Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here

Jan 25

Hello, And Welcome

Battlefield 4 is great!  It is my favorite game, based on hours played at the very least.  I play many other games as well, and like to provide help to my friends, clan mates, and the community.

DKS Clan Logohttp://dksclan.net/

Sep 13

How Much Can You Really Making Smuggling In GTA Online?

How Much Can You Really Making Smuggling In GTA Online?

 

So you’re thinking about expanding into the Air Freight business, and want to know just how profitable this can be. We have reports that the return on investment for this business is terrible, not worth doing. And on the opposite site, huge paydays when full hangar sales are made. The big questions: How much do you actually make per hour (or minute)? And what can you do to maximize this profit?

Rockstar did a bit of mix and match with this DLC. You have sourcing missions much like biker MC supply stealing combined with vehicle sourcing, and selling something like special cargo — with bonuses for large sales and cooldown times making it hard to get a full hangar fast.

 

The math of smuggling. Or how Less is More:

The sourcing method makes this a bad solo business, which is unlike any other business in the game. If you have to do it, you want to optimize your choices to make the best income, and the method might not be obvious. Second, Rockstar has put in enough complications on both sourcing and selling that Less Is More — sell a cargo for a lower bonus but less cooldown time — can be literally true. It is almost like they are trying to trick you into running your business inefficiently. Nothing in the in-game laptop information really prepares you to figure this out, so I’m going to try to break this down with a bit of math and analysis.

The basic payout of the Air Freight business is not very high. Each crate you get is only worth $10000. The sourcing steal missions take about 10 minutes each — some can be faster than others. So 10k in 10 minutes is only 1000 per minute. Or 60k per hour.

This is a pitiful rate of return for a hands-on business. On the positive side, it costs nothing but time to run the steal missions. In this, it it like the vehicle warehouse.

Unlike the special cargo warehouse, the number of crates you source is based on the number of players in your organization, up to a maximum of four. This makes it like the steal supplies operations for MC and Bunker businesses. And in many ways, the missions do resemble those of the gunrunning operations.

Unlike the supply stealing, where you can just pay cash to get supplies right away, the number of crates you can steal is directly based on the number of players you have in your organization.  To explicitly state:  the payout from this business is directly based on the number of players you have when sourcing product.  Four players make four times as much per minute as one player.  However, when you divide this up among the four, the smuggling income ends up exactly the same as for the solo player.

Rockstar didn’t make the rate of return on this business easy to figure out. There are three tiers of products to source. Each gets bonuses from different quantities. The top tier needs 25 for a 35% bonus, and a full hangar of 50 for the 70% bonus. The 2nd tier needs only 10 for a 12% bonus, and gets an additional 12% for each additional 10 crates, with a maximum of 60% at 50. The lowest tier gets a 5% bonus for every 5 crates, with a maximum of 50% bonus.

To further complicate things, there is a cooldown between sourcing runs of the same product. And that cooldown is longer for the higher tier products, and also longer if you get more than one crate per sourcing run with more players. As long as you alternate products, you can avoid the cooldown. But when you are trying to get a full 50 of one product, that is no longer possible, so you have to find something to do while you wait — or effectively reduce your rate of earnings because of your idle time waiting.

In practice, I think the only way to get solid numbers on the actual earning potential of this business is to track the time spent and the earnings per player for each product, and each method of mixing them on the way to a full 50 when you do that. Given that it can take eight or more hours to fill a hangar solo, and two or more even with a solid group, this kind of analysis will require dedicated players with a lot of time on their hands, and the willingness to carefully track the details.

Instead, I’m going to do some basic analysis of the business. I hope it helps those who are struggling to get the most from this business, especially those who are daring to run it solo, or without a large crew.

 

Running Some Numbers

Let’s run some simple numbers. We’ll use easy round numbers to try to keep the math easier to understand. We’ll give an average source mission a time of 10 minutes, and round off the combined source and sale missions to 10 minutes per crate as well. Yes, the sale missions do add to the time, but this keeps the numbers easy.

A single crate source of 10 minutes gives you a sale of 10K, or 1000 per minute, as I mentioned earlier. For a solo player, this business is no money maker.

The best bonus is 70%, which would bring you to 17K per crate, or 1700 per minute. That is ignoring the cooldown time, which will be a factor.

A partnership can source 2 crates in 10 minutes, for 20K. That isn’t bad, 2000 per minute, but only one gets that money. They could completely eliminate the cooldown time by changing roles, sourcing 2 crates for the 2nd player in another 10 minutes. This gives each 20k, in 20 minutes. The same 1000 per minute, each, that the solo player gets. Each partner also gets 10 minutes of CEO bodyguard or MC member pay, which isn’t very much, but it does add up. Call it 5000 per 10 minutes — you might beat that when your salaries get boosted, but retiring usually resets the salaries, so it evens out. 25K in 20 minutes brings us up to 1250 per minute. The maximum bonus will net you around 40K in 20 minutes, or 2000 per minute.

A syndicate of four players can pull in 4 crates in 10 minutes for 40K. That is a pretty nice 4k per minute for the boss. The same rotation system as the partnership gives each that 40K, plus 30 minutes of bodyguard money — rough estimate 55K for 40 minutes for each. A bit better than the partnership deal, but still only 1375K each.

The maximum bonus will push this to 68K for the crates each, plus the same 15K for the bodyguard time, for a net 83K in 40 minutes, or just over 2K per minute each.

As a sustainable business for a crew working together to make the most money for all members, this isn’t very impressive. The CEO businesses are far more, and even VIP work and contact missions are solidly competitive with this.

So how can you make decent money doing this business? Well, if you always remain a boss and never work for anyone else, and can always get enough associates to keep the business going (it takes a full 4 people, either CEO or MC, but I recommend CEO because the CEO vehicles are very helpful and associate pay is better for time on steals), to get the crates in the least amount of time) — you can keep all the big money for yourself. This can happen for the special cargo warehouse work too, but that business at least does have potential for solo or partnership work. If you get 68K in 10 minutes (4 crates with 70% bonus), that is a very impressive 6.8K per minute, or over 400K per hour!

But wait! We are mitigating the cooldown time entirely by changing command, a method which works well for other businesses, especially the vehicle warehouse. If you don’t change roles, that means you have to cope with the lost time from cooldown when you are going for 50 crates. This problem also applies to the solo player. If you are going to try this solo, the methods to manage the cooldown here can help you too.

If you are trying to completely fill the hangar with one product as fast as you can, that cooldown time is going to be a big problem. Let’s run some solo numbers.

Top tier — 70% bonus — products have a 4 minute cooldown. Add four minutes to the 10 minute per crate time, that gives you 14 minutes for a crate which will sell for 17K. That’s 1214 per minute.

2nd tier gives a 60% bonus but has a 3 minute cooldown. 16K in 13 minutes is 1230 per minute.
The lowest tier gives a 50% bonus with a 2 minute cooldown, or 15K in 12 minutes. That’s 1250 per minute.

If these average times hold true, paradoxically, the lesser tier cargo actually gives you more money per minute, because you aren’t sitting around idly waiting to do another steal run. This is solidly true for a solo player, but less so for a sole CEO with four people gathering crates. Even so, the extra two or three minutes of cooldown per cycle makes the three tiers pretty close in terms of how much you’ll make per minute, if you only source one type of product.

Well, wait some more! If you go for two top tier products alternating, you have no cooldown and each one will be at a 35% bonus. Or 1350 per minute solo (5400 for sole CEO)! In this situation, you will literally make more money per minute by selling your product at a lesser bonus price. It is as though Rockstar is trying to trick you into making less income by going for the bigger payoff without realizing just how much longer it takes. When you have more players steal cargo, the cooldown timer is increased (one minute per additional crate), which will still leave the sell at 25 for 35% plan a better deal than going for the maximum bonus in much more time.

A sole CEO actually sources 28 products in 7 steal missions, for a sale of 378K in 70 minutes, or 5400 per minute. This is the highest payout you can get without taking any time out for cooldowns.

 

Since this applies to both the solo player and the sole CEO boss, are there better methods to work around the cooldown?

The 25/50 method can reduce the cooldown time loss by half. You alternate two top tier products until one gets to 25 or more for the 35% bonus. You then sell that one, and source the other (which will go over 25 on the next steal mission) until it gets to 50. You still have cooldowns — for the solo player, 24 times 4 minutes for 48, along with 25 sourcing missions of 10 minutes (250 minutes), for a total time of around 800 minutes for a full hangar. Total sale base of 1187500, for about 1484 per minute.

The sole CEO gets about the same sale amount — four crates at a time may give you 28 rather than 50 for the 35% product sale — and will bring you down to six or seven cooldowns of about 7 minutes each — call it around 45 minutes. The sourcing times are 7 plus 6 plus 7 at four crates each, or 200 minutes, for a total time of about 245 minutes. 1228000 base sale price. Call this around 5000 per minute for the CEO.

Trying to source just one product alone would be 13 sourcing missions (130 minutes), with about 72 minutes of cooldowns, for a total of 200 minutes. The cooldown time is a killer, taking you down to about 4200 per minute.

Now, you can do something like VIP work or some other business during the cooldown times. If you are working solo or with reliable crew, this isn’t a bad option. It is the one way to let your associates make better money than just their salaries. It will bump up the total time needed to fill your hangar up, but it can keep the crew happier.

Still, there is another option. Remember the two lower tier products? They get bonuses at 10 and 5 crates. You can start out with the 25/50 split, but after you sell the 1st top tier product, you start alternating with a 2nd tier on your way to 50. For a solo player, this will be 10 sourcing runs, giving you 35 top tier and 10 2nd tier products. For a sole CEO, at 4 crates per run you’ll get to 36 top tier and 12 2nd tier (assuming no crates were lost when sourcing). You get a 12% bonus when you well the 2nd tier products, for either 120K solo or 144k for 12.

The solo player can then alternate with the lowest tier product, until they have 40 top tier and 5 3rd tier. Sell the 5 with a 5% bonus, and you can repeat this again for 45 and 5. You’ll only have four cooldown periods of 4 minutes to contend with.

The sole CEO gets more crates at a time, so could try this to get 40 top tier and 8 3rd tier, but you’re trading one 8 crate sale run for two cooldown periods. It might be worthwhile profitwise or not. It definitely could help keep the tempo up on your associate’s operations, by minimizing the cooldown periods.

 

Trying to optimize your business earnings with the air freight business is much more complex than any of the other businesses in GTA online so far. For a solo player, this only matters if you actually want to run these missions to make money rather than for the trade price unlocks or just for fun. This business is not very solo player friendly.
Even a partnership or four player syndicate working equally on this business isn’t going to get great money from it. They do get to completely eliminate the cooldown problems, but they payout just isn’t very high for an active business. The CEO businesses will be much more profitable.

Only the sole CEO who can always have handy associates who work for relatively low wages can actually make something we might call good money from smuggling. If they do about a dozen VIP work runs instead of doing cooldowns, that will help those poor wage slaves out, but the entire operating cycle is bumped up a couple of hours per full hangar.

Sustaining this sort of business profitably doesn’t seem easy. And if you have the sort of crew where everyone wants their turn as boss, this business simply isn’t going to make great money.

What about double GTA$ payouts? This can push the solo player up into the 180K/hour range, which still isn’t impressive compared to other CEO businesses. The 4 player syndicate might get up to 240K/hour if the CEO associate pay is also doubled, but otherwise is maybe 225K/hour. Which is OK, and on the order of a solo vehicle warehouse run, but not nearly as good as the best CEO operations (or even some heist crews).

No, only the sole CEO really gets to exploit this business. Doubling the payouts could bring well over 500K per hour. At that pay point, this becomes a truly amazing business. At least, until your stock of cheap labor runs out.

Strangely, this is sort of like running heists with an 85% or 100% cut for one player — especially the host player. In the case of heists, the income ratio is made clear and obvious. Players can choose to split the income unevenly in order to let one friend make more money fast.

But the Hangar isn’t a cheap business, and a player able to buy and operate one isn’t likely to be the poor one in the crew, needing more funds fast. Rockstar has stuck with a CEO business model where associates are not paid well for the work they do, and this business is the worst one yet for that. The Hangar have-nots would be better off doing other work to make money fast than working as associates for this business. You can, as with the special cargo crates business, incorporate VIP work to help even out the income, which is OK.

But it doesn’t seem like the sort of business which can run indefinitely, as you need a constant turnover of new employees in order to make big bucks. Or at least, moderately large bucks. I fear that participation will rapidly fall off, and for solo players and working partnerships and crew syndicates, the other businesses will remain alive and well while this one dies down. Then again, crates 1.0 (special cargo) isn’t nearly as popular as it once was, in part because of the long grinding time to get the big payoff. Also because it is all or nothing, so you must make a perfect delivery to get anything. If Rockstar were to change that in a patch, it might make the warehouse crates business a little more attractive. Even so, special cargo is profitable solo, while the smuggling business just is not.

So, some bottom line advice.

Whatever you do, don’t just wait out the cooldown time if you want to make money. Going for 50 crates of one type, even the highest tier, is literally making less per minute than the lower selling bonus. You are better off to only do half a hanger, 25-28 of the top tier products, and get a lesser bonus but have no waiting time. Of course, if you use that waiting time to do other work, that takes care of this profit issue, but you’ll take longer to get your money from the hangar business.

LSIA seems like a better location if you are going to run this as a business, especially if you are going to use the cooldown times for other operations from your office or just in Los Santos. Fort Zancudo is better placed for flying missions to anywhere on the map, but has little near it if you are going to do anything other than smuggling runs. LSIA is also probably easier for inexperienced pilots to operate from, as it is a wide open field with few obstacles to trip up planes and cause losses. Plus of course the hangars are much cheaper there, if you are interested more in profits than the coolness factor of being able to use the military base as a hangout. Still, Fort Zancudo has lots of Lazer jets just sitting around if you need extra firepower on a mission.

Plot complication! Many players have reported getting mystery cash when selling 50 crate hangars. There is no explanation so far for where this money comes from. It looks to be up to a 50% bonus. The on screen income indicated matches the info given on the in game website/laptop and here – 850K for a top tier product, plus high demand bonus. If this is an intended bonus, not a bug (has anyone reported it on PC?), it would make going for the big sales worthwhile.

One more thing: the number of sale vehicles depends on the number of crates being sold — much like the bunker business. 10 crates or less is usually one vehicle, and easily done solo. 11-25 is usually two, and should be fine with a partner. 26-50 is usually three, and you should have enough pilots handy if you want to actually get paid. If you are a solo or partnership player, you’ll need to recruit or have available additional players whenever you do larger sale runs. If a solo player wants to do quick, easy sale runs, then going for the 2nd and 3rd tier products and selling at 10 crates isn’t a bad plan. If all you are going for is the steal mission bonuses, this is a viable choice to get some money back from this without spending a lot of time and effort.

Yet one more strange thing: The in game laptop shows a sale amount of 1000000 added when you sell 50 crates. That is 20000 per crate. This doesn’t match what you actually get paid, nor is it the 10000 per crate base amount. It also doesn’t show any bonus % income at all, even when you sell with a bonus.

 

I hope this bit of analysis is of help to some of you. Rockstar didn’t make the workings of this business simple and easy to understand.

 

Quick Rules For Getting The Most Money

  • Never wait idly during the cooldown.  You don’t make money waiting around.
  • Alternate product types rather than waiting time if you have nothing better to do with your time.   You’ll make more money from a lower bonus than you would if you waited until you maxed the sale.
  • Four players in  an organization make the most money for the time.
  • Alternating CEO/MC boss spot can let you ignore the cooldown time, and this gives everyone the most money each.
  • If you play solo, you can’t make good money smuggling,
  • A “sole CEO” player who can get three or more associates for support will make the most money for themselves.  If you want to help your hangar-owning friend to get rich fastest (and don’t care about money yourself), this is the best way to smuggle.
  • Three words:  100% cut Heists.  I mean, if you really want to help one friend get rich quick, it still beats smuggling.

 

Five Best Ways To Run This Business

Always have four players in the organization.

  1. Sole CEO Fastest Smuggler:  Alternate two top tier products, sell at 25-28 crates.  You’ll steal 13 times, sell one set of 25-28, steal the other (which was at 24 or so), and sell it.  14 steals plus two sells gives you the most fast money this business can deliver.  Base sale price is 756000, should take you about 3 hours including sale missions.  Base income is about 252K per hour for the CEO.  Associates might get 40K per hour.
  2. Sole CEO Best Boss Smuggler:  You start out alternating as above, but once you sell the first product, you only steal the 2nd until you get a full 50 of it.  In between each steal run which has a cooldown period now, you run VIP work (or you can do anything else which makes money).  You’ll steal 13 times, sell once at 28 ($378K), then do steal followed by VIP mission six times.  Then, one last steal, followed by the big sale of 50 crates for 850K base.  Total of 1228K base for smuggling, and six VIP work for about 144K, total 1372K.  Takes about 5 hours, but your associates also get the VIP money on top of their bodyguard salaries.  Base income is about 274K per hour for the CEO.  This assumes 10 minutes per steal and per VIP job, 20 per sale.  Associates might get 70K per hour.
  3. Sole CEO Amazing Boss Smuggler.  Only source one type of product.  Do VIP work after each steal mission. 12 steal missions plus 12 VIP missions, then one final steal and then the big sale.  CEO gets the nice 850K smuggling money plus 288K VIP average, total of 1138K.  But your associates get the 288K as well, on top of their bodyguard salaries.  About 4.5 hours for 252K per hour for the CEO.  About 100K per hour for the associates.
  4. Tag Team Syndicate Of Four Hanger Bosses.  Again, you only source one type of product, but you alternate boss roles rather than do VIP work.  Thirteen steal missions plus one sale run each, about 2.5 hours per player for a smuggling income of 850K, but of course a total work time for all of 10 hours.  You get a huge payday during your turn as boss — about 340K per hour — but then get 7.5 hours of associate salary.  About 1150K each, or around 115K per hour per player.  This is the best payout PER PLAYER you can get from this business.
  5. Tag Team Sole CEO.  Rotating roles after each sale gives the best money due to no cooldown and high bonus, but has a huge time commitment.  Use one of the first three methods, but take turns being the boss.  Going with the Fastest Smuggler path, you’ll get 756K smuggling each plus 9 hours of associate pay, or around 1116K for 12 hours.  About 93K per hour each.

 

I’d be more enthusiastic for this business if the pay amounts were doubled (not counting any double GTA$ events). While this would make the sole CEO pay very high, this isn’t fundamentally any more extreme than running a heist with a 100% cut. The idea of having four friends band together and have their four custom planes take off on missions, in the manner shown in the trailer, is very cool. Too bad that it just doesn’t pay well enough to be worth doing in practice.

Nov 19

Battlefield 1 Is Finally Here!

Battlefield 1 is finally here, for those who have EA/Origin Access. Some people were lucky enough to start playing even earlier on October 12, because they checked for the download and got it going.

I wasn’t so lucky. It still showed as “coming soon” on the morning of the 13th. Restarting Origin fixed that, but I didn’t have time to do that before I left for work. When I got home, I was looking at a 6-7 hour download, which meant that I wouldn’t be able to play until the next day. So finally, October 14, I got to play for less than an hour.

It was glorious. The game started windowed on my PC, and I quickly switched it to full screen and set up my usual quick key bindings and options. Not everything, just the basics for how I run it (didn’t do mouse settings yet). Started up the campaign, which looked and felt great, a nice war story. Then I played one conquest match on Suez Desert, the same map as the Beta.

The atmosphere of the game is much, much better than the Beta. The sounds, music, and the appearance of the game is so much nicer, more immersive, than the already most excellent play during the Beta. I picked a medal — the one for taking out vehicles — and went to work as an Assault class. Jumped in a plane a few times, rode the train to destruction, and shot a lot of people. Did a nice mid-distance tap fire kill with the basic MP18. Long range snipers are still very powerful on this map, but good use of cover as usual can help.

A very nice first game, but sadly, no more time to play because I needed sleep in order to work. I love my job, most of the time, but it gets in the way of gaming. On the bright side, I have money to buy games to play, if only I have the time to play them. I have BF1 already preordered, and according to Origin the preload is complete — the First Trial seems to be the same install load as the full game, just restricted in features. My Battlepacks worked — got a skin for a gun, will have to see the other stuff later. I didn’t find my Deluxe Edition content yet, but that might be locked until the full release on October 18 (Early Enlister). (Note: all the stuff is available and unlocked, just have to find where it is in the customization menus).

The price for the First Trial access is more than made up for in the savings on the full game, and it gives me some time yet to play this first weekend that the game is available. I expect that I will cancel my Origin Access for now. It is not a bad deal for the games unlocked by it, but I don’t expect to have time to play them.

Time vs Money

There are many new games coming out or even released now, but even though I have money to buy them, I don’t have enough free time to enjoy them all. Battlefield is one of my favorites, and I’ve put in a fair amount of time playing it in the last two weeks. The basic kit unlocks are pretty easy to earn — only need class rank 3 for them — but there is a special unlock at rank 10. That rank also gives you extras for the vehicle classes, earned using them. That part is quite nice, as I’m not really disadvantaged compared to players with more time to play. The rank 10 items are good, but by no means overpowered.

Operations is a great game mode, with a very nice historical timeline tie in. You need to have enough free time to enjoy it, as it can take a couple hours to complete. It plays like a mix of conquest and rush, across three maps, and is delightfully intense.

A quick note, I’ll want to check into it more: the song that plays at the start sounds like Kate Smith’s “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” from 1931. That makes it anachronistic, unless of course the scene is a dream flashback sequence from after the war. It is a delightful song, and sets the mood and scene so well, I wouldn’t care about that, it is a great song. Note 2: Margot Bingham is the singer, according to the soundtrack credits. In any case, the campaign is immersive and fun, which is excellent.

So what else have I been up to?

While waiting for the BF1 Trial to download, i played Star Wars Battlefront. Got a nice game in with me as MVP, always fun. Some people were disappointed with Battlefront, but I like it. For a Star Wars fan, there is much to like. People who missed out on the Alpha, Beta, and didn’t check any reviews don’t have a good excuse for not realizing that it isn’t, and was never intended to be, Battlefield Star Wars, but instead, a more classic arena action shooter set in the Star Wars universe. In this, it actually does share more with its predecessor Star Wars Battlefront II than with the Battfield series, especially from BF4 on. Battlefield 1 (and now Battlefield 4) may share some style elements in the menus and HUD, but the game play is very different.

Rockstar has done some amazing things with GTA V Online. I got my GTA$ 500,000 bonus from daily objectives, just as I got the chance to play Battlefield 1Trial. Playing daily is a good way to both have fun and collect money (resources) in any online game like GTA. But my time is limited, so for now, I’m taking a break and focusing on Battlefield 1.

I’m waiting on Civilization VI, a sure buy for me, for the same reason. I could have preordered it anyway, but if I did, I’m sure I’d find some time to play it. No guarantees, though, because many other good games have new stuff out and I haven’t put much time into them either. Elite Dangerous — a tough but exciting space flight combat simulator — has loads of new content, but it is hard to get good at using it without more time to play. That’s true of lots of games. Titanfall 2 is another example. Sure, i liked the original and it looks much improved, but BF1 is my current obsession, so when will I play it?

I collected the Babylon 5 remastered collection online. This series from the 1990s was groundbreaking for its use of CGI graphics in a TV show at the time, but my DVD set doesn’t show the details as nicely as they could be for the HD era. More important than its Emmy winning effects (for makeup, not the CGI), though, is the great storyline. A five season serial story arc, memorable characters, and some great science fiction story writing make it worth watching again and again. 123 episodes, including the short-lived spinoff Crusade, plus several movies, gives me a lot to watch.

Real Life Gets In The Way Of Gaming

I intended to finish this as soon as BF1 was released. I did get some time to actually play the game, and the tradeoff there is not enough time to write about it. Add in being busy at work and other real life activity, and i find it hard to give up any of my limited game playing time to do anything other than just play the game.

On the positive side, the first BF1 patch came out, and it is pretty much all good improvements to the game. That does nothing to change my obsession with playing it when I can, of course.

Oct 11

Battlefield 1 Preorder Or Not To Preorder

BF1 is coming very soon as of this writing (October 11, 2016). It releases on October 21 for general release, but there are two ways to play it earlier. First, you can get the Deluxe or Ultimate editions, and play on October 18. Or you can get EA or Origin Access (XBOX1 and PC only, sorry), and start playing October 13 for a limited trial.

I have preordered the game three times now. Not three copies, just placed the order for the game three times. First, I tried a discount code to see if it applied to a preorder for the base game. It did not, but I left my preorder in place because I knew I was going to get it. Then, when the Premium and Ultimate packages were revealed, I cancelled my Deluxe Edition order and upgraded it to Ultimate. Last, signed on for Origin Access, and used the 10% discount on the preorder for the Ultimate Edition. This required cancelling my previous order, but the discount more than paid for the cost of Origin Access. At least, as long as I cancel it soon.

Should I cancel Origin Access? I own many of the games in the Vault already, and am unlikely to have time or interest to play many of the others. But the cost, $60 per year, isn’t bad for the whole game collection, and you get the premium/ultimate versions of the games included. In my case, I think that I won’t have time for the other games for quite a while with BF1 to play. I can always renew it whenever I want, and $5 isn’t bad to try out and play a bunch of games for a month.

To preorder or not to preorder, that is the question. For me and BF1, the answer is preorder. I loved the alpha and beta, love Battlefield in general, and don’t want to wait to get my hands on the full game. I figure that if you are going to play the game in the first month, the 60-plus hours of play is well worth any potential savings from waiting for a sale. A Black Friday sale is by no means guaranteed, though it is common in the gaming industry. You may have to wait for Christmas to get the game cheaper.

Other games aren’t a sure day one buy for me. I can wait a few months for those, and for a sale. Only you know if BF1, or any game, is something you absolutely must have right away. Despite the issues with BF4, I have hundreds of hours of great play in the game. I also get to be a battle-scarred veteran of the early, bug-infested day one release as a preorder player. Despite the flaws and problems, the experience of being part of a game working its way back to greatness was memorable and exciting. I feel DICE and EA have redeemed themselves with more recent games, and have no doubt that BF1 is going to work and play well.

Sep 17

Gaming News: September 2016

There is a time to game, and a time to write about gaming.  I love doing both, but don’t always have the time.

 

The new content for GTA V Online keeps us busy.  The need for in-game money to get the new toys makes doing daily play, for the daily activity bonuses, very useful.  Especially as many can be done with low key play, no harder than just cruising around  Los Santos for fun.  Seriously, there is loads of new content, and the VIP expansion with offices and operations gives the game extended life for player crews.

 

There are always new bargains to get in the game, every week something new.  Rockstar has definitely done well to keep players happy with the game, even after three years.

 

BF1 Beta was purely awesome.  Shame it had to end so soon, and that I didn’t get nearly as much playtime as I’d like.  Fortunately, the full game releases October 21 (earlier for for Deluxe/Ultimate preorders and EA Access).

 

One very short and one short-term announcement, though the latter will still be relevant after.

BF4 expansions are free for all this weekend, until September 19.  It is possible this offer will repeat in the future, who knows with EA, but if you never sprang for Premium on sale before, free is better.

Star Wars Battlefront Death Star DLC is coming for Season Pass owners on September 20, 2016.  The trailer gives me chills.  Even better, as a Star Wars fan, it is all game play in multiplayer, and you can actually play out the attack on the Death Star in epic glory.  Luke vs Darth Vader in starfighters, Chewbacca blasting his way around the Death Star, and that final trench run.  Can’t wait for this.

If you don’t have Season Pass, you can get it October 4.  But my recommendation for this game — and BF1 and similar EA games — is to always buy the full package rather than separate DLCs.  Battlefront is a game for Star Wars fans, and it has a solid following there.  I know a lot of Battlefield players were disappointed with it, but it was never promised or advertised to be Battlefield:  Star Wars, and it definitely isn’t that.  The 2006 Battlefront II had more Battlefield elements to it, but even it wasn’t really like a Battlefield game.  Its third person combat and leader and hero characters made it into its own game.

Speaking of SW Battlefront II, it remains available and cheap on PC.  It would be a very good game for remastering for PS4 and XB1, because the game play remains strong in single player and it has a nice story.  Sadly, I don’t think this will happen, as the new movies and their developers are interested in showcasing the original trilogy and stuff from the new movies.

The last SW Battlefront DLC is likely to be from the new Rogue One Star Wars movie, which should fit into the game well.

It is a little frustrating to have to wait for DLC content for this game.  People who start playing it after the last DLC is out and get the complete edition will have missed out on a year or more of game play, but will find themselves playing a Star Wars game loaded with content (40+ maps is way more than most shooter games ever have) and tons of movie references and experiences to enjoy.

Jul 16

Battlefield 1: Weapons Performance In The Closed Alpha

One great thing about the Battlefield 1 closed alpha is the amount of time we have had to test out the weapons and vehicles. This has given DICE a lot of feedback on how they work and how well they are balanced. Even so, I am going to get into the performance of these weapons here. Just remember that this is from the alpha, and is subject to change even by the time of the open beta, let alone retail release. There will also be more weapons in the full game, and I’ve discussed what may appear.

Bullet velocity is one of the very big changes from Battlefield 4. Guns now use their real world muzzle velocity, with drag slowing the bullet down as it travels, just as in the real world. In previous games, average velocity was used for the entire travel time, which made the bullet slower than reality at close ranges but faster at very long ranges. This is more realistic, and thus more intuitive for players familiar with real world weapons and physics. It also makes close range combat easier, especially for the longer ranged weapons, because the high velocity means less need to lead targets to compensate for travel time and bullet drop. Conversely, long range fire now requires adjusting for the change in velocity, but that is both something players will get used to and also will feel more realistic and challenging.

Weapons also come with variations now, which changes how customization will be done. So rather than getting a weapon and then modifying it with loads of attachments, the weapon comes with a preset of attachments. There will be additional customization, but you won’t need to worry about tuning the basic weapon performance by putting on required attachments to do so, or messing it up by mixing add ons which don’t play well together. Each of the primary weapons in the alpha come with two variations, and in some cases they are more like two different models (design changes) of the same base weapon, rather than merely changing out some attachments. The weapons of the time did not come with mix and match add ons and rails to put accessories on, unlike modern weapons, and many things from Battlefield 4 simply were not possible at all.

Thanks to some nice folks at symthic.com, we have some hard stats on the weapons in the game.

Let’s go over the weapons by kit.

First, a general description note. The alpha uses short two letter codes for weapon variants and doesn’t explain what they are. The full game will have better explanations (there is a short blurb when you unlock the weapons now, but players will want to know more).

General ones shared across many weapons:

 
TR — Trench variation. This is intended for hip fire and close range combat, so have iron sights and generally handle better when moving.

MA — Magnified Scope. A higher power scope (about 6x or so), used for long range combat.

SH — Short range scope, a moderate (about 4x) magnification optic, intended for medium range combat.

AR — Accuracy, precision iron sights and better aimed accuracy, usually at the expense of hip fire.

LI — Light Infantry?  Accurate fire at moderate range and nicer (but not high power) optics/sights.
Assault:

MP18: Accuracy AR and Trench TR versions. With a 550 rounds per minute (RPM) fire rate and 32 round drum magazine for its 9mm ammunition, it was the first practical submachinegun used in combat. Very effective in the role of close combat, as in the trenches. Takes 5 hits to kill without a headshot at close range (under 15 meters), drops to 8 hits at longer ranges (38 m). SMGs in Battlefield 1 are not very accurate at range in full automatic fire, but careful tap fire (to get single shots) can help tame that, as the first shot can be more precise. The AR version has a nice sight and is better for these longer range shots, the TR version for close range and hip fire. Its 420 meter per second (m/s) muzzle velocity makes landing long range shots on moving targets difficult.

Automatico M1918: TR Trench and LI Light Infantry? versions. 900 RPM with a 25 round top (bar sticking up) magazine makes this beastly powerful in close combat, but harder to use in long range engagements. Takes 5 hits to kill in close range (under 4-5 meters), but the damge drops off fast and it will take 9 hits to kill at over 38 meters. Its inaccuracy will make landing those shots harder, and 380 m/s muzzled velocity, makes this weapon even more focused on close range combat than the MP18. Frankly, its magazine blocking the sight view makes using hip fire and only engaging in close combat a good choice for this weapon, in either version.

Model 10-A: Shotgun, HE Heavy and HU Hunter versions. The HE version uses slug rounds and is intended for more precise shooting, while the hunter version uses pellets (the usual style for a shotgun). With 6 rounds of ammo, and the ability to kill with one hit at close range (10 meters for the HE version, hard to measure yet for the hunter but it feels similar), it can dominate very close range fights, but requires careful aim. The hunter quickly loses effectiveness at range due to pellet spread. The heavy slug takes 3 hits to kill at over 60 meters, and the slow bullet velocity (380m/s, 333m/s for pellets) will make getting hits at that range difficult. Still, the HE version is the Assault kit’s best choice for long range shooting.  In practice in the alpha, I still found it hard to get good hits at longer range despite its theoretical lethality.

Medic:

Cei Rigotti: AR Accuracy at range and FA Full Auto? versions. This is a select fire (semiauto and full automatic) rifle with a 299 RPM fire rate, and a 10 round magazine. This was the first automatic rifle developed for military use and was designed well before the war in 1900, but was never adopted by any military. Takes three hits to kill at 25 meters or less, drops to four to kill at around 35 meters. The small magazine and moderate fire rate makes automatic fire of limited use, but it is available if you want it. Its relatively light ammunition gives it a decent muzzle velocity of 660m/s. A good weapon for moderate range combat.

M1907 SL: TR Trench and AU automatic versions. The TR version is an iron sight single fire weapon, the AU has select fire and offers a 299 RPM fire rate in game. The French version used 20 round magazines (as in the game), which gives this weapon an edge in sustained close combat compared to the other semiauto rifles. 3 hits to kill from 10 to about 15 meters, drops to 5 to kill at around 30 meters. Combined with its moderate velocity of 570 m/s (due to its .351 ammo), it is best used from moderate ranges, but makes up for it with good hipfire accuracy, especially the TR version.

Mondragon: AR Accuracy with bipod, MA ranged with a magnified scope version. This is a semiauto weapon developed by Mexico, and uses the more powerful Mauser rifle ammunition. Its 257 RPM fire isn’t much different from the 299 of the other two weapons in practice. Three hits to kill at any range, and with 800m/s muzzle velocity, this is a fine weapon in either variant for longer range battles.

Support:

Lewis Gun: SU Suppression and AR Accuracy versions. A full auto LMG with its distinctive round pan magazine on top, with an impressive 47 rounds in it. Note that the SU version shows a 97 round magazine, which is true, but the barrel overheats in sustained fire anyway, so you will have to take breaks in fire. Definitely the gun to use if you want to hold a position and offer a steady hail of gunfire at the enemy. Its 480 RPM fire rate and 740m/s muzzle velocity makes it a solid killer in medium rangers. 5 bullets to kill up close (20 meters), dropping to seven at range (35 meters).

M1909 Benet-Mercie: LI Light Infantry? And GU General? versions — a more mobile, easier to shoot version and one meant for bipod use. Select fire with 31 rounds in the side loading strip fed magazine. Fires at 450 RPM, and takes 5 hits to kill, dropping to 6 at around 23 meters. With its 820m/s muzzle velocity, this makes it the ideal choice for longer range engagements.

Madsen MG: TR Trench and LI Light Infantry? versions. A select fire LMG with a 540 RPM fire rate, and a top loading magazine with 30 rounds, it is lighter and handier than the other two LMGs in the alpha. Does not have a bipod, but is much better for both hip fire and moving fire, making it a solid choice for a mobile support shooter. Takes 5 hits to kill up close (up to around 20 meters), drops to 6 beyond that, its 800m/s muzzle velocity and fire rate lets it still hold up at moderate ranges. Definitely the best choice for close combat in either version.

Scout:

Russian 1895: TR Trench and MA Magnified Scope (long range) versions. The Trench variant uses .30-40 US Army (Krag) ammunition, while the MA version uses the Russian Mosin round. Both are magazine fed lever action (not bolt) rifles, with a 5 round magazine, but the TR version can fire faster and in practical game terms, is essentially an entirely different model weapon.

The Russian 1895 Trench version gets 580m/s muzzle velocity, and will take two hits to kill — one with a headshot — at moderately close ranges (around 8-23 meters), dropping to three hits to kill at longer ranges. Fills a unique role for the aggressive Scout, with high damage and precision up close.

The MA version gets the damage model of all the bolt action sniper rifles in this game. The damage at both close and very long ranges is the same, and will take two hits to kill (or one with a headshot at any range). But in the middle of the weapon range, the damage rises to a one hit kill for body hits as well. The MA version has its sweet spot between 40m and 100m, making 80 meters its ideal range to shoot for. At 820m/s and with a nice powerful scope, it is a great choice for longer range shooters.

Gewehr 98: SH Short Range and MA Magnified Scope version. Both have optics, with the SH model a less powerful scope. 5 round magazine. Its sweet range is between 60m and 120m, with 100 meters the ideal shooting range. Its 880m/s muzzle velocity makes it the best choice for all long range shooting, both within its ideal range and beyond. The MA scopes all face scope glint in sunlight, while the shorter range SH version does not.

SMLE MKIII: SH Short Range Scope and CA Close Assault? versions. The SH version has a moderate power scope, the CA version has marksman iron sights. Its best range is between 20m and 75m, with a good target range of around 57 meters. That makes this Lee-Enfield rifle the best choice for a more aggressive, closer range engagement. Its 10 round magazine also helps it out, able to keep shooting more in close quarters, and a 740m/s muzzle velocity is still fairly good for long range when needed.
Pistols:

M1911: A good short range sidearm, with 250m/s muzzle velocity and requiring 3 hits to kill at close range (about 10 meters), dropping to 7 at around 30 meters. 8 round magazine will make getting a kill at longer ranges very hard, but that was always going to be true with a pistol. Best up close backup weapon.

P08: A moderate range sidearm, with its 350m/s velocity and 9 round magazine. While it takes 4 hits to kill at up to around 15 meters, and 7 at around 30 just like the M1911, its higher velocity and ammo capacity makes it superior at longer ranges, better than the 1911 beyond 10 meters.

C96 Carbine: This is the primary weapon for the pilot and tanker kits in the Alpha, but despite its name it is still just a long barrel C96 pistol with an attached stock. Has a 20 round magazine and decent long range accuracy (no stats, sorry). Not as good at close range killing as the M1911, I would use that pistol like a primary for this kit for now up close, and use the C96 only for longer range shots.

Weapon Performance:

Battlefield 1 has changed not just the bullet ballistics by adding drag, it has also changed the weapon handling and damage models. The ideal range for sniper rifles makes them a poor choice in close engagements, but lets them stand off with greater effectiveness than in BF4 or BF3. Automatic fire weapons in general are less accurate than the more modern firearms of BF4. But on top of that, the pattern of that instability makes a big difference in how you should manage that.

The SMGs have decent single shot accuracy, and that is how you should fire them for precise longer range shots. If you are going to fire them full auto, the modern tap-burst fire where you use 3 to 6 round blasts — trying for the kill with the least amount of ammunition used — will suffer from the weapon’s inherent instability, and miss more than you might think. Sustained fire for 6-12 rounds will give more accurate fire. On top of that, for both hipfire rather than aimed fire is, as is the case for BF4 PDWs, a better option in closed combat, as they don’t gain enough accuracy from aimed fire to make that worthwile.

LMGs actually have negative bullet spread, so the longer you sustain fire, the more the weapon “steadies down” and can be controlled to hit accurately. On top of that, the BF1 bipods work very well to enhance accuracy with all weapons which have them, and you should always try to use them with LMGs – even for very short shots. Short bursts will be widely inaccurate, but the Madsen MG can make up for that with its fire rate in hip fire up close.

Semiauto rifles may have a full auto mode, but you are best off taking careful aimed shots and letting the recoil settle between them at longer ranges if you want accuracy. Up close, the 1907 SL TR version has potential in hip fire, but otherwise, they are not the best option for close engagements. Still, you can drop anyone in three hits up close with them, so practice your rapid fire trigger finger techniques.

Sniper rifles have a new feel to them, with the highly lethal short range zone from BF4 moved to a more generally useful, for sniping, moderately long range. Higher bullet velocity and decent accuracy make all good choices for precision fire. The one hit to kill with a headshot at any range is retained, so in many ways, they will feel most familiar to BF4 players.
The exact values of all these weapons are of course subject to change. Most are taken from the real world weapons, and in that way, this makes Battlefield 1 the most realistic (in terms of weapon physics) game in the series. Elements like the automatic fire accuracy and how to manage it are open to debate, but I can’t say it is unfair to portray these first of their kind in the world weapons as being much less reliable and effective than their modern counterparts.

Jul 01

Battlefield 1: Vehicles Of The Great War

Vehicles Of Battlefield 1

What we have so far:

Light Vehicles:

Armored Cars:

Rolls Royce Armored Car — a widely use light armored vehicle in WW1. One Vickers machine gun in a turret mount, could do 45 mph (72 km/h), which wasn’t all that slow.

Motorcycles:

Motorcycle (with Sidecar for passenger).  Likely a Harley-Davidson or Indian, both of which were widely used by American forces in the war.

 

Tanks:

Heavy Tank:  A7V German Heavy Tank (note that in the war, Germany captured many British tanks, and repainted them, and actually had more of those than their own A7)

Landship Medium Tank:  British Mark IV/V tank – medium tank with asymmetrical gun turrets. The model shown in the game so far is the Mark V, with two side mount cannons, and a front mount driver-seat controlled machine gun.

Renault FT-17 Light Tank (French, but used by other allies, UK and USA). Largest class of tanks, more built than all others combined.

Tanks were completely new vehicle types in WW1, and there simply were not that many different models built.  Each nation naturally tended to use its own designs.  In the game,  however, unless we are going to see tanks only on one side of the battle (which was the case for much of the war), we have to bend history and let both sides have models in each class.

 

Airplanes:

 

German
Scout: Fokker Dr.1 Triplane

Attack: Halberstadt CL.II 2-seat fighter

Bomber: Gotha G.V biplane bomber (could be G.IV, more of those were built, but the in-game model and text say G.V.)

Note that in the Alpha/Livestream, these planes are used by both sides.  The trailers show other airplanes, however, and unlike with tanks, each faction had its own models of planes in use.  In fact, the field of aviation saw an amazing amount of innovation during this period.

The early war saw lighter monoplanes in wide use, and pusher (propellers facing the back) biplanes were also widely used.  It was during this era that armed air combat really game into being, and the “Fokker Scourge” started when the Eindecker Fokker E.III monoplanes were equipped with synchronized machine guns, able to fire through the propellers and thus make air combat a matter of aiming the plane at the target.

 

The next era was the dominance of the new, improved biplanes, where both sides fielded more powerful aircraft and all sides had synchronized machine guns.  The Triplane era was brief, and only two models actually saw serious use –  the Sopwith Triplane, fielded first in 1916, and the Fokker Dr.1, introduced late in 1917.   It lasted only about a year before improvements in engines and designs made better biplanes available, like the Sopwith Camel and the Fokker D.VII.

Only 320 Fokker Dr.1 were built, and 147 Sopwith Triplanes.  Compare this with 5490 Sopwith Camels and 3300 Fokker D.VII, the successors to these, or 1770 Sopwith Pup (Scout) and 1866 Albatros D.III, their predecessors. The triplanes were a short term solution to the problems of insufficient engine power and lack of understanding of aerodynamics.  Too fragile and hard to maintain compared to biplanes, even at the height of their popularity there just weren’t enough of them to make them see wide use.

Will we see aircraft from more than one era in the game?  We miss out on some of the interesting models if we don’t do that.  But will players care about such things, or only want models they can easily recognize in their role?

You can’t emulate Snoopy vs the Red Baron if you don’t have a place for the Sopwith Camel to go up against the Fokker Dr.1.  But how would you go about assigning the aircraft by era to the maps?  Have the aircraft set fixed for each map, to fit the situation?  Or allow the aircraft era to vary, either randomly or by a server/game option?
Other armored cars:
Minerva Armored Car — Belgium, top gun emplacement in back, slower than the Rolls at 25 mph
IAG1 Crossley (or Chevrolet) Armored Car, has domed turret with two machine guns. Its dual wheels in the back could have made it handle better, but it wasn’t a 4 wheel drive.  Didn’t actually see service until after the war.  Its armored turret and door design were intended to go against lightly armed infantry, but it was useless in mud.

Autocar Armored Car — a partially enclosed car with one mounted gun.

Ehrhardt E-V/4:  German armored truck, with a high top turret and more ground clearance than others of the war.  Speed about 35 mph.

All of the armored cars started out as regular automobile chassis with armored components attached to them.

 

Other tanks of WW 1
Medium Mark A Whippet — British Medium tank, tracked with a turret, no heavy gun originally (but that is true of many others as well, not all the Mark series tanks had big cannons).  Faster than the Mark series tanks, not as heavily armed or armored.
Schneider CA1 — early French tank, one larger cannon on right side only (similar with the Mark IV), and two machine guns. In size, I’d guess this to fit the medium tank role.
Saint-Chamond Tank — a heavy tank, one large forward-mounted non-turret cannon, 4 machine guns on sides.  Could also be implemented as French medium tank with two side machine guns.

Tanks were new, and there wasn’t a lot of actual variety. The British Mark series had a lot of models, all fairly similar in appearance, the classic landships.  The late war saw development of larger Mark series, but none saw service which offer much difference compared to the Mark V.

Air Power in WW1: 

There were roughly four eras of aircraft design in WW1, and though I think that the early era has some nice looking planes, I doubt we will see them in Battlefield 1.  For one thing, the early models were not balanced against each other at all, and the German aircraft dominated, requiring greater numbers from their opponents in order to even the odds.  But also, the earlier aircraft didn’t perform nearly as well as the later models, and might be harder for players to effectively use in game.

Bombers are sort of a special case.  They were mid-war to late war innovations themselves, and though there were improvements, I think that one per faction for the entire war will suffice.

British:

Bomber:  Handley Page Type O/400 for 3 seat bomber
Mid

Scout: Sopwith Pup (official name: Sopwith Scout (Scout), single seat counterpart to the 1-1/2 Strutter

Attack: Sopwith Type 9400 1-1/2 Strutter — earlier two seat fighter, first British plane to have synchronized machine gun (so pilot could shoot forward through propellers).

Late

Scout: Sopwith Triplane.  A Canadian UK unit got a special reputation using these, and was known as the Black Flight from their distinctive black paint jobs.

Bristol F.2B – 2 Seat Fighter

End War

Sopwith Camel (shown in trailer video)

Attack: Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 — two seat fighter/scout

Scout: Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 — a competitor to the Sopwith Camel, same role, scout-attack

The S.E.5 was a popular alternative to the Sopwith Camel, and might be used by allied pilots
German

Bomber:

Bomber: Gotha G.V biplane bomber (could be G.IV)

 

Mid-War

Scout: Albatros D.III — this plane preceded the Triplane as the lead attack fighter, while the Fokker D.VII was the later war version.  The plane the Red Baron used the most, despite the going out in the Triplane.

Attack: Albatros C.III

Late-War

Fokker Dr.1 Triplane
Halberstadt CL.II 2-seat fighter

End-War

Scout: Fokker D.VII – biplane fighter, counterpart of Sopwith Camel

Halberstadt CL.IV — improved version of CL.II

or

Hannover CL.III – 2 seat, ground attack

Notes: The Sopwith Triplane was introduced as the first combat triplane, and used by the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) rather than the Royal Air Corps, and it took some time for Germany to respond with its competitor. By that time, the British were well on their way to the development of the superior Sopwith Camel. The German counterpart to that is the Fokker D.VII biplane, which was the premier single seat attack fighter at the end of the war.

Do we get both the Triplane era and its successors? That could be interesting, but it leaves open a lot of questions about how many sorts of aircraft we will see.

French/American

The Americans entered the war in its later stages, but some enlisted with French or other forces in order to fight in the war before that time.  The Lafayette Escadrille is especially noteworthy

Bomber:

Caudron C.23 – good candidate for the bomber role, a large late war twin engine 3 seat craft.  Earlier bombers were two seat aircraft.

Mid

Scout: Nieuport 17 – early single seat fighter, first one with synchronized gun.  Nieuport biplanes were technically  sesquiplane designs, with the lower wing not as wide as the upper.

Attack: SPAD S.XI

Late

Scout:  Nieuport 27

Attack: Salmson 2 – 2-seat

End

Scout:  SPAD.XIII.  Very popular with US pilots.

Attack: Breguet 14

 

The US forces used French and British aircraft. Despite the Wright Brothers success in inventing airplanes, the USA did not keep up with the wartime development and had none of its own to speak of in WW 1. Russia and Italy also used French fighters.  Thus, there were no American models of combat aircraft deployed during WW 1.

Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire used mostly German aircraft designs.
They did of course use their own markings on most, though it wasn’t uncommon to see German crosses on them along with their new paint.
Scout: Phönix D.I — single seat biplane fighter, only one produced specifically for Austria-Hungary. Also known as Hansa-Brandenburg D.I, it is comparable to the early war Albatros D.I, but remained in service with upgrades until the end of the war for Austria.

Italy used mostly French designs

Ansaldo A.1 Balilla – only Italian single seat biplane to see much service in war. They otherwise used mostly French aircraft.  This plane was comparable to the Sopwith Camel, but with a narrower streamlined engine cowling and one of the fastest planes of the war.

Russia

Bomber:

Voisin III.  A French design used early in the war, two engine pusher design with two crew (which means only one machine gun, if we stick to its historical configuration).

Russia’s own innovation was the Sikorsky Ilya Murmomets (S-22/S-23) 4 engine biplane bomber, the first heavy strategic bomber in the world.  But with a crew of five (but only two gunners plus a pilot with combat roles, and an enclosed protected cockpit, it is in a different class from the Gotha G.V and similar bombers.

Fighter:

Sikorsky S-16.  Only a small number of these were built.  Otherwise, used mostly French designs.

Airships:

Zeppelin:  L 30 on the kill feed. (LZ 62, 62nd Zeppelin built,  first of the same super-Zeppelin class as L 32). , used for bombing operations over the UK. About 196 meters long.
Note : No other nation made anything quite like the Zeppelins. The British made a handful of airships, but the Zeppelin companies turned out over one hundred.

Blimps and balloons were made in much larger numbers, but they were harder to steer, more fragile, and less useful as military attack vehicles. As reconnaissance craft, though, they were excellent. So far, we can’t actually shoot any of them, but perhaps that will come later.

Other Aircraft:

Ground attack planes and the first heavy bombers also saw some use.

Heavy Bombers:

There are none of these shown so far in the game, but they played an important role in the war, and also stood out as remarkable innovations for larger aircraft.

Russia’s Sikorsky Ilya Murmomets (S-22/S-23) 4 engine biplane bomber with an enclosed cockpit, could have a crew of 5 or so.  Significant as the first long range 4 engine aircraft of the war, and used to good effect in what was otherwise a losing war for Russia.
German Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI Riesenflugzeug – “giant aircraft” saw a fair bit of service, open cockpit but again a large crew. It had a successor, the Zeppelin-Staaken R.XIV, with a large enclosed cockpit, but saw very limited use at the end of the war.
British Handley Page V/1500 – another 4 engine bomber, was deployed but didn’t see action during WW 1.

Italian Caproni Ca.3 – 3 engine bomber. Italy

Note that all heavy bombers were used largely for night air raids, rather than daytime attacks, just as Zeppelins were. They had guns, but were not maneuverable enough to really dogfight. Russia used them to good effect.

In game use, they could perhaps be comparable to the Airships, a special unit reinforcing the battle.  It would take two or three of these “giant” airplanes to be equal to one Zeppelin.

Night bombers — two seat attack planes with heavier loads — also saw service, but I’d think that these four engine giants would be more interesting for game play. Would they fit for all maps and missions? Probably not, but they were still a major factor in the war, along with airships, creating the whole category of strategic bombing.
Germany pioneered the ground attack plane, with a metal fuselage.  Will we see them in Battlefield 1?  Not all maps would fit their role, a tougher two seat attack craft intended to hit ground targets rather than fight in the air.
Junkers J.I crew of two, notable for being equipped with a radio for its observer/gunner. First of the type.
AEG J.I crew of two, notable for giving the pilot fixed machine guns pointing down, for strafing action, while the rear gunner took care of air threats.
Albatros J.I — a competing craft, used near the end of the war, similar design and role.

Jun 28

Battlefield 1: The Weapons From The Dawn Of All-Out War

What weapons will we get in Battlefield 1?

 

We have a bunch of information about the weapons and vehicles of Battlefield 1, but there are still pieces missing. We know that each kit will have seven or so class weapons available at release, with three shown in play so far. The customization screens show 16 weapon slots, with 6 filled, allowing for an additional three to five weapons, depending on the number of variants of each (some will have three, so five is unlikely). The variations can have different characteristics other than just simple handling (like fire rate or damage), so while they are technically the same weapon model, they can actually play like different weapons.

There are eight sidearms, and we’ve seen four of them, two in use in the livestream. For vehicles, the aircraft were all German models, but the trailers and other info show that more models will be in use, serving similar roles. Tanks and armored cars, on the other hand, suffer from the problem of not having that many variants developed and used during the war, so we are stuck with all factions sharing models.

In all cases, the weapons and vehicles were real and almost all saw some actual service in the war, even if it may have only been in the final days.

So what weapons could be still to come in the full game? Let’s look at what has been revealed so far.

http://battlefield.wikia.com/wiki/Battlefield_1

Weapons of Battlefield 1
Submachine Guns
Automatico M1918 · MP18
Shotguns
M1897 · M1912 · Model 10-A
Light Machine Guns
Lewis Gun · Madsen MG · MG 08 · M1909 Benét–Mercié · MG15 n.A.
Sniper rifles
Gewehr 98 · M1903 Springfield · Russian 1895 · SMLE MKIII
Semi-automatic rifles
C96 Carbine · Cei-Rigotti · M1907 SL · Mondragon
Sidearms
M1911 · C96 · P08 Pistol · Webley Mk VI
Other
T-M1918
Battle Pick Up
Kleinflammenwerfer (flamethrower)

One thing to keep in mind about World War 1 is that before the war, all the nations involved traded with each other, and it was common to use weapons built by makers in nations which were now your enemy. This is especially noticeable in the LMG and Sidearm categories. Once the war started, each nation had to equip its troops with weapons it could get within its alliance, and this is most strongly noticed with the most widely issued weapons, the standard bolt action rifles.

Pilot/Tanker Mechanic
Mauser C96 Carbine (semi-auto pistol) . Could use attached stock to act like a short carbine, the C96 itself is a 7.63mm Mauser caliber with a 10 round clip magazine (though 9mm versions were also made for export).

What others might we see?  It is hard to say, I find references to carrying semi-auto rifles as with the Medic kit, but not much on anything as specialized as the C96 Carbine Pistol.

Medic
M1907 SL semi-auto or slow auto, Winchester, a few thousand used by France
Mondragon M1908 — developed by Mexico, Manufactured by SIG, many sold to Germany and used by air crew
Cei-Rigotti — a very early automatic rifle, semi and full auto at possibly 900 rpm (but will overheat before that, but then, so will most automatic rifles).
Prototypes only. Used same ammo as bolt action Carcano M1891. Why include this one? It has a strong claim to being the first automatic rifle, and despite not seeing deployment, that gives it an important place in history.

Note that the relatively small magazine size of all the semi-auto weapons makes full auto fire very limited anyway — you only get a couple of seconds of fire. The fire rate is so slow compared to either SMG or LMG that you aren’t going to win that either, and you have to cope with recoil, so it really is only meant to be used up close.

Assault

MP18 SMG
MP1918 Automatico SMG
M10-A Shotgun Remington (shorter barrel version for war), 6 round magazine.
M1897 Winchester shotgun, external hammer, pump action. Note that the pump could trigger the gun, so you could fire as fast as you could slide it, making it feel more like a semi-auto in hip fire. We’ll have to see how that mechanism plays out. A good example of this sort of use is Ash’s fight at the end of Army Of Darkness, just repeatedly firing the shotgun by using the pump. (Edit:  Ash used a lever action Winchester and a double barrel shotgun, though we did see pump action models in the store.  Still gets the feel of how you use it). 5 round magazine.
M1912 Winchester pump action shotgun, 6 round magazine.  Military followup to the M1897.

Support
M1909 Benet-Mercie LMG (side magazine) Hotchkiss Gun (light machinegun, not the heavy one used on vehicles)
Madsen LMG Danish gun sold widely before the war, used by all sides.  A bit handier than most of the era.
Lewis Gun LMG.  Pan magazine on top gives it a lot of ammo for sustained fire.
Bergmann MG 15nA machine gun – 500 RPM, German counterpart to the Lewis gun, top drum magazine

MG 08 – the lMG 08/15 – a lighter — but still heavy — version of the MG 08, a German machine gun used on aircraft, which had to used aircooling rather than the water cooled mounted machine guns.

Scout
1895 Russian (Winchester) single/lever action (one has no scope by default), in Russian 7.62mm.  Uses a box magazine rather than the tube loading of most lever action rifles.
Lee Enfield SMLE MKIII
Springfield 1903 sniper (trivia note: the US M1903A4 sniper version wasn’t made until WWII, in 1943, the standard issue rifles didn’t have scopes, but could have them added).
Mauser Gewehr 98  with scope (Sniper model)

Sidearms
Colt 1911 Pistol semi-auto ,45
Luger P08 Pistol semi-auto 7.65mm (the 9mm was developed later), 8 round magazine
Webley Revolver MK VI (1915), .455 Webley 6 shot revolver

C96 Mauser semi-auto pistol, 7.63mm Mauser.  Pistol version of the air crew carbine.

Other
Lifebuoy M2 Flamethrower – Note: Found a reference to this, but as it was a British development of the German model and didn’t see service in the war, I don’t know that it will appear.
Rocket Gun, aka Vickers Q.F Mk II – a compact 40mm (1.59 in) caliber artillery piece.  Despite its nickname, it is a shell firing small cannon, not a rocket weapon.
Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr — a bolt action 13mm antitank rifle, the first and only one used in WW1.

So what classic weapons are missing?  What can we expect to see in the game?

Let’s address the standard issue bolt actions first. But first, a general comment on bolt action fire rates. A good shooter can do about 30 rpm on these, with the straight pull bolt models a bit faster to operate. Lever action rifles were no longer favored, though the Russian 1895 Winchester was used, in part because they were harder to operate prone, even though the fire rate could be higher.

Scout Snipers:

Lee Enfield MKIII (sans scope) British standard rifle
Mauser Gewehr 98 — Germany standard issue
Springfield M1903 – American standard issue iron sight bolt action rifle

Mosin-Nagant (called Mosin by most of its users), bolt action rifle widely used, Russia, Austria-Hungary
Carcano M1891 – Italian standard bolt action rifle
Berthier Fusil Mle 1907/15 – French standard bolt action rifle
Mannlicher M1895 Austria-Hungary standard issue bolt action rifle. Used straight pull bolt, unlike most of this era

The above four fill out the likely candidates for bolt action Scout weapons, as it gives each major faction (if we include the Russians) their own standard issue weapon.  The Russian 1895 Winchester was not the standard issue Russian rifle, but was still widely used and is different from all the bolt action weapons.
Ross Rifle MKIII — Canadian bolt action rifle, notable for straight pull bolt and high accuracy. Retained as sniper rifle in service after WW1.
Arisaka Type 38 rifle — Japanese bolt action rifle, 6.5mm, used by Russia, among others

If any Japanese forces are shown, they would use the Arisaka as well.  The Ross Rifle is noted for being especially accurate as a sniper weapon, and may be present simply for that reason.

 

These next two are variants of weapons already present, and could be represented by differences in appearance rather than being distinct weapons.

Mauser Model 1893 – Turkish Mauser.  The predecessor of the 98, used by the Ottoman Empire, which also used the 98 when they could get them. In most elements very much the same, its sight markings were in Arabic.  They didn’t manufacture their own rifles.

M1917 Enfield — US version of the British rifle — they used different ammo, but worked very much the same. Note that most US and British soldiers used one or the other of these.  Correction/.clarification:  This is a version of the 1914 .30-06 Enfield rifle, not the SMLE, and was built as an alternative to the Springfield 1903, sharing ammunition.  It also has the same 5 round magazine size.  In regards to this, a different skin/variant of the Springfield, due to similar performance.

Classic Sidearms:
British Bull Dog revolver — .44 Webley caliber, a big fat tough-looking 5 round revolver
Colt Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless – .38 caliber US, 7 round magazine (the 1903 .32 caliber version has 8 rounds)
Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer — another .38 ACP 7 round pistol
Colt New Service – .45 caliber US Army revolver, 6 shot
Enfield revolver – .476 caliber 6 round British Army revolver
M1917 revolver – Smith & Wesson 6 round .45 caliber revolver, had a reloader
Webley Self-Loading Pistol – .455 caliber semiauto pistol, 7 round clip, British pilot and cavalry pistol
Webley–Fosbery Automatic Revolver – a .455 caliber semi-auto revolver (similar in concept to BF4’s Unica 6), holding 6 shots. A variant with 8 shots using .38 caliber was also made. Has a very nice look to it, plus holds a unique place in gun history. Never standard issue because of its size and weight, used by British.
Nagant M1895 – 7.62mm 7 shot revolver, has a unique look, widely used, but developed for Russia
Steyr M1912 – 9mm semiauto pistol with 8 round clip, Austria-Hungarian standard army
Beretta M1915 – 9mm semi-auto pistol, 7 round magazine, Italian standard
FN Model 1903 – 9mm Browning semiauto w 7 round box magazine
Modèle 1892 revolver – 8mm 6 round revolver, French officer sidearm. Accurate but lower in power than similar military weapons of the era

Despite the long list, and more which could be added, it comes down to a couple models of each class and caliber — heavy and lighter revolvers, and roughly 3 size ranges of semi-auto pistols, a total of perhaps five which are different in more than just looks and feel.  Guessing which four will be present in the game at the start isn’t easy.

My choices would be the Colt 1908, Webley-Fosbery, Nagant, and Beretta.  It gives use a good selection of types, with interesting looking models.
Others

Medic Semiauto Rifles:

RSC M1917 Fusil Automatique Modèle 1917 closest thing to standard issue semiauto in the war, French, uses 8MM Lebel cartridge.
Fedorov Avtomat M1916 semi-auto/auto rifle. Used the 6.5mm Arisaka cartridge, 350 RPM, Russian.
Mauser M1916 — semiauto with a 25 round magazine, its cost and fragility limited its use to air service by Germany, and it was later replaced by the more reliable Mondragon.

Farquhar-Hill rifle –  semiauto/auto .303 British rifle saw limited use by aviators, but never fielded on the ground. 700 RPM, making it despite its size closer to an SMG or LMG in role, and later developed as an LMG.  20 round drum magazine.  An interesting detail with this weapon is that when you switch magazines, you must press the trigger once to close the bolt and ready it for firing.

Semiautomatic rifles were a recent development, and though all factions tried to field standard issue versions, they were not quite ready for general distribution.

With three weapons already revealed, there is room for another four easily, and not a lot of other likely candidates for this role.

Assault SMG and Shotguns:
Chauchat-Ribeyrolles 1918 submachine gun, a compact development of the RSC M1917, 8mm .  Also called the 1918 carbine, even though it was short and fully automatic.
Thompson Submachine Gun. The 1918 models were only prototypes and never saw service in the war they were designed for. .45, about 600 RPM (later models shot faster and held more ammo)

Submachineguns were a new development, with the very first ones used in this war.

Browning Auto-5 — semi-auto shotgun. Also produced as Remington M11.

Note: Only the USA issued shotguns as standard military weapons.  Any soldier could potentially have obtained one, and common hunting weapons were used during the war by all factions at times.

With five weapons revealed so far, and three having two variants each (three shotguns), will we get all these?  There weren’t a lot of submachineguns in use yet, so I’d expect to see both of the above models.  The semiauto shotgun is another example of innovation during this period.  If each gets two variants, we could see all of these in the game.

Support LMGs:

Chauchat M1915/1918 LMG, USA and French use. Low rate of fire of 250 rpm, but heavy ammo still overheats, 8mm

M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle — LMG, USA, used as a replacement for the M1909 late in the war, .30/7.62mm with 20 round magazine.  Intended as a general purpose automatic rifle, it  was still heavier and served as an LMG instead.

With the five LMGs already listed, this brings us up to seven.  As one of the ways to fill 16 slots is five with two variants and two with three, they may well show up in the game.

 

A Wide But Not Unlimited Selection

In listing weapons which we can expect to see in the game, we run into the problem that despite many innovations, the choices for weapons were not as wide as in modern wars.  Many cool choices remain, however, and the variant configurations will give use more than enough options to equip our soldiers in the game.

 

Jun 23

Battlefield 1: Will We Have Bolt Action Rifles For Everyone?


[BF1] Scopeless Bolt Action Rifles Confirmed from Battlefield

OK, we know that at least the Scout kit will be able to run basic iron sight bolt action rifles.  The Medic may as well, as they wouldn’t really overpower the semi-auto and auto rifles they otherwise get.  What about the other two kits?

First thing, which ones are in the game so far:

 

http://battlefield.wikia.com/wiki/Battlefield_1

Lee Enfield MKIII (sans scope) British standard rifle
Mauser Gewehr 98 — standard issue iron sights – Germany standard issue
Springfield M1903 – American standard issue iron sight bolt action rifle

 

Note that the Russian 1895 is a Winchester lever action rifle, not bolt action, and though it didn’t seem to play that much different from the bolt action rifles in the livestream, the mechanism was different, and they were also not the standard issue infantry rifle.  A lever action rifle doesn’t shoot as fast as a semi-auto, but faster than most bolt action rifles.

That covers three of the six (so far) factions present in the game.  Let’s fill in the rest, and also put in France and Russia.

Mosin-Nagant (called Mosin by most of its users), bolt action rifle widely used, Russia standard issue, also by Austria-Hungary

Carcano M1891 – Italian standard bolt action rifle
Berthier Fusil Mle 1907/15 – French standard bolt action rifle
Mannlicher M1895 Austria-Hungary standard issue bolt action rifle. Used straight pull bolt, unlike most of this era.

Mauser Model 1889/1890/1893 – Turkish Mauser – The predecessor of the 98, used by the Ottoman Empire, which also used the 98 when they could get them. In most elements very much the same, its sight markings were in Arabic.

M1917 Enfield — US version of the British rifle — they used different ammo, but worked very much the same. Note that most US and British soldiers used one or the other of these

The Turkish Mauser and the US Enfield are pretty much just minor visual changes from the base model, but otherwise work exactly the same.

 

So every faction gets its own default national bolt action standard issue rifle. But we can also incorporate the usual Battlefield rule that our heroic soldiers can use any weapon.  Bolt action rifles aren’t all that different from each other, especially in this era, so how would they work in game terms?

 

First thing, if they are all kit weapons, they had better not overshadow the specialized roles that the kit weapons are supposed to have.  So even if these are about the same weapons as the Scout kit with basic iron sights only, they can’t be as good for sniping as the Scout sniper rifles.  How do we justify that?

The Scout weapons are specialized for marksmen, and are not the same as the general issue models.  Not just the scope, but the weapon manufacture and ammunition allow for better accuracy.  For this reason, we don’t have to match the damage output of the Scout weapons, but can set these in their own class.

Do we want the “sweet spot” damage curve on these, where close range shots do less damage than medium range?

A theory behind this is that if they hit too soon, the bullet simply penetrates the target and doesn’t have time to deliver as much damage as it passes through.  Whether that is realistic or not, it does give a Scout sniper a good reason to avoid close combat situations.

Whether the regular infantry bolt action rifles have that sort of curve, or the “traditional” damage dropping curve over distance, they should not get the Scout’s one hit to kill damage.  Two body hits to kill is enough.  Head shots may or may not be one hit kills always either, that is a balance question.

One thing that definitely should apply is lower accuracy.  These standard-issue rifles are nowhere near as precise as the ones made for the Scout sniper marksmen.  The iron sights will make long range shots harder anyway, but that isn’t the point.  These weapons were made for mass volley fire and relatively short range combat, not long range shooting.

 

Would you use an older technology weapon, just because it is traditional and perhaps more cool?

I would.  People use the bow in Battlefield 4, which is certainly not a superior high tech weapon.  Let’s break it down by kit.

Assault:  Do you need to fight at longer range?  You give up your powerful short range option, and still can’t match any of the other kits at range, but at least you have a chance.

Medic:  This is a close call, because your kit weapons are medium range, and are likely to be better at short range than any bolt action weapon (even Scouts).  But it may give you a little edge at longer ranges, and also a possible advantage for well placed aimed shots.

Support:  A similar issue, but you’d give up a lot of medium range firepower for both a little edge in long range combat.  In close combat, probably not ideal.

Scout:  Probably the least likely to go with less accurate iron sight rifles rather than their specialized weapons, but they could be easier to use for hip fire and close combat than the regular Sniper Rifles.

 

Does this mess with class balance?  Adding in a relatively weaker all-kit alternative shouldn’t, no more than everyone having access to the same sidearms.

 

How hard would it be to add these weapons to the game?  In terms of modelling, three are already present as Scout weapons, just need tweaks to represent the standard issue versions.  They all perform similarly, so any differences would be pretty minor.

 

So why have them, if they may not be all that good and wouldn’t really add that much variety?

Historical verisimilitude and national pride, for one thing.  A lot of players will be happy to take on the role of regular infantry soldier, rather than one of those given a specialist’s weapon, and enjoy the challenge.  For another, some players may enjoy playing on servers where these are the default weapon, again for the joy of seeing them in action.

In terms of performance, they use similar ammunition (7.62mm to 8mm), so in most ways, the choice of which one to use would be cosmetic.  They could be tweaked a little for variety, because there were operating differences, but for most game play purposes, it is how they look and the animations they use.  This element also makes balancing them a lot easier, as the goal isn’t to provide a wider variety of function choices so much as to add more visual options.

 

So what do you think?  Should Battlefield 1 have bolt action rifles for everyone?

Jun 14

Battlefield 1: Livestream Game Play — What We’ve Learned So Far

Livestream Gameplay And Notes, June 12, 2016

http://www.pcgamer.com/watch-an-hour-of-battlefield-1-gameplay-today/

Destruction, lots of it — I expected that, given the way the trailers look. Overall, part of the effect of using more real physics modelling within the Frostbite engine. Both large and small scale destruction abounds on the map. A really big effect is the destruction, crash, and fiery demise of an airship. Not just at a pre-planned location, but dynamically wherever it happens to be shot down. Aircraft and ground vehicles also now take targeted, located component damage, such as shooting off wings, wheels, or treads. That alone will change up vehicle combat.

Dynamic weather. It isn’t so much a new idea, as it is new to see them try to do it well. BF4 had elements of this, with weather on maps, but this will change up the game play even more. Sunny day, cloudy, rain, fog, and I expect there will be even more than that for variety. It is also not constant or scripted events on certain maps, but truly dynamic and unpredictable.

Weapon physics changes are subtle, so that I really couldn’t be sure of the differences between BF1 and BF4. Except that it did seem like bullet impact was felt more strongly, which could be part of that change. Bullet drag is a very big change, though. BF4 and Hardline (and Battlefront) all use constant bullet velocity. BF1 does not. The bullets will start at a high (realistic) muzzle velocity, and slow down as they travel. This means that all long range shooters will need to relearn how to compensate for motion and bullet drop, and it will feel very different for each kind of weapon. Long shots on moving targets will be harder to pull off, not that they were ever easy. Short range shots will hit faster. All in all, this will make a great leap in realism, especially good for players who have experience with real weapons.

Most guns use iron sights, with only a few having optical scopes. This is to be expected for the time period, but not all iron sights are the same. Without seeing all the options in the game, I can’t say just what will be available, except that I figure that optical scopes will be restricted to sniper (scout) weapons. BF4’s reticle and HUD customization, however, can be retained with no problems.

I like the circular minimap. The HUD and interface as a whole owes a lot to BF2 and BF1943. It is very clean and open, which is a good thing.

The magazine feed for clip fed rifles will be a new thing for many players. We’ve had this with some shotguns, but now, rifle users will face it as well. Instead of just pulling out a new magazine and popping it in, you will need to reload bullets one at a time, Do you reload fully, or do you pop it in short a few rounds? And can you afford the time to reload at all in the heat of battle? Good thing you carry a sidearm, but the melee weapons may be even more essential as backups in close combat.

Pilots and airship crew have parachutes. I expected that — the high command’s resistance to issue parachutes was fading by the end of the war, and the value of keeping a trained pilot alive rather than having them try to land and save their plane became obvious wisdom of war. Airship crew have a tactical role here as airborne reinforcements.

The airship in this conquest game is a special asset. Only one will appear per game, and it shows up for the losing side. That makes it a last ditch tool to try to turn around a losing game, rather than an asset added for the winning side (AC130 on many maps) to enhance dominance. The game pace and length also seems to work well. Private servers may allow longer games and other options, but for many players, a good 10 to 20 minute match is fun and challenging.

Air combat looks fresh and fun. In game play style, this is very much a throwback to BF1942, and I think it will work out excellently. How easy will flying be? I can’t say, but I think that the mix of maneuverability and lower speeds will make it easier for new pilot players than BF4’s jets. The lack of lock on weapons will also make air combat more challenging. The planes themselves look gorgeous, and that combined with the scenery will add another attraction to playing this game.

Player character movement is more fluid and flexible. How much of this is physics engine upgrades, and how much is just enhanced controls and choices, I can’t say yet. But the ability to climb and vault over obstacles will help make ground soldiers much more agile and safer on the battlefield. The charge through a door is a nice addition too — you can crash through a closed door without having to stop and open it first. The bayonet charge — a rushing sprint to attack — also looks and feels cool. Both as an attack, and simply as a way to more quickly advance on the enemy (or run away), it adds another nuance to movement and combat. Coupled with the greater impact effects which seem to come from melee combat (and possibly bullet impacts and explosions, hard to tell from what I’ve seen so far), and close combat action should feel more realistic and intense than ever.

 

Guns: the only class really missing that I noticed was the regular infantry bolt-action rifles. In terms of usage, the biggest class of weapons used in the war, all with iron sights, moderate accuracy, and slow fire rate but with a clip to reload. The Lee-Enfield, Mosin-Nagant, Mauser, Winchester, Springfield. Semi-auto rifles were also made, and used, but not adopted widely yet. The only real trick is how to balance them — they’d be slower to fire than the semi-autos, and not much better. Even the lever-action Winchester 1895 could fire six times as fast as a bolt action (though with what aimed accuracy, it is harder to be sure it would be effective). Still, it would be nice to see them all present in the game, for realism, as a viable choice along with the semiauto rifles.

The various submachineguns and machineguns seemed to work well, shotguns likewise, and the sniper rifles and sidearms seemed good, if a bit harder to use than some of the modern weapons in BF4. All in all, it looks like gun balance is pretty good, and gun game play should be a lot of fun.

Tanker and Pilot classes are a nice addition. You want to operate a vehicle, you get a loadout appropriate to the role. This gives us six classes — the four infantry roles of Medic, Assault, Support, Scout, plus two for vehicles. It sounds like a vehicle crew will need to stop and cease fighting in order to self-repair, which should make for an interesting tactical choice.

 

May 22

Battlefield 1: The Reboot Of Battlefield 1942?

Battlefield 1: The Reboot Of Battlefield 1942?

Have you seen the Battlefield 1 trailer? Most likely, it has loads of views and likes. I love the White Stripes music, it not only fits so well, it was best rock song of 2004 (came out in 2003). You know, when Battlefield 1942 was born?

It has been said that the 1918 Armistice was just a 20 year truce before the war resumed. In many ways, the start of World War II was just the Great War, Part II. No, the nature of the governments, nationalism, and alliances was different, but the weapons and tactics used at the start were very much like those used in 1918. Both world wars have far more in common, especially from the standpoint of the soldiers on the ground, than the Cold War and Modern Warfare eras.

Basic rifles with iron sights, no electronics, no smart weapons, relatively slow vehicles and limited heavy weapons for individual soldiers (crew served weapons were more powerful, and those were what largely made Trench Warfare happen). For the typical ground-pounder role that players take in Battlefield, BF1 will look and feel a lot like BF 1942, with nicer graphics.

When I was speculating about the future of Battlefield, I considered a World War II game with the new Frostbite engine as a strong candidate. I honestly thought we’d be more likely to get either a modern warfare sequel to BF4, or an updated, cold-war-ish take for Bad Company 3. The thought that DICE would actually go back to their roots and do a Great War game didn’t occur to me, and I took rumors that it was going to happen with a grain of salt. But hey, they did it.

Did you know that BF 1942 is actually derived from a World War I game? Codename: Eagle, a 1999 FPS game from Refraction Games (who created the Refractor Engine, and were purchased by DICE to become the heart of the team which created Battlefield). I never played it, as I started the series with BF1942, but it was an alternative history take on WW II, where a Russian hero has to save the world from a coup which would lead to a tyrant taking over the world, and restore the lost Tsarina to the throne. A pretty daring story line, I would say.

Battlefield 1? It makes sense as a reboot of the whole series, and there never was a BF 1 before. It does mean that the sequel can’t be BF2 without being confusing. Then again, EA Star Wars Battlefront doesn’t even have a number, and it is a reboot of the game of the same name. Oh well, they do it with movies, I guess it is too late to stop this trend.

The classes also go back to BF 1942 — Assault, Medic, Support, Scout — with a bit of a cross from Battlefield 2 in the roles.  There is no Anti-Tank class as such.  However, vehicle crews get their own classes, so if you spawn in a plane you’re a Pilot, and if you are in a Tank you’re an Engineer.  A whole squad of five can fit in the ground vehicles and work together.  A cool new feature is the ability to form a squad before entering a game, so you can automatically be placed together when you start.

One amazing part of using a historical war is the ability to use historical locations, battles, events, and people, to actually tell a story which educates as well as entertains. The stuff we’ve seen so far is pretty awesome in that regard.

The Harlem Hellfighters. The USA entered WW 1 relatively late (1917), and the long trench-warfare stalemate was coming to a close. Many African-Americans enlisted in the hope of earning greater respect and equality. The US Army leadership didn’t want to mix black soldiers with its white units, so instead, they were sent to help out the French. They were overjoyed to have these aggressive “Yanks” join them, and shared none of the prejudices of their fellow white Americans. They participated in some of the most important, and hellishly intense, fighting along the Western Front.

Lawrence Of Arabia. One of several British diplomatic agents who encouraged the Arabs to rise up against the Ottoman Empire (one of Britain’s enemies in the war), his efforts led to a wave of successful attacks against the Empire from the Arab peninsula all the way up to Damascus. Lightly equipped for the most part, with air support from Britain (and Germany, for the Empire), this is desert warfare at its finest, from 1916-1918.

The Red Baron. The Air War along the Western Front started as small skirmishes, but by 1917 had developed into a new form of warfare. The iconic Fokker Dr.I triplane had a relatively short service life, from September of 1917 to the spring of 1918, but for this short period the power of the dazzlingly maneuverable (but sadly slow and fragile in the long run) triplanes on both sides created legends whose short lives survive as stories to this day. The last few months of the war saw the dawn of the modern air force and air power, though most at the time didn’t recognize just how important this would be.

The aircraft, armored vehicles, and weapons of World War I weren’t quite as powerful as those of its successor. But they weren’t that far off, either. Many weapons and vehicles used in WW II were developed and even used during the Great War. Biplanes remained in service at the start of WW II. Most of the tanks and planes that people think of from WW II were introduced after the war started.

One big difference was the change from bolt-action to semiautomatic for the standard issue rifles used by all sides. They were introduced in WW I, at the very end (only the French used many of them). But that didn’t make bolt action rifles obsolete, and they continue to be used to this day. How this will play out for the soldiers in BF 1 we will need to wait and see. But I would guess that as elite, special soldiers, our characters will have free access to weapons which wouldn’t be standard issue.

Submachine guns and lighter machineguns which a single soldier could carry were developed and deployed in WW 1. The classic Browning Automatic Rifle (an attempt to make a full auto assault rifle, too heavy and awkward to use as such, but a perfectly fine ancestor of the modern Squad Automatic Weapon (like the M249), was immensely successful with more than 50 years of service. The Italian Beretta M1918 was the first SMG which might be classed as standard issue, but a good number saw service during the war. Semi-auto shotguns were introduced, as well as pump action shotguns, for the very intense, short range combat common in the trenches. Hand grenades went from limited, ineffective weapons to the lethal frag grenades of today, and the first anti-vehicle grenades also appeared.

No Bazooka/RPG style rockets, not yet. There were rockets, but they were vehicle mounted weapons, too heavy for a soldier to use.

Optical scopes were rarely used, and not that great in quality yet. Nothing like the modern warfare range of optics. Almost everyone used iron sights. This held true in WW II as well — the best sniper in history avoided using optics, because the scope glint could give him away (and he was just that good of a shot, he didn’t need them).

In BF 1942, we didn’t need all the fancy electronics and gadgets to have a fun game. Star Wars Battlefront shows just how good 15 years of technical improvement can look. Note that Battlefront is a 1st/3rd person shooter, with many weapons not having optics, or not using them in 3rd person anyway, and it still looks and plays great. The spectacular evolution of the graphics (and physics) of the Frostbite engine will make this vision of warfare in the past far more intense and realistic than ever before.

Were you blown away by the BF 1 trailer, and the quality of its graphics? Angry Joe was, to my surprise (he usually looks for negatives in games, but makes exceptions from time to time). How much of what we saw was actual game engine footage? And of that, how much will we get in the multiplayer experience?

I can’t confirm anything, but I would say that none of it was pre-rendered cut scenes, as such. Some might play out as cut scenes, but I believe even those were rendered with the game engine. Most, though, I think were scenes which will play out in 3D action, either in the single or multiplayer game. If DICE has taken the realism levels of Star War Battlefront (mapping from real pictures and objects), and incorporated the awesome destruction technology shown in past Battlefield games (especially Bad Company 2 and BF 3 Close Quarters), and much of the cool effects in BF4, into this upgrade to the Frostbite engine, I believe this is entirely possible. We are also leaving behind the old-gen consoles with this new generation of the game, along with the limitations they imposed on game design.

Don’t think that’s possible? How many of you thought that the Star Wars Battlefront trailers had to be cut scene videos, rather than the game action they turned out to be?

What sort of multiplayer battles can be expect?

Well, Trench Warfare is what many people think of when they talk about WW I. It was by far not the only war fought with static, well fortified lines — sieges are probably as old as warfare itself — but the improvements in automatic weapons and artillery made it extremely costly, if not suicidal, to assault a dug-in enemy. The improvements in weapons, and the use of effective air power and mechanized, armored vehicles, allowed this stalemate to be broken at the end of the war. Though the heavy losses taken earlier also contributed to the situation, and helped mask the power of the new technology, the period where “The Yanks Are Coming, Over There” provide a lot of action which is not just a bloody grindfest.

Still, I expect we will have some of those. Both for historical reasons, and because some players like the intense, non-stop, brutal constant action. The Hellfighters saw enough of that for sure.

They also fought in the forests and fields, away from the trenches. That opens up room for battle maps where the terrain starts out looking almost normal, and ends up in total devastation as the battle progresses.

The Red Baron, and the Air War, offer loads of fun for players who want to enjoy air combat. In the Great War, the primary mission of air units was actually reconnaissance, not offense. An assault of the trenches required good information on the enemy position, but just as important, you had to deny the enemy knowledge of where your troops were advancing. Both sides used balloons and airships, as well as scout planes, to monitor the battleground and direct artillery strikes. The later war, though, added more heavy weapons and powerful aircraft, making it possible to use planes as aerial artillery, not just scouts. This makes for a lot of possible air-based game modes.

First, basic Air Superiority. Fighters duel against each other, with perhaps some objectives to fight over, but mostly to score air kills.

Second, Balloon Busting. The observation balloons weren’t that easy to take out, not with guns both on the ground and on the balloons themselves. As well, fighter aircraft would defend them. With roles for both ground and air forces (perhaps the ground guns could be AI automation), the challenge would be to destroy the enemy balloons, while keeping your own alive. As many balloons (looking more like blimps) used hydrogen, making one explode could be hazardous to planes close to it. Parachutes were developed to save flyers lives in this period.

Third, the Bombing Raid. The bomber team (or both could have them) would try to protect the bombers as they attempt to destroy key targets, perhaps a short of “Rush In The Sky” game. This allows the bigger, multi-crew aircraft a special place to shine.

Of course, general Conquest battles will have lots of aircraft, but these modes would be exclusively geared to flying combat.

The trailer shows a battleship in combat, and an armed train, both of which saw plenty of use in this war. How they will be used in the game, outside of the general conquest role, we will have to wait and see. But there are possibilities.

The Arab Revolt has a lot of action, much of it following the route of the Hejaz railroad through the desert. Horses, camels, but the battles of the Suez and Aqaba also saw ships and planes in good use. Expect a lot of fast moving action here.

We have the Italian front and the Alps campaigns, for mountain fighting, and the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaign give us actual beachfront assaults. Plus it is called World War I because it was actually fought in many locations all around the world, involving many nations. Africa and Asia offer some interesting choices for battle locations. Plus there is the whole Eastern Front (which collapsed in 1917, and led to the revolution in Russia, but still offered a lot of battles). I think there is room for a lot of variety in combat, from this war which many have almost forgotten, just a century or so past.

Older posts «