Chapter 5.2 Update
I don’t like these changes. A great deal of weapons have way more white/orange bars than they do green which is alarming. The previous weapon balance was based on powerful bullets that lost their damage through a combination of damage drop-off and missing. This is how the weapons can maintain the feeling of firing lethal bullets while still having a way of varying effective damage output between different weapons.
This update has introduced way more raw damage drop-off and to compensate there have been numerous recoil reductions in either 20% or 50% increments depending on rate of fire. Furthermore, the weapons now have “high ROF” versions of projectiles which is indicative that DICE is moving away from caliber balance modulated by accuracy to simple ROF balance. Back in pre-release statements, the weapon design was supposed to be similar to BF3 and TTKs under 300ms. This is no longer true and most weapons have TTKs around 500ms. That is even longer than BO4’s 400ms standard and that already played terribly.
As many people have pointed out on sites like Reddit, the weapons no longer feel like guns. Rather, they feel like marshmallow guns, paintball guns, etc. They are super accurate but barely hurt your enemy. You are forced into hosing enemies down and this feels especially terrible when you have double-digit BTKs and a small magazine capacity.
When we talk about weapon balance, I think it’d be handy to re-read Sirlin’s definition on the matter:
A multiplayer game is balanced if a reasonably large number of options available to the player are viable–especially, but not limited to, during high-level play by expert players.
—Sirlin, December 2001
Looking over the arsenal, it’s actually difficult to give an immediate verdict on whether this is balanced or not. We are looking at changes affecting close to 40 weapons. A match-up chart would be pretty handy in figuring out how each weapon stacks up against each other but I don’t have an easy way of doing that at the moment. Instead, I will simply set aside the issue of whether this is balanced and talk about something more important: fun.
Let us assume that the new changes have made all the weapons super balanced against each other (each weapon has a strict 50% chance of winning or losing against any other weapon). Even if balance was accomplished the current weapons are not fun to play. It might be balanced that the FG42 takes 10 hits at one range and the MADSEN takes 6 hits but it is not fun to have to hose people down like that.
These changes are not particularly noob-friendly either. The longer TTKs require more tracking, more recoil control, and more aiming. Noobs won’t succeed at this. Good players will. The changes favor good players more than they favor noobs. Even if survivability has increased across the board, is the act of surviving really all that fun if it means they get less kills too?
Modern Warfare takes the direct opposite approach for helping noobs. The weapons kill faster so that noobs have an easier time winning engagements and feeling good. They realize that people appreciate getting kills more than they hate dying quickly. Moreover, the weapons feel good. It feels good to blast someone with the M4A1 and seeing them drop before they can blink. It doesn’t feel good to hose someone down with the MG42 and see them scurry off.
The only parts of the 5.2 changes (aside from bug-fixes and other minutiae) I enjoy are the increased ammo counts and the improved ShowNametag system. Keep those but please get rid of these damage models.
Use flatter damage models. I don’t mean a flat 10 damage or flat 12.5 damage either. I mean a flat 30 or even 45 damage. If you need damage drop-off, make it +2 BTK at the very most. kht and I have shown before that you can INCREASE the damage and simply let spread/recoil do all the work in damage modulation. Look at BF3 again. People loved the fast TTK there and appreciated how BFV targeted a similar feel.
This also means looking at Suppression again. BF3 had tremendous effective damage output with the HB + FG combo, especially on the M16A3. Yet ranged damage wasn’t necessarily a problem because Suppression existed. Suppression gave players a tool to mitigate enemy ranged damage output. Even if the weapon was normally a 6 hit kill, Suppression reduced the hitrate so much that far more than 6 shots would need to be fired. This is a better way of modulating ranged damage because it places the responsibility of the players’ survival on themselves. A head to head engagement would be protracted while an engagement where one player clearly had the upper hand in initiative or positioning would be over quickly.
If people are dying to people they cannot see, a BTK change alone won’t help. They will still be unable to identify their shooter even if they survive more often. I would think people are more angry that they are dying to an effectively invisible enemy more than the fact that they died quickly. The solution to dying to enemies you can’t see is to not have enemies you can’t see. Dying quickly isn’t even a problem either. Again look at BF3. Slowing down TTK so that people can try and return fire isn’t very helpful. Even if players can now turn around they are still starting off with a health deficit by the time they pull the trigger. They will still lose this fight, only it will be a slow and painful death instead of quick and painless one. Again, look at BF3. If you were in a bad spot, you died quickly but in a “fair fight” it’d drag on due to Suppression.
- Even if the changes are intended to improve balance, the accomplishment of that is dubious while the negative effect on fun is obvious
- Keep the increased ammo and improved ShowNametag
- Use strong, flatter damage models (3 BTK, 3-4 BTK, 3-5 BTK) modulated through spread/recoil
- Bring back Suppression as a player tool to reduce enemy ranged damage output
- Improve team communication and enemy visibility by bringing over all the Spotting systems from previous Battlefields and expanding on them
- Bring back full health regen and make it quick like Call of Duty instead of being insufferably slow or miniscule