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State of the Game: Battlefield 4, JUNE 2014 (XBOX 360) Part 5: HOPE?

Battlefield 4

THE PLAYER BASE FEELS DIFFERENT
Adding to my disillusionment, BF4 seems to have attracted an abundance of CoD kiddies and playing with general population is not the same experience it was for me in BF3.

Too many kills by Snipers and classes running around with Designated Marksman Rifles (a poor game mechanics choice by DICE, IMHO). In Domination people tend to stick on the outside of the map and pick off people capping the flags while your own Snipers are never savvy enough to realize their first priority should be the enemy Snipers. It’s so bad Domination is now my least favorite game mode.

IS THERE HOPE?
Despite my many grievances with BF4 I still find it fun to play, but only with friends.

When I’m alone I find myself playing BF3 or something else entirely. I still believe the single player campaign was well worth the $25 I spent on a used copy. However, considering the lack of servers I’m starting to feel like the $50 I spent on Premium was too much.

In my naivety I thought I would do my part to support the developers because I believe (still do) BF4 is a step in the right direction for the franchise, but I forgot about the corporate douche-nozzles operating Electronic Arts. I was stupid to think they would actually fix the game before implementing cash cows like rented servers and purchasable Battlepacks. I was stupid to think they would not repeat their actions of May 2012 and manufacture predicaments in which people are gently forced to buy servers.

I should have waited till Premium went on sale and so should you.

They’ll fix most of the game eventually and lately the game has been a lot more stable, but they’ve made their money and are not obligated to fix anything. It’s a shitty reality we all must face in the current onslaught of laissez-faire mediocrity ruled crapitalism. All things considered, Battlefield 4’s biggest problem on the 360 is the dwindling player base.

Would more players equate to more available official servers? I don’t know. I’ve worked in marketing and the strategy is always the same. They never do the righteous thing to get you to buy their product. They trick you into buying it or create dilemmas that give you little choice. The printer is only $99, but the ink carts are $50 and you need four of them. The game is only $60, but you’ll want the DLC which is another $60 (you can bet your friends will be playing it!) Wait in queue to play a match or buy your own server.

Marketing people are some of the biggest and most dishonest scumbags on the face of this planet and the older I get the more I tire of their mind games. If it wasn’t for my friends playing BF4, I honestly would have left it alone considering the well deserved negative press surrounding it (another paradigm that works in EA’s favor).

Despite my reservations, I’m glad I did take the chance on it. There’s so much I like about it. It plays different, maybe not better, but I like the changes. The maps are much better designed. The award system, while a total fucking Skinner Box, keeps me entertained and pining for the next Battlepack or unlock.

I can deal with the bugs; occasionally getting shot while safely behind cover; the console crashing; the CoD Kiddies. All that is easily rectified by one loud exclamation of ‘ARE YOU ‘EFFING KIDDING ME?‘ to which my wife yells ‘STFU‘, and with my frustration vented I’m back in the game.

What’s a little hard to deal with is spending over $70 on the gamemost of it on content I haven’t actually received yetin addition to a monthly Xbox Live fee, and I can’t find decent servers to play on quick enoughif at all. I don’t have time to waste waiting in a queue for a game. And that’s just the crux of it.

Besides EA and DICE doing the right thing and putting more official servers into play, the only thing that could possibly fix this is a hearty influx of new players. This won’t happen until they release the BF4 Premium edition, and even then I would suggest everyone wait for it to go on sale for about $35 before they buy into this game because I suspect, at the rate they are going, you’ll have to spend more of your hard-earned money on a rented server if you plan on actually playing the game.

It’s not a terrible game and I will continue to play it. Hell, I even made a kick-ass tDCS BF4 Stats graphic to sign off my BF Diaries articles with! You can’t tell me I’m not a fan of this great game. I still strongly recommend the game with a price caveat (do not spend more than $50 on the Premium edition), though my reasons are selfish; the game needs more players. Specifically, the game needs more Battlefield Veterans to come back.

State of the Game: Battlefield 4, JUNE 2014 (XBOX 360) Part 4: Server Evidence Conclusions

BF4PRICELESSYou’re back! I thank you for sticking with this State of the Game article for this long. I wish I had the time (and willpower) to physically document a ton more research. You’ll have to take my word that I’m a pretty fair and honest guy and while I haven’t been going to the lengths I went to on the 29th, I assure you the data is pretty consistent whenever I pause and take a quick look on Battlelog during my busy day or when start up BF4 to see what the server situation is before playing something else. The official servers are few and far between.

What could be causing this? Microsoft and Xbox Live were having server problems during the time I compiled this research, but that would not account for the problem appearing right after they started renting servers.

Could it be the code? Maybe. You’ll see some of the searches for Carrier Assault turned up the occasional Obliteration or Rush game server as well. It’s apparent much of BF4 was rushed out the door to compete with CoD Ghosts and Battlelog is not as polished as it could be. Maybe the official servers are there and they just aren’t showing up when you look for empty ones.

Maybe it’s the way DICE and EA have it programmed. Does the system “intelligently” add an official server when all the available servers are full? I see no evidence of this and if that is the gist of the way it works, it sucks. Most people who log on and see full servers are going to look for another game mode rather than wait in queue. How would the system determine more servers are needed unless there are extended queues?

Maybe it’s all just part of their whole gimped game problem and will be fixed in time. Maybe it’s a bean counter thing, the sales figures don’t add up so reduce the server count and save electricity. Maybe they are in the process of adding new servers? Maybe half the servers are down while they take the time to properly update them?

I certainly want to be optimistic, but EA’s track record does not endow me with much confidence.

PROFIT AT ANY COST (TO YOU)
The ulterior motive is glaringly apparent. A corporation’s only goal is to make profit for its stockholders. Servers cost money to maintain which the corporation sees as cutting into their profits and not simply the price of doing business. PC gamers have been paying for their own servers in Battlefield since Battlefield God knows When and they are quick to mention this whenever console gamers moan about purchasing servers.

PCGbatSlapBut PC gamers don’t pay a monthly fee just to be able to play the multiplayer aspect of a game on Xbox Live. Multiplayer is the only reason to have an Xbox Live Gold membership. Live members are already paying for their servers and have been for a while.

This is the long game for EA. Ten years from now gamers will forget servers were once considered part of the price of the game. Paying an additional $200 a year to play a game they purchased for $100 will be considered normal. The only question is, with the way Internet Service Providers are savagely raising their fees, will gamers be able to afford such a game ten years from now?

Let’s say all that is a little far fetched and their goal is more modest. EA and DICE simply need to sell servers to make up for poor BF4 sales and the overtime needed to fix the game in a timely manner (if they even care about fixing the game in a timely manner).

The history of rented Battlefield servers on Xbox is one filled with bad memories that still sit strong in the minds of many adult Xbox Battlefielders. Friends being ‘team balanced’ despite numerous verbal pleas to leave your squad alone. No using this, that and that gun on a Tuesday during a full moon. No shooting the admin’s clan with IGLAs or Stingers while they are decimating your team from the sky. No shooting the admin more than once in a match. Kicked for this. Kicked for that. Kicked for friends…

So it goes without saying most people out there avoid rented servers like the plague. But the idea of having your own server with your own rules is very appealing and countless people are sure to try it for a few days at least. It’s doubtful they will return after the server sat empty for most of those days. The solution? Eliminate official servers thereby forcing players onto the rented ones.

THINGS AREN’T ALL BAD THIS TIME AROUND
Rented servers were more miss than hit on BF3, but I will concede the Admin Douche-Bucket paradigm is less of a factor in BF4.

As I’ve stated before in this article, I am thankful a majority of  server admins are not compounding the problem further by demanding ludicrous and often insane rules on their servers. In fact, quite a few servers have ‘NO RULES’ clearly stated in their message which is often followed by a ‘don’t be a douche’ caveat; a perfectly reasonable request in my books.

I thank those admins from the bottom of my heart. Your efforts to not be totalitarian douche-nozzles is duly noted. However, you can still be booted ‘to make room for friends’ on many of these servers. Something I feel they have the right to do even though I wouldn’t do it myself nor would I request a friend with a server make room for me in such a fashion.

Finding an official server was not a problem before they started renting servers. I can’t reiterate that enough. Before rented servers went live there were tons of official servers. And while the data does reflect a decent amount of rented servers to choose from, they are full most of the time and taking the time to vet them for obnoxious rules and jumping in before those few available slots fill up is another story entirely. Add a squad of friends into the mix and you’re in for one hell of a stormy ride.

Thank you for reading and please come back tomorrow for the final part of this State of the Game article when I will discuss the changing player base and the hope I have for this game.

State of the Game: Battlefield 4, JUNE 2014 (XBOX 360) Part 3: MIA SERVERS; The evidence

ServerQuestThe day they announced rented servers had gone live was the day finding an official server became exercises in patience and persistence. After two weeks of this nonsense I decided to document the problem. After about a day of documenting the problem I decided that it’s really not worth my time. I’m not married to this rant (which is honestly a legitimate complaint).

I must make it absolutely clear I am enjoying Battlefield 4 and I can deal with the bugs (which are all slowly and surely getting fixed). Alas, I can only truly enjoy the game when I can actually find a game. And therein lies the problem.

The following data I collected on May 29th 2014. I’m using Carrier Assault because this is where the problem is most noticeable. I was going to place the screen shots in the actual article but that would make the piece excessively long and difficult to read. I’ve presented my evidence in text with links embedded in the dates to the screenshots at Photobucket.

The following was very briefly compiled after a night of gaming. I took the screenshots with my HTC Amaze and the in-game search settings I used were: Free Slots – All checked (including full servers); Server Type: Official, Ranked; Preset: Normal; Region – US East & West.

5/29/2014 @ 12:55 AM
– OFFICIAL SERVERS: 0 (ZERO)
— RENTED SERVERS: 3, 1 w/ 4 slots, 2 w/ 23 slots,  1 with a NO RPG caveat in server description

5/29/2014 @ 12:57 AM
– OFFICIAL SERVERS: 0 (ZERO)
— RENTED SERVERS: 7, 5 full, 1 w/ 2 slots, 1 w/ 23 slots and NO RPG caveat in server description

I was going to stay up longer but decided this would be easier using Battlelog on my PC the next day. Though I have only used two examples here they are indicative of my in-game search results for Carrier Assault since DICE/EA started renting servers; ZERO OFFICIAL SERVERS!

The next day I would periodically check in on the Battlelog Multiplayer Server Browser and take screen shots of the data. The Search settings I used were: Mode – Carrier Assault; Free Slots – None, 1-5, 6-10, 10+, All; Type – Official, Ranked.

Keep in mind that there is no option to select region on the Battlelog Multiplayer Server Browser and there is no way for me to see if the rented servers have ridiculous rules so I did not include their details in the text data (I did not edit them out of the screen shots). The focus of this complaint is the amount of OFFICIAL servers available. Keep in mind that servers with 1-3 open slots will fill up fast and throw you into a queue more often than not.

5/29/2014 @ 3:00 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 4, 3 full, 1 w/ 23 slots, all 4 w/ crappy PINGS
— RENTED SERVERS: 8, 3 full, 1 w/ 1 slot, 2 w/ 3 slots,  1 w/ 6 slots, 1 w/ 23 slots

5/29/2014 @ 3:10 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 3,  all full, all w/ crappy PINGS
— RENTED SERVERS: 9, mostly full

5/29/2014 @ 3:20 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 4, 3 full, 1 empty but it’s a RUSH server! (the search is for CA)
— RENTED SERVERS: 7, 6 full, 2 w/ queues
* It’s worth noting that someone called their server THE LAST PREMIUM SERVER *CARRIER ASSAULT*… Irony?

5/29/2014 @ 3:30 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 3, all full and w/ crappy PINGS
— RENTED SERVERS: 8, mostly full, 1 w/ queue

5/29/2014 @ 3:35 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 3,  1 w/ queue, 1 w/ 1 slot, 1 w/ 5 slots, all with crappy PINGS
— RENTED SERVERS: 8, mostly full

5/29/2014 @ 5:35 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 3, all full, 1 w/ crappy PING, 2 w/ really crappy PINGS
— RENTED SERVERS: 11, mostly full

5/29/2014 @ 6:15 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 4, 1 full w/ really crappy PING, 1 w/ 1 slot, 1 w/ 4 slots, 1 w/ 23 slots, and all 3 w/ crappy PINGS
— RENTED SERVERS: 10, mostly full

5/29/2014 @ 6:50 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 3, 2 full, 1 w/ 6 slots | all 3 w/ really crappy PINGS
— RENTED SERVERS: 11, mostly full

5/29/2014 @ 7:30 PM
— OFFICIAL SERVERS: 3, 1 w/ 1 slot, 2 w/ 7 slots and all 3 w/ really crappy PINGS
— RENTED SERVERS: 10, all full, 1 w/ queue

5/29/2014 @ 8:34 PM
OFFICIAL SERVERS: 3, 1 full w/ really crappy PING, 1 w/ 15 slots, 1 w/ 1 slot and BOTH w/ unbelievably crappy PINGS.
RENTED SERVERS: 13, mostly full, most w/ crap PINGS.

5/29/2014 @ 8:50 PM
OFFICIAL SERVERS: 4, 1 Defuse… WTF? 3 w/ 3, 6, and 19 slots ALL w/ unbelievably crappy PINGS.
RENTED SERVERS: 12, mostly full, some w/ queues all with crap PINGS

Regarding the PING rates: I have a solid Comcast XFINITY connection, but I suspect the piss-poor PING rates are due the fact the only official servers are not located in the USA (these servers do not show up in the in-game server browser with only US East & West servers selected). I will also concede the severely poor PINGS occurred during peak hours which is more of a testament to our crap internet infrastructure than anything else. “Murican exceptionalism at its finest, folks!

Still, I believe with just half a day’s worth of documented research I have succinctly proved my point. There are few, if any, official DICE/EA servers to go around.

Thank you for reading and please come back tomorrow for part four when I will discuss what we can glean from this research.

State of the Game: Battlefield 4, JUNE 2014 (XBOX 360) Part 2: MIA SERVERS

 ServerQuestTHE FABULOUS RETURN OF THE
GREAT BF3 SERVER FIASCO OF MAY 2012
There does not seem to be enough servers. Official or rented (at times). Search for servers with 1-10 or zero players in them and you’ll find none (in BF3 there are always empty servers). For game modes like Carrier Assault you will find mostly full games and be forced to wait in queue.

This problem only showed up right after the addition of rental servers. One would think I’d have more to say on the subject, but I’m an adult and I should have known better. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… DICE pulled this stunt on BF3. They just rinsed and repeated the standard corporate sponsored customer buggery and this time they may have no intention of fixing the problem. All the YouTubers who would normally cry fowl have moved on to NextGen (thanks to our support) and besides them having their own server problems, they no longer give a rat’s arse what happens on Xbox 360.

THE ADMIN POWER TRIP IS NOTICEABLY ABSENT
Thankfully the server problem is not being compounded by an influx of douche-nozzle admins this time. You’ll still have the 6 hour long games in Metro to watch out for, but at least I haven’t been kicked for using an IGLA on an Admin Flyb0y69… … … YET!

It could be the daft sods throwing their money away on rented servers are aware of the limited player base and have turned down their Power-Trip-Douche-Dials from eleven to about an even 5. Still, you’ll run the gambit of “getting kicked for friends” which may happen more often than not considering the actual amount of available servers in certain game modes and DLC.

Not enough official servers is my biggest grievance with DICE and EA on BF4. As a Premium member (who also pays an Xbox Live monthly fee), I should not have to wait in a queue and there should be at least 5 OFFICIAL DICE or EA empty servers for any game mode available at all times. As I said, fool me twice!

I UNDERSTAND IT’S PLAYER POPULATION AS WELL
The Xbox BF4 player population was split from the start with some people moving to the XBOX ONE right away. However, globally the Xbox 360 edition of BF4 far outsold the Xbox ONE version. Using sales figures alone there should be a ton more servers on the 360 than there is.

Then there are the droves of people that left the game in disgust and the typical corporate knee-jerk reaction to such a dilemma. Seeing the population falter, the bean counters may have decided to cut back on official servers in a vain effort to force the more loyal player base to rent a server in order to find a game they want to play. This time EA doesn’t have to worry about popular YouTube gamers reporting on this. It’s a win-win for Electronic Arts and a giant f%#k you to their customers. EA is really good at giant F%#K YOU(S) to their customers.

A few years ago I would have ranted about this to the point of veins bursting inside my head. I just don’t give a shit anymoreFirst World Problems and all thatthis time I’m shouldering the responsibility. When it comes right down to it I have no right to be upset. I just have to consider my experiences when purchasing any future products from these companies.

Not that I believe I’ll have any affect on the market. The free market is now the stockholder. EA proved this when they ignored player complaints about their broken game and only acted to acknowledge the bugs and fix BF4 after the stockholders threatened to sue them. This isn’t about sticking to the man. This is about saving myself from utter disappointment in the future. Corporations are entrenched in greed fueled single-minded tunnel vision and the mindless consumer masses are nothing but ATM machines. ATM machines with very low standards. The sheer amount of consumers in the world works against those very same customers. EA plays the odds, and odds are most of consumers don’t care much about product quality or truly understand the technology of what they purchase and therefore what they should expect. All is well in LaLa Land as long as it turns on or loads up.

All that said, the lack of servers is disheartening. Carrier Assault is by far my favorite game mode these days. Servers for it are few and only one of my regular gaming friends has the DLC. Not that it would make a difference if more of my friends had it… It would just make trying to find a server with enough spots and no idiotic admin rules that much harder to find.

Thank you for reading and please come back tomorrow for part three when I will present evidence of the missing servers.

State of the Game: Battlefield 4 JUNE 2014 (XBOX 360) Part 1: Interface Woes

BF4BUGSI’ve come to the conclusion there are enough bugs in the entire game to re-shoot the scene in Temple of Doom were Kate Capshaw had to stick her hand in a hole full of creepy crawlers which, coincidentally, is exactly how I feel when I start up BF4 sometimes!

The first draft of this article had me complaining about the console crashing bugs on certain maps. That draft was over a week old and I’m pleased to say the console crashing is happening a lot less frequently lately. YAY DICE! Good job, and thank you. That said, it does still crash… Look, I’m trying to throw DICE a bone here!

Other bugs still exist. There is something fishy with the netcode (they have increased the tick rate on their Community Test Environment, we’ll see if this helps consoles any sometime soon). You will be shot while 100% behind cover. The death cam needs tweaking. Avatars will moonwalk on their butts across the map. Lots of ways for Snipers to glitch. And many of the weapons need balancing. I am confident DICE will address most of these issues in time. Despite my unusual optimism, I persistently wonder if I wasted my money on Premium, but not because of the bugs. I can deal with the bugs.

The real dilemma is finding a game.

From the poorly designed interface to an appalling lack of official servers (which only happened after they rented servers, kowinky-dink?), just finding and getting into a game is a wee bit vexing at times.

WHO DESIGNED THE INTERFACE?
The interface is cut and pasted from the PC version. The fact you can’t adjust your soldier/vehicle loadout without being in a game is not only frustrating, it is one of the single most stupid design decisions in the history of console gaming.

I suppose the implementation of a more robust Battlelog experience was meant to alleviate this. In reality it’s totally useless unless you have a PC or tabletpreferably a PC Tabletnext to you while you play and even then it’s more of an exercise in tedium than a leap in innovation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool feature—it would be better if I could access things like soldier presets from inside the game.

The Squad Up feature has finally returned. It’s half-assed. It will throw you into a rented server without giving you the opportunity to vet it and chances are it’ll be some crack-pilot’s server with the no IGLA or Stinger rule. Squad Up needs more robust search options or have rented servers eliminated from its search entirely until they do add more robust options.

JOINME

WARNING: MAY CAUSE SEIZURES!

The best way to find a game on a reliable server with a group of friends is have them select you on the ‘epileptic fit waiting to happen screen‘ and join on you when you’ve found a game with enough empty spaces (good luck with that).

The folks at DICE would do well to study the life and times of Steve Jobs a bit because searching for a server is a convoluted process. Continuity, fluidity, ergonomic functionality, all these things and more are absent from the interface design.

There’s no way to search for only DICE or EA servers (though I concede, this is probably on purpose). The map selection column is painful to look at with no option to quickly select specific DLC or the just core maps (for those times when your friends have none or some of the DLC). The problems run deeper into the coding; the search results aren’t always what you asked for, and as if that wasn’t enough, the game often erases your search settings.

When you do finally manage to successfully navigate the game’s clunky interface and find a game, you’ll end up in a queue…

Thank you for reading and please come back tomorrow for part two when we will discuss the lack of official servers on the 360.

State of the Game: Battlefield 4, MAY 2014 (XBOX 360) – Part 2

Battlefield 4Welcome to part 2 of my Battlefield 4 State of the Game article.

BUGS AND FREEZES?
Not going to lie, everyone I’ve played with has experienced everything from game crashing to console crashing problems. The map Dawnbreaker consistently crashes for everyone, though it has been stable for TDM matches (a smaller map). There does not seem to be any rhyme or reason for it, it will crash if there is a lot of action on the screen and it will crash if you are standing back at your empty base deciding a better plan of attack. This is unacceptable and DICE must fix this. Dawnbreaker is a great map and I would love to make it through a round with having to restart my Xbox.

Installing the game to your hard drive may belay crashing issues a little. Maybe delete all the updates, clear the cache on the drive and download the updates again if you’ve had the game since release. With a fresh May 2014 install of BF4 (I installed both disks) I have not experienced as many crashes as I thought I would, very few in fact. I’m not saying that I have the solution, only that it is something you should take the time to try if you are experiencing severe problems.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE TICKRATE (NETCODE)?
For those not tech savvy, the tickrate is basically how often the computers update player’s positions on the map. Counter Strike’s is something like 100, while BF4’s is 10. However, there is no concrete proof that all the rubber-banding, and oddball happenings (like getting shot from behind a concrete wall or by an enemy that had his back turned to you) is solely due to the tickrate. I will say the low refresh rate of player positions is most noticeable on the mini-map making it very unreliable and pretty much useless.
All in all, I haven’t noticed anything game breaking here and the one thing I do know from my years of gaming is sometimes the Lag Gods favor you and sometimes they curse you. Most of the time the game is pretty stable on the 360.

If you’re experiencing severe lag issues go into your BF4 Options and look under the gameplay tab for Network Smoothing Factor and reduce it to ZERO. It seems to work for me and I have not noticed a degradation in graphics or experienced any visual errors the description of this setting suggests. Never do QUICK MATCH. Browse the servers and only join ones with three bars or higher. And do what the “pros” do if you’re having a really bad game, back-out of it and find another server.

That being said, the game is frustrating at times. Especially when you can’t find your groove and it seems like everyone is shooting you from impossible positions on the map. I don’t know if it’s shoddy netcode, the kill cam showing the enemy’s position too far after the fact, or just that I haven’t found my gun and my go to class yet. It’s probably a little of all of these factors and then some.

THEY DID A LOT OF THINGS RIGHT
Overall it’s an improvement on the series. There’s plenty of game modes right out of the box and the maps are much better designed, even the DLC maps. Except for Flood Zone which is a sniper camp fest for every class now that DMRs are in the game. It’s my Tehran Highway at this point. I hated Tehran Highway. Naval Strike is probably the best expansion in the history of the franchise. Progression through the game is fun and rewarding. Getting a new Battlepack every few levels is like getting a neat little gift for your efforts and the rewards in them are not game changing, just fun camos and different sights for the guns.

NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THE SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN
They did, but no one liked it. Gamers are fussy little gits harder to please than a Reagan loving Conservative pissed off with the right of Reagan black guy in the White House. BF4’s single player campaign was simply amazing. A far cry from the half-arsed forgettable crap that was in BF3. It’s well written, well acted and played wonderful. It’s been a while since a game pulled on my heartstrings enough to draw a tear and honestly, the single player alone was worth the $23 I spent. I don’t care what anyone says. The single player experience may have been short, but it was one hell of a ride. The only thing that would have made it better was if they implemented a slight roleplaying mechanic into it, so that your character could respond to the people talking to him. Like this one time the Marines on your ship were griping about something humane your teammate did; it would have been nice to tell them to fuck off, we’re Americans, helping people is what we do. Another disappointment was its Fallout 3 ending. The game gives you some choices but leaves out the most obvious one, like sending the Mutant companion into the radiated area to hit a simple switch, only in reverse, and you’re not a mutant, and the area isn’t radiated.

IS IT WORTH GETTING?
On the Xbox 360 I would say yes. I loved it so much I promptly went and blew the rest of my gaming budget for the year on Premium. If you’ve been following tDCS for any amount of time you would know that I’m one frugal gamer. For me to blow that much money on just DLC for a game is strange, especially considering my history with the franchise!

The game can be frustrating, but like I said, I’m not sure if it is frustrating for me because I don’t have everything unlocked yet and I haven’t found the guns, kits and play style that works for me in BF4 or if the netcode and programming is too shoddy. This past weekend was especially frustrating as I saw my stats go down faster than Bristol Palin on prom night. I suspect it had a little to do with it being a double XP Premium event and a lot of the ubers were on trying to squeeze a level or two to brag about, and I was experimenting with different guns on my assault class.

Yes, I’m worried they won’t fix the game. I’m worried they will push out the final DLC, say goodbye and leave all the bugs and the game unbalanced ala Modern Warfare 2. I’m worried I may have blown the rest of my gaming budget on a digital drinks coaster. We are talking about Electronic Arts after all.

If you are on the fence about BF4 I would suggest getting a used copy off Amazon for under $25. It is most definitely worth that much. If you like it grab a map pack or two or just get Premium. We all have to be smarter consumers. It’s why I bought the game used. It’s why you may want to wait until the Premium Edition is released and save a bit of money.

If you are looking for a new shooter, fear not, despite its problems Battlefield still blows CoD away.

State of the Game: Battlefield 4, MAY 2014 (XBOX 360) – Part 1

Battlefield 4After some glowing recommendations from a few of my BF3 friends on Xbox Live, I decided to test the waters of Battlefield 4 and purchased a used copy off Amazon for $23.

The following are my honest observations about the game on the Xbox 360 after playing it for a week. While I’ve had issues with Battlefield 3 in the past and I am certainly no friend of Electronic Arts, I am hard pressed to condemn this game on the Xbox 360. At the same time I do see some severe issues that must be fixed. However, if you are thinking about getting BF4 for the Xbox 360 don’t let all the negative press influence your decision.

GRAPHICS ON THE 360
One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard regarding the 360 version of BF4 since launch is the graphics are terrible on the 360. This could not be further from the truth.

Graphic-wise I’m not seeing anything on next gen consoles that is knocking me off my feet yet. This will change in a year or so when developers are more familiar with the hardware. Consider the games Oblivion (which was one of the first games released on the last gen) and Skyrim. Same hardware, but two very different looking games in terms of quality, eye-popping graphics. The biggest difference between Xbox One and the 360 version is 64 players and for most of you this will not translate into more people for you to kill, but more people to kill you.

Richly detailed graphics will blend into the background once you start getting into the game. I’m not saying they don’t matter, or the game won’t look better on the Xbox One. Only that after the initial wow factor is over and you’re getting shot at you’ll have 32 other things to worry about on Xbox One.

It’s certainly a different color scheme. Brighter. Considering some of the locales it should be expected. China likes its reds and golds, and Asian cities are full of neon (compared to the washed out sand look of BF3). It will take a bit to get used to if you’ve had your eyes glued to the washed out desert look of BF3 for the past few years.

THE INTERFACE DOES HAVE MANY SHORTCOMINGS
The interface is another story. It’s clunky, not cluttered, but difficult to navigate and there is a huge chance of getting an epileptic fit while trying to join one of your friends. Why they left out the ability to squad up before you get into the game is mind-boggling. And why they left out the option to equip your soldier from the main screen without having to actually be in a match is one of the single most asinine decisions in the history of gaming.

The interface seems to be designed around the misplaced idea that everyone buying BF4 also owns a high-end tablet or has a PC sitting right next to their game console. Adjusting my loadout in Battlelog while I work on this review on my computer is a breeze. However, trying to utilize this feature on my Galaxy Tab during the match is an exercise in tedium. By the time the device responds to my inputs the situation on the battlefield has changed and I just spawned in with smoke when the team really needed another medic.

The Battlelog system does have one fantastic feature. It will allow you to save 2 loadouts for each class (4 if you have Premium) so you can adjust to the SITREP on the fly. Alas, even this has some major design flaws. If you want to adjust your preset loadout you have to delete the loadout you want to change and save it again rather than just save the new adjustment over it and it won’t save different gun loadouts along with the preset. You also can not access these presets from inside the game, you have to use an external device. The more I think about it the more I believe that this Battlelog system is still in pre-beta and we are paying for the privilege of debugging it.

My biggest gripe is not being able to squad up with my friends before we find a match. I’m not the overtly competitive type who sees everything and everyone as a challenge, I don’t like shooting my friends and I really don’t like them shooting at me, but that’s the only way to get into a match and you just have to pray the game balances everyone onto the same team during the intermission. Sometimes it does. Most of the time it doesn’t.

GAMEPLAY IS NOT COD LIKE
Another complaint I’ve heard is BF4 is too much like CoD. Again, this is bullshit. Gunplay is faster paced than BF3. It does seem as though it takes fewer bullets to kill or be killed, but it’s still a far cry from CoD where someone just points their gun at you and you are dead. In terms of BF3, the whole game feels a little like Close Quarters and for me this is not a bad thing.

That being said, if you are used to BF3 it’s going to take a few days for you to adapt to BF4’s game mechanics. Snipers have C4 now (which they had in previous versions of Battlefield) and so far I haven’t noticed a negative affect on gameplay because of this. I’m not a huge fan of Snipers in these games; one shot, one kill is too powerful IMHO. But giving them C4 doesn’t make them any more or less OP.

Every class now has access to Designated Marksman Rifles (DMRs, basically sniper rifles without a long range scope), and I’m not sure how I feel about this. It’s very confusing to hear sniper rounds all around me and the kill cam showing me it was a Support guy that just raped me from half way across the map. Of course the BF4 gaming community wanted these weapons to have even longer range scopes. Thank the gaming Gods DICE disagreed. Snipers also requested their OP weapons be upgraded to penetrate body armor at close range to which DICE told them to bugger off because resisting bullet damage is exactly what body armor is supposed to do. I swear snipers are some of the whiniest little gits in gaming who won’t be satisfied until they can blindly fire their weapons in the general direction of the enemy, instantly killing all of them.

I’m sure gameplay needs some more balancing. Given all the release problems I doubt DICE has had much time for this. However, I’m not noticing any major issues. There’s the usual gripes and moans from pilots about anti-air devices being too powerful, along with the obligatory gamer cacophony about this weapon and that weapon. I’m not too worried about it. DICE has always been pretty good about game balancing (when they get around to it.)

Thank you for stopping by and reading this article. Please come back tomorrow for part 2 when I’ll discuss the netcode and lag issues of BF4.

Electronic Arts releases BF Premium details. Bend over everyone.

Cost: $49.99

WHAT YOU GET

Not even a reach-around, and you better bring your own K-Y gel.

  • WOOT, play expansions early. Seriously? This gets you excited? Pathetic.
  • Exclusive in-game items. Like a knife only you can see. And dog tags and camo that make you clearly stand out as a complete and total fool with far too much disposable income.
  • 5 themed expansion packs INCLUDING KARKAND (something you idiots already paid for.)
  • Reset your stats… … … Someone please explain to me the point of having stats now?
  • Increased platoon emblem layers and 10 “unique” decals. In order for this to be truly unique, you’d have to be the only one who bought the service.
  • Save up to five of your favorite Battlefield reports. For those of you who haven’t figured out how to use a printer yet. Is the clock still blinking on your VCR?
  • Strategy guides from the same dumb-asses who completely fail at testing their own game and patches. A feature that has been available for ages now on YouTube for free and delivered by more qualified people that know how to play the game.
  • EXCLUSIVE“events,” “videos,” and double XP weekends. You know? So you can gain another pointless level and pad your now completely irrelevant stats.
  • Undefined “additional bonus content.” In-game exclusive flip flops maybe?
  • More frequent patches… Yeah, NO, not really. I’m just fucking with you.

Good luck with that.

P.S. @Battlefielders, you don’t have to worry about your game turning into CoD anymore. At this rate it would have to lap the track quite a few times to run neck and neck with CoD.

Shibby talks EA’s BF3 shenanigans…

Is it you?
Is it you who’s been orchestrated?
Is it you?
Is it you who’s born frustrated?
~~~ Rancid, Born Frustrated

Apparently there was a rumor floating around that the Close Quarter DLC was going to be $30.

Rumor my ass.

Let me ‘splain this to you, Lucy. The rumor wasn’t floating around, it was floated around. EA’s paid forum trolls circulated the $30 DLC rumor to gauge how the community would react. They probably went into overtime replying to their own posts with comments like, “Hell yes I pay that! Wotta deal!” and “WOOT! dis DLC is gonna be like a boss!” and let’s not forget the ever popular and largely ignorant, “stop being poor and pay the $30.”

I guess the mindless consumer masses weren’t having it because according to an official EA press release the DLC is going to be $14.99.

That’s still a far cry from “We don’t ever want to charge for our maps and insisted to EA that this attitude was crucial when it came to keeping our community happy and playing together.”

Shibby talks about it and some other BF3 bullshit in the following video.

I’m so glad I pulled my “mule out of this trace.”

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