Battlefield 4 Afterthoughts: What Went Wrong?
Still Not Ready for Deployment
To call the launch of Battlefield 4 “rough” is like describing a plane ride through a hurricane as bumpy; the words don’t do the situation justice.Â Sadly, even a little more than a month after its initial release for the PC, there are still many bugs, glitches, and problems to be found and some are keeping many people from playing the game.Â From my experiences, I can compare the game’s technical progress to that of a roller coaster: an consistent alternation of up and down.
When the game works, it’s a roller coaster going up; full of anticipation and potential, but when old problems persist and take over, the roller coaster cart goes down, flies off the tracks and explodes on impact like a prop in a Michael Bay film.Â Upon seeing the game’s strange evolution and de-evolution over time, I couldn’t help but wonder why it happened, how it’s is acceptable, and what needs to be done to fix the game. And after much thought, I think I may have the answers.
Ghosts/Next-Gen/Santa Made Me Do It
When Battlefield 4 first came out, it was essentially a 95%-finished product in desperate need of some extra testing and polish.Â Consistent crashing, unstable servers, buggy hit detection, and plenty of glitches made the game almost unplayable for many and inaccessible for the rest.Â In short, this soldier wasn’t ready for the field, but the possible reason for early deployment is understandable.
The video game market is very competitive and even more so with the new Call of Duty out, the start of next generation consoles, and Christmas on the horizon.Â The reason for a rushed game is merely because somebody in corporate wanted to the game to get a head start before Ghosts and soak up next-gen/holiday sales.Â According to VGChartz, this strategy did not work out as planned as Call of Duty: Ghosts currently stands at the top three spaces of the global chart giving the game a decisive lead over Battlefield 4.
News of the game’s problems must have spread because the PC version isn’t even in the top 20.Â Despite the reason for an unfinished product being understandable, it still doesn’t make it acceptable by any means.
Products of the Digital Age
Back in the days of the cartridge and pre-Internet gaming, releasing an unfinished or buggy product usually meant some lazy and/or unfortunate game designer was guaranteed to be tarred and feathered, but now it is an easily forgiven crime in a world of online updates and patches.
The ability to change or fix something through the Internet is both a good thing and a bad thing.Â On one hand, a developer can change something later after receiving customer feedback as a means to enhance the game, on the other hand, being able to fix something means developers can be lazier with testing and just release a patch later if their game is broken; Battlefield 4 is the latter.
After reading through the game’s forums, and through personal experiences, the combined number of known and reported issues for all platforms is staggering.Â These aren’t endearing glitches like Skyrim’s flying cart intro, these are game-breaking glitches that ruin the entire experience; my least favorite being the one-shot kill glitch in which people are dropped by a single bullet due to stacked bullet damage.
It is understandable that the company would like to partake in holiday sales, but releasing an unfinished game is dishonest and wrong.Â In hindsight, it was probably smarter to release the games simultaneously after a little more testing due to sales numbers.Â Also, this move can cause possibly irreversible damage toÂ the franchise’s fanbase and dissuade customers unfamiliar with the company from buying future products. If Ubisoft could afford to hold back Watch Dogs than so should EA/DICE.
What’s baffling to me though, is that there was a beta, yet the game still released in shambles. What is even more baffling to me, is the beta played significantly better than the real game for the first couple of weeks. The last time I checked, finished products usually play better than the beta versions.
Hopefully, the outcry of angry gamers and less than satisfactory sales will serve as a lesson not just to EA/DICE, but to all developers as well to make sure their product is ready before being shipped out.Â In no other field would this be acceptable; a normal person would not accept a meal from a restaurant if the chef didn’t fully cook the food, nor should a person buy a piece of half-finished clothing. In the same way, gamers shouldn’t have to accept broken games.
Just because the game can be fixed in the future doesn’t mean it is right to release a broken and/or unfinished product.
Ideas for a Better Game
As one player stated in the forums, everyone should be talking about how the game should be fine-tuned to play better, not how to get it to work. Agreed, and I have my own ideas on how the game may be enhanced.
One problem I faced during my time with the game was crashing due to an overloaded browser. This problem was easily fixed by switching from Firefox to Chrome, but fixing the game so it fully supports all browsers isn’t the answer, it’s getting rid of the Battlelog.
I stated it in my review and I’ll state it again, using Origin with an Internet browser before launching the game is inefficient. The Battlelog is a neat idea, but also an unnecessary one; there is no reason for game stats, information, and loadout options to be found outside of the game itself. Considering how many plug-ins I’ve had to download thus far, it could be a distinct possibility this setup is the reason for so many technical problems.
Hit detection is another area the developers need to work on because sometimes it is all over the place.Â The “curved bullet,” as I call it, occurs upon moving around a corner, but still managing to get hit by a late bullet which is still an annoyance, especially when trying to get away from snipers. From what I have read, this is a Netcode problem.
Another example is emptying a clip directly into an enemy, seeing the visual effects of the bullets hitting (blood, dirt, and smoke), but not registering any damage before getting hit with the one-shot glitch. The last hit detection-ish problem occurs when trying to vault over obstacles, or more accurately, getting stuck on said obstacles. Nothing is more embarrassing and annoying like getting stuck on an object before getting lit up by every hunter in the area like you’re Daffy Duck.
The last big problem for me would be spawning on the smaller modes like Deathmatch and Domination. While the key feature of the game is Conquest, the smaller modes are a good way to level up weapons and can be a good starting point for gamers unfamiliar with the series. The only problem is the spawn system is atrocious.
Getting spawn-killed in Conquest is more the player’s fault than the game because players choose where to deploy, but not so much in the smaller modes. I consider spawn kills to be one of the worst problems to plague a multiplayer game and Battlefield 4 does it constantly. There has to be something wrong with the spawn system if it places players next to enemies multiple time during a match.Â I’m not sure what the spawn system’s issue is, but this and all the other problems need to be addressed.
Battlefield 4 isn’t in as bad a shape as it started, but it’s not as good as it could be either. This game does show how important testing is to the development process and how competition/seasonal sales can affect development as well. Regardless, Battlefield 4 is here and the faithful fans deserve to have a fully functional game. For anyone interested in Battlefield 4, it may be wise to wait until the game receives another patch or two before buying, especially on the PC. Until that day arrives, I await to see you on the battlefield.