Coming out on October 25th, which is less than two weeks away, Battlefield 3 information is bursting through the floodgates as the game is completed and finalized. Read on and enjoy today’s digest of information.
Firstly, onto new features. Hardcore mode, in most games, gives you one life, but this isn’t the case in BF3. When asked about Hardcore Mode, Alan Kertz, the core gameplay designer for the project said on his twitter that the only change will be 40% less HP, but with no change for your character’s damage output, meaning the lethality is greatly increased for Hardcore Mode.
Kertz also confirmed that the numerical damage values of guns in Battlefield 3 would not be displayed at all, saying “I think you over estimate the power of the gunner’s cannon, and underestimate the ATGM” to a fan that asked him about it on Twitter. Knowing exactly how many bullets any given gun will be needed to kill your opponents is a vital part of the metagame in not just Battlefield, but in all online shooters, since rounds with a low bullet count require precise shooting so you’re not caught with your pants down trying to reload. He also confirmed that the 7.62 would have less distance loss over the 5.56 as a more subtle detail on what sets weapons apart.
An interview with AusGamers had the producer Patrick Liu having this to say on the subject of LAN support, it’s not very good news however. “When we ship the game, we won’t have any LAN support. The main reason there is for security — we want to have a secure game with less cheating and less piracy and all of that. With control of the servers, we have more control over that stuff. That said, we are investigating different solutions to that, where it doesn’t require as much bandwidth for example — that may be one solution. But we most likely won’t have pure LAN support.”
There may be LAN support added in the future but his concerns of piracy and cheating are not without merit, as knowing that a hack works on LAN means that it likely works just as will in multiplayer proper, but this alienates a lot of players who take part in LAN parties or play in internet cafes due to a lack of high-speed internet which is sadly still a reality for many people. Liu also spoke about dedicated servers for the PC version; “We’re running a similar program to the one Bad Company 2 had, the RSP program where you can rent a server from select providers that we authorise. Once you rent a server, you have much more control over what you do with that server compared to Bad Company 2. If you want to have a ranked server, you have to follow certain rules and if you want to do your own thing, then you can run an unranked server, but that’s what we’re going to offer.”
Not a shabby idea, servers are difficult to set up and maintain for a game that doesn’t give out the software. Just ask anyone who has set up a private server for an MMO at any point in their lives.
Now, onto a completely different subject. In the multiplayer betas of BF3, the console versions weren’t looking as impressive as the PC version even though the graphical quality of games have reached levels that just fifteen years ago we would have never been able to comprehend or afford. Kertz had some words of his own when fans started saying that Battlefield 3 was made with consoles in mind first and the PC platform as a second. A fan said “Honestly, with the latest news, this doesn’t bode well for BF3. Console first, PC second.”, what were Kertz’s words?
“As a member of the devteam, bullshit.”
On the same point, Johan Andersson said that the game can use more than a gigabyte of VRAM, meaning the latest video cards can show off absolutely stunning graphics at a very high resolution that far transcends what even the mighty consoles of this era are capable of, saying “Yes, Battlefield 3 can fill up more than 1 GB of VRAM, esp. on Ultra or with very high resolutions.”
The high level of graphics and a maximum of 64 players in one game makes the PC version the superior choice if your box can handle something of this level.
On the subject of consoles and their capabilities which are almost always outclassed by a well-funded PC, they have said that the limits of the current consoles have likely been pushed to their limits. They were asked by GameSpy if they expected heavy backlash from console gamers because of the aforementioned graphical difference, Lars Gustavsson said “I don’t think so. Most gamers do realize that the consoles are five years old, and if someone buys new SLI cards for their monster PC, there will be something extra for the PC. If we kept everything on console level for those PC players, then they would rightfully strangle us! I do think we have managed to push the boundaries of the consoles to a level where I feel we’ve passed the competition. That’s all you can ask out of the team at this point.”
He did mention a new engine that’s used for shooters, and how it improves on animation rendering and how much a console can handle within its limited power. “I think it’s been a very mature move from Dice to invest in this new engine that allows us to keep on cramming more stuff out of these machines, otherwise we start to stall. I also think that’s something that, to me, sticks out with Battlefield 3. It is a fresh take on an otherwise quite stale shooter market. We’re trying to do a lot of things that no one has done before. Animation has stayed the same for ages, now we’ve revolutionized animation in shooters. We keep on pushing the boundaries for scale, for destruction.”
I’m not done yet, I’ve not mentioned DICE’s DLC plans. MCV asked if they had plans to offer a level of support that rivals the Call of Duty series, and the creative director/lead multiplayer designer Lars Gustavsson said straight up that the developer completely restructured the studio in order to fit in the plans for DLC content. “Nowadays, we have operations team who looks at the title when it starts getting closer to launch (or long before) with potential downloadable content and so on, to really have a plan otherwise you’re quite likely to start slipping. If you’re focusing just before release on what you’re going to ship post-launch, then I think you have problems. So, yes there is a massive plan in place.”
Regardless of your DLC opinions, it has become successful enough to be a major factor in the industry of games, and gives developers a reason to continue to support a game far beyond its release date rather than throwing it onto a shelf and hoping for the best. MMO games since Ultima Online and earlier have had to add new content, fix bugs, hold live events, and generally keep the game fresh for as long as possible. PC games have had expansion packs and patches for years, but only recently has such a thing been an option on consoles, and even more recently it has gotten to where it’s a viable industry for all involved.
Their rivalry with Call of Duty prompted a comment from the producer Aleksander Grondel saying that avoiding comparisons between two games in the same setting, situation, and genre was impossible. “We play a lot of games, of course. We take inspiration from a lot of games and all media. I think other shooters are of course more interesting to look at. Seeing how they solve a problem we’ve been struggling with to fix, but also in even more cases we get surprised with. “Oh, you can do it in that way, as well. That’s cool, and that’s a completely different angle on the same problem”. Since we’re building what we’re building and other shooters are building their stuff, you can easily see when you get the awkward crossover in some places. You have the same inspiration, but you did it in two different ways. In other cases, you have two completely friendly implementations that have no resemblance, but you will still get compared.”
In a more negative light, Battlefield 3 has its release dates all at the end of October for different regions (Except for Japan which is November 2nd), and it will also be region locked, which is rare for PC games and the PS3 and XBOX360 were specifically tailored to be region free if the developers did not wish to use a region lock. However someone somewhere decided to be a huge prick and lock people out of the full experience even though NOBODY in the consumer side likes region locks. Bleagh.