Battlefield 2018 – All aboard the hype train!

Well the Battlefield behemoth just keeps on a-chugging along and by Christmas 2018 we will get our grubby little mitts on the next instalment of the series.

There is a an article over at Dualshockers (thanks to the heads up from Westie) that reports on EA’s quarterly investors call.  In it, CEO Andrew Wilson made mention of the upcoming title and that it will be “visually-stunning” and “deeply immersive”.

Now this is a conference call so there will always be the usual PR thing going on to quell any investor angst (they also made mention of the recent closure of Visceral) so Wilson needed something punchy and positive even though it gives precisely zero detail as to what time setting the game is in.  Who knows, it could even be Bad Company 3!

But what is a definite is that DICE will be neck-deep in development of the game right now.  And the article has prompted some debate on Twitter as to what people would like to see with the new game.  “Visually-stunning” and “deeply immersive” especially with sound design is pretty much a given for any DICE title these days.  Regardless of what you might think of the actual gameplay, loot crates, “netcode” or story modes you can always be guaranteed that it will lovingly stroke your eyeballs and ears to a thundering climax.

Also, the last few launches have gone surprisingly smoothly for the most part.  The interwebs haven’t been ringing with the cries of game breaking bugs – a lesson they seem to have finally learned from the terrible Battlefield 4 launch debacle.

Now I know this is not the most popular opinion out there, but the team at EA and DICE do tend to listen to their audience by engaging closely with Game Changers and other Influencers.  This has lead to a number of gamers to complain loudly and at great (almost interminable) length that it isn’t fair that a chosen few get to pitch in on game design when they don’t – to see what I mean just look at the furore over the DICE Friends tags process.  But, the ones that are chosen are chosen for a reason – they proactively and, most importantly, constructively make recommendations to the Devs via tweets, articles and YouTube videos whilst resisting the urge to reference a particular Devs mother and her sexual peccadilloes.

I don’t exactly have a dog in this fight (I could be considered a very low level game changer at best) but I am more than happy to throw in my 2 cents for what it’s worth.  People also need to keep in mind that any suggestions now of wholesale changes may well be too late given we have, arguably, only just over a year to go till full launch.

I will forever bemoan the age old “netcode” issues that have plagued DICE games for many years going back to at least Bad Company 2.  At this point, to me, it’s a given that they will be there and will never truly be squashed.  As a side note – I highly recommend checking out Chris’ (aka Battle(non)sense) article over at PC Gamer for a deeper dive into network issues in online gaming.

So, what would I actually like to see?  For me it boils down to two things – content releases and dedicated server rentals.

For reasons best known to DICE and EA, the release of extra content for Battlefield 1 has been excruciatingly slow.  Certainly slower by comparison to their earlier games.  However much I dislike the principle of paid-for DLC and their “Premium” model, if it’s there then you need to get that content flowing quickly in order to keep the fan base as interested as possible.  If it is not, then the odd drip feed of a map here, a CTE trial there will not sustain a lot of folks in the longer run.  So DICE really need to focus on that content release being more timely throughout the first year.

The new model of free DLC content for Battlefront 2 will hopefully change this (loot crates notwithstanding – that’s another article) for the better and I will be very surprised if a version of this new model is not present next year.

My greatest wish, want, need (?) is for the ability to have our own dedicated servers available and not via the Rental system they have in BF1 at present.  With all the best will in the world I cannot see how this was not an afterthought by EA when running up to the release of BF1.  The delayed release of the program coupled with the very limited functionality has had a arguably detrimental effect on the community gaming scene where many groups have simply either stopped playing BF1 altogether, or worse, actively led toward their disbandment.

One of the greatest things that the Battlefield series has produced, for me at least, is the way it has brought many people together and has created a faithful community with BF being one of the core games.  The effective removal of this at the launch of BF1 was a very unwise move on EA’s part.

I would prefer to have the full dedicated server facility back (as in we chose who hosts, the rules, the modes, the maps etc) but if not then at least bring it back to the BF4 levels again.  I can understand that a developer might get annoyed that we may not want to play the game the way they have set out (reducing sniper numbers, pistols only modes, no vehicles etc) but by removing that capability by controlling it ‘in-house’ so to speak only goes to fracture the community.  It has also effectively removed the ability to get rid of the ……ummmm……. gentlemen who seem to suffer with a severe lack of verbal self-control shall we say.

So there we are.  My two cents.  As for the theme of the next game I still want someone to properly take a crack at reproducing the Korean War which has never really been examined properly in games.  But then given the antagonists were North Korean and also the Chinese, that may not be the most comfortable fit right now.

So it is now a case of wait and see what will be lobbed at us from over the parapet.

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