Inside Battlefield 4: Controlling the Battle

With returning veterans as well as newcomers flooding in to the series, we wanted to do a detailed run-down on the console controller options in Battlefield 4. Here are all your available settings — and how you can tweak the controls to fit your play style.

Want your Controls to Resemble Battlefield 3?

BF3_E3_2011_ThunderRun

Want to play like it’s 2011? Just change your control settings to VETERAN to get a close resemblance to the Battlefield 3 controls.

We’ve heard the feedback from returning Battlefield fans that you miss the control scheme from Battlefield 3. Fear not! If you’re just looking for the quickest way to set the controls to closely resemble those in Battlefield 3, here’s all you need to do (we’re assuming a right-handed player in this example): Hit OPTIONS from the main menu and set all fields (where applicable) to either VETERAN. That’s it! With theses settings made, there will still be a few changes compared to the Battlefield 3 controls. The design thoughts behind these are all explained in greater detail below.

Tweaked BF4 Controls for Maximum Team Play

BF4 X360 default controls

The new default control scheme on console adheres to common shooter standards while at the same time maximizing the potential for efficient team play unique to Battlefield 4. Image taken from the BF4 PDF manual.

The default Battlefield 4 controls on console are designed from the ground up to facilitate team play. In concrete terms, this means we wanted to make sure that both Spotting and the Commorose are used heavily in multiplayer, while the Engage order and Tactical Visor should be equally easy to reach and use in Single Player. All the while, the core gameplay mechanics of shooting, aiming, moving, and executing melee attacks need to be as strong and reliable as ever.

We also had to take into consideration that a lot of Battlefield fans eventually will want to move from their current console to the next generation. This means we needed to stay consistent across PS3 to PS4, and X360 to Xbox One. When we designed the default controls for Battlefield 4, we took the next generation of controllers into the equation as well.

To achieve the above design goals, we moved team play functions like Spot and Commorose to Right Bumper/R1. This in turn meant we needed to redesign other parts of the controls as well. We believe the result is a control layout that allows players to utilize the unique team play mechanics of Battleifeld 4 — while still staying true to tried and tested shooter controls and making the transition to next-gen controllers as seamless as possible.

In Battlefield 3, Spotting and Commorose was mapped to SELECT/BACK. However, we wanted to make these functions more easily reachable and more widely used. The equivalent buttons on next-gen controllers are also functioning in a different manner and can’t be used to map game functions like in Battlefield 3.

Other changes in our default control scheme are:
-Knife attack was on RB/R1, has now moved to R3 (click right stick)
-Crouch/prone was on R3, has now moved to B/Circle
-B/Circle was ENTER/EXIT VEHICLE, has moved to HOLD X/Square (as opposed to TAP, which is still RELOAD)
-HOLD X/Square was PICKUP KIT, so that was moved to HOLD Y/Triangle
-On PS3, we use that console’s standard for shooter layouts, where the shoulder buttons are used instead of the pull-triggers. So on PS3, all the trigger functionality is flipped, and Spot/Commorose is R2 (pull trigger) instead of R1

New Intuitive Vehicle Controls

Snapshot from BF4 Multiplayer Launch Trailer

The default vehicle stick controls in Battlefield 4 are tweaked for maximum intuitiveness Image grabbed from the Official BF4 Multiplayer Launch Trailer.

We wanted a more intuitive vehicle control scheme as the default for Battlefield 4. Since you are moving your character with the analog stick it made sense to have similar controls for vehicles. This means that the current default for vehicle controls is that the left stick now controls both throttle and steering. This allowed us to have movement controls on the stick, and FIRE, ZOOM, Countermeasures and Spot/Commorose up on the shoulder buttons, making all vehicle layouts closely match the soldier layout.

This should make it easier for players to pick up and play in vehicles compared to the unconventional placement of these buttons in previous Battlefield games. Also, we noticed that in Battlefield 3 players sometimes mistakenly entered a vehicle when they actually just wanted to reload their gun, and vice versa. We solved this issue by changing the ENTER VEHICLE command to require you to press and hold, rather than just quickly press. We also moved the button for picking up weapons and kits to ease the overload on the Interact button in Battlefield 4.

VETERAN TIP! If you prefer to use the analogue triggers for acceleration and braking you can change to that layout in the options menu by setting the VEHICLE BUTTONS option to VETERAN.

New Aim-relative Control for Turreted Vehicles

BF4 Turret Control

It’s never been easier to drive turreted vehicles like tanks and air-to-air vehicles. Image grabbed from the Official Battlefield 4 Multiplayer Launch Trailer.

There’s a new control system for driving vehicles with turrets meant to reduce complexity for players, as aiming in one direction and moving in another can be tricky. The new default control setup in Battlefield 4 helps move the vehicle in the direction you push the control stick, regardless of in what direction you are aiming the turret. This control method is only active in tanks (MBTs, IFVs, and Mobile AA vehicles) and Attack Boats, as they are the only vehicles where you operate a turret while driving.

VETERAN TIP! Players who prefer a more traditional Battlefield control method for tanks can head to the CONTROLS option menu and change the VEHICLE AIM RELATIVE CONTROL setting to OFF.

Configure the Sticks to Do What You Want

For the thumbstick layout options for both soldiers and vehicles, we offer the same options as we have in Battlefield 3. SOUTHPAW completely swaps the functions of the left stick and right sticks (for example, if a player is left-handed and prefers that) and LEGACY swaps only the X-axes on the thumbsticks, resulting in a soldier control scheme similar to N64-era shooters where moving forward and turning were on the same thumbstick. LEGACY SOUTHPAW swaps the functions of the LEGACY layout between the two thumbsticks. Between the default layout and these three alternatives, any possible combination of thumbstick controls is available for soldiers, land vehicles, helicopters, and jets, separately.

Miscellaneous Control Tips

Inverting the Y axis
Some players prefer to invert the Y axis on the sticks on foot or when in vehicles. You can select this in the controls options as well. For some players, inverting the Y axis in vehicles specifically makes sense, since that means flight controls will more closely resemble real life (where pulling the stick towards you will make the nose of the plane to go up.)

Visit Battlelog on the Fly
One change in Battlefield 4 is how seamlessly we have integrated the core social fetaures of Battlelog into the game, not only on PC, but on consoles as well. Hitting BACK/SELECT will let you quickly open up the Battlelog dashboard to see which friends are online, what they are playing, and also the status of any ongoing MISSIONS that you have accepted or created for your friends.

So if Battlelog is on BACK/SELECT, where has the scoreboard gone that was previously mapped there? The score board is still available quickly, this time by holding the START button.

Set the Sensitivity Just Right
Don’t forget to set the aim sensitivity on your controls. Try it out and see what you prefer – higher means more sensitive for quicker turning speeds, but usually at the sacrifice of finer control when you just want minor course corrections or aim adjustments (usually at longer ranges.)

Why No Full Customization?

We have heard your feedback on the controls for Battlefield 4 and your questions on why they are not fully customizable. While the matter of configurable button mappings on consoles is quite complex, we are investigating whether this is something we could support in the future.

Take the Vehicles For a Spin on the Test Range

BF4 Test Range

Take the vehicles for a spin and evaluate all of the available controller settings in peace and quiet on the non-hostile Test Range.

We know getting to grips with all of the available vehicles in Battlefield 4 can take some practice. That’s why we’ve included a Test Range in the game where you can practice weapons and vehicles in a non-hostile environment. If you want to brush up on your flying skills or try out all of the available controller options to see which ones fit your play style, the Test Range is the place to go.

We hope this blog post answers your questions on the Battlefield 4 controls. Let us know in the comments below if you have any more questions you would like us to answer. Stay tuned for more in-depth blog posts on all aspects of the game. Thanks for reading!

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  • tstock_007 03.23.14 at 18:00

    And on a side note, it irritates me when somebody wants a concept adopted and uses subtle insults to obtain their goal (“Want to play like it’s 2011?”). Really? You typed this blog on a keyboard layout from 1878!!

    Are their theoretically better keyboard layouts? Probably. But it wouldn’t be more efficient for me to use them as I’ve already LEARNED and become proficient with the QWERTY keyboard arrangement. Perhaps DICE needs to do a little research on muscle memory and its amazing power.

  • tstock_007 03.23.14 at 16:58

    Just picked up BF4 last night. Practiced in the training mode for about 3 hours. First thing I did this morning was search online to discover the story behind the control layout change. I suppose I can understand wanting to refine a game (it is a new game, after all.) I guess I’m just confused as to why the EXACT same control scheme can’t be used from BF3. I’ve never been a great “shooter” and have accepted I never will be, but that’s what is so cool about BF’s rock/paper/scissors concept. You don’t have to out shoot the other team to win, only out “think” them.

    I could “program” the new control layout into muscle memory (and I could also learn to efficiently use a 10-key for calculations) but I don’t want to! You guys do understand muscle memory, correct? A good example would be a standard keyboard layout for a PC (or similar layout for a Mac.) While the standard keyboard is not the most efficient, have you ever stopped to think why Microsoft/Apple doesn’t change their keyboard layout every time they release a new Operating system? BF is a challenging game and that’s where the real satisfaction comes in; winning a hard fought battle with your teammates because your tactics where better. Learning a new control scheme is also a challenge, but with NO reward. When you use the controls correctly, you still need to actually win! But when you are in the heat of battle, and you use the controls incorrectly, there is nothing more frustrating!!!

    Maybe this is your controller layout for the foreseeable future, and I should just invest the 50 or so hours to “reprogram” the controls into muscle memory using the default BF4 layout. It just sucks that the veterans are especially penalized for being loyal BF players, and some Halo/COD/whatever player shows up and is catered to. You need to expand you customer base – okay. Just don’t forget how you got here. While others were off playing COD/Halo games, we have been on the Battlefield since the beginning.

  • P3GASUS_EXE 03.07.14 at 16:16

    My transition from Battlefield 3 to Battlefield 4 has been pretty rough. I enjoy playing BF3 in my PS3 but when I switch to BF4 in my PS4 the controls feel completely wrong. I’m not asking DICE to remove the current control scheme in BF4, I’m only asking for the option to play with the SAME EXACT (not similar) controller scheme from BF3. We spent a lot of hours getting used to BF3′s way of moving, why should the veteran BF3 players be penalized in BF4 with different controls?
    I feel like one of the factors that differentiated BF3 from COD or any other FPS was the control scheme, why would you try to take that away?

    • sniperghost3602 03.18.14 at 03:08

      I know right but I play on xbox it got me really confused they need to fix that because I don’t want to play call of duty to get used to the controls

  • lukeybashbosh 02.25.14 at 01:59

    Come on dice, change the controls already, don’t let EA ruin yet another game!

  • jarhead3270 01.29.14 at 10:36

    Well stated, -6thAD-Buzzard

  • churr-wera 01.28.14 at 10:01

    Could you change the button for picking up weapons off the ground back to the square button ps4

  • churr-wera 01.28.14 at 09:56

    Please change the aim and shooting controls back to L1 and R1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • jungheinluc 01.25.14 at 09:08

    Hello all
    I do not understand why the configuration of the game(set,play)
    Battlefield 4 on the PS4 does not allow as on Battlefield 3
    an easy use for the veterans and the people handicaped whose
    mobility of hands is reduced. It is a shame
    not to have thought of it. I hope that you alez to drive an
    improvement quickly.
    Thought has we, the former(old), bye

    • churr-wera 01.28.14 at 09:52

      Yes totally agree with that, please change this dice

  • ONE FAT FLY 01.24.14 at 06:44

    :( I fell like i’m the only one who likes the bf4 controls over bf3′s, they do actually feels smoother and with the sheer amount of time spent playtesting and designing a NEW FUCKING GAME, I would expect people to think of this as refreshing rather than painstaking

  • SnotDemon 01.20.14 at 02:03

    FUCK YOU DICE GIMME BACK MY L1/R1 FOR SHOOTING AND AIMING WE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT THIS SINCE DAY ONE!!!! WE DONT WANT YOUR ALTERNATIVE PIECE OF CRAP OPTION NON OF THOSE ARE SIMILAR TO BF3 CONTROLS WE ARE NOT XBOX PLAYERS SO GIVE US WHAT RIGHT CONTROL OPTIONS THAT WE DESERVE !!! p.s and stop camping with your gay ass sniper!!

  • chaos8877 01.15.14 at 18:06

    R1/L1 Aim to shoot NEEDS to be added. Coming from BF3 on PS3 to BF4 on PS4 has been a terrible transition. I have been killed on numerous ocassions due to using the incorrect buttons to aim and shoot. I have even killed myself with grenades. Very frustrating, contemplating returning the game.

  • Sergeant_SLY 01.05.14 at 00:31

    “Please add l1 aim r1 shoot to ps4″

    I too would like this option for PS4!

    I can’t stand sighting in to shoot someone and throwing a damn grenade!!!

    Worse is when it hits something and bounces back, injuring/killing me instead! I have been playing this game on PS3 since launch, so to not have the control options on PS4 is driving me crazy…

  • Dmpboi128 01.03.14 at 12:42

    I personally dont think there should be any discussion on this topic what so ever, DICE your a multi billion dollar company who only cares about one thing, making money, that money depends on what gaming experiences you can provide for us, millions have spoken out who are unimpressed with this half baked game bf4. If the creators of COD had any brains at all, they would add vehicle use as much as battlefield has, steal your ACTUAL Bf3 control layout, stop with all the futuristic crap they are doing, and demolish DICE’s customer base of war gaming. The fact that your are still releasing profitable DLC whilst your original game is an unfinished product makes me never want to purchase from you again. You are standing on shaky ground DICE and your slowly running out of time….and when your out of time…your out of money :)

  • Killaclown65 01.01.14 at 05:04

    how do you counter the knife attack

  • CURLIAN 12.29.13 at 08:50

    BF3 controls my ass!!!! we didnt ask for something similar we asked for the REAL thing. Give us the BF3 controls plz.

  • Cachito84 12.24.13 at 21:10

    Please add l1 aim r1 shoot to ps4

    • Sergeant_SLY 01.05.14 at 00:30

      I too would like this option for PS4!

      I can’t stand sighting in to shoot someone and throwing a damn grenade!!!

      Worse is when it hits something and bounces back, injuring/killing me instead! I have been playing this game on PS3 since launch, so to not have the control options on PS4 is driving me crazy…

  • QwertyRob 12.21.13 at 17:37

    Hi everyone! I’d like to start off by saying that, among other things, I was the first in the world to have 2, 3, 4, and finally all ground vehicle gold dog tags for BF3 and I’m going to let you in on part of my secret. I can say with certainty that I would not have been as successful had I not been using the Xbox 360 Alternate Vehicle Button Layout with Left Trigger for acceleration and Left Bumper for Brake/Reverse which has been removed in BF4.

    Why did I prefer this layout to the others? In short, it was because it provided the most control with the least amount of unnecessary and unnatural multitasking which I will touch on later. With this configuration, the controller felt like a natural extension of the body which allowed for seamless gameplay in which I and the vehicle were one.

    Here are some reasons why I considered The Xbox 360 BF3 Alternate Vehicle Button Layout to be superior to the other layouts and truly “intuitive”:

    1) Since accelerating moves you forward and reversing moves you back, it makes sense that the button for accelerating should feel like it is in front of the button that moves you back. Hence, the accelerating left trigger is below the left bumper used for reverse on the controller.
    2) The vehicle movement controls are close to one another so that the same finger can be used for both. When learning to drive a car they always teach you to use the same foot for gas as for brake as opposed to using both your feet.
    3) Separating vehicle movement from vehicle combat so that, in your mind, the left hand is assigned for movement and the right hand is assigned for combat allows for more organized gameplay.
    4) The “Fire” button for infantry, the right trigger, is also the “Fire” button for vehicles so that it takes a player less time to adjust and transition from infantry gameplay to vehicle gameplay.
    5) Analog sticks are reserved for steering and aiming. After all, this isn’t Halo.

    Dice has recently allowed players to revert back to the old Default BF3 vehicle controls newly named “Veteran”, but these controls still fall short of the Alternate BF3 ones. Apart from number 5, the Veteran layout does not provide the advantages that the Alternate layout provides, however, I would like to draw your attention to the worst characteristic of this layout as follows:

    Since reverse(the left trigger) is on the same side as fire(the left bumper), you cannot reverse and fire at the same time unless you use both your index and middle fingers in unison which is cumbersome and adds significantly to the multi-tasking required to mentally juggle this unnatural layout.

    For the controller to feel like a natural extension of the human body, the controller layout needs to model real life, be simple, and make sense. Complicated controller schemes are like juggling in real-life and require too much multi-tasking. The more we multi-task, the more prone we are to making mistakes and the less we are able to concentrate on other more important things.

    So please support the return of BF3′s Xbox 360 Alternate Vehicle Button Layout or controller customization in general. More successful and satisfying gameplay awaits!

  • xX-WaLtY_615 12.12.13 at 21:42

    oooo ya bf3 controls are coming back

  • Ca1ucifer01 12.09.13 at 10:59

    Dice, bring back the alternate vehicle buttons from battlefield 3 please, I use to used them and I love them!!!!! Why you give me something just to take it away from me don’t be so epic games with gears of war -.-

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