Truth be told, I was a bit skeptical when I heard about Squads in Call of Duty: Ghosts. I've played games with bots in them before, and while it's nice to have a little AI help, you can't really trust them to read your mind, and it's better to just play with friends.  Well...that's the difference between hearing about something and actually playing it. 


Now that I've played Ghosts for myself, I find myself returning to Squads mode more and more. I like it much more than I thought I would -- it's good when I only have time to play for a few minutes but still want to scratch the itch. I'm also --gasp -- learning from it. Here's what I've taken away so far.


I have my squadmate's backs.


You should follow them.

Well into the summer, I found myself saying "I didn't know I could go in here" in various parts of Black Ops II maps. So now I use the squad bots as tour guides; I am learning the maps more quickly, and I'm also find it very handy to travel in a pair or a pack in modes like Kill Confirmed. Simply picking a buddy and sticking with them has proven very effective -- and also helps you achieve team goals like flag caps in Domination.

 

It's not just a weapon -- it's a personality.


Behavior will follow weaponry.The play styles of your squadmates is determined by their loadout. Give them a long-range weapon and they'll behave more or less like real human snipers do (or should) -- finding their perch, covering a zone, going for distance kills. Load someone up with a QCB kit and they're more likely to rush and seek out close-up contact. Keep this in mind when you build your squad, but also watch for enemy weapons -- their behavior and tactics will be a little more predictable if you can recognize their firearm on sight.

 

There is a method to my periodic madness.


Make those squad names mean something.

I want to learn as much as I can from the bots; I want to see if some loadouts are more or less effective in certain gametypes or maps. So while I was tempted to rename them after my favorite guitarists (who wouldn't want to be on a team with Clapton, Townshend, and Van Halen?), I renamed them all based on their roles: LMG, Assault 1, Assault 2, CQB, and so forth. When it dawned on my that my opponents can see those names too, I created mnemonic code names that were less obvious, but I could still tell their role from a glance. That way, when I see a squadmate in a match, I can also get some insight into whether they are likely to back me up if I rush around the corner or hang back and target someone at a longer distance. I can also see them on the final scoreboard and gauge performance and effectiveness more easily over time. 

 

That's teamwork on a scale you won't usually find in human lobbies.


Expect cooperation.
When you're used to playing in random online lobbies, you tend to forget what it's like when players work together -- but your bots know how to do it. I've often seen one bot distract while the other flanks; I've regularly seen three squadmates roll into a Domination point together. Don't ever expect that an enemy bot is a lone wolf'; be ready for a follow-up or revenge attack from their teammate. 


I'm enjoying the XP boost from my squad fighting when I'm not around -- even if we lose, I often get some bonus XP time for the next Squads session -- and I feel like I can try things out (and even fail!) with new tactics without being "that guy" on the team. What has your Squads experience been like?