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I have been having a lot of trouble getting the knife to successfully trigger the animation in multiplayer, instead it just stabs in the direction of the person (doing 33% damage every time, it seems). Obviously, whenever I fail at knifing someone it tends to end badly for me, so I would like to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

What conditions does the game check to trigger the knifing animation as opposed to a knife attack?

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A slash attack deals 50% damage –  SSumner Aug 1 '12 at 22:24
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up vote 14 down vote accepted

According to the Battlefield Wiki:

Holding the attack button and approaching an enemy will perform a fatal Takedown attack. The takedown can be performed from the front, but it is potentially more difficult to achieve against an alert enemy.

Additionally, this may be helpful:

The knife has a special little feature for new users, if there is no target, or target is not in range, then the knife points vertically down when equipped. However when the target becomes in range the knife often moves to a horizontal position to indicate that the target is within range, this makes it much easier for newcomers to know when to knife (the range for selected knife attack is greater than quick knife, so do not press quick knife and remember that in a knife fight).

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Very interesting. I'll try this out tonight, thanks! –  Dave McClelland Nov 7 '11 at 21:40
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That last bit is like the Spy knife in TF2... –  Albort Nov 8 '11 at 0:00
    
Holding down F does seem to have an impact on the success of my stabs. Thanks! –  Dave McClelland Nov 9 '11 at 12:55
    
If you manage to get them from the front your character casually pushes the enemy away as you take their dog tag ;) –  Jamie Keeling Nov 10 '11 at 23:53
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Holding the knife button (F on PC) or drawing your knife and then holding mouse click will perform the one hit kill knife animation. Tapping the button anywhere from behind (a 180 degree arc around the back of the player) will also perform the animation.

A few things to note:

  • The takedown can be performed on both crouched and prone enemies

  • You must be on the same level (not in terms of crouching/prone, you can knife a prone target while standing, I mean if the ground you're on is at a different height than the ground they're on) as your target. If you are above or below your target, you will just slash with your knife.

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Your 3rd bullet point about the target still dying isn't exactly correct, I have definitely killed Knifers during this animation and as a result saved my team mate who was about to be stabbed. I've definitely had my arse saved on more than one occasion as well :P –  Craig Pilgrim Nov 8 '11 at 9:26
    
@CraigPilgrim Hmm, interesting. I've never managed to save anyone, and I've been killed a lot while knifing and never not gotten the kill. I'll edit it out for now anyway, till I find out more info about it. –  Mr Smooth Nov 8 '11 at 23:33
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You don't need to be on the same level. I've knifed prone targets while standing directly over them without any problems. –  Chris Rasys Nov 9 '11 at 1:37
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@ChrisRasys I'm not talking about being standing vs. prone, I'm talking about them being on a platform and you being below them, or you being on a platform and them on the ground. Even if you're within reach, you'll still only slash at them. –  Mr Smooth Nov 9 '11 at 2:10
    
@MrSmooth Its a great feeling saving someone, which is usually ruined by some other idiot shooting you immediately after :P –  Craig Pilgrim Nov 9 '11 at 9:09
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