October is less than a month away, and for those of you in the
demo open beta for Battlefield 4, it’s less than a month before a new BF experience. While it hasn’t been long enough between BF3 and BF4 for any astronomical changes to be made, but from what footage I’ve seen, it looks as though what changes there are will make a difference in how the game feels. Veterans to the series will adjust easily enough, I’m sure, but for those just arriving via the Humble Bundle or elsewhere, here are some tips on how to prepare for the next foray onto DICE’s Battlefield.
Learn from the past to prepare for the future
The gunplay in Battlefield 4 is unique in that it bridges the gap between the Call of Duty laser bullets and Counter-Strike’s precision shooting. Forgive me now for using those two games in the same sentence, as I’m sure I’ll be damned to some horrid circle of hell for doing so. Regardless, unlike both CoD and CS, Battlefield does not use a hitscan bullet mechanic. That is to say, the bullets don’t instantly arrive at where they’re shot. Instead, the server keeps track of every single projectile fired as it moves through the 3D space of the map. For this, among other reasons, it’s clear to see why Battlefields exist on dedicated servers. No console or mid-grade PC can handle that amount of data.
I digress, however, and my point is simply this: if you’re a newcomer to the franchise with Battlefield 4, I’d advise you to not come in cold. Instead, I think it best you go back farther than Battlefield 3, to the storied and dangerous battlegrounds of Bad Company 2. The main reason isn’t the map design, or the increased level of destruction. Instead, it’s all about gun balance, and for BF4 I predict the return of long times to kill; ones similar to BC2, in fact. What I’ve seen shows me DICE listened to the community and decreased weapon damage across the board.
It might not seem like a huge deal, one of the main selling points about Bad Company 2, for most people, was how gunfights were usually on the side of the better shot. If indeed you started to lose one, there was probably a chance at escape, and when surprised you weren’t instantly dead. You could attribute some of this surviveability to BC2’s shoddy hit detection, but all things being equal, it still took a lot more to kill than in BF3.
Bad Company 2 will also teach you proper recoil control. Again, it appears to me that DICE increased the recoil on most weapons as compared to Battlefield 3, especially initial recoil and bullet deviation. This fact is something BC2 devotees will appreciate, many having staying in that game than going BF3. Combine heavier recoil with higher gun damage, then factor in BF4’s (seemingly) better hit detection, and you have a game that feels somewhere between Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3. If you’re reading this and you’ve played BF3, go back to Bad Company 2. If you’re a BC2 player first, take a little time to learn BF3, as you’ll need to adjust for the better net code DICE is implementing.
Ready thy tablet, O Commander
The mobile revolution is ongoing, and there’s a good chance you’re reading this on a mobile device of some kind. That’s good, especially considering how Commander Mode is going to work in Battlefield 4. Enabled for desktop and tablet, you can certainly be at your regular gaming station, taking in the scale of the fighting. What DICE wants you to do, and what I think will be most rewarding for players new and old, is commanding on the go.
The question is, how does one learn how to be an effective commander when BF4 isn’t even out yet? If you play games on your tablet, you already have the answer. Commander Mode, while of immediate importance on the Battlefield proper, will likely play on tablets much like a top down military simulator. There aren’t too many of those available today, if you play any game that demands a high amount of information organization, especially if it’s done at a fast pace, you’re training yourself for BF4’s Commander Mode.
What will separate the strong commanders from the weak is how easily they digest the large amount of data given them and then relay orders to the troops on the ground. Again, if DICE has done this feature justice, it’ll be clear on the screen what’s what, who’s who, where and when orders are given and followed, and how quickly the response to your orders happens. For initial testing of Commander Mode, sit down at your PC with your tablet’s WiFi disabled. Choose an empty server with over 100 ping in relation to you, and start issuing orders. You won’t be able to order troops around, send missile strikes, or be generally useful, that isn’t really the point. What you want to see is how fast your actions connect when using an average connection to a distant server.
Do this test a few times on a few different servers, with WiFi and without. Be aware the experience will be fairly different with up to 64-72 players clogging the server, but again, the point is to learn the timing. You’ll probably be commanding a server with good ping in relation to you and a strong WiFi or 4G connection, so your tests will have trained you to cope with the delay players create.
If all that experimentation sound like too much work for too little immediate reward, take this advice instead: just play games on your tablet. Even the simplest games become increasingly complex, or at least mentally demanding, as you move through them. You won’t have the hard data the above tests give you, just becoming adept at processing large quantities of information will pay dividends on BF4’s release. Just playing might have another benefit as well.
Testing connections and delays and learning the interface is all well and good, there isn’t a single commander on the playing field. Ideally, just as your soldiers have enemies to fight, you’ll have an opposing commander trying to undermine what you do and allow their side to win. A ton of tablet games come with a competitive multiplayer component of some sort, and if you can take the time to master at least the sensation of conflict with another human being, you’ll be better off than someone who jumps into Commander Mode head first.