In this second post in “The Road to Battlefield 4” blog series, we dive deeper into the Field Upgrade system and how we are tweaking the core gameplay to allow for more diversity in combat roles.
Last week, we discussed how nearly all elements In Battlefield 4’s multiplayer work to bring out the best team player in you. This week, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Field Upgrades and discuss how we’re tweaking Battlefield 4 based on the massive amounts of feedback and data that 1 billion hours of Battlefield 3 play time has given us. Here to take you through the nitty-gritty of these mechanics is Core Gameplay Designer Alan Kertz.
Meet the crew
Allow us to proudly present the first group shot of Battlefield 4’s multiplayer kits, showing the Assault, Recon, Engineer, and Support kits from the Russian, U.S. and Chinese armies. Based on the multiplayer map in question, you’ll be able to choose from two of these three factions (and if you run your own server, we’ll let you pick and choose the opposing teams at your leisure.)
Going into Battlefield 4, we knew we wanted to take the four playable classes from Battlefield 3 as a starting point. We’ve tweaked them to be more versatile and more highly specialised within their fields. Now more than ever, you can explore a wide range of combat roles and sub-roles when picking your load out and kit.
For example, this time around the Engineer has a lot more variation in anti-vehicle weapons. We’ve also revamped the way we do vehicle disables and guided weapon systems to give the Engineer a broader set of tactics at his disposal. This includes everything from high damage weapons that may be more challenging to use (like RPG-7V2) to fire-and-forget smart weapons with low damage (like the MBT LAW), and the fan favourite Wire Guided Engineer Missile (the FGM-172 SRAW) that you might recognise from Battlefield 2.
The Support kit has a few more offensive options, and thanks to community feedback will retain his C4 and Claymores from Battlefield 3. The XM25 gives him some nice indirect suppressive fire, a redesigned remote mortar allows him to use indirect fire from a distance, and the ability to equip carbines and DMRs gives him an added versatility in combat roles.
Recon has gotten a much needed boost to mobility, as well as the return of the Spec Ops play style from Battlefield 2. Pack a carbine, C4 (or Claymores), and Motion Sensors and you’re good to go behind enemy lines. Fans of more traditional sniping roles will enjoy our revamped sniping mechanics with rebalanced Sniper Rifles, the ability to zero your sights (set an aiming distance), and additional optics and accessories. Finally, the Recon players can still utilise the MAV, T-UGS, and Radio Beacon to help out their team.
Assault is still the frontline run-and-gun kit that also serves the role of combat medic. This was one of the major changes in Battlefield 3 compared to Battlefield 2, and one that players have really appreciated. Assault is still the go-to kit with med kits and defibrillators but has picked up some additional mobility with the First Aid Pack, which heals a single soldier over time, or the 40mm Flash Bang rounds to help clear rooms.
The Quest for Mobility
One of the main quests for the team when developing Battlefield 4 was to create a more mobile Battlefield. Squad players became very mobile in Battlefield 3 and we saw a gap where some of the more team play focused gadgets required players to sit still. We adjusted this by tailoring the kits, the gadgets, and the available specialisations.
As far as gadgets go, we’re allowing for stronger team play on the move by introducing all-new gadgets like the Portable Laser Designator, and adding new portable First Aid and Ammo Packs. These packs now allow Assault and Support players to top off a single teammate’s health or ammo on the move, while the traditional Ammo Box and Med Kit keep their stationary area heal and resupply roles. In the case of the Portable Laser Designator, it’s designed as a SOFLAM for the Recon on the run – allowing you to quickly laser designate targets without the longer setup time of a SOFLAM (with the tradeoff of not being able to deploy it and have it auto-designate targets for you.)
No one single gameplay mechanic has been as frequently discussed as the suppression system in Battlefield 3. Suppression will return in Battlefield 4, but we’re redesigning it based on your extensive feedback while keeping the intense feeling of being under fire that a system like Suppression provides.
We’re increasing the suppression effect of Light Machine Guns, exclusive to the Support kit, while other weapons are less suppressive. Additionally, we’ve decreased suppression at close range to ensure that close quarters battles always focus sharply on player skill. Besides changing the visual effects of suppression, we’re also replacing the accuracy penalty in Battlefield 3 with a scope sway effect – similar to what snipers get in Battlefield 3 while suppressed. A skilled, focused player can keep his aim on target and get hits, even while under the effects of Suppression.
Overall, we believe we have a great-performing suppression system in Battlefield 4 that doesn’t interfere in close quarters combat, while at the same time allowing for skilled players of the Support kit to really make a difference. Laying down covering fire as Support means your frontline runners can gain a crucial momentum in medium-range combat and still allows you to combat the improved long-range options we’ve given players who prefer to stay back at long range.
Choose your path – Field Upgrades and you
Last week on the blog, you could read about how Field Upgrades are the new specialisations in Battlefield 4. You pick a set path of four upgrades which unlock in order as you perform squad actions like resupplies, repairs, healing, and following orders. You can track your progress in the Field Upgrade Progress Bar – or the “Bro Bar” as it has become known internally at DICE.
The focus on specifically squad-related actions means that the biggest rewards come from sticking with your squad and being a great team player. However, if your entire squad is wiped out, you will lose some of your progress in the upgrade path. Finally, Lone Wolves can still benefit from the base specialisation since it’s always unlocked and available.
Each of the playable kits: Engineer, Recon, Assault, and Support, have four upgrade careers to choose between. Two of these are global and usable for any kit – one of them focusing on Offense and one on Defense. Offense starts with SPRINT and goes through AMMO, MORE GRENADES, and REDUCED FALL. These give you quicker sprint speed, more available ammo magazines, one extra hand grenade, and allows you to fall from greater heights without taking any damage, respectively. This universal upgrade path is great for players who enjoy being at the front lines and leading the charge.
Meanwhile, the Defense path will net you ARMOUR, COVER, FLAK, and QUICK REGEN. These grant you increased protection from shots to the chest, a decreased rate of being suppressed, decreased damage from explosions, and a shorter time span before the out-of-combat health regeneration kicks in. If you are more defensive-minded, perhaps playing as Support from the sidelines, this can be an excellent choice.
Besides the two universal Offense and Defense Field Upgrade careers, you will also be able to choose between two upgrade paths that are unique to your class and allow an increased specialisation in specific combat roles. So while the Assault kit has the unique Combat Medic and Grenadier upgrade paths, Engineer can choose between specialising in the roles of either a Mechanic or Anti-Tank soldier. The first of these is all about repairing your own vehicles, while the latter deals with taking out enemy armor.
While the path you choose will allow for different types of roles on the Battlefield, you’re never stuck with your first choice for the rest of the round. Whenever you wish, you can simple reselect. Doing this will never set you back in your current level of progress, so if you’re currently at level three out of four, you will keep that level and have it applied even if you change kit and/or upgrade path from the customisation screen. Should you choose to leave a squad without entering a new squad, your current progress will be saved. So if you later in the same round join a new squad, you won’t have to start from scratch.
We have greatly increased the number of unique specialisations available in the game from Battlefield 3’s seven to over 25 in Battlefield 4. It’s a conscious design decision to allow for greater variety in any kit’s battlefield role.
Plan your career
Below is the full list of specialisations that will be available in Battlefield 4. Note that we are still in Alpha stage, so all names, designs, and fine-tuning are subject to change. This will give you an idea about the type and variety of specialisations in the game. Some of these are universal, some of them are tied to one of the specific playable soldier types – and most of them are new to Battlefield 4.
SPECIALISATION IN-GAME EFFECT
SPRINT Increases maximum sprint speed
AMMO Increases maximum inventory of bullets
C4 EXPLOSIVES Increases maximum inventory of C4 explosives
COVER Decreases amount of incoming suppression
SUPPRESSION Increases the amount of outgoing suppression
FLAK Decreases explosion damage
GRENADES Increases maximum inventory of hand grenades
(NEW) ROCKETS Increases maximum inventory of AT (anti-tank) and AA (anti-air) ammo
(NEW) MINES Increases maximum inventory of AT Mines or M2 SLAM
(NEW) STEALTH Player is undetected by Motion Sensors except when sprinting
(NEW) HOLD BREATH Increases time you can Steady your scope
(NEW) FAST REPAIR Increases speed and sabotage of Repairs
(NEW) DEFIB UPGRADE Increases charge up speed of the defibrillators
(NEW) 40mm GRENADES Increases maximum inventory of 40mm grenades
(NEW) ADVANCED SPOT Increases time your targets are Spotted
(NEW) MEDKITS UPGRADE Increases maximum deployed medic bags and packs
(NEW) MOTION SENSORS UPGRADE Increases the maximum inventory of Motion Sensors. Increases the range of T-UGS and MAV
(NEW) MORE DEPLOYED EXPLOSIVES Increases maximum deployed Explosives
(NEW) AMMO BAG UPGRADE increases maximum deployed ammo boxes and packs
(NEW) ARMOUR Reduces incoming damage to the chest
(NEW) QUICK UNSPOT Reduces time you are spotted
(NEW) MEDICAL UNIT Occupied vehicles will slowly heal nearby soldiers
(NEW) SUPPLY UNIT Occupied vehicles will slowly resupply nearby soldiers
(NEW) REPAIR UNIT Occupied vehicles will slowly repair nearby vehicles
(NEW) REDUCED FALL Increases height you can fall without damage
(NEW) QUICK REGEN Decreases time before out of combat heal
(NEW) MP-APS UPGRADE Longer uptime on MP APS
(NEW) INDIRECT FIRE UPGRADE Increases maximum M224 ammo. Increases maximum XM25 magazines
(NEW) CLAYMORES Increases the maximum inventory of claymores
We still have a lot more details to share with you about weapons, gadgets, and vehicles – but I think long time Battlefield fans can see how we’re really focused on responding to the torrent of feedback that passionate fans contribute to the series. Battlefield 4 aims to stay true to the best parts of Battlefield 3, while also pushing to expand the game in fresh directions. Keep your feedback coming, and don’t be afraid to Point At All The Things you’d like to see in Battlefield 4.