In case you didn’t know, DICE is seeking to change the Battlefield 5 TTK (time to kill) in patch 5.2, or will they? Today, the studio posted a long (and I mean long) message explaining some of the possible Battlefield 5 time to kill changes, a well as posting an FAQ on the gameplay design decisions, and what it means.
Given the scope of this, check it out in full below.
Battlefield 5 TTK changes:
The short version?
- We have not set out to change the time to kill in Battlefield. We are honest when we state that we’re focused on balancing how each and every weapon across a range of classes and weapon types behave at different ranges. We acknowledge completely that at extreme ranges, weapons being used outside of our intended design will be less effective, but we’re not invested in changing the lethality of Battlefield V nor punishing skilled players who are consistent in landing their shots or the players who push for that critical headshot.Changing the base time to kill is not our goal, and these changes are far broader and more advanced than the blanket damage reduction that we briefly implemented late last year. It comes as a result of very carefully planned changes that encourage a better entry point for players wanting to commit to Battlefield, whilst sustaining skill cannon weapons that reward committed players.
Below – we go into a great deal more detail on how it is that we’re achieving our goals, our motivations for the changes, and how our new designs are not limited to the amount of damage a single bullet does. Rate of Fire, changes to Recoil, some tweaks to weapon specialisations, and the amount of ammo that each gun has access all contribute to sustaining a lethal time to kill, and we’re ensuring that each class maintain weapons that are effective and lethal in different situations.
- The introduction of improved enemy identification is not targeted at creating a new form of 3D Spotting. Our principal objective is to help to reduce the frustration felt by players who find themselves ‘deleted’ by players that they had no awareness of in close combat ranges. In scenarios where a player finds themselves surprised by a player they weren’t previously able to identify our expectation is still that they lose the fight, but that they end the encounter feeling like they were in a position where they were at least able to react.
Below – we share more detail on how we’re considerate, and protective of Flanking gameplay and the considerations that we made when designing this system to distinguish it from how Spotting gameplay behaves.
- The delivery of all of our changes is not the end of the conversation, it’s just the next phase. Your feedback is heard, we actively seek it, and we’re going to continue listening to it when Update 5.2 releases. In return we’ll keep talking, and we’ll sustain this level of transparency throughout any changes that we’re making to the game.
Battlefield 5 TTK update FAQ:
Rebalancing our Weapons and the Damage that they perform at Range
The current time to kill is perfect, why are you changing it?
The current time to kill is perfect, but only if the right player is using the right gun, and in the right situation. Battlefield V is currently balanced in what can be called a narrow spectrum. Fundamentally guns are all Damage per Second (or Bullets to Kill) equal, which means that its quite easy to find a gun that can work well enough for any situation, and then stick to that gun.That design holds a few problems.
- The balance caters strongly to highly skilled players, who largely ignore the breadth of weapons available in the game.
- Adding new content is of reduced value for skilled players because they largely already have a favorite weapon that’s good enough for their playstyle.
- The balance doesn’t cater to enough play styles, leaving a player who isn’t highly skilled without options that may be easier to use, but have less overall damage per second.
Our goal with this change is in multiple parts, and there’s also something that is our ‘antivision’ – which is even more important than the vision.
- Provide a larger variety of play styles within each weapon class. Grow the spectrum.Some weapons need to be Skill Cannons. Some weapons need to be simpler in nature (with power downsides that balance the risk and reward). Some weapons need to sit between those two, or hit other needs specific to the class (such as ensuring that the Medic class has access to an SMG that is effective at longer ranges).
- Create a more discrete range for each weapon class.Today an SMG is both accurate enough, and does enough damage, similar to how the Sten can be used for all situations. There’s simply no motivation for you to switch weapons in different situations, or to try something new beyond the reason that it’s just new.
- Create space in our balance model that will allow us to continue to introduce new weapons that have unique gameplay, and open up the design space for new ways to play.
- Change the Weapon Meta to adjust some of the less popular guns to be more popular, ensuring that some of the more popular guns have weaknesses, and to address specific issues that you have called out in the BFV meta (like prone MMG campers, lying on their back in a dark corner of a tough to read playing space).
- So what’s our AntiVision?A change the lethality and average time to kill of the game, especially at close range and in flanking situations. Beyond addressing any edge cases related to technical performance, we also consider regression on time to death as a part of our antivision.
How is this different from the last time you tried to change time to kill?
Our previous changes to time to kill were made to all guns, across the board, at all ranges, without additional changes to ammo, recoil, rate of fire, accuracy, mobility, spectrees, or any other setup.It was a brute force approach, and was neither popular, nor did it achieve our objectives of helping to reduce the frustration experienced by players who are looking to get into Battlefield. This change, by contrast, is a balancing exercise aimed at a totally different set of goals, with a deep and iterative process of implementing that design, which targets specific parts of the game, and offsets the nerfs with buffs that change the behavior and balance of the individual weapons, not the global time to kill.
Changing the base time to kill here is NOT the goal.
What do you know about the game that we don’t know that suggests the current time to kill is wrong and needs changing?
We do not have data that suggests there is a problem with the time to kill, which is why we’re not setting out to change the time to kill. We’re trying to change other elements of the game that contribute to your frustration in fire fights, which has an impact on specific weapons and specific situations, but our change is not designed as a global time to kill change.
We statistically track many elements of the game, both from in game statistics but also from surveys of the broad community. From that we know a few things about your behavior and how you perceive the game in manners that extend far beyond the visible feedback we receive on social channels, and community hubs such as this. With a large player base it is critical that all of you have a voice, and statistics and surveys get us a broader set of feedback and data to analyze and understand. We can already see what kind of weapons and play styles and behaviors drive players away from the game, and which kind of behavior cause for you to quit the game. We want you to keep playing the game, and we want to minimize frustration because that is one critical part of why you hit a quitting point.Breaking that information down, we can generalize:
- You quit when you feel that the game is unfair, or unbalanced, or that you don’t have a chance.
Weapon balance is a small part of that, especially with 64 player games. However, if a player starts the game and perceives that the rank 50+ soldier has a gun that is simply better than their starting gun, that is frustrating and cause for them to quit. Providing you with access to a starting weapon that can establish you in a firefight is a key part of making you stay with the game so that you can learn, and get better at it. Additionally if you feel that your starting gun is good enough for all situations, you find little value in new content and you disengage with the game. We don’t want that.
- You quit when you are shot in the back, without having an opportunity to face your enemy.
That would suggest we are against flanking, but we can measure that these “ambush” kills happen most often at longer ranges, not close range flanks. You’re generally pretty forgiving of someone getting the drop on you from the side, or behind, and dying because the player who made that flank earned their kill. It’s a similar motivation for sniper glint, as seeing the glint before a sniper puts a bullet through you makes that death feel less punishing. A death is less punishing when you feel like the kill was skill on the part of the enemy.More problematic are long range deaths with weapons that are marked for short range. You don’t expect them to be a threat, and when you die at 100m from an SMG it feels wrong and it’s frustrating.
Adjusting the hits that a short range weapon needs to kill at long range still allows for a skilled player to make those hits, but also gives the enemy an opportunity to respond to that fire and take action. Our expectation is that they still lose the fight, but that you’re at least able to participate and learn from the experience vs. simply being left with the frustration of being deleted. This is also why we do not want to reduce the accuracy of weapons in order to affect range, as shooting at a target and the gun not hitting is even more frustrating for you. How we’ve approached and revised our current behaviours in the game is intended to reduce the frustration for both players.
- Longer Range combat is harder and leads to frustration more often.
Targets are smaller, they are more difficult to see, and more difficult to hit. BFV’s combat distance is substantially longer range than previous Battlefield games like BF1 or BF4. BF5 averages 22-25m for combat ranges, while BF4 was 12-15m for combat ranges. Bringing combat ranges down does not mean eliminating the ability to kill at range. For us it means making it clear to players which weapons are good at range, and to have those weapons have drawbacks that balance their abilities at range.This is best illustrated by the availability of DMRs in BF4 to all kits, where all kits and classes had access to a long range weapon, but the overall combat range was still lower. In this change we have positioned guns within each class as Longer Range options, with appropriate bullet to kill values, and appropriate downsides and trade offs.
- Frustration with the Core Gameplay is high, and wider spread than discussed here.
Through our surveys we were able to measure that while there is a group of current players are who satisfied, but that there is a much larger group of current players who are dissatisfied. We can see that the satisfaction with the core gameplay has decreased over time, from a quite positive position a year ago at launch, to a more neutral or even negative position now a year later. We also were able to measure the split between the influence of bugs, and desire for more content, with the pacing and gunplay in the game – effectively understanding that when viewed in isolation, the gunplay is solid, but stale. We need to refresh the game in order to maintain a healthy game and a healthy player base.
The changes to weapon balance made in Update 5.2 are targeted at reducing long range ambush kills, providing a larger set of choices in weapon play styles, reducing average combat range, and changing the weapon meta. Our changes are designed in such a way that it does not slow down the time to kill, or remove flanking and smart player tactics.
Why are you doing this again after we rejected it last year, and you told us that you heard us? Can you not hear us now?
Last years change was a quick reaction to situations that we were seeing at launch, and was meant to be a first step on the road towards a better experience. In hindsight that change was too abrupt and too early.
The team has spent a lot of time looking at all of the weapons in the game today, and from a lot of different angles, including player feedback, testing, experience, as well as data. As part of our ongoing support of the game we have added a lot of new weapons, but have not made adjustments to create the breadth of gameplay that we think will create more fun and different opportunities to play the content.
Are you just doing this for the ‘christmas noobs’ only to change it back next year?
No. We’ve been evaluating the balance of our weapons all year and weren’t able to implement the changes in time for the start of Chapter 5. Our new design allows us to reset the balance and start to tweak from a new baseline.
Are these changes focused on making the game easier for less skilled players? Wasn’t Battlefield V focused on being a game that had a higher skill ceiling?
We want to ensure that new players who pickup the game have the ability to use an Easy to Learn weapon, that they can feel competitive enough using in order to get a few kills and understand the game, so that they graduate to Harder to Master weapons. The learning curve for Battlefield is steep, with many parts that are critical to making the game feel like Battlefield (destruction, classes, teamplay, vehicles, open maps, etc). We’ve always aspired to have Battlefield be a set of ‘Easy to Learn but Hard to Master systems’, and this design revision is aligning towards that target.Some of these changes are certainly focused on making a players initial experience with the game a less punishing one. That’s part of the goal. However it is not intended to make ALL guns easier if you’re less skilled, nor is it to make the game itself aimed at less skilled players. There are simply better tools (like tutorials) that will help you if you’re new, or less skilled, and won’t negatively impact you if you’re more highly skilled.
How do you measure success here? If you’re not listening to us and how we feel, what is it that needs to show in your data that suggests you should make more adjustments?
How you feel about the change is a part of how we will determine how successful the change has been, and we recognise that you need to play it first before we can accurately obtain that feedback. We also recognise that our player base far exceeds the amount of players that we have participating in the conversation online, and in the absence of hearing from them directly, we can also make use of the Telemetry that we receive. This helps us track performance of weapons, how often those weapons are used, how successful people are with those weapons, and the general behaviour of players who are shown to be having a hard time getting to grips with the range of different weapons that we have.If after making the changes we feel that the data is suggesting that we’re tracking more positively towards that, we’ll help to balance that with the feedback that you’re giving us, as well as the ways in which we feel the game is being played based on our own experiences playing with you.
We already feel positive about the changes, but we completely acknowledge that once we release this into the next version of the game that there will be further considerations to make. This is true of all content and changes that we make to the game, and we feel that we have a good record with you all in recent months on being responsive and open to making further changes.
The graphs you shared in the Community Broadcast make it look like a massive TTK change. How can the bullets to kill change so radically but the TTK remain similar?
The examples we chose to show previously are weapons we know to be popular across the game. In the example of the STG, it showed you how you would need to land 1 extra bullet inside 10M, with damage values operating the same as they currently do until 30M where you’ll again need to land 1 more bullet up until 75M where we increase that to an extra 2 bullets. In addition to that change we’re also reducing the weapons recoil, from its current value of 0.67 in 5.0, to 0.5025 in 5.2.
This effectively demonstrates a shift of 16ms in the weapons expected time to kill within our designed range for the weapon (10-30M), assuming the player successfully lands a proportionally higher number of body hits. Headshots continue to operate in the same fashion, and so the reduced recoil can encourage you to push for more lethal shots.
In the instance of the M1928A1, the weapons expected time to kill within 10M increases from 250ms seconds in 5.0, to 330ms seconds in 5.2 (an increase of 80ms), and 350ms to 417ms within 10-15M. It’s balanced by reducing it’s vertical recoil from 0.7 to 0.42, and it’s horizontal recoil also reduces from 0.775 to 0.3875 so that the actual frames to kill for the weapon changes from 20 at 10M to 21 at 15M.
In the case of the M1928A1, it’s being adjusted to help address that the weapon is considered too effective within our design and bring it in line with our goal of ensuring a better variety of weapons for players to choose from. It still remains a lethal weapon selection within its designated range.
These are just some of the types of balance changes that we’ve performed across all of the weapons for this update. Some are being very finely tuned to increase their usability, some are being brought in line with our new approach, and others have been re-tooled to give them new effectiveness in different scenarios. When the update goes live, be sure to review your Specialisations for any changes, and let us know how you get on with them.
Can we have a complete overview of how every weapon, and class of weapon will be affected before the changes go live?
Our update notes will have a full list of the changes and the intent behind all of the guns used across the game. It also draws from the design document that we used to make the change. We know that you will dig deeply into the data and then further analyze it. There’s no attempt here to hide anything.We are trying to be as honest and transparent as possible, in order to build trust with you, our community. We expect that we will need to make adjustments to this ranged damage model once it goes out into the wild. Maybe the drop comes at too close a range, or a specific gun that we’ve changed doesn’t fulfill our intended goals. Either way, this isn’t a one and done deal and we’ll continue being transparent about how we further balance the changes that we’re making with this update.
How does this affect Headshots?
The headshot multipliers are not going to be adjusted in this update and remain the same as the values that currently live in the game today.
Are Sidearms being rebalanced as well? Because at range it feels like these are way more effective than Primary Weapons.
We are currently happy with how sidearms are balanced, and fit the meta of the current game. Along with the other weapons that we’ve tweaked in recent updates, sidearms recently received an overhaul that was designed with the 5.2 rebalance in mind. Powerful side arms are a great part of the soldier fantasy, and in Battlefield we like to think of them as a valid combat tactic, not just as a last ditch, backup weapon.
Are you going to do this anyway, no matter what we say?
Our single goal as a team since July has been make BFV a better game for ALL our players.
- Step 1 one of this goal was to get the base level of the game up to the quality standard that all of our players expect. We have made huge strides in this area with the releases of 4.4, 4.6, 5.0 and we will continue to ensure that you’re never left with an experience where the game regresses on Quality.
- Step 2 has been to deliver the amazing content you expect from a Battlefield game that creates the true battlefield experience, and with the release of Operation: Underground and the pacific, we are getting back to where we all want to be, and this will continue in across Battlefield V’s future.
- Step 3 for us is to improve the core loop and player experience within this new content. This is something the team has been looking at for a long time, but needed to accomplish step 1 and 2 before we could get true representation from all of our players. We wholeheartedly believe this change is better for Battlefield, we also know it won’t be perfect day one and are dedicated to tweaking and tuning to get the results that creates a great experience for all the players in our game.
Why is your first response to OP Weapons to Nerf stuff rather than Buff stuff?
The decision to nerf or buff is made based on how fast or slow the current game is, vs the item we are balancing. The game is currently as fast as we want it to get, a target we set on based on community feedback of the BTK/TTK of BF1 and the BFV Betas.We want the game to have a low entry cost, a high skill ceiling, a fast pace, clearly readable range, and offer broad player choices. When adjusting weapons that were at the faster end of the spectrum we must nerf them to meet the pacing that we want for the game overall. There are very few of those guns in the game today. We recently buffed nearly all the sidearms because they did not fit the pacing we want in the game, as a clear example where we made balance changes to nerf weapons.
Many weapons are receiving buffs to elements that are not damage. Recoil. Rate of Fire. Ammo pools to name just a few. In the case of Recoil, many of the weapons that we’ve made adjustments to see their Recoil reduced by around 20% on both Horizontal and Vertical Recoil, except in certain cases where we’ve more aggressively adjusted the damage values at range (here we are tweaking both recoil values by around 40% – with the exception of some MMG’s where we’re confident that their Rate of Fire still makes them a dangerous threat).
Last time you proposed these changes, you promised us a Hardcore mode. Can we have that here to preserve the existing hardcore game that we have today?
No. To be upfront and clear with you, the breadth of changes that we’re making vs. what was proposed last year won’t be possible this time around, as the extent of the changes goes beyond anything we can rely on the server to manage as a unique values on a seperate playlist.
It’s not to say that we aren’t closed on the idea of introducing a Hardcore mode, with an even more lethal time to kill. For now, we strongly believe that the experience you have with the game will continue to feature that standard of lethal gunplay, and if we choose to implement a Hardcore mode in the future, it should offer even more than a simple tweak of damage values. Building something that appeals to those desires, and meet our quality standards would require us to approach it with a dedicated focus, and right now we’re sustaining our focus on the heart of the Battlefield experience and the content we know that you want most.
Improving Player Identification at Close Ranges
I thought that Battlefield was supposed to be more about playing the game, vs trying to read Icons on the screen?
We want that to remain true, but we also want to make sure that you can have an easier time seeing enemies that we believe you shouldn’t have to struggle to see inside of the combat ranges where it is possible to die very quickly. With the pace of Battlefield V, it is very important to be able to quickly assess the world and the immediate playing space in order to take the right decisions in the second to second gameplay.While we have made some changes to soldier visibility in the past, the general soldier awareness remains something that we want to improve.With update 5.2, we are not introducing more spotting to the game (if anything the spotting is getting nerfed with spotting durations being decreased across the board). To reiterate, the player identification / acquisition addition is information that only you know about, and that is not shared with your team or squad.
What are you hoping this will change?
We want to improve the general soldier awareness and particularly the enemy identification in the most lethal combat ranges in order to reduce your frustration from not seeing things that were right in front of your eyes.
Won’t this hurt Flanking Gameplay?
We believe it won’t, as flanking usually happens outside of your field of view, and where this system is not active.
Flanking is something we also want to encourage by giving you more information on your current “spotted” state with the introduction of the new indicator around the minimap, and the other adjustments that we’re making in this update to the impact of spotting on gameplay.With all of that being said, we are keeping an eye on the distances at which this system kicks in, and have already made some revisions since the first blog post went live based on your feedback.
Why am I being punished if I find a good hiding spot to surprise a player?
This shouldn’t really impact you unless you allow for players to move towards you while you’re looking in the direction of your soldier in CQB range, and without using any proper cover to hide behind (in which case they would probably have seen you anyway).
Allied Soldiers already have Blue markers above them, why do you need to put Red markers over the enemies? If its not Blue, we already know to shoot it!
In the majority of cases – where the level environment is clean, the lighting is balanced (not too bright, not too dark) and a player does not remain static for too long – this system is not really necessary.However, you’re often placed in scenarios where you have to scan a lot of different things in real time given how detailed our levels are and how easily soldiers tend to blend into the environment (despite our past changes to soldier visibility). This system helps to address that without compromising on our high standards for visuals in our map design.
I’m color blind and this will make the game worse for me, can I turn them off?
Initially you won’t be able to switch off these new icons (unless you’re choosing to completely disable the entire HUD), but Battlefield V supports various color blind modes that can already be used to ensure that our team color language works with players who benefit from the system. The systems that we use here adopts the same logic from your existing settings.We’ll otherwise continue to explore more local customisation options for the UI that allow you to better personalise the experience in the future.
Can players with high FOV abuse/benefit from this?
Yes, but using extreme FOV already provides this benefit irrespective of the addition of icons. With the addition of this system you could potentially have more players (or be more likely to have more players) in your field of view with an icon than someone with the default FOV. However extreme FOV comes with some significant downsides as the higher FOV means that it gets a lot harder to read the environment over longer distances as everything gets a lot smaller on the screen.
Other questions we saw over the past week that we wanted to address:
Why don’t we have a CTE?
CTE is a great tool for us to improve our games and test out areas with you that we explore each and every day here at DICE. This is something that we believe in as a ‘worth it’ tool for Battlefield. Unfortunately we do not have infinite resources to build all of the things that we as a team want. So we have had to make priority calls that allow us to get BFV consistently at that high level of quality we restored in 5.0. A CTE is something we believe in, but we can’t yet commit to getting this done today.
What else are you going to change, and how will you better inform us that you’re intending to change these things so we can feel more involved in the conversation?
We’re open to reviewing all aspects of the game, there’s no single part of Battlefield V that we aren’t willing to listen to more feedback on, and then consider making changes to. That’s not a negative reflection on how we feel about the game, that’s just us being committed to making Battlefield V the best Battlefield game it can be.We’ve started to have this conversation about upcoming changes in order to help to change the relationship that we have with you, and provide you with more insight on the changes that we’re planning to make, as well as the reasons why we’re looking to make them. The Community Broadcast that we shared with you a couple weeks back wasn’t a statement, it was the start of a conversation with you on the changes, and when this round of changes is over, we’ll be keen to hear from you on how we can help to improve the quality of the conversation that we have on topics such as this.
For the changes that we’re making with our next update, we’re keen to continue this conversation once the changes go live to understand more about how you feel, and measure the effectiveness of the changes in line with the goals that we’ve set.Relative to the changes to damage at range, our goal is to ensure that taking damage in a gunfight is more predictable, with clearer engagement distances per weapon type and more time to react to damage on average at range. On Player Visibility, we’re working to ensure that target acquisition and identification of enemies in the environment doesn’t get in the way of engagements, and isn’t a source of strain.
If the intensity of combat when in a full and active firefight remain hectic and at high octane levels, and those chaotic and exciting situations remain a common experience on the Battlefield – we’ve attained that goal. Similarly we’re making sure that general class balance remains stable, and no one class becomes too powerful or too weak on its own.Our preference is to be transparent with you about these changes, which prompted us to share this early insight on Update 5.2. Today we wanted to make sure that this continued in that same spirit of ensuring that you can have this expectation of transparent communication.Operation Sandbox will prompt plenty of new discussion points across our future support for Battlefield. We hope to have you involved in all of the conversations throughout. Thank you for being vocal on the topic, and please keep talking to us both now, and when you get hands on with the update.
Don’t forget, DICE will host a livestream for update 5.2 later this week.
What do you make of this long explanation by DICE? Are you willing to give them a chance with these changes?