Chances are, even if you use grenades regularly, you’re still not a giant fan of having one land anywhere near you. There’s a certain feeling you get after you’ve snuck past enemy lines, gunned down half their squad, found the perfect cover…
…and a little green pineapple rolls up at your feet.
Sure, you’ve done it to your opponents just as often. Hell, flushing people out of cover is what grenades are for. But, in games in which ego is so closely tied to accuracy, reload shortcuts, and close-range humiliation, grenades can often feel like a watered-down version of in-your-face fighting. That sentiment is so common, FPS developers have even begun to directly hilariously address it.
But, regardless of how you feel about being unceremoniously gibbed over and over, nades aren’t going anywhere. If you want to succeed in any shooter, you’re going to have to become a proficient explosives expert.
Rule #1: Throw and Go
The single biggest mistake most players make when using grenades is that they treat the bloody things like nukes. They spot an enemy, pull the pin, toss the grenade, and hide in a corner waiting for the kills to pile up. Well, that would be well and good if your Bouncing Betties were cluster bombs, but in most games, anyone with half a brain and 1 second’s warning will be able to sprint out of range and guess your location by the grenade’s approximate trajectory.
After all, when a grenade lands at your feet, you’ve got about 1 second to decide where to go or what to do. In that single moment, you’re processing your options, checking your getaway routes and figuring out– wait, what the fu–
The easiest way to capitalize on grenades is to capitalize on the tension they cause and move in on your opponent. If you throw a grenade and sit behind a wall, your opponent has only one option: run. If you throw a grenade and charge at your enemy with guns blazing, he now has to decide if it’s more dangerous to stay in the blast radius and fight you, or flee the explosion and eat a bullet in the ass. The more often you can force foes to make that decision, the more fruitful your grenade throws will be.
This applies to all grenades, not just normal frag/explosives. In many games with multiple grenade types (frag, smoke, flashbang, poison), throwing even a “worthless” grenade may force your opponent to take an extra milisecond to determine if it’s dangerous to him or not. If he takes the bait and runs from something harmless, you’ve flushed him out. If he decides to stick around, you’ve bought yourself a moment to move up on his location. Either way, you’ve gained a positional advantage you didn’t have before.
Rule #2: Recon in a Can
Although grenades are best used when you know where the opponent is, they also make great tools for determining their location when you’re not completely sure. As mentioned in the first section, nades can flush out hiding foes, which instantly informs you of their position. But sometimes you can garner information even when they don’t head for the hills.
In many games, including Battlefield: Bad Company 2, your player character will verbally shout a warning if an enemy grenade lands nearby. While that’s a great heads-up if you’re on the receiving end of the impending explosion, it can be an even better indicator if you’re the one who threw the grenade. While it’s not the most economical way to use them, throwing a grenade where you suspect the enemy is can often be confirmed when you hear them automatically shout a warning as it lands in their area. Even if it doesn’t kill or injure anyone, you’ve gained valuable information that can help you plan your next move.
Rule #3: Geometry Never Killed Anyone
Although this one’s obvious, nothing is more important to using grenades effectively than to be able to throw them where you want. Every game’s grenades have different gravity effects, throwing arcs, bounce mechanics, and explosive radii. If you can’t get your explosives at the enemy’s feet 90% of the time, they’ll only ever serve as a way of broadcasting your location to your foes. You know, or you might just blow yourself up by mistake.
The only solution is, of course, practice. And the easiest way to practice? Spam grenades. Make sure you throw every grenade you have each life before you die. If you can pick up grenades from weapon spawns or dead enemies, do it. Create goals for yourself. “Can I throw a smoke grenade through that window on the 3rd floor of that building?” “Can I bounce a grenade off that tree and into that cave?” “If I’m forced to drop a nade at my own feet, is there any way to survive?” You won’t know unless you try, but if you wait until your life depends on it to practice, chances are your life expectancy just dropped to zero.