With the recent Battlefield 3 patch out and in the hands of controller squeezing, mouse grabbing, keyboard smashing Battlefielders, many are noticing faces of the good, the bad, and the ugly. DICE Senior Gameplay Designer Alan Kertz responds to fan feedback and reveals what’s in store for future tweaks.
Let’s start with the good: Shotgun tweaks. Battlefield fans across the world are holding hands and singing in joy with the recent nerf of the USAS and frag round combination. Well, not really. But it has been well received. According to Kertz’s statements in a recent podcast with Don’t Revive Me Bro, the USAS automatic shotgun was originally supposed to suffer a reduction in fire-rate when equipped with frag rounds. The same applies to the Jackhammer shotgun. That has been corrected in the latest patch, along with a decrease in splash damage.
Kertz explains in the latest issue of Inside DICE just before releasing the latest patches:
And what do I plan to do about [these issues]? Well, one very little, but very effective change will take place in the near future. On all other shotguns, using FRAG rounds reduces the effective rate of fire. For semiautomatic shotguns this rate drops from 200-220 rounds per minute to 180rpm, a 10% reduction. The USAS simply did not have this reduction in place. As of the next update, it will have its 275rpm reduced significantly to 200rpm. I’m actually a bit worried it’s too much, and I’m eager to hear how players react to the change.
However, Kertz is not finished with Shotgun tweaks just yet. He stresses its importance, especially with the upcoming Close Quarters DLC, which will focus on, as the title suggests, close quarters gameplay.
Kertz explains that “shotguns are easily the most difficult weapons to balance in Battlefield. Given the wide range of combat distances in Battlefield 3, shotguns must feel powerful up close, without being over powered, and weak at medium distance without being under powered.” However, he assures that “this won’t be the last update for balance issues in Battlefield 3. I’ll be monitoring the situation closely, and working directly with the team to make additional updates and tweaks to keep the Battlefield balanced.”
On to the bad: Suppression. Some major tweaks were added to suppression in the latest patch making it much more, let’s say, noticeable.
Speaking about this subject in the latest DRMB podcast, Kertz admits, “I think, and this is my opinion, that we probably found a place where it’s a bit too much and we had a place that was a bit too little and I would like to find the middle ground there.” Kertz explains further, “I think the biggest change… is actually the kind of incidental suppression where we did slightly increase the range around the player that he receives suppressive effects. And, that was as a direct counter to guys in windows, guys behind the small ‘protective thing.’ And, the rounds are hitting just infront of or around that window or whatever were giving no suppression.” He added, “and we adjusted the farther away bullets to be a little bit more effective.”
Admitting that it does need further tweaking, Kertz explains, “I think that’s gone too far. I’m happy with the radius or range around the player that they get the suppression. I think we’ll go back and take a step back in the future and those incidental hits will be less effective again.” Also, “you don’t get your accuracy back quite as fast as you did previously to the patch. And, I think that one is something that really needs to go. Once you start being not suppressed you need to be back in the fire fight and that’s taking too long and I can see why that’s frustrating.”
“I think that there’s a sweet spot there where getting that right is definitely something going forward and something we’ll look into,” Stated Kertz. Lastly, “I can’t really say right now when we’ll be making that change, but it’s definitely on the table.”
The ugly seems to be surrounding some of the latest vehicle tweaks in Battlefield 3, one of them being that tanks seem to act like “paper boxes” now.
Kertz explains that “there are somethings that have definitely changed and, unfortunately, most of those are accidental knock-ons.” Additionally, “there’s definitely been a shift in balance, which, I mean, air and tank, you know. Some of that is intentional – guided shells – and some of that is unintentional, which is to say that I think the attack helicopters have gotten some buffs in terms of their weaponry against the tanks that’s pushed things in their favor”
Unfortunately, Kertz couldn’t confirm any upcoming tweaks for many reasons, but he did mention:
What I can say to our community is it was not a month ago we announced 3 DLC packs. And, I think that’s an indicator of the level of support that we intend to continue to have for Battlefield, Battlefield 3 specifically. I think that we see such a lifetime on a Battlefield product that we want to make sure that players know that we are continuing to support and we have plans to support and we have a history supporting. And yes, we could always be better, we could be faster, we could turn a patch around every week, and maybe there’s some easy solutions for us looking forward in the future and there’s definitely discussions going up on how we can improve that process and improve the clarity to the player.
Going into specifics, he admitted, “the repair tool: Minus one too far in one direction. Maybe we bring it back a little bit. And I know some specific knock-ons with helicopter stuff that we need to address. The rockets have gone up in power because of another change to the way that they work that had a roll-on effect. Same thing with the TV missile. I think that that’s become incredibly powerful.”
A bug concerning heat seeking missiles equipped to the jets also came up in the discussion. “Now, we do have issues with the patch, we know that. And, going forward, obviously, we will try to minimize that and we’re looking at ways to do that. I’m aware of the heat seeker issue. It actually show ups more on really fast moving targets. And you now, for whatever reason, when we we’re play testing it inernally, we weren’t having a problem. And we put it live and it was like, ‘boom, wait, this, oh god, it’s out there all the time,'” stated Kertz.
Again, Kertz could not confirm if/when a patch for these issues would be released, but we can safely assume that DICE will be looking into fixing these problems in the, hopefully, near future.
Also in this podcast, Kertz spoke of the current status of the Battlerecorder, which in his words is “useless junk.” Read more here.
To end on some good news, DICE Community Manager Daniel Matros finally has some information regarding the elusive Xbox 360 Battlefield 3 patch. He recently told his twitter followers, “release date for X360 patch coming this week.” For PS3 users, Matros also stated, “we just increased the amount of PS3 servers to rent.”
Update: The Xbox 360 patch release date has been announced! Read here for more info plus patch notes.
Things are looking up for the Battlefield 3 community. Hopefully many of the recent patch issues will be cleared up soon. On the bright side, at least you no longer have to deal with USAS-frag wielding noobs!