Spotting is a core gameplay mechanic of the Battlefield series, which appears in every Battlefield game, with Battlefield Heroes being the only exception thus far. Spotting allows a player to call out enemies on the battlefield, and in some cases reveal them to other players.
The spotting mechanic used in more recent Battlefield games, where spotted enemies are highlighted on the HUD and the minimap (also known as "3D Spotting"), is first introduced in Battlefield 2142.
In Battlefield 1942, spotting makes its first appearance as a series of voice commands. Players use the function keys to call out enemy players or vehicles. However, unlike later iterations the spotting will not reveal the player being spotted with any sort of marker. In order to use the spotting menu one must press , and then choose between function keys – for the enemy type.
In Battlefield Vietnam, players can spot enemy soldiers and vehicles by using Binoculars, which are given to every kit except the Engineer. To spot an enemy, one simply needs to switch to their binoculars, zoom in on the target and press the fire button (default LMB) to alert all allied players of the threat on their mini-maps and HUDs, be it a vehicle, a soldier, or an aircraft. This change to binoculars from their previous use was primarily implemented due to the fact that spotting in Battlefield 1942 was much more complex with using the function keys.
This will automatically identify an enemy if there is one to spot, and place a marker denoting the enemy's type on the minimap of every friendly player. When there are no enemies to be spotted, the message "Enemy activity spotted" (previously "Enemy forces spotted") is stated instead, and a question mark appears where the icon denoting enemy type otherwise would.
It is also possible to manually set which unit the player is spotting by pressing the right mouse button, which brings up a small drop-down menu and several unit types to choose from.
Battlefield 2142 introduces "3D Spotting", a more refined version of the spotting mechanic in previous games. Still activated with the Commo Rose, 3D spotting creates a small red diamond appears over the body of an enemy on the player's HUD, as well as a minimap marker, for a short time. This allows teammates to track spotted enemies that are not in their direct line of fire but are in their cone of vision. Sometimes, merely targeting an enemy will bring up the red diamond. Certain gadgets contribute to or make use of 3D spotting.
The mechanic is justified in-game as the NetBat system.
The DysTek Pulse Meter and RD-4 Otus squad leader drone provide "static" spotting: when activated, nearby enemies are automatically spotted, but the spot does not follow the target. The Recon's Fade Delay ability allows them to continue tracking spot markers longer than other players.
A targeting assist bonus is sometimes awarded to players. Because it is buggy, it is not widely known how the mechanic actually works.
Battlefield: Bad Company & Battlefield 1943
In Battlefield: Bad Company, spotting is present, but in an automatic nature. Whenever a player looks at or shoots at another player for a long period of time (or has traced a target with the Tracer Dart Gun), a blue message will appear in the top left corner of the HUD saying "Enemy soldier spotted", with the message changing if the spotter is looking at a vehicle or helicopter. The player character will also report the spotting audibly.
A small orange triangle will appear above the spotted player for a very short period of time. Any spot messages made by squad members will be shown as light blue on the HUD of members of that particular squad, while the message for each players' own spots are white.
This method of spotting is also used in Battlefield 1943.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
The spotting mechanic featured in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is the same "3D Spotting" as in 2142. A spotted enemy is marked by a bright red triangle above their head.
A spotted enemy who is subsequently killed by a teammate (prior to the expiration of the spot) leads to a "spot assist", incentivizing players to spot more. Spotting is performed with the Spot button, which by default ison PC, on PlayStation 3, and on Xbox 360.
Spotting re-appears in Battlefield 3, and is very similar to that of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, by using on PC, pressing on Xbox 360 or on PlayStation 3 while aiming over an enemy.
The spotted enemies appear with a red marker on the player and his teammates' HUD and in the mini-map for up to seven seconds. Spotted enemies will not be seen on friendly players' HUD if the player can't actually see the enemy.
A red star appears near the marker for Squad Leaders, that when spotted, the rest of the squad gets a spot as well. Squad-mates can earn bonus points for attacking their leader's targets (20 points attack/defend order followed). Each vehicle type has its own spotting icon.
Gadgets such as mortar tubes, explosives, and drones also have their own icons. Spotted gadgets may be visible up to 30 seconds. Firing un-suppressed weapons will cause the shooting player to be briefly spotted.
Spotters now need to keep line-of-sight to their target. If the target moves behind concealment such as foliage or smoke, the spot can be removed. Spots on vehicles persist for much longer, even through concealment. Vehicle users can unlock specializations that hinder spotting (such as Stealth, making it harder to spot unless firing). Since Battlefield 4, Smoke Grenades can partially or completely block spotting.
Returning from 2142 for PC players is the commo rose to issue orders and request medkits, ammo, and repair from appropriate teammates. Holding down the spotting key and moving the mouse allows voice prompts to be issued.
Added is a context-sensitive "quick command" using just the spotting key—if your character is injured, they can "spot" an allied medic (carrying a medkit) to give healing. The character will speak a voice prompt, and symbols will also appear representing players who can provide assistance and the requesting player. However, this can also alert nearby enemies of your presence. This also applies when 'spotting' a friendly Support for Ammo, an Engineer to fix your damaged vehicle or even asking a vehicle driver to stop for you to get in, if there's empty slots available.
Players with certain specializations or gadgets can use laser designation for other players with guided weaponry. A large diamond-and-dot icon indicates a lock; if the icon is surrounded with a square, a teammate is able to make use of the lock.
In Battlefield 4, an animation was added that shows the player's soldier pointing toward targets, with Battlefield Hardline and Battlefield 1 continuing this trend. On console, the spotting button has been shifted from Back to RB (Xbox 360), and Select to R1(PS3). Compass headings are added to voice prompts, significantly improving awareness.
In singleplayer, spotting is used to direct squad fire, allowing the player to flank.
While spotting mechanics in Battlefield 1 remain largely the same to previous entries, the Trench Periscope and the Sniper Decoy allow a more advanced form of spotting that draws an outline on the spotted target which persists even through cover.
In Battlefield 1, a new mechanic added to spotting is Medic Revive Intent, also commonly called "Medic Spotting". The mechanic first saw testing in the Community Test Environment and is added to game proper in the Spring 2017 update. The mechanic allows a Medic using the Medical Syringe to inform a dead player of their intent to revive them by spotting their dead icon. The dead player will get a sound notification from the spotting medic, and the spotting medic's name will be placed into a new list of Incoming Medics above their list of Nearby Medics on their killcam, notifying them of a medic intending to revive them.
In the Incursions mode of Battlefield 1 3D spotting was disabled, with players instead pointing out targets to teammates with static markers.
Diverging significantly for recent titles, general use of 3D spotting in Battlefield V was removed for the Incursions-style static spotting, requiring players to manually relay potential threats to their team. The methods of applying tracking spotting marks to enemy targets is limited - fully suppressing an enemy will mark them for a short time with a non-specific red icon above them, as well as on the map for anyone nearby, this works better when suppressing an enemy while using the Machine Gunner combat role with the Support class because it marks the enemy for longer, it shows the class the target is using, and everyone can see on the mini-map. Recon-centric gadgets such as the Spotting Scope and Flare Gun will mark them with class-specific icons for a longer period. Other gadgets can be used to spot enemies such as the Spotting Scope specialization for certain tanks.
Players cannot currently spot enemies while in the Downed state.
- In most games, overusing the spotting feature will block the player's communications for some time. Certain games will also use appropriate voice prompts from the Commander.
- In Battlefield 2, there was a cut spotting option for wheelbarrows. The voice response remains in the game files, and consists of the player saying 'Enemy wheelbarrow spotted!,' followed by a laugh.
- In Battlefield 3 there is a sound (a quiet "blip") that plays when spotting in Co-Op, but the sound was removed from Multiplayer after the Beta. A similar was later used when spotting in the multiplayer of both Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline.
- In Battlefield Hardline, Cops can spot donuts as an Easter egg, referencing the stereotype that cops often eat donuts when on duty. When the button is used when looking at a donut box or the donut statue in front of the donut shop on some of the maps, they will say one of several unique quotes, such as "Delicious donut spotted!" or "Hell yeah, delicious donuts!"
- Also in Hardline, Criminals will occasionally flip the middle finger instead of pointing when spotting Police. This can be seen in both first person and in third person when spotting.
- Russian and Chinese Mobile Anti Aircrafts in Battlefield 4 are spotted as "tanks" instead of their respective "AA" title.
- In Battlefield 1, the Sentry kit is also able to point while spotting with the MG 08/15, albeit with just their left finger.