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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Battlefield Bad Company 2 Updates and New Game Mode

This is something of a point of contention among the BC2 community. That is, of course putting in lightly. In reality, the flame wars in the community are rampant and widespread, with DICE/EA being the brunt of many insults and expletive filled comments. On release day for BC2, the EA servers dedicated to making the game run were completely overfilled, and only a fraction of the players had the ability to even join a game. Granted, game launches are hard to get right, but the degree to which the launch failed surprised and angered many. I myself couldn't play for about a week and a half, though once I started, I didn't feel like complaining. After playing for a while, there were some very specific complaints that I shared with many other players. Namely, overpowered M60's (a medic weapon) and grenade spam. The latter of the two was such a problem that players grabbed their assault kits and used the 40mm grenade as a primary weapon. The M60's damage killed in 4-6 hits at any range and it had dead on accuracy from any range. Add to this that there was very little falloff while moving and run and gun medics became a real issue.

DICE, in response to community outrage, responded with a huge update that balanced weapons, reduced damages and kill ranges, decreased accuracies and buffed weapons otherwise unused. This and many other things went into that first update, and the community was happy. For a time. New problems then began to pop up. First, knifing was now all but obsolete as it was only completely reliable when done from the front. Knifing from the back now did absolutely nothing except on a glitch or when the enemy was moving. People, like myself, who enjoyed sneaking up on enemy snipers (recon kit players) and knifing them in the back now had to actually shoot, hoping no one else heard the death and bullets firing. Secondly, and this was the only other in game complaint, rather than the 40mm grenade being a primary weapon, now rocket launchers took that mantle. In DICE's defense, they did decrease the kill radius of the rocket launchers, but did nothing to the damage against human targets. Why decreasing the kill radius increased the usage I cannot fathom, yet there you have it.

The other two large complaints came in the form of a lack of private servers being completely private. Currently, and the patch is coming out today or Monday on Steam, you need eight players for a private match. If you don't have that many friends, or friends that own BC2 and regularly play it, it really isn't great to be you. The second complaint is one that constantly evolves, as the consoles, PS3 and 360, received several updates while the PC got nothing. Add to this that a promotion and addition to the game, the SPECTACT kits, comes with the update, and you have a recipe for hatred and flame, which is exactly what DICE has.

What really exacerbated the whole problem is that DICE announced the update in early May, and it is only now, on June 23, that we actually get it. The huge delay, coupled with very little feedback till lately, and the continuing, lamer growing excuse of problems with Quality Assurance, did nothing to help DICE's case.

Now, one has to remember that when the update does in fact go live, a good portion of those people who wanted nothing more than proclaim DICE and EA as the worst game developer/publisher combination the world has ever known will undoubtedly shift their position completely around. DICE and EA, to them, will be the greatest community responders the world offers, and when called on their change in viewpoint will deny and circle the point until someone finds themselves banned.

On a more recent topic, BC2 Onslaught mode. On the surface this seems like a really novel idea. Four player co-op against AI opponents until the entire squad is overwhelmed. New and interesting, except Valve did it with Left 4 Dead two years ago. What saves DICE from being just ripping off Valve is the uniqueness of their class setups. In L4D, each player has exactly the same skills, whereas in BC2, there are medics, assaults, engineers and recons, each of which bring something different to the table. As I understand it, Onslaught mode has no goal, only survival. You keep going until each and every one of you dies with no hope of revival. If this means that entire squads will be medic and constantly revive one another remains to be seen, but somehow I think the game will make players chose one of the four kits and stick with it, making a team of four using all kits.

Either way, it'll be interesting.

Thanks for reading,

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