the back. Though you'll have less vision this way, you'll be hidden among the darker shadows farther into the room and your barrel can't give your position away. In real life, or in a game like Red Orchestra 2, this has the added effect of the room muffling your gunshots, making it harder to pinpoint your location by sound.
As with the outdoor environment, consider hiding your silhouette. For example, if you stand at the corner of an undamaged building with a straight wall, your body will stick out against the straight edge. Things in nature are never perfectly straight or round (or maybe with a really big exception), but those walls are. Thus you will stand out. Instead, try finding broken walls that you can peak through. Because of it's jagged edges, another discrepancy in it's shape won't stand out so much. Find small holes that can be used to fire through, or shoot from under cars. Minimize your exposure as much as possible. If there are no broken walls around, try finding objects that might accomplish the same effect as a bush.
Grenades are another major resource for you to use. If you don't feel safe peeking out, throwing a grenade, flashbang, or smoke grenade to kill, blind or distract your enemy might save your life. You can bounce them off of walls, so you won't have to expose yourself. During the siege of Stalingrad, Soviet soldiers were ordered to throw at least two frag grenades into each room before entering, either killing, wounding or dazing the enemy and greatly enhancing their own survival rate. Don't be shy with grenades.
D. Slice the pie.
Slicing the pie is an action referring to sidestepping at doorways, so that only a small portion of the room is revealed with each step. This will help you to kill a room with multiple hostiles, even when you are alone. By simply walking or running in, you might expose yourself to multipe hostiles at the same time. So stick to a wall, keep your sights up, and move slowly untill you are at the doorway. Once there, sidestep to the other side of the door, preferabbly while leaning so you won't expose too much of your body.
Like so: E. Staircases.
The main thing with staircases is that they will usually be watched. Don't simply storm up them, but take careful consideration on how you scale it. When one side of the staircase is cleared, turn around and ascend the staircase by walking backwards so you don't get shot in the back.
F. Lastly, be unpredictable.
Once you are seen and engaged by opposing forces, predictability is what kills you. Try to shift position as much as you can. If you are pinned down and can't move, behave erattically. Lean left, lean right, lean left twice, go prone and shoot from that position. Don't just keep popping up in the same position, because most likely the enemy will have his sights fixed on the last place he saw you.
Take all of this into account not only when you are alone, but also when in a team.
2. General team tactics to be employed at all times!
A. 180 and 360 degree formations.
This is the most basic form of teamwork found in not just tactical shooters, but also in games like Left 4 Dead. A 180 or 360 degree formation means nothing more than while you are in a squad, you make sure that all angles of approach are covered. A 360 degree formation is used in open terrain, where the enemy might come at you from any angle. A 180 is thus used in CQB, when the team is stacked up against a wall. Even while you are operating as a lone wolf alongside other players, keep notice of the directions they are watching. Look for gaps in the coverage, and fill that gap. While it might seem boring to be a rearguard, it is absolutely essential to keeping everybody alive. Nothing kills your team off faster than a good flank by the enemy. And in maps like Insurgency, you can trust me when I say that sooner or later, somebody WILL pop up in your rear or on your flanks. So keep them covered if no-one else does!
When you are playing with friends or willing teammates in a public session, this will be far easier because you can communicate with one another. You can designate each person an 'Area of Responsibility'. Somebody will be the pointman, somebody will cover left, somebody will cover right, and somebody will cover the rear. If there are more than four people working together, you simply keep one pointman, one rearguard, and have everybody else be either responsible for the left or the right.
This will look like the picture below: B. Bounding overwatch.
This is similar to moving from cover to cover as a lone wolf, but this time you are doing it with a buddy or a group of teammates. This is much better for crossing open area's because when you are alone, you can't give yourself proper covering fire, but a teammate can. This greatly increases your chances to survive the crossing.
Get to cover, lean out and scan your surroundings. If it's clear, give the next in line a shout to go. When that person reaches the other side safely, he will take over watching your sector so that you can now move across the open terrain safely as well. If an enemy pops up, ofcourse shoot to kill, but if he gets to cover before you have a chance to kill him, provide covering fire to keep his head down. And ofcourse, if there are more than two of you, have somebody keeping an eye on the rear so you don't get flanked!
C. Covering fire.
I already mentioned this just above of here, but it's important and thus deserves it's own section. Covering fire is a valid tactic in Insurgency, as you'll notice yourself when you play. When bullets fly by closely, your screen gets blurry and shaky, thus you are less able to fire back accurately. When you are playing as a lone wolf this is not as adviseable, because covering fire requires sustained firing, and because you are alone you won't have anybody watching your back. Repeated gunfire from the same location will get you flanked and killed. Thus it is far more adviseable to use covering fire when you are part of a team. Help your team to keep the enemies heads down, so that they may either cross an open area safely, to keep an enemy pinned down so they may be flanked, or keep your enemies heads down long enough for a teammate to throw a grenade. Ofcourse, keep firing untill the thing has exploded otherwise the enemy might simply run away from it.
An important note to covering fire: don't fire all at once! While the overwhelming firepower of four riflemen shooting at you will keep your head down without question, sooner or later they will run out of ammo and they will have to reload. If a teammate is giving covering fire, don't shoot. Wait for him to reload, then take over from him. This way you will always be throwing down a wall of lead at the enemy.
Roomclearing is preferable to slicing the pie by yourself because of it's 'shock and awe' effect. Giving a hostile multiple targets to contend with will freak him out and might reduce his ability to aim. Ofcourse, when available it is best to use frag grenades or flashbangs before moving in. The frag might kill a few of the hostiles, and a flashbang will disorient them giving you time to get your team into the room and firing. This however is probably only useful when playing with a group of friends, or perhaps a group of public players who really know what they are doing. One hint I will give you right now is that when you stack up on a door, and you are the front man... Please kneel down so that the man behind you can shoot over you. This applies to any time you stack up as a group, wether it is at a door or out on the street or an alley. Maximise your firepower!
The following is extremely important! As with the 180 or 360 degree, it is important to assign each person an 'Area of Responsibility'. This is ofcourse because you want to be sure that every corner of a room is checked. You can perform a briliant 'bang and entry', but if nobody checks the corner in the right hand corner, and an opponent happens to be standing there, you will all be killed.
Area's of responsibility after entering a room (the people on the far left and far right are responsible for checking their respective corners): If you want to see this in action, here is a group of Tangodown.nl members practicing room clearing techniques in Rainbow Six: Raven Shield:
Noticed the slight mess-up at the end? This will most likely happen while trying this in public play. The right hand corner (or left hand corner for us watching the video) DID get cleared, but without backup by a buddy. This might seem like a small detail, but while the right hand corner on the side of our team did get cleared, who checked the corner on the far right side? Nobody untill it might have been too late. Close Quarters Combat is a series of actions that is performed within seconds. Half a second too late means a teammember got shot. There are a hundred ways to mess it up, and only a handful of ways to do it right, and mistakes are very commonplace. That is why Special Forces usually get tasked with such operations, while infantry might be simply educated in them. Special Forces are special for a reason ofcourse, so if you mess it up a hundred times, that's ok. Eventually you will get it right, and when you do you will kick♥♥♥♥♥like a pack of wolves. This is a videogame after all. We get do-overs. I hope this guide will help you improve your play in Insurgency and in other tactical shooters and games. Have fun!