Killcams in Battlefield 3 – An Unwelcome Feature?

In a recent Q&A session with DICE representatives at GameCon 2011, it was confirmed that a killcam feature would indeed be included in Battlefield 3. This has been a hot topic among gamers recently and I can see why.

But first, a killcam in a first-person-shooter, for those who don’t know, is a quick replay on your screen of what your enemy saw moments before he shot you dead. It was an idea that became extremely popular during the release of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and many developers since then have included it in their own shooters, or a least a version of it. Lately, Crysis 2 did cut-and-paste job with their “kill replay”, while Homefront was a little more original in that the camera panned up to your enemy after you died, revealing his location.

The reason the killcam has become such a controversial idea is because it is a feature that could potentially make or break an FPS, or any shooter for that matter. Give away too much enemy intel and it could provide little challenge to some players. Give no information at all and it could prove frustrating for players who constantly find themselves in a death-streak due to an unknown enemy position.

There are also many other factors that play into this. If I took Crysis 2 for example, you will find that it’s multiplayer is quite fast-paced. Crytek, the developers of Crysis 2, gave player characters the ability to move much like a free-runner or parkour practitioner in real life (but obviously with the added advantage of alien nanosuit technology). Players had the ability to slide under objects, grab and quickly climb ledges, and power jump great distances. With all this freedom of movement, there was very little incentive to stay in one spot or ‘camp’. This led to many players either using the sub-machine guns or assault rifles to adequately deal with all these fast-moving soldiers on the battlefield. Sniper rifles were fairly uncommon in Crysis 2’s multiplayer. For these reasons, I personally felt that a killcam or kill replay was unnecessary. If I was shot dead by an enemy, it was very rare that that same enemy would stick to the same location after I re-spawned. Most players were constantly on the move. Another factor that played into this opinion is that Crysis 2 actually featured some very well thought out level design. There weren’t many hiding places and most sniper perches were easily accessed through multiple flanking routes. Again, offering little incentive to stay in one place for too long.

In contrast, another game that I thought could have really used a full-on killcam was DICE’s multiplayer component to the recent Medal of Honor. If you tried hard enough, it was completely feasible to spend an entire match in one hiding spot with a high powered sniper rifle. The choke points in the level design were numerous. Some moments, it was almost suicide to enter a corridor or an entrance way when most of the time, an enemy sniper already has the shot lined up. With the many nooks and crannies which served as hiding spots that were present on many of the maps, it was extremely frustrating to be shot dead, completely unaware from which direction, and only have the game tell you your killer’s name and what he killed you with. Being on the other side of this situation, I found it absurd that on some maps, I could view a large portion of the map with my sniper rifle through a minuscule crack between two crates. It made it almost impossible for enemies to realize where I was shooting from. In general, I felt that Medal of Honor gave too many advantages to the sniper class. Having a killcam, in my opinion, would have added much more balance to the game.

Back to the Battlefield series. Battlefield 2 had no killcam and some searching on the US and UK EA forums told me that many fans were okay with it and enjoyed BF2 the way it was. I personally enjoyed the version of the kill cam used in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. I thought it provided a good balance to all the bush wookie, spawn campers. Since the camera was always in front of your enemy, it never completely gave away his position since you couldn’t see his point of view. It was a good balance between revealing too much or too little. As for Battlefield 3, it seems like DICE has provided at least a little bit of a counter to campers with the new scope glint feature. Currently, if an enemy with a high powered scope has you in their sights, you should be able to spot them with the reflection that will shine off their scope lens. Perhaps leaving out a killcam in this case could be justifiable. However, this glint feature only covers those classes with sniper scopes attached to their weapon and not those using an ACOG or red dot sight on a battle rifle or assault rifle.

Again, DICE has at least left the option to turn the killcam (or what ever they will call it in the the final product) off on the normal, non-hardcore mode. If it’s included, would you prefer a CoD-style killcam, or something more like BF:BC2? Or, do you think it should be permanently removed all together? After all, DICE did say that this game is to be the true sequel to Battlefield 2.

Pleas let us know in the comment section below.

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