Home Editorial Balance The legacy of Battlefield 3 – the future with Battlefield 4


I have been playing Battlefield titles for a decade now. I grew up with them being my favorite first person shooters, and Battlefield 3 is easily my favorite game currently. That said, I have had a lot of mixed feelings about the way Battlefield 3 turned out. And as the fan of any franchise, I had major expectations that, unfortunately, left me disappointed with DICE’s execution of this most recent title.

So, with Battlefield 4 looming on the horizon, here’s a rundown of what needs to go, what needs to stay, and what needs to be introduced to ensure BF4 lives up to the series’ name.

What to change in Battlefield 4

It’s been tough watching the franchise develop in these recent years. Battlefield 3 lacks many features that were seen in previous Battlefield titles (and many other online shooters as well) – things like Battlerecorder/spectator and beta patches have been especially missed. With Battlefield 4 slated to release later in 2013, casual and competitive players could benefit a lot from a few simple changes and additions.

Let’s start with a lesson from League of Legends, which is currently the most played game in the world by a rather absurd margin. Being free-to-play certainly helps, but there is no doubt that the main explanation to the game’s popularity is something that Battlefield 3 is completely missing: any form of competitive support. How is a game supposed to be watched by the masses if you can’t even spectate during a tournament? Even the most important matches within Battlefield 3 leagues and tournaments are played from players’ homes! And it’s not just for vanity… it should also be noted that spectator modes tend to be a form of anti-cheat themselves, since hackers are outed when others can see their abuse firsthand.

But the lack spectator mode isn’t the only major problem with the latest Battlefield. DICE typically breaks as many things as they fix with every patch. In the past, players themselves would be able to test upcoming updates so as to not break the game upon its deployment. For example – for the longest time, the TV missile would kill the gunner’s own helicopter almost every time it was used. Even after it was “patched,” the problem still persisted. Complicated features like this require a lot of testing which is, inexcusably, a huge problem for DICE. There are plenty of people willing to test patches before their release; particularly the competitive players who like to know every nook and cranny there is in the game. The beta stage of patches needs to make a return.

Suppression, while certainly an interesting and controversial concept, is executed terribly. The drastic artificial increase of your weapon’s bullet spread as a result of suppression blatantly lowers the skill ceiling of the game. While the blurriness of the screen isn’t so bad of an effect, I just don’t find it fun having to run back behind a corner because a guy missed me so many times that I couldn’t shoot him back. Suppression should be completely optional to the server if it is to be included at all in Battlefield 4.  Lens flare presents a similar problem – “oh how fun, I can’t see anyone in this general direction.” I am not sure what it is that players like so much about being constantly disadvantaged at random times, but it causes a rather large problem of inconsistency in the game. In Battlefield 4, these kinds of distractions need to go.

What to keep from Battlefield 3

While Battlefield 3’s flaws are clear, the game boasts the most fun infantry and vehicular combat of any game I have ever played. One thing that I hope doesn’t change is the way in which weapons handle so smoothly. Although I’d prefer the game to have consistent recoil as opposed to random spread, the way the guns work just makes sense. Velocity and bullet drop feels phenomenal – allowing weapons to be quite controllable even at longer ranges with some practice.

Vehicles are balanced very well against infantry, and this is something that DICE has been able to deliver with just about every Battlefield game they have ever released. They all handle quite well and accurately thanks to the Frostbite engine. Vehicles have always been a major point of differentiation for the series, so keeping them fun and balanced will be pivotal to the next game’s success. Considering how consistent DICE is with this aspect of the game, I think we can expect them to continue doing it right for Battlefield 4.

Graphically, the game is further ahead of any modern combat shooter I can think of. When cranking up all the settings to their highest, I find myself getting distracted by the sensational scenery around me as opposed to the actual action. For something that looks so good, it is surprisingly well optimized.

Battlefield 3’s audio impresses once again. The work the studio puts into these very accurate and rich sounds is incredible. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Finally, DLC with radically different settings and game modes as well as new gear keeps a game fresh. DICE did a great job supporting Battlefield 3 far after release, and even though I didn’t enjoy every single addition, the stream of new weapons, modes, and vehicles helped the community stay strong.

What to add in Battlefield 4

As mentioned before, competitive support drives a better scene for gaming pros, and can result in more players being drawn into the game via events like tournaments. When a game becomes a popular e-sport, developers take better care of it and continuously make patches to address glitches and issues – making the game even better even for those who like to play casually.

And of course, tutorial and/or bot game support would be a fantastic addition, so that players can learn the basics of the game and advance their skills at things like piloting aircraft without having to learn in a harsher and unpredictable multiplayer environment. Battlefield is a team game, so having unskilled allies can drag a match down. Helping players learn the ins and outs on their own time will improve gameplay for everyone involved.

Ultimately I have faith in Battlefield 4. DICE did significantly more right mechanically than they did wrong in Battelfield 3, and by making some features like suppression a server option and adding a spectator function, they will win over a lot of people seeking to compete in first person shooters.  DICE has an easy opportunity to create the most fun casual and competitive FPS of the decade in the next iteration of this franchise… let’s hope they seize the opportunity with Battlefield 4.


7 replies to this post
  1. Agreed on most all counts, here.

    Hacking is probably easiest to see in shooters with a spectator mode, especially if the player isn’t doing anything to hide it. I don’t think it’s going anywhere with or without such a feature, but if you can stream a known hacker, send the video to DICE, and have that person banned somehow, it’s be a great help.

    Suppression is unneeded. Completely. The realism argument is pollock in a game where jets can crash into mountainsides and keep going as though nothing happened. Oh, and Jihad jeeps…. Yeah.

    Patching is a trickier business than I think most people give it credit for. Console certification being what it is, it’s easier on DICE’s end to blanket patch something and worry about it later. Plus, they’ve a track record of fixing and breaking, and people deal with it. Still, I think if EA would give them more time to test and Microsoft and Sony would allow for ninja patching and small patches in rapid succession in addition to large patches, we’d be in a better place.

    Betas are good, but only if done at very different stages throughout development. I think the BF3 alpha should have been its beta, and the Beta should have been its demo with a much later build. I don’t know how much EA had to say in delivering either, and they’re easiest to blame, but I agree that community wide testing will trump in house any day.

    For my own part, I want more weapon damage model variation. I hate knowing that all my assault rifles, barring a few, do the exact same amount of damage. I want a weapon that shoots nukes but fires like a tank and a weapon that shoots peas but fires like a Gatling gun in the same category, giving me options beyond “Which recoil pattern do you want?”

    Great article, prules. Hope to see you on the Battlefield.

    • I stopped playing BF3 a few months ago and went back to BC2, which I believe is the best FPS ever, on consoles atleast. BC2 had the best weapon balance, destruction, sound, teamwork and maps (for consoles atleast) of any military FPS i have ever played. BC2 just had balance, period. Hopefully, with the new systems coming out, we will finally have 64 player on consoles but I’ll believe it when I see it as they cannot do it with the current systems and if this is supposedly coming out in Q4 2013, will they be making 2 games as this is when the new systems are coming out as well. I just want BC2 gameplay, weapons balance, and destruction with BF3 graphics carried over to next gen technology. and @Xiant, you prolly never played BC2 then b/c that weapon damage model variant that you talk about was what made BC2 different from COD and such….and what made me agree with u when u said its what I hated from BF3 as pretty much 95% of all the weapons in one class were all pretty much the same…I hope DICE can find the perfect mix. I dont blame them for trying new stuff but then again, if it aint broke, dont fix it, or atleast dont fix it too much…

      • Agreed on most points. I thought the vehicles were sort of annoying in BC2, then again jets in BF3 kind of forced these giant, open maps that I didn’t like.

        BC2 felt a lot more claustrophobic and action-oriented. There were still some issues (many explosives were overpowered for a long time), but I generally agree. Also sad to see destruction go from BC2 levels to BF3 levels.

  2. I completely agree with the majority of the things you’ve brought up and suggested. I too hope they bring more competitive friendly features in the next Battlefield. You listed many things that we all want to be seen in the next Battlefield. I think I will post this link because this guy thinks many of the things you also think.

    • I actually saw that video very recently! It is great seeing a “youtuber” voice his opinions out with all his exposure, but I fear that even that won’t be enough. Unless players are more active in getting competitive support, I wouldn’t put it past DICE to simply not include it in the next title. At this point it is very hard to tell if spectator/battlerecorder will be in the game and I am just hoping for the best.

  3. The only thing I want in BF4 is the return of Sandbox Bot Support for singleplayer/offline play. These add so much more replayability then a campaign does it makes absolutely no sense to not have them in the game. Patrick Bach has already stated that the singleplayer is bit of a training ground to take into MP, well, im sorry Patrick, you dont get that with a campaign as MP plays a hell of a lot differently then a silly 5hr campaign does and BOT SUPPORT will teach that. As well as home in on skills such as learning to fly choppers and jets.

    Bots add the replay-ability that is lost in a campaign that you will only play once and then your done. Bot support teaches you the maps, you get to learn them while having some absolutely awesome fun at the same time. Bots add the sandbox style gameplay that CREATED this franchise. Ontop of this, there is an absolute out cry since bad company 2 for this to be added back, there is a huge audiance for this. It gives you something to do while your internet is down or on a plane because you travel a lot.

    There are things you can do in a BOT MATCH that you just simply cannot do in a multiplayer live match. It adds its own gameplay.

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