One skill trumps all others in Battlefield 4 Multiplayer: having decent aim.
You might be an amazing tactician, but that won’t help you a whole lot if you’re not good at actually hitting your opponents with your bullets.
The good news is that you can train your weapon skills. Practice makes perfect, guys.
This guide primarily concerns players who use automatic weapons.
If you’re a recon you can pick up a trick or two here too. But because success with sniper rifles is a whole other ballgame, I’ve made a separate guide for BF4 snipers. You’ll find it on this page – (coming soon).
Becoming skilled with weapons, no matter which first person shooter you’re playing, is mainly about muscle memory.
No, muscles don’t have memories, that’s not what I’m saying.
But when you practice something through repetition the brain will slowly but surely become better at sending the correct message to the correct muscle at the correct time. And it’ll work faster too.
There’s more to muscle memory than what’s mentioned here. But the important thing right now is that you won’t become a skilled marksman overnight. You’ll have to practice to get better.
The Technicalities First
The first thing you should do is get the game itself working for you. With a few changes in the game’s options you can increase your odds of hitting your targets.
You can and should adjust the sensitivity, both on consoles and PC. The sensitivity determines how quickly you can change where you’re looking in the game.
These are the rules of thumb:
- The higher the sensitivity, the more flexible your character will be. Accuracy, however, is reduced for most.
- A lower sensitivity increases your accuracy, but reduces flexibility.
So, to put it differently: when your character’s turning movements are slower, it’s easier to place the sight on-target on the first go.
The perfect setting will vary from player to player.
You might find, like me, that you’ll have to adjust the sensitivity downwards over time. I started up top, but I’m playing with a fairly low sensitivity now.
Usually, you won’t find the optimal setting at once. You’ll simply have to get a feel for it, and try it out.
Start with a low sensitivity. Raise it carefully, and notice what it does for your skills.
You can adjust the settings under “Options”.
But they can make things more difficult for you too. More on that a little later.
Here are some examples:
- Iron sights – The original sight on your weapon. Usually consists of a back part – like a circle – and a front part. The front part is usually a small pin, which is often called a post or a bead.
- Red dot sights – Give you an aim point in the form of a little red dot. The sight doesn’t magnify.
- Holographic sights – Give you a virtual reticle consisting of a hologram. Doesn’t magnify.
- Telescopic sights – Usually used on sniper rifles and marksman rifles. The sight magnifies the target to a larger or smaller extent. Inside the sight you’ll usually see a reticle.
Choose your sights carefully, because some of them work best over longer distances, while others work better in close combat.
Magnifying sights take up more space on your screen than those that don’t magnify when you’re aiming. As such, you’ll lose some of your overview of what’s happening around you.
Sights that don’t magnify, like the Reflex sight, force you to concentrate more when you want to shoot an enemy who’s far away.
You’ll normally spend more time taking aim, thus making yourself more vulnerable.
Here are the rules I play according to:
- Iron sights, Reflex, and Holoscopic sights – that don’t magnify – work best in close combat.
- Sights that magnify are preferable when the distance to the target is greater.
Placing the Aim Point
It does matter where on your enemy’s body your bullets hit. A bullet to the head will do a lot more damage than a bullet in their arm or leg.
To put it differently: you’ll need to fire less bullets in order to kill a character if you’re hitting it in the head. You’ll save time and ammo.
- Headshots do the most damage in Battlefield 4 online.
- Hits to the upper body follow second.
So – make a habit of aiming for the heads of your opponents.
I know it’s more difficult – at least to start off with.
But if you’re conscious about the head being the target, you’ll find that you take out characters with headshots at an increasing pace. Bragging rights come included with your success.
Raise Your View
I’ve been guilty of this, along with thousands of other players. I used to look at the ground while moving around the different maps.
So, when a hostile showed up, my first bullets got him in the feet.
What I did, and what you’ll need to do, is raise your view and thus your weapon – constantly – even when you’re not aiming or shooting.
Notice the four small lines on your HUD. These show up when you’re not aiming with your weapon. Really, they are a reticle.
These four lines don’t meet. So you’ll need to imagine where the center is. This assumed center is important. It indicates where your bullets will hit.
Try keeping the invisible center around your opponents’ head height. That is, what you think will be the hostiles’ head height when they show up.
You also need to make sure that you adjust for elevation changes.
- If you’re moving upwards, for example up some stairs, you’ll usually need to raise your invisible center.
- When you’re moving down a hill, you’ll need to lower it.
The point is that I want you to always be ready to shoot your opponents in the head. ‘Cause if your weapon’s pointing to the grass when a hostile character shows up, it’ll take more time, and more extensive adjustments, before you’ve placed the reticle over its head.
Lead the Target
The bullets in Battlefield 4 online have travel time. That means it takes a teensie bit of time from when the bullet leaves your weapon to when it hits the target.
This won’t matter if the enemy is right in front of you.
But when hostiles are sprinting across the screen – from one side to the other, and at some distance – you’ll need to consider travel time when aiming.
“Don’t shoot where it is, son. Shoot where it’s gonna be.”
This is in every way applicable to Battlefield 4, too.
You’ll need to aim where you think the enemy will be located once the bullet arrives, not where the enemy is as you pull the trigger. This aiming method is often referred to as leading the target.
Usually, you’ll need to place your aim a smidge in front of the moving character. The further away you are from the target, the further in front of the target you’ll need to place the sight.
Two Aiming Modes
There are two aiming modes in Battlefield 4 multiplayer. They are:
- ADS (Aim Down Sight) – You raise the weapon and take aim, then you shoot.
- Hip Fire – When you hip fire, you shoot without raising your weapon first. Instead, those four lines I mentioned before become the reticle indicating where the bullets will hit.
As with all other things in life, there are pros and cons to both modes.
Gives you a higher level of accuracy. The bullet spread is smaller. But it’ll take longer before you can shoot, as you’re waiting ‘til the weapon’s raised.
You’ll get to the shooting business quicker. But the bullet spread’s wider – and the accuracy isn’t as good.
There’s a time and place for everything. This goes for Hip Firing and ADS, too.
When to Aim Down Sight
Hip firing is useless over larger distances. If you want to hit a target a way off you’ll need to avoid a bullet spread that’s too large. So you’ll need to take aim before shooting.
When to Hip Fire
ADS does not work as well, all the time at close range.
In close quarters combat, the speed’s often high. A lot of hostiles are showing up, and they’re showing up fast.
Raising your weapon to take aim in these situations can take too long. So in these cases it’s usually better to shower your opponents with bullets. At close range the hip fire accuracy is usually good enough.
Beautiful? No. Effective? Yes!
There’s an in-between, too, which I think works. I’ve called it HF to ADS. It works like so:
- Suddenly, you’ve got an enemy character in front of you, and he’s not too far off.
- Start hip firing ASAP.
- Go from hip firing to taking aim – keep shooting the whole time.
When you do this, you’ll cause the hostile some damage quickly with your hip fire and, after a short while, hammer through more lethal hits in ADS, since the bullet spread is reduced.
The Ideal Distance
Unfortunately, I can’t give you precise advice for when to use ADS, or when hip firing’s your smartest choice. You’ll just have to figure that one out on your own.
See as you go. With some experience, you’ll soon be able to decide which firing mode is best suited for different situations.
ADS Makes You Slower
When you aim down the sight, you’ll notice that your character slows down. Looking from side to side through the sight takes longer than usual.
This can cause you trouble when you’re facing more than just one hostile full frontal.
You’ll easily kill the first one.
But moving the aiming sight over to the other enemy character while looking through it usually takes too long. It usually results in the remaining hostile killing you off instead.
What to do? Here’s a suggestion for you:
- Kill character #1.
- Stop aiming.
- Move your weapon so it’s pointing to the other character.
- Take aim again, and shoot.
The movement will be quicker when you’re not aiming while moving your weapon from the first target to the next.
This method works when there’s a certain distance between those you want to take out.
When they’re closer together, you’ll find it’s advantageous to keep looking through the sight while switching to the next target.
Move, Then Aim
The sight’s delaying effect can cause trouble in other situations, too.
Let’s imagine you’ve noticed an enemy to the left on your screen.
What many people will do is raise their weapon, look through the sight, and then move the weapon in the direction of the bad guy.
Try this instead:
- Move your weapon first – before aiming – so it’s pointing to the enemy.
- Now raise your weapon and take aim.
Recoil and Muzzle Climb
We’ve now reached what can quickly become your opponent’s two best friends: recoil and muzzle climb. A powerful combination which can, in the worst case scenarios, make you miss with every single bullet.
The weapons in Battlefield 4 online move.
– Well, duh, when a soldier moves with them, I hear some people say.
To which I reply: I’m not an idiot But that’s not what I’m getting at here.
The weapon itself moves when you’re firing it. Your character doesn’t need to move an inch.
Newton in Battlefield 4
Let’s get back to reality for a little while.
Have you ever fired a rifle in real life? If so, you would have definitively noticed the jolt to your shoulder when you pulled the trigger.
When you fire a weapon, the power that shoots the bullet forward, will also push the weapon backwards. This is a result of Newton’s laws of motion (which I won’t bore you with here).
Additionally, the gas that builds inside the barrel reinforces this effect.
Combined, this becomes recoil.
But it doesn’t stop there. Oh no.
Automatic weapons are hit with a second effect: muzzle rise.
The effect arises when several rounds are fired quickly after each other. The total recoil causes the weapon to move upwards.
And that’s how it goes in Battlefield 4 multiplayer, too.
You can try it out for yourself. Aim at a wall with an automatic weapon (I’m back in the game now, guys).
Empty your clip. Don’t release the trigger. Examine the pattern on the wall afterwards.
The first bullet hit where you wanted it to. But the following ones moved increasingly upwards on the wall.
It’s not enough that the weapons in the game have both recoil and muzzle climb. These effects vary from one weapon to the next.
A lot of weapons move upwards, and steadily to the right. Others also move upwards, but cut left.
The result here is some fairly uncontrolled bullet showers, unless you try to tame the effects. So, you get why recoil and muzzle climb are your enemy’s best friends now?
It’s not like it’s impossible to control both the recoil and the muzzle climb – you can actually do this to a fairly high degree. I’m not saying it’s easy. But with some practice, you’ll get better than most John Does.
The counter measure consists of two things:
- Burst fire.
- Controller compensation.
So, first things first.
You can, if you’d like, fire all the bullets in a mag consecutively on most automatic weapons.
You can also choose to fire off a smaller group of bullets, then release the trigger or mouse button, and then fire off another, small group. The bullets are thus released from the barrel in bursts.
Even though you’re firing off fewer bullets at a time now, the recoil and muzzle rise are still lurking. To counter this, you use your controller, be it a mouse or a hand controller.
In theory, it’s really quite simple.
Let’s imagine your weapon has a recoil pattern that makes it move upwards, and slightly to the right.
You immobilize this movement by pulling the mouse or thumbstick just a smudge down, and a teensie bit to the left – so in the opposite direction of the weapon’s movement.
How much you have to compensate, and in which direction, is determined by your weapon of choice.
In practice, I suppose it’s easier said than done – at least to start off with. But if you dedicate some time to mastering the technique, you’ll soon be doing this on autopilot. I guarantee it!
Putting It Together
OK, so we’ve found the bricks for effective recoil and muzzle climb control. All we need to do now is put them together.
Here’s what you can do:
- Shoot a burst comprising of 5-7 bullets. Remember to compensate for the weapon’s upward movements.
- Release the trigger, and adjust your aim.
- Fire off another burst (5-7 bullets) – remember to compensate with the mouse or thumbstick.
- Repeat ‘til you’re out of bullets.
An important ingredient in this recipe is speed. The pause between each burst should hardly be noticeable.
Like I said – theory’s one thing, practice another.
I can promise you this much: if you bother to learn this technique, you’ll surpass most of your opponents, and thus become a more dangerous player yourself.
One Last Thing
The distance to your target is of essence. The further away it is the fewer bullets each burst should contain. Other times, it’s just plain stupid to try using this technique.
Here are my suggestions:
- Targets at close range – Forget about burst firing, recoil, and muzzle climb. Use hip fire instead.
- Targets at a semi-large distance – Use the technique above, with 5, 6, or 7 bullets in each burst.
- Targets far away – Reduce the number of bullets in each burst to 2, 3, or 4.
Again, it’s hard for me to present you with exact distances for when you should do what. This is something you’ll quite simply have to figure out on your own. Experience and focus on the technique will make you capable of judging this for yourself.
All projectiles in Battlefield 4 online are subject to the effect known as bullet drop. Simply put, this means that digital gravity pulls the projectile down towards the ground.
On most weapons, the effect is particularly noticeable over longer distances. At short range it’s hardly discernable.
What does this mean for you?
Well, are you shooting at a character far away? Then you’ll need to place your aim point just above your target. The further away the target is, the higher above it you’ll need to place the aim.
How much bullet drop you need to consider while aiming also depends on which weapon you’re using, because there are differences from one weapon to the next.
It’s impossible to give conclusive answers here, since there are so many variables to take into consideration.
But here are some rules of thumb to help you along the way:
- Assault Rifles and PDWs – These weapons are usually best used in close-range gun fights. As such, you’ll rarely need to take bullet drop into consideration.
- Shotguns – Forget about bullet drop.
- Sniper rifles and marksman rifles – Are you planning on using these weapons often? Then sitting far away from the target won’t be unusual for you. As such you’ll need to consider bullet drop to a larger extent than with other weapons.
- RPGs – The projectiles from an RPG have a larger bullet drop than other weapons. You’ll need to take the effect into consideration, even at fairly short distances.
I’ve touched on this briefly already. Which attachments you equip your weapon with can have an effect on its performance. There are attachments that increase precision. And there are attachments that make it harder to hit the target.
Attachments and how they help you – or work against you – is largely about personal preference, as well as what you’re intending on using the weapon for.
So instead of giving you concrete advice, I’m going to highlight some attachments, and explain what they do to your weapon’s performance.
- Suppressors – Reduce muzzle climb and increase accuracy. Reduce the weapon’s range and hip firing accuracy.
- Fore grips – Reduce muzzle climb. Reduce accuracy somewhat.
- Heavy Barrels – Increase accuracy when you’re aiming. Increase muzzle climb and reduce hip firing accuracy.
- Laser Sights – Increase hip firing accuracy. But it gets easier for your enemies to spot you.
I’ll leave you to test the different attachments. Test them all. Try noticing how they affect your weapons while keeping accuracy in mind.
Practise on The Test Range
You can use the Test Range to improve your aim. One of the advantages to this is that you can practise without having to worry about your character dying at any given second.
In that sense, the Test Range’s ingenious for when you want to become a better marksman in some peace and quiet.
You can practise with every weapon and attachments that are unlocked.
What to practise? Well, here are some suggestions:
- Practise fast and accurate aim point placement.
- Practise burst fire.
- Practise controlling the recoil and muzzle climb.
Video Break: Test Range – Overview
Not Now, But Now
So far, this guide’s been about technique, and the technical aspects of aiming well and hitting targets with a high level of accuracy.
But we’re missing one major piece of the puzzle. And it’s not about technique.
Rather, it’s about knowledge, intuition, and timing. What I’m getting at here, is knowing when to take the shot.
Even if your opponents are within range, you shouldn’t always fire your weapon.
To put it differently: you wanna be fairly certain that you can get in the necessary amount of bullets on the target you’re aiming for. If you’re unsuccessful, the situation can quickly turn against you.
Here are some of examples on when you’re smart to hold your ammo in check:
- When a hostile’s so far away that trying to take him out will be like playing bingo.
- When an opponent is about to turn a corner and enter a building. You might get him with one or two bullets. But not with enough to keep him from getting away.
- When a character is situated behind cover so that the top of his head’s the only visible thing about him. Wait, and see if he moves so that more of the body becomes exposed.
- When three, four, or more unfriendlies are congregating. You might have time to kill off one or two, sure. But you’ll usually not have enough time to get your weapon aimed at the fourth or fifth. The exception – sometimes – is light machine guns. I’ve seen players take out both four and five enemies with hip fire and light machine guns.
Here’s a small tip, just at the very end. This one’s hard. It will hurt – for a while. But it will make you a better marksman – eventually.
Use a marksman rifle.
The weapon has more than enough power. But the rate of fire’s low. You HAVE to aim well if you want to kill off hostiles with as few shots as possible.
To start off, your character will die a lot. Hell, you might even give up.
Try resisting the temptation to switch to another weapon with a higher firing rate. Accept that you’ll suffer for your choice in the first few matches.
Focus on keeping your weapon at the right height. Always, always aim for the head. As your muscle memory builds, you’ll get increasingly better. Eventually, you’ll end up a better marksman than most, with accuracy to be proud of.
You’ll take your marksman rifle experience to other weapon groups. You’ll hit your enemies more often – no matter which weapon you choose.
Back To You
How about you? What tips can you share to make us even better with weapons? Use the comment field below.