Jets. Vehicles that Battlefield players are likely to either run towards or run away from at the beginning of a match. Jets are incredibly powerful in the right hands, but there’s no doubt they require practise in order to get the best results.
Thankfully, Battlefield 4 has a training mode in which you can test your skills without having to worry about being shot down, and where if you crash, getting back into a plane happens within a matter of seconds.
However, even when you’re up to speed with physically flying a jet, there’s still a lot to learn about these gods of the sky. Here’s what I’ve managed to learn about the jets to date in Battlefield 4, with some tips on how to make the most of them.
Tweaks over Battlefield 3
A lot has changed when it comes to jets in Battlefield 4. In the previous game, you had fighter jets, but they weren’t really distinguished--they were just attack jets or stealth jets. They all had one load out, so they fell into those two different camps. There were attack jets that were designed as anti-air units but had a weaker canon for taking out ground units. Then you had the slower-moving jets like the A-10 Thunderbolt & Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot, which were described as “Tank Busters”, due to their more powerful canon suitable for taking out armour on the ground.
This was all well and good in Battlefield 3 as it kept things clear, but you couldn’t get your hands dirty and change any of the jets’ properties. In BF4, you can tweak away to your heart’s content, changing the main canons, the rockets, and many other unlocks on the jets as well. This hasn’t been at the cost of simplicity either--if you go into Battlelog, the different loadouts are all presented in a nice and easy-to-understand manner.
The BF4 attack jet (which will be the Su-25TM Frogfoot, Q-5 Fantan, or A-10 Thunderbolt II, depending on which army you’re playing as) uses a 30mm GAU cannon. You sadly cannot change that, but its specification really highlights its role as an attack vehicle. Using an Attack Jet, you’re a tank killer and an attack boat killer. You can take down the AC-130 commander call-in and you can upgrade your missiles to heat-seekers, so the emphasis of the attack jet is this: don’t worry about killing the other jets, but rather focus on taking out the enemies on the ground.
Conversely, the idea behind the stealth jet is to clear the skies. These jets (which once again vary depending on the army between J-20, Su-50 and F-35) all have a new weapon called the JDAM Bomb--dumb-fire explosives that are used in conjunction with a small screen in the cockpit of the jet. The JDAM bombs are some of the most powerful missiles in the game, reflected in the fact that they are the last unlock for all the jets. You should practise on the test range, and rather than worrying about having to lock on to targets, you can just drop bombs and see how you fare. It’s a very traditional form of combat, but if you’re good at it, there are some really impressive videos of people on YouTube using it, and they mean you can get in and out quickly without having to worry about locking on to things.
The stealth jets are primarily used as anti-air, so they’re useful against helicopters and other jets, and they have three types of main canon--20mm, 25mm and 30mm. The first two specifications are great for taking out other aircraft. When you’re using a jet, the rate of fire and accuracy doesn’t really matter, so what I would suggest is try to use the highest calibre of weapon as soon as you unlock it, because the next one outclasses the previous one. The 30mm canon can actually damage land vehicles quite effectively as well, although you start to get into crossover with the Attack Jets here, which have the 30mm canon as standard, and cannot use the lower caliber canons.
When using stealth jets, you now start with the IR flares and the heat seekers as standard, which you didn’t on Battlefield 3. This means that if you do come up against an experienced pilot, you actually have a chance of staying in the sky. The heat seekers are included as standard--these are lock-on, “fire and forget” rockets which do medium damage and mobility damage to helicopters, which make them easier to kill. If you’re playing on maps where there are a lot of land vehicles, like Golmud Railway or Lancang Dam on Conquest, you can actually equip the laser-guided missiles on the stealth jet, which allows you to be very effective at taking down ground targets. It’s also well equipped for taking down laser-painted targets that aren’t actually in sight. This combination means you can do a lot of damage both on the ground and in the air, which is a powerful combination.
Counter-measures and other unlocks
Counter-measure wise, you can equip either IR flares or an ECM jammer, depending on whether you’re a more defensive or offensive pilot. If you’re more defensive, you might take IR flares, because you’re not going to be flying past the enemy anti-air units for very long. If you fly over the enemy-controlled parts of the map a lot, the ECM jammer may be more useful, as it gives you a longer window to get away from further lock-ons.
In previous Battlefield games, you also had Stealth, Belt Speed and Proximity Scan, which do make a return in Battlefield 4. Stealth means it takes a longer time for people to lock onto you, Belt Speed lets you reload quicker, and Proximity Scan is like an air radar that marks out units around you. However, there’s a new addition in the jet upgrade section called the Gyro Stabiliser. Enabling the gyro stabiliser means that when you get hit, it allows you to maintain control of your jet (or chopper) and stabilise without barreling into the ground. Now, I did take this off to try the Belt Speed unlock, which was my favourite upgrade in Battlefield 3, but when I got hit by a rocket, I just got absolutely wiped out. So, in my opinion at least, the gyro stabiliser is well worth using.
The jets are as enjoyable and powerful as ever in Battlefield 4, but they’re also a lot more customisable as well. Try out the different canons, rockets and other perks to see what suits your playing style.
As ever, I’m really keen to hear your experiences of playing Battlefield 4, and if you have any tips of your own, please let me and your fellow players know by commenting below or by tweeting me at @guycocker.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you again next week for more Battlefield 4 tips.