A new Battlefield game is coming. We don't know what it will look like yet (Update: it's probably going to Wold War I), but our clan leader John Strike can't wait to find out. He's played the Battlefield series almost every day for years, and his love of military shooters stretches back to the glory years of Operation Flashpoint. We asked him for a wishlist for Battlefield 5. Here are his big requests, what are yours?
A smooth launch
For its community to thrive, Battlefield 5 needs to release in good shape.
For a week or so after release, Battlefield 4 wouldn’t let me join servers and Origin consistently failed to launch. When I found my way into a game I experienced hefty, unpredictable frame drops while venturing into certain map areas. Even Battlelog was broken. I remember seeing my own username five times in my friends list.
Patches in the follwing months gradually improved matters, and by 2015 it was thriving. Still, that launch left a bad taste; a lot of people felt they’d just paid top price to be beta testers. For those players to give the series another chance, Battlefield 5 simply needs to work on release.
Back to basics
Each element of Battlefield 3’s DLC added not just new vehicles, but new game modes, equipment and generally more ways to kill and be killed. AC130 gunships, mobile missile vehicles, EOD repair bots and motorbikes were just a few of those new features.
When Battlefield 4 launched it kept all of those new elements, then re-introduced Commander Mode from BF2. Soon BF4 gained even more features and items via its own DLC campaign. Cruise missiles, exploding airoplane drones, one-man flying pods, remote controlled RAWR bots and constant automated lock-ons all became part of an overwhelmingly complicated experience.
Battlefield 5 needs to harness the simplicity we all loved from earlier games such as Bad Company 2, and apply it in the context of a contemporary shooter. BFBC2 struck the perfect balance. It was great to play, beautiful to look at and at brought the series up to speed with an early-ish iteration of the Frostbite engine.
It's a tricky challenge: how do you strip back unnecessary elements without players feeling as though they've lost something? It's worth the effort, though. The resulting purity could make BF5 special.
A cap on 'infectious' weapons
Battlefield 4 introduced DMR weapons for every class, essentially doubling the amount of long-range snipers in the game. Since then it's been left to the community to limit those weapons on a server by server basis.
Sniping, particularly in hardcore mode where one-shot-kills are common, creates a huge problem that I’d love DICE to tackle in Battlefield 5.
Battlefield has always been about large-scale objective-based team play, to which sniper or mortar units are only an accessory. Snipers do little more than slow the game down and encourage players on your team to counter-snipe. In that sense it’s an infectious class, and one that works against the team spirit that makes Battlefield special. Since BF2, DICE have tried giving snipers C4 explosives, mortaring capabilities and equipment for painting targets, but none of that has successfully integrated snipers into the medic/assault/support teamwork interactions that make Battlefield special.
Battlefield 5 should perhaps keep the DMRs at loadout, and have a selection of limited sniper rifles available on each map for pickup. Back in the Operation Flashpoint days there might be one sniper rifle per team that had to be shared. That would be unthinkable these days, but was bold and brilliant at the time.
Mobile mortar units—introduced in BF3—are similarly infectious. They’re anti-sniping tools that encourage enemy teams to counter-mortar or play sniper. Before you know it, nobody is moving, and those who do are either being mortared or sniped by the enemy team.
Snipers will undoubtedly play a part in Battlefield 5, but I’m hopeful that at last they will feel like more of a crucial part of the team than an easy option for lone-wolves.
Every map in Battlefield 3 and 4 is playable in every game mode. Arguably, the more ways we can play Battlefield’s maps the better, but a piece of terrain can't always deliver a great experience accross a wide range of modes.
Rush mode, for example, is directional and lends itself perfectly to maps like Metro, Locker, Seine Crossing and others because they’re long and constrictively narrow. Conquest works surprisingly well in these concentrated environments, but the game slips when it attempts to build Rush and Capture the Flag objectives into wider maps.
Frequently it feels as though Rush objectives have been placed after the map is finalised, rather than the map being moulded with the mode in mind. This means players often stumble off over imaginary ‘no go’ boundaries and get caught in ridiculously exposed open areas.
Map size is important too. Battlefield 3 attempted close quarter combat with one of its DLC packs, which did little more than expose its netcode to be unfit for purpose. Although Metro is one of my favorite maps in both BF3 and BF4, I want Battlefield 5 to steer clear of ultra-tiny arenas. At its heart, Battlefield has always been about big sprawling rural or city maps, with integrated infantry/vehicle combat.
Also, no more night maps please DICE. Every Battlefield game has been visually stunning and I’m sure Battlefield 5 will follow suit, but night maps are a wicked way to blemish a beautiful game. BF4’s Graveyard Shift is simply the original game’s Zavod map with a bag on its head. Fingers crossed no more of that from Battlefield 5.
A more concise arsenal
Cumulatively, there are now far too many weapons in Battlefield 4. With customisation options such as stubby grips, heavy barrels and flash reducers it becomes incredibly hard for new players to know what’s good, and what works.
Battlefield 5 needs weapons that are more distinctive, and fewer of them.
Grenades illustrate the problem perfectly. In other games there might be one type of explosive grenade that you could pull a pin on, cook, and throw further depending on how long you held the button down. With BF4 you can’t cook grenades, you instead choose between a grenade that blows up on impact, a grenade that bounces off walls, or a tiny grenade that goes further. Those abilities should be rolled into fewer options. I’d love the next Battlefield to be more about employing techniques than choosing from a long list of guns and attachments.
Too often in Battlefield 4 smoke plumes, falling debris and even bullets appear out of sync. I play on local servers with a high speed connection and low ping, but getting killed whilst behind cover happens often. Go prone to reload and you’ll get shot through the floor. Strafe behind cover and you’ll get shot through a wall.
The game’s hit marker registration is another thing that DICE need to get right. Planting a long distance tank shell on a moving helicopter is one of the most satisfying moments in any Battlefield game, but player videos show how often it doesn’t register damage. Sometimes the opposite is true, and your tank gunner will yell at you "aim higher, you’re missing" even though you know you’re hitting the target. DICE need to make sure that everyone feels as though they're fighting each other, rather than the game itself.
Naturally we can expect a lot to be going on in Battlefield 5, but the crucial thing for me is that it works. New features and flashy graphics are the big sell to the average impulse buyer, but aren’t important to a game that thrives on longevity.
No late nerfing and buffing
Not to be confused with patches and updates which actually fix issues, DICE have a habit of fiddling around with the numbers behind the game, often important numbers long after release. The Active Protection Countermeasure on vehicles for example, was reduced to half the duration over two years after launch.
Tweaking the more overpowered units will be an important part of the early development of Battlefield 5 and something only possible when it’s released, but displacing some of the fundamental units late-on can be frustrating for long-time players.
Tough justice for cheaters
DICE already offer decent anti-cheat support—Battlelog still has a quick and easy function for reporting cheaters manually—but this must continue for the next Battlefield to last. I play BF4 every evening and good servers usually auto-ban people trying to connect with cheats once or twice every hour.
People will always try to cheat, but the servers do feel pretty well protected. If cheaters do manage to play, their own stupidity makes them easy to spot: high kills, low deaths and low rank are telltale signs. If DICE, server providers, and community admins all work together cheats don’t have a chance.
Keep the physics crazy
Wherever it takes us next, Battlefield has to retain its brilliant selection of vehicles keep its over-the-top physics.
To keep players interested in a game it needs a community, and there’s nothing a community like more than being able to take videos and share stories. Most of the extraordinary stunt videos you’ll see online wouldn’t have been possible without such great vehicle mechanics, and of course the hours of practice that people pour in.