My Battlefield 2016

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I had a discussion quite a while ago with Stealthkilla about weapon damage models in Battlefield 4 and how they have been balanced in game. The discussion originated from talking about weapon and gadget bloating in the game, where I was concerned about how they balance all of those items out. Today in BF4 we have over 150 weapons and gadgets and each one of them somehow has to serve a purpose for you to use it, otherwise you will end up just using the best ones from each category. This made me think about many other things that maybe would be nice to see changed, be it to change and refresh the gameplay of the upcoming Battlefield or improve certain aspects of the formula we are running today. Let's get deeper into it.

Weapon balance and customisation

The key question of our argument was why invest so many man hours into creating, testing and balancing out 16 different assault rifles for example, if at the end, you will always be using the top 3 or 4. Should we have only four rifles at our disposal then? No. So should we have sixteen more to add variety? Well, actually that would be amazing, but the balance system has to change completely. One of the problems Stealth has with this is, why is there a programmer inventing damage numbers from scrap for all the guns and then having to balance them out? His idea of a balanced armoury starts at the shooting range, since the devs already went there for sound recording.

Before I go any further, I'd like to mention that we have no game programming experience, so we don't really know how difficult or even possible it is to implement such a system into a game, these are just our somehow realistic thoughts on the matter put on paper. Stealth had the idea of putting each gun that will make it into the game onto a jig and measure the force of the recoil from a shot. Using this data would allow the developers to create a unique and realistic recoil pattern for each gun. This would not only help making every gun feel peerless, but also avoid disasters like the P90 in BF4, a gun that is known for having a very low recoil can't be used in game against targets that are farther away than 15m without missing every second shot.

Next would be the damage and the customization of the guns. We are all used now to have near endless options on how to customize our primary, so it wouldn't be wise to go back 10 years and release a new Battlefield with just 20 weapons for the sake of easier balance. I think we should stay where we are, offering big amounts of customization, but it needs some work. The first thing comes from Stealthkilla, and I totally agree with him, damage should be dictated by calibre. 9mm, .45 ACP .357 and .44 Magnum, 12 Gauge, 5.56 or 5.45mm, 7.62mm, .308 Lapua, etc., all these could be used to create a damage scale, using real force of impact and penetration data available. The same goes for subsonic ammunition used when equipping a suppressor.

Now after this you could expand your customisation options even further by implementing a modular vest system you can use on your soldier, regardless of class. The Modular Armor Supplement System or MASS could be used, allowing the player to choose how much armor he wants to wear, adding protection from the collar all the way down to the legs. Once you know what parts of your body you want to have protected, you can now choose what protection level your armor should have, ranging from protection against 40 grain .22 long rifle all the way up to conditioned armor that protects against AP bullets. I think this could be a manageable feature for the developers if  a weight system gets set in place. People equipping less or lighter armor should get an agility bonus, then gradually getting slower the heavier the armor gets, while equipping the heaviest full body armor makes you slow and unable to leap over obstacles or accessing tanks.

I am not really sure how such a feature would play out in the game, maybe it even is absolute garbage, but I am sure that Battlefield could use some new useful ways to customize your character in a non aesthetic way. It would be nice to be able to sacrifice some movement speed in this case, and trade it for like a Level III ballistic vest that allows me to withstand the first bullet unharmed and for example get a 10% damage reduction on torso hits. This could be how that system works, of course it would need hours of testing and balancing but it would be a nice way to give the player a little more freedom when customizing his character, instead of just throwing new guns at him. And talking of guns, a weight system could also be applied here, I think it would make sense that weapons should affect the movement speed, not to an extreme, but enough to notice. The idea is to have a system that allows you the make your own soldier, exactly how you like it, that's why I think it would make sense that a guy with an SMG can move faster than a Support with his huge LMG and ammo. If you combine this with the MASS you could create a fast moving support with his deadly LMG because you removed armor pieces, or create an SMG wielding CQB guy with more armor than usual to survive better in close quarters.

Battlefield 2 did it best

Probably one of the reasons why I always compare the current Battlefields to BF2 is because it was the first game in the Battlefield series I ever played. Nonetheless many agree that BF2 was and probably still is the best example of how a team oriented strategic shooter should work. It wasn't flawless by any means, but that game was the one that really gave me that feeling of belonging to a squad and being a useful part of it.

There are a few things from Battlefield 2 that absolutely need to make a comeback for the sake of improving gameplay. Finite ammo for jets would be the first thing, not only for bombs and rockets, but also for the main cannon. When you think of it this request of mine doesn't really make sense, because when you are out of let's say, heat seekers, you have to fly around for a bit anyways for them to reload so what's the point of making you fly over your runway? I think it just changes your mind set, you are actively doing something in order to get more ammo, and you have to do it correctly otherwise you will need another pass. The devs probably removed it just to make it easier, but even though I admit it is not a necessary feature, it increases the ways you interact with the game. Just fly around and wait for ammo to magically appear is as boring as it sounds.

Something way more important would be one critical change needed for the commander, I don't know if they will bring him back for the new battlefield anyways, but if they do it will need a rework. One of my biggest complaints with the current system is that you have no possibility to counteract anything the enemy commander does, with the exception of the ally commander using counter radar scans. In Battlefield 2, as many of you may remember, the commander was a real person on the ground and not some guy on his tablet whilst taking a shit. At the beginning of a round you were able to apply for the commanders position and the game chose one of the applicants. First advantage here, if the enemy team has a commander, you can immediately apply for the same position and lead your team. Good luck in BF4 if the opposite team has a commander and you don't, because I don't think you will exit the game and join again as a commander, would you?

As for the skills, again I think the rest of the team should be able to disrupt the commanders abilities. That's why I would like to see DICE rotate back to the old system where, instead of a near invisible cruise missile that blows you up out of nowhere, I would want to see the artillery strike back. Then you could have two ways of counteracting the barrage, either by running to cover as soon as the first shells land by giving you a chance to survive if you are quick and lucky enough, or by destroying the artillery emplacement near their main base. Same goes for the radar installation.

If these two changes to the commander system would make it into the game, one last thing would need to go, the AC-130. Look I know, it looks amazing and it's a badass flying fortress in real life and I'll admit I enjoyed the kill streaks I've gotten the few times I hopped into it, but from a gameplay and tactical aspect it's pretty useless. You capture the base that unlocks the AC-130, the commander deploys it and two people can spawn in it and use its guns. After it gets destroyed the commander just has to deploy it again and there it goes once more shooting on everything that hasn't a roof over its head. As infantry you are mainly fucked if it gets you in its sights, maybe you are lucky and you find a house or some place to hide and if not, tough luck. If you are in a tank you are 200% fucked, because that flying turd waffle will not stop shooting at you until either you or the plane dies, and don't even think about exiting the vehicle to repair it, you're so dead. That's why I think it wouldn't be enjoyable at all if every second map has an AC-130 in the air for the whole duration of the round, I don't really care about it in BF4 but that's because you rarely see any commanders these days.

PDWs available for everybody, carbines for engineers.

Today it doesn't make sense. Back in Battlefield 3 if you were a medic for example, you could choose between a medium range assault rifle or a CQ PDW to play with, depending on the map or situation you'll be finding yourself in. Same goes for support and recon, both had the option to make themselves more useful in CQB at the cost of medium to long range effectiveness. Now in Battlefield 4 a medic has it's assault rifles and can choose to switch to a carbine, a weapon class that is effective in close to medium range and is overall worse than any assault rifle available. This means you have absolutely no reason to switch over to a carbine. Again, same goes for the support class, why would I switch to a carbine with less accuracy, range, DPS and smaller ammo capacity? The only exception here is the recon class, that now has the possibility of engaging in CQB more effectively, but I don't think that this one exception justifies giving everybody carbines instead of PDWs. On top of all that, judging from the roles and gadgets each class has, the engineer is the worst of all four to be fighting in CQB with PDWs. This should go back as it was in BF3, carbines for the engineer only, PDWs for everybody. I have no opinion about the DMRs because I still think they are the most inconsistent weapons available so I don't play with them anyways, that's why I can't say if all classes should have it or not.

I have a dream...

After eight core Battlefield games (no Hardline, you don't count), the last two being more "accessible" than the past installments, I think my dream of not having lock-on or "smart" weapons in the upcoming game is illusory. Now don't get me wrong, I still think there should be stingers for infantry and heat seekers for jets or helicopters, I am more concerned about weapons you can't do anything against.

This is a skill based tactical shooter, believe it or not, and most of your success comes from your skill as a soldier as well as your ability to play objective based, and all that within a group of people. You are driving in your tank and then BOUM, you get sniped from across the map by a tank with a staff shell he didn't have to aim at you. You now try to maneuver back to cover where you get hammered by the AC-130 from far up in the sky, where nobody except jets can get to. You hurry as much as you can but you have to bail out because the tank is on fire. You try to repair your precious carriage but you are getting pounded by a mortar you can't even see, so you run and run until you manage to get some cover in a building only to be shot out of it by a XM25. You are now dead, but not one bullet has been fired at you.

In my opinion, in a shooter like battlefield, you need to be able to react or counteract in some way whatever is coming to you. You are getting shot at? You can shoot back or take cover. You see a tank? Hide in a building or run around it and plant C4. A heli flies over you? Shoot with your stinger. A stinger missile flies towards you? Use your flares and back off. Action - Reaction. Now here is how it looks against all these "no skill" weapons and gadgets:
  • You move towards an objective on foot and get mortared from god knows where, you can't counter it because he sits across the map and you end up dying.
  • You move towards an objective on foot and get pounded by the AC-130, you can't counter it because even with a stinger you are out of range, and you end up dying.
  • Tank across the map hits you without a warning because his staff shells lock on to you, so he lands double the amount of hits you are getting, even without aiming, so you end up dying.
  • You get destroyed by a tomahawk without warning, death again, unavoidable.
  • Being behind cover, an XM25 kills you from out of nowhere.
And you see that I didn't even mention the AA Mines, they got nerfed into oblivion, but I think that at this point you get what I'm trying to say, and remember that this is entirely my personal opinion. A) You shouldn't be able to kill someone without effort and B) You should be able to counteract every kind of attack. The examples above don't fit into my idea of fair gameplay, the game as it is right now has to many "easy weapons" so even somebody playing with his feet can get a kill. The only exception I would make is the XM25. I know that for many people it is one of the most annoying gadgets out there but I think it's quite well balanced. For instance, you need to know how the range acquisition works, you need to aim correctly, you're completely exposed while firing and the ammunition takes ages to reload. With all that taken into consideration I would still want to have it in the new Battlefield, but just because of the strategic value of it.

In conclusion, the gameplay has to be fair and fun, five mortar guys spamming the MCOMs in Rush isn't any of that, neither is taking off in the helicopter and getting locked by ten different missiles instantly after, nor any other thing you can't escape from. And I want to combine this topic with the next one:

Vehicles: Less is more.

The "Everyone should be able to easily enjoy Battlefield" mentality from EA has also affected how the vehicle gameplay functions in BF3, but for the worst in BF4. This is nothing against people that may not be that good at the game, but don't sacrifice game mechanics for that goal. One thing is making a game more accessible for new people, another thing is dumbing it down so that even Candy Crush players can get a kill.

Back in the days of Battlefield 2 and Bad Company 2, you had two tanks for the whole conquest large map, maybe an APC and some jeeps. These vehicles could make the difference between a victory and a horrible defeat, and you really tried to take care of them, moving carefully and stay repaired. You used them as back up for infantry to push forward and be there in case the enemy tank appeared somewhere. Now it's different, let's have a look at Golmud Railway.

On this map, each team has, starting from the main base; 2 Jets, 3 Helicopters, 5 Tanks and an AA. That makes a total of 25 players out of 32 have a vehicle from the beginning. The rest will take one of the four ITV available in each base. If I did my math correctly, there are 37 available seats at the beginning of a round of Conquest Large. That's just crazy. I mean okay, it's a vehicle oriented map I get it, but have you ever felt like there was any kind of team play involved in a round of Golmud? It's just a huge cluster fuck of vehicles. You may like that, even I enjoy it from time to time, but I don't think that's what I expect form a round of Battlefield. And again, I'm not saying it's shit, but it comes down to infantry being useless on that map, and since you are in one of 15 vehicles, you are completely expendable. And I don't even want to start about Fast Vehicle Respawn Servers.

I would love to see a decrease in offensive vehicles, and to balance that out, an increase in Transport vehicles. I get that it is frustrating to start a match and having to walk out of the base, but a tank for everybody isn't the solution. Each squad should have the possibility to move fast to the first objectives. In a full CQL match there will be between 5-7 squads in a team. Two tanks, an APC, a transport heli, an attack heli and the two jets are a pretty good standard set of vehicles for a conquest map (I'm leaving out the AA an purpose because we all know its useless and annoying). So here 4-5 squads can already get out of the base, two guys are in the jets, and the other 2 squads can take ITV or quads to get to the closest bases. After that, the battle begins. In addition, I wouldn't spawn any more tanks or APC on forward emplacements, only transport vehicles that are either unarmed or have mounted machine guns, like the buggy , HMMWV or Vodnik.

These are some of the things i would like to see DICE work on for the upcoming Battlefield title, which has been confirmed to be released by the end of this year. Many of my thoughts here may be controversial and I'm sure anyone who reads this has his own opinion, gets a hard on when deploying a UCAV or just loves tank warfare and has nothing against so many vehicles, but as somebody who loved Battlefield 2 and played Bad Company 2 until my ass and chair grew together I just think the franchise has to slow down a little. Battlefield 5 should make sense, have a clear objective, build around a solid idea of how the gameplay should flow, know how players should fight with and against each other. Don't just build and engine with maps and the throw everything from your brain storm session in it. And for me the setting doesn't matter, make it WW2 or near future warfare I'm ok with either of those, but I would like to play with my teammates again, and not just against the opposite team.

All in all, I love how they treated Battlefield 4 after the disastrous launch, even if it took them close to two years to get it right and I hope take all those things they fixed and improved over to the new title. With new ideas, new settings and a polished netcode as BF4 has right now I think we can really look forward to an amazing new instalment of one of the best IPs around.



All cinematic pictures are from Shadow6ix® check him out.

If you want to see more on how to make Battlefield more team oriented, I highly recommend you watch Chris over at Battle(non)sense talking about his Battlefield 1982 concept.


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