Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Battlefield 3 Patch Notes and Commentary

Battlefield 3 will be getting a patch today (how nice of them to get me a birthday present).  The details of the patch can be found on battle log.  Browsing through the notes I think there are some definitive steps being taken in the right direction for the game.

First (but last in the notes) are the changes to squad management.  Squad management as it is currently is a nightmare.  Trying to play with friends in the same squad is a lesson in frustration.  The patch has several tweaks that will help squads be easier to join.  Most importantly players can now join an empty squad which will make it much easier to get everyone into the same squad.  This was not possible prior to this change.

My only disappointment with the squad UI and management changes is the fact they still are NOT adding the ability to have more squads available.  If a squad is made private on a 64 player server, and the four slots are not filled, then players get stuck without being able to join a squad.  This is a glaring bug that should be fixed.  I'm a bit scared by the quote in the notes that they aren't planning on fixing this oversight:

Please note that the Squad Privacy option still allows 2 man Squads which, during 64 player sessions, can lead to players with no squad position

The next big change is that to infantry anti-air (AA) weapons which got nerfed in damage.  Personally this one didn't make much sense to me.  Most pilots have flares and stealth, almost eliminating the threat from ground AA almost 100% of the time.  The better helicopter pilots in particular will have two sets of flares and be able to navigate the map via stealth to guarantee they can't be locked on.

The AA change really confuses me. I don't know if DICE wants infantry to be able to bring down aircraft or if they have the same silly ideas that they had with Battlefield 2 where aircraft reign supreme on the maps.  Small arms fire doesn't harm the aircraft.  Nor does fire from a jeep-mounted weapon.  The only viable way I've seen to take down any aircraft is with an aircraft of your own.  Even tanks struggle to take down aircraft and aircraft can easily destroy any tank in a single salvo of their unlimited rocket ammo.   DICE just sucks at implementing aircraft in their modern day titles.  Battlefield 1943 seems to be the only game that has gotten aircraft right.

A lot of weapon damage got tweaked as well.  This is nice to see to bring some of the more popular weapons back in line with the rest of them.  However, I still feel BF3 has very little variation in weapons.  There is almost no reason to use most of the new weapons that are unlocked as they function nearly identical to a player's current weapon.

One big fix on the hardware glitch side for me will be "Fixed a problem with high speed mouse movement" as I recently changed mice and often find myself having to dial down my mouse sensitivity and DPI on the fly in order for me to make small movements with the mouse.  It really feels like my mouse is just stuck at times, unable to make anything but a huge sweeping arc instead of the pinpoint nudge I need to put bullets on target.

Overall this patch will be good for the game, but Battlefield 3 has a long way to go and a good couple of expansion packs to become a worthy contender for best Battlefield game.  Currently I would probably put Battlefield 3 as the fourth best Battlefield title I've played, which isn't bad considering I hold the entire series in high regard.

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