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Spotting is a mechanic in Phantom Forces. All players can perform this action.
When a player presses the spot button (or pressing the "E" button), the player will raise their left arm, point it forwards, and then lower it.
During this animation, any enemy within a moderately sized cone of vision will be marked by a red dot. This red dot hovers above the enemy's head at a fixed size and is displayed through walls, allowing all allies on the player's team to be able to seek out and kill that enemy. Being spotted will additionally light the enemy up on the radar, allowing them to be zeroed in upon by players who wisely use the radar to their advantage.
All players will know the status of their spotted condition by looking at a small text label above the ammunition counter. "On Radar!" appears when firing an unsuppressed weapon. "Spotted by enemy!" appears when the player has been spotted by an enemy. "Hiding from enemy..." appears when the player has broken the line of sight with all enemies and is clearing the spotted condition.
Clearing spotted condition
A player can remove their spotted condition by remaining hidden from the line of sight of all enemies. Firing while spotted adds up to 5 seconds of duration to being spotted depending on how many bullets are fired, meaning that taking cover after firing can actually still be dangerous for the player. Once the player breaks line of sight with all enemies, they will be put into a "hiding" state, whereby the blip is still visible to enemies, but this period of time is very short. Any time penalties incurred by firing while spotted apply here, meaning it will take longer for a spotted player that fires constantly to disappear.
Using spotting as a team
Spotting has an inherent bonus. If a player spots an enemy, and then an ally kills that spotted enemy, the player will be rewarded with a Spot Bonus worth 25 points, on top of any other points awarded from that enemy (such as an assist.)
Remember that spotting reveals players hidden behind cover, meaning that high penetration weapons such as the M60, BFG 50, and weapons that gain enough penetration through use of Armor Piercing ammo can abuse this as a way to wallbang (i.e. hurt and/or kill an enemy through a wall.)
Spotting also works to allow players to think about their engagements. Consider that spotting a crowd can make the difference between rushing into a hallway on Metro and getting caught out versus wisely peeking out and throwing a grenade for an easy collateral kill. The fact that enemies are lit up on radar and the dot above their head allows a smart player to withdraw to bait enemies into a situation where the player has a clear advantage.
On the Ballistics Tracker
The Ballistics Tracker may seem like it automatically spots enemies. However, this is not the case. The Tracker can only track a target that is in the open (i.e. their head is visible.) The Ballistics Tracker's spotting cone is also much smaller, and only lasts as long as the player has their cursor hovering near that enemy, i.e. it is not a lasting effect like spotting is. Additionally, the Ballistic Tracker's dot adjusts for bullet drop, whereas a spotted enemy only shows a simple dot that allows for pursuit.