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CoD4 Strats: Night Fighting
Written by jockyitch   
Wednesday, 02 January 2008

Whether you are currently playing on ZeRoY's Tactical Night (TN) mod, or planning to play on an upcoming version of mycallofduty.com's X4 (eXtreme+ for CoD4) mod, chances are that you will, at some point, be playing CoD4 multiplayer, in the dark.

Having had the chance to play the Tactical Night mod now for a week or so, we thought we would put together a couple of tips to help you out when you face fragging in the dark.

 

nf3.jpg

While we have written a few posts on the TN mod (read here ), we have never gotten into the nitty gritty of playing at night. We will correct that, with this article.

The nuts and bolts of Night modding 

First off, for those of you who do not grasp the technical hurdles involved in night-play, manipulating the amount of light in a game used to be the sole domain of CoD-mappers. Prior to CoD4, in CoD2 say, the time of day on a map was rendered by the mapper and could not be changed. In CoD4, the time of day can be changed in real-time as it were - the map does not have to be re-rendered.

The server Admin should therefore, be "theoretically" able to change the time of day in the maps on his server with a dvar change. we say "theoretically", because modders have not yet found out how to do this.

The Tactical Night mod sets nighttime in a map in a straightforward, but brute-force way: night is hard -coded into the script and cannot be varied.

Currently, the folks at mycallofduty.com are working to incorporate nighttime play into their mod as well and are currently in discussions with ZeRoY to borrow aspects of his code.

The biggest advantage to enveloping TN in X4 is that X4 is a very flexible mod - after all it is made to change all of CoD4 's server-side variables - not just those that control nighttime - so that almost any combination or style of play is possible. In this respect, TN is relatively speaking, fairly rigid. It is a night mod only.

When asked about this issue, mycallofduty.com's senior staffer, {PST}*Joker told us this:

"...look, at X4 (eXtreme+ for CoD4) and the versatility you have with it. I want admins to have a day map here, and a night map there. A night gametype here, and day time gametype there."

Why can't the TN mod currently do this?

{PST}*Joker:

"He (ZeRoY) codes it different, I want to put it (the night-mod code) in the stock map GSC's so it is universal."

Therefore, when elements of TN are eventually folded into X4 - with ZeRoY's permission, it should be possible to play a day game followed by a night game.


The game

To gain insights into night fighting, we found the closest TN server we could and played. One such server we tried, turned out to be  =IDS=Midnight's L.A. IDS clan server (running the TDM gametype) which has been running the Tac Night Mod (v1.1) for the past week. It was not exactly local may I add - we had a 110 ms ping to it.

=IDS= Night Server: IP  67.201.0.164:28930

=IDS=Midnight's map rotation is similar to most "stock" CoD4 server cycles. He has removed "Martyrdom" (yea) but switched "on" the Choppers (boo) and the air strikes (double-boo). One other interesting addition has been the fact that he has set "reflective fire" on.

This latter option is an excellent choice for a pub-server: the mix of fully automatic weapons, darkness and the prospect of trigger-happy, drunken players is never a good one to have when using the "friendly-fire" option. Reflective fire is a good second best option.

Finally, the TN mod uses the "health pack" system - not regeneration. You start off with initial health which slowly deteriorates as you are injured (either by volley fire or by falling). You have two health packs that will allow you to regain some of that health (green cross lower right on the screen). In restoring that you health, you need to find shelter and hit the "use" key (the "F" key, in most configs). It takes about ten seconds to restore some of your health back. During the healing process you are not able to fire your weapon - but you are able to run. While not making any practical sense, the ability to run does allow you to come back and fight another day - as it were. 

Initial player reactions

We found it intriguing to record uninitiated, first-time player reactions when they were confronted with this pitch black environment.  Here are some of the typical comments that were typed into chat by these neophytes:

"WTF?"

"Why is it so dark in here? Is there something wrong with my settings?"

"I can't see anything"

"This is crazy, I'm out of here".

The latter remark seemed to repeat itself in 10-20% of the folks coming on the server. It was out of frustration at seeing so many players leave before giving this mod a chance that we decided to write this tactics article.

While a small percentage of players seemed to leave nearly right away - there were a group who gave it a go, but were clearly unsuccessful at battling in the dark and would eventually leave, possibly never to come back.

However, there were some folks who "got it". We studied those people and we now report back on how they were able to achieve success.


How to fight and win in the dark 

While we played TDM exclusively, much of this article can be used for objective based gaming and for Free-for-all gametypes.

I) Situational Awareness.

1) Close your eyes. What other senses do you have?  Now, get rid of touch, smell, and taste. What are you left with? ESP? We knew you'd say that. Hearing - of course.

The first thing to do in this game is to make sure you crank up the decibels on your sound system. You need to have acute hearing in this game. Those of you with EAX or other 3D sound processing you are definitely in the advantage in this game as you can spatially locate someone just by the sound they are making.

Footsteps are especially defeaning (relatively speaking) in a TN server. After all, everyone is trying to be as quiet as possible. Heck, key-clicks sound defeaning.

Listen for footfalls, reloads...anything that gives away position of the enemy.

2) Now, open your eyes. You are not completely blind in this game. There is a lot that can be seen, but you have to train yourself to see it.

a) First off - the no brainer: hit "N" and turn on night vision. Hard to believe but this was the number two most popular question asked on IDS's servers. Night vision is no replacement for daytime vision, but if it's all ya got - take it.

b) The sky is quite bright relatively speaking. Anyone standing against that sky (on a hill, on a roof) will be lit up like a Christmas tree (literally and figuratively). Also, make sure that you are conciously aware of how you contrast against the wall you are standing or crouching against. A dark wall may mean you live - a light wall, you die.

 

nf2.jpg

Bright sky against a dark foreground. Anyone standing against this scene is easily spotted.

 

c) Gamma! Crank up the brightness of the scene by cranking up the gamma on your GPU. We used 1.9 as our setting (normally, we would use 1.5). Though we never tried the Digital Vibrance setting - we have used it in CoD2 and it does help to set that up a bit (recommend 25-50%).

d) Three consecutive kills bring up UAV's which identify where the enemy players are.

*NOTE*

The UAV-scans lag actual player positions. We have found that the UAV can actually be detrimental to those with it. The UAV-attacker moves into the last known position of an enemy player, only to be fragged by him from behind!

Keep your head on a swivel and look for danger all around you. 

 

I I) Weapon Class

Class. Some people have it. Some...don't. Same is true for the right weapon and perk mix that make up the Night Fighting Class kit.

What are you looking for here?  Well let's try to match up the weapon and perk to the type of gameplay we have. Remember, much of this is subjective and should be tuned to your gameplay style; however, those that did well in TN seem to arm themselves as follows:

Criteria: Stealth, Health, Speed (straight-line), Mobility (turning), and Lethality.

Main Weapon: Optimizing speed, mobility, lethality and stealth one comes down to three weapons, here are our choices:

All three of our weapon choices are full-autos that fit into the sub-machine gun class (SMG). The SMG's rule the night for the obvious reason...all the fighting is up-close and personal. And that is the forte' of the SMG: close-quarters combat.

a) The unsuppressed AK74U. The best punch available that allows high rates of mobility. Who cares about suppression? You'll frag anyone who dares come up against you - the 74U has the same close punching power of its big cousing the AK47 - but in a tight turning little package.

b) The suppressed M4. Ok. Not an SMG - but damn close. The M4 beat out the MP-5 in this category due to its umph when suppressed and you get a laser range finder. Not big on the laser? Get the MP-5.

c) The P90 - for unreal rates of fire and allows the player maximum mobility and speed. Being a speed demon at night produces a direct benefit: Health. You can't hit what you can't see.

Secondary Weapon:

The Deagle. If you have to pull this out in a fight - the situation is usually very dire. Trust nothing else.

The Perks:

Some of these, you will see, are very different from what you are used to playing with.

Perk 1: Bandolier. A must given that our weapons are all full-autos and given that the encounters at night are short and wild, you will need a lot of ammunition.

Perk 2: Juggernaut. Without this perk you will find that you are trying to heal yourself more than hunting your prey. With it...you should be able to last 3 close-quarter battles and still find yourself alive. We would not recommend Juggernaut in a regenerative health environment. But with limited health - don't make one mistake lethal, carry a vest.

Perk 3: Dead Silence. The number of knife kills you will make should double at night. With Dead Silence, you can double even that number. You literally increase your chance of a successful frag by 50% with this perk, given the fact that you have eliminated one of the two ways that the enemy can find you: with Dead Silence, you make no sound. That means you can spend the whole time on the map running at a full-tilt sprint and no-one will see you coming. You will be a deadly blur.

Honourable mentions like the UAV Jammer perk, did not make it to our final selection process due to the fact that the UAV updates lag player positions quite badly at night due to the poor visibility. No need for the UAV Jammer as you cannot see more than a few feet and if you sprint away after a frag - no one will see you.

This is the same reason why the suppressor is not that important - even with you making a god-awful racket, you're still fairly stealthy in the dark. The only reason for getting a suppressor (for e.g. on the M4) is to get the laser sight (not available on other attachments).

Nades/Special Nades 

In any friendly-fire or reflective-fire server, nades are more of a danger to your teammates or yourself - respectively. Load up on flashbangs or stun nades. Smoke is not necessary in a night game.

 

III) Combat Tactics

a) Attack from the rear

While we normally do not approve of backdoor shenanigans here at BS, attacking from the rear (similar to the fighter-pilot strategy of attacking the enemy's "six") is the best solution given the non-regenerative health scenario in this mod. You only have one other option, attack from the front. In frontal assaults, you have a much, much higher probability of getting hurt (try to limit the amount of damage you sustain) - and attacking at distance is obviously impossible due to sight limitations.

But how do you get on the enemy's tail?

In TDM for example, this is done by running as fast as you can in one direction, clock-wise or counter-clockwise. The idea is to stay ahead of any pursuers and thus become a pursuer yourself.  This technique will ensure that most of your accidental enemy encounters have you at a distinct advantage.

In objective-based games: use your teammates to cause a diversion and move up from behind when the enemy explores the diversionary attack.

 

b) Crazy Ivans

Borrowed from Tom Clancy's submarine epics, a Crazy Ivan was a maneuver that Soviet Submariners would do to spoof Western sub attempts to apply a tail. The maneuver would require violent 180 degree turns - to see who's coming up from behind.

Just as in the sub-game, whipping around 180 degrees is always a good move in TN. You never know who has detected you as you whizz by and is trying to follow you for a close quarters kill.

The best way to Crazy Ivan is to duck into a doorway, turn, crouch and wait for your tail to come through the opening. Blast away at the unsuspecting trailer. 

 

c) The Slashing attack.

When faced with a frontal attack, the slashing attack is a good tactic to use. Given the full-tilt speeds in CoD4 and the reduced visibility at night, a frontal attack can occur in milliseconds. You do not have much time to react. For that reason, it is important to inflict maximum damage as quickly as you can - without taking on any yourself (your health is limited).

If on the first "pass" (slash), you have injured the enemy, but have not been hit badly yourself, you might decide that the best course of action is to speed off into the darkness. If the enemy follows, perform a Crazy Ivan. If the enemy does not follow, you still stay un-hurt. The injured player will undoubtedly slink off and try to repair himself. Follow. And blast him when he's applying the health pack. During that period he is completely at your mercy as he cannot fire when recuperating.
 

nf5.jpg

Doing it all wrong:  A surprise full frontal assault when low on health, leaves Jock dead.

 

d) Hunt in groups.

You can increase the probability of a frag significantly if you can concentrate the amount of firepower on your target. You can do this by having more than one shooter. As well, with two, three or more sets of eyeballs, you stand greater chance at seeing someone in the shadows, or someone trying to knife you from behind.

 

nf4.jpg

 

Pick up a teammate and follow him. Just like in dogfighting (the airplane kind...not the Michael Vick kind), the "wingman" should protect his leader.

 

e) Coordination and hence communication is the key.

Call out your location on TeamSpeak or on Ventrilo. Find your mates and run through the map in a leap-frog fashion - all the while giving each other covering fire - but be wary of each other's position so as not to create a friendly fire situation.


nf1.jpg 

It's too easy to frag a good-guy at night. After being injured your peripheral vision is blurred by a red tint (shown above) and thus making a bad situation worse. While "sucker" survived...we had to take a good look to make sure he was friendly.

 

Hopefully, some of the above tips will keep you alive a little bit longer. And be careful out there - those alleys can be dangerous at night.
 
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