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Battlefield 3 - What DICE (still) need to fix

The Z January 1, 2012 User blog:The Z

Hi everyone, Z here, with another blog post (woo!)

(If you guys have anything you'd like me to add to this list, let me know in the comments or on my talk page, I may send a link to this page to DICE or at least post it to Getsatisfaction or the Battlelog forums so they can see what the community is unhappy about (it's a lot!))

Now I, myself, have been quite vocal about problems with Battlefield 3 on the BF3 Getsatisfaction site, writing a few things many essays about what DICE need to fix in the game, with the hope that someone from the dev team will read what I've written and take it into account.

As much as I respect DICE as a developer and as much as I love their work, I have noticed a few steps back from the BF games of old as well as many new problems with BF3 and the B2K DLC expansion pack. This is why this post exists, as do my rants on the Getsatisfaction site.

This post isn't solely to gameplay issues, it's also to do with the DICE event in November when we were invited to grab their dog tags. At least 99% of people never got that chance.

Battlefield 3 gameplay

No way of joining games as a Platoon

Currently, when I want to play with members of my platoon, I have to invite all the members into my squad and then try to join a server and hoping it all works out.

Issues when joining games as a squad

Now what I mean by hoping it all works out is - often when joining games with a squad, due to server balancing and the way server joining works, squads are put into almost-full servers where there are 4 spaces across both teams, so squads get split up. Even when joining nearly empty servers, squads are split up when teams have an equal player count.

No mid-round or inter-round autobalancing

Here DICE need to take a leaf out of Valve's book and integrate end-of-round autobalancing into the game. The issue here is that when there's a mass-exodus from one team, the teams are not re-balanced and you end up with a full team of Colonel Service Star 5 members utterly annihilating a team of two Rank 5 newbies.

32 Players on consoles

Have you ever run around Caspian Border on foot and wondered where everyone else was except in vehicles? This is why we need higher player counts on conoles. DICE keep arguing that there are technical limitations that stop consoles from having 32 player servers. However, during playtesting, they found the sweet spot to be 32-48 players and it was running fine on consoles. There are other games available, such as Homefront and even MAG that allow more than 24 players per server without issue. I realise there are differences in the game engine, but Frostbite 2 is a very efficient and modern game engine and there should be some room for optimisation to allow more players (I mean it's not like the console's running the server now is it?).

No ping values in console server browser

On PC there are ping values, on consoles there are connection bars (out of 5) labelled 'ping'. All servers in my server browser in the Europe region I have 5-bar ping to. Nonetheless, I often experience connection inconsistencies. One match I seem to win most firefights and snipers never get the chance to counter-snipe me. When that connection breaks (yes there are still connectivity issues here and there) and I join another server, the number of firefights I win decreases and some enemies aren't dropping as soon as I'd expect them to. I also end up experiencing a lot more firefights were we both end up dead. Not long-range ones, but point-blank ones... With a delay before the death is reported. I need my ping values.

Mysterious white screen in campaign missions

I've experienced this during Operation Guillotine (when running up the hill towards the building going right) and Night Shift (straight ahead (!) when running towards the helicopter). Both were on a separate playthrough. If you don't already know, when looking at a certain area of the world, a white rectangle appears that obscures your view of the game world. Aiming down sights alleviates the problem but only near the edges of this 'area'.

Butterfly trophy/achievement never received

You get this trophy/achievement when you Take down the jet in one attempt in Rock and a Hard Place. I did this. I didn't get mah trophy :(

Certain icons not appearing properly at end of round screen

This is a pretty minor problem, though worth mentioning anyway. Sometimes they appear after a delay.

Stationary Anti Air needs a damage or projectile speed boost

At the moment it's useless at any range other than close range. Not a skill problem I think, as I've shot down vehicles at relatively close range with it. The Tunguska is much more powerful. I also had no problem shooting down helis in Bad Company 2 with the stationary AA in that.

I find it too easy to rape the enemy vehicle spawns from my heli as well. It's too easy to destroy the RU jet and heli spawns on Kharg Island. Way too easy. I've played half a round as heli gunner and half as heli pilot, only dying once and getting around 28 kills (though I'm a pretty good pilot and gunner - I've flown through the tunnel on Damavand Peak and I get a lot of gunner kills).

VOIP issues across all platforms

On consoles, I realise there are problems with voice breaking and stuttering often. Personally, I've rarely experienced this problem, however I do realise that it is still an issue, and with Battlefield as strategic as it is, it's absolutely vital that clear communication is possible.

On PC, there's the problem that you need to chat through Battlelog and that there's no VOIP on servers. I find this ridiculous. Almost all PC FPS games have had some form of in-game VOIP for all server members, so there's no need to have to minimise the game window in order to mess around with something akin to party chat that you can only do with your friends and platoon members. This needs to be more streamlined.

Spotting commands need improvement on consoles

In Bad Company 2, it was simple enough to request ammo, health, a lift, or to tell the squad which objective to attack. It's no longer this simple in BF3.

In BC2, when someone asked for a lift, or for some ammo, or for some health, a corresponding icon pulsed rapidly on the map and on the Head Up Display to let you know you were needed. This was also accompanied by a clearly audible audio cue. This no longer happens. Yes there's still a flashing icon (that's less-visible than a rapidly pulsing one), but that only appears some of the time, and often only on the map. The audio cue does not come over the radio. Hence it is difficult to know what needs to be done.

To add to the above calling for a lift no longer seems to work, because every time I call for a lift, nothing happens. I need to shoot my teammates' vehicles or shout that them over my mic that I need to be picked up, hoping that they'll notice. Half the time, they just keep on going (with an empty IFV no less!). Stupid b......

In BC2, anyone in the squad could paint an objective for attack or defence. Whilst that meant that you could switch objectives in the heat of the moment, if you saw a situation developing at one of them, and that you could switch quickly so you could get some extra attacker/defender points, it also lead to some people constantly switching targets back and forth because they couldn't agree on what to go for. Now that in BF3 the squad leader role has returned from BF2, it falls to the squad leader to issue commands to attack objectives. However this means that nobody else in the squad can correct the squad leader in his/her decisions, if there were problems. There needs to be a system for other squad members to suggest an alternative target to the squad leader (with an anti-spamming cooldown time), because the squad leader is randomly selected, and won't always be the best leader.

More flags on consoles

Now this would apply mainly for the original BF3 maps as some B2K maps fixed this (I'm looking at you Strike at Karkand). I'd like to see one or two extra flags on some maps, just to make the gameplay a little less linear and a little less about the massive clusterf**k at B (oh the fun we have had on Grand Bazaar).

Damage reduction on soft targets with Mobile-AA

The ease with which you can kill soft targets with the Tunguska AA is ridiculous. Flawless matches as defender on Wake Island are common (even I've done it O.O). Damage against soft targets dealt by the main cannon should be reduced, whilst accuracy and damage against vehicles is maintained, to ensure air vehicles can be taken down reliably (what's the point of an AA weapon if it doesn't do what it's supposed to, eh?).

USAS-12 with 12 gauge FRAG rounds

Oh... my... god... does this thing piss me off. This is the only weapon that actually annoys me when I am killed by it. Not only do you have to wait until rank 43 to unlock this weapon, but it also takes 60 kills to unlock this obscenely powerful attachment. This shotgun is far better than the rest, with its high damage per second and its magazine reload, but it takes a long time for new players, who are being repeatedly owned by it, to unlock it, as it's currenly the only effective counter for the USAS-12 FRAG rounds combo at close range.

This combination (along with extended mags) appears to extend the damaging range of this weapon, and, due to its full-auto firing capability, it seems to be incredibly effective against most (if not all) other weapons at close-medium range. The only way to counter it at the moment (since, most often, it's an idiot camping in a corner or a stairwell as a Support so they can constantly resupplies themselves), is to use similarly cheap tactics of spamming SMAW/RPG7 rounds and grenades into their little hiding spot.

OK, rant over...

The MAV problem

...Or is it?

As if those things making that annoying droning noise all the time wasn't enough, now there's always at least three of the bloody things on the map with recons flying themselves up to previously unreachable places (the overpass on Tehran Highway) and then easily picking off you and your teammates whilst you all run around like headless chickens looking for them. There should be an invisible wall limiting the structures on which players can land through means such as MAVs and air vehicles on maps where there are useful sniping positions on top of structures (Tehran Highway, Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, etc), but without limiting players on maps such as Caspian Border, where there are no such structures (bar the collapsible tower). This was not as large a problem in Battlefield 2, where most structues were not particularly tall and most were scalable.

Private matches

I understand that there may have been a problem with a lack of free servers soon after BF3's release, but now that there are fewer players online at any one time, I think there's now room for a private match option to be added without issue. In Bad Company 2, it was possible to have a private match with at least 7 other people. This feature is stranglely missing from BF3. It should be in the game. No excuses. That's the core reason I haven't been able to help organise a Battlefield Wiki Community Event (see this forum post for more info).

Back to Karkand gameplay

The QBU-88 sniper rifle and MG-36 LMG are unusable

When walking around and aiming all I see is my arms. Is the QBU-88 now a pair of killer long-range arms!? Am I Rayman!?


Platoons need more features, like joining games as a platoon and platoon leaderboards

Joining games as a platoon should have been in the game from the very beginning. Also look at Call of Duty Elite and their Clan features. Battlelog is already better than Elite - DICE, keep the gap as it is, you don't need to let them catch up.

Better VOIP and chat integration in-game (PC)

There is no way of controlling Battlelog chat and VOIP conversations from within BF3, without minimising it. There needs to be some sort of Steam-like overlay with VOIP, chat and Battlelog controls.

DICE dog tags event

Now that was a bloody shambles.

I do have a writeup on the issues with this event on the Battlefield 3 GetSatisfaction page; I may post it here later.

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