PC Gaming

Battlefield 1 and the Changing of the Franchise

I’m thinking about making a Battlefield 1 video on YouTube, and have collected my thoughts here.  Read on.

The meta topic here is Battlefield 1 and my opinions of it and the franchise.  Before we get into that, let me provide some background so that you can understand where I’m coming from.  As of this post, I’ve just turned 44.  I’ve been playing First Person Shooters since the very first Doom game.  That was released in 1993, which means I was 20 at the time.  In other words: a young adult, not a teenager, and not a child.  Basically: I’m old.  I’ve been around.  Doom wasn’t my first PC game.  It was just the first game I played with a mouse and keyboard.  And I understood, at the time, that it was going to change everything.

I used that brief history lesson to give you an idea of the games I’ve seen and been around.  I’ll refer back to that from time to time during my rhetoric here.

Battlefield 1 has earned EA a bucket or two of cash.  It’s a very financially successful game.  There’s no question.  And while some popular opinions would lead you to believe the game is dying, it just isn’t.  I’m not playing it all that much any more, but a ton of other people still are.  Dice basically made the game people wanted, and people bought it and are playing it.

However, there’s a pile of folks who aren’t playing as much any longer, and those are the old BF vets.  I’m one of them.  I didn’t start with BF1942 because I was too heavily buried in Soldier of Fortune 2 and Unreal Tournament at the time.  But when Battlefield 2 launched, I was hooked.  And I’ve been hooked ever since.  I, like a lot of the vets, are fairly displeased with what we see.  Easy gun play, gadget and grenade spam, and no real focus on skillful play.  On a personal level, I never wanted to see a World War 1 game, nor another World War 2 game, nor a Vietnam era game.  I prefer modern day shooters with modern day weaponry and vehicles.  But that’s just me.  The main point is: the game is a bit too easy for the scrubs to pick up and play, and not rewarding enough for the more skilled players.

This decline in the entire franchise began in BF3.  Remember the SOFLAM or Laser Designator, and the guided shells?  A clanmate and I would sit in a tank, me in the driver’s seat and he in the third seat.  He’d spot a helicopter, I’d shoot it down with the guided shell.  Over and over.  We’d have hit teams out to try and get us because we were pissing the heli pilots off so badly.  Thinking back on it, it feels slimy to have done that.  But that was just the beginning.

Battlefield 4 took it to a whole new level.  Grenades everywhere.  Multiple rocket and grenade launchers.  UCAVs.  Mortars.  All of these things were spammy and not very skillful.

Now with Battlefield 1 here, it’s more of the same.  Mortars, gas grenades, incendiary grenades, and other garbage.  And people are using these silly crutches in the game, to a massive extent.

Let’s go back a bunch of years.  A lot of the first person shooters I played as a younger adult all had a super weapon of some sort.  Quake 2 had the BFG10K.  Unreal Tournament had the Redeemer.  They all had something that would obliterate a pile of folks in one fell swoop.  They were weapons that people DIDN’T USE.  Why?  Because everyone playing knew they were garbage, and the community of players would literally shame people OUT of using them.  If someone in a UT game used the Redeemer, the in-game chat would instantly turn against him and he wouldn’t use it again.  Basically, players had a sense of honor about them.

As an aside, the phrase “Noob Tube” actually started with Solder of Fortune 2.  It referred to the M203 launcher that was mounted under the M4 rifle.  If you used it, you were shamed non-stop until you switched weapons to the AK or the MP5.  No one escaped that in-game shaming, either.  And it had a positive effect because of the aforementioned honor.

That honor is long gone in most players today.  People will use any crutch that the game provides them to get an advantage over their counterparts on the other team.  That means more gadgets, more spam, and more cheese basically.  Less gun play.

And it’s what people want.

This is going to seem like an odd connection to video gaming, but again I plead for your patience and attention.  I have another passion and that’s Corvettes.  I’ve been driving them since I was 23 and I love them.  Each new generation of Corvette brings a bunch of new awesomeness that the previous generation didn’t or couldn’t have.  My 2017 Corvette is, far and away, the best one I’ve ever owned.

But wow, did the new car receive a mixed reception when it was introduced in 2013.  A lot of people hated its appearance, specifically the ass end of it.  “It’s a Corvette and it’s supposed to have round tail lights!” was one of the very common complaints.  And as it turns out, the vast majority of the people complaining were: old timers.  But General Motors knew that.  The thing is, they also knew that the people bitching about the car’s appearance, ie the old timers, were getting: older.  We all are.  And those older folks at some point will stop buying Corvettes.  Out of necessity.

GM understood that they had to move the needle on the average buying age downward.  They had to make a car that would appeal to younger folks.  That doesn’t mean younger folks in their 20s would run right out and buy a Corvette.  But they’d at least think about the car.  And the guys in their 30s and 40s might actually run out and buy one.  This meant that the Corvette would continue as a viable car because it wasn’t only attractive to the old timers.

Can you see the connection?  Dice can’t keep making the game us old BF vets want because there’s going to become a point when us old BF vets are too old to be playing video games.  That’s a different age for each individual, mind you.  But there is a point in every gamer’s life where they’ll say, “Ya know what?  I’m actually too old for this shit.”  If Battlefield is to survive as a franchise, they simply can’t continue to only cater to us old timers.  They have to draw younger gamers in.  BF1 may be their attempt to draw a bunch of younger folks in that have no sense of video gaming honor and think it’s perfectly OK to abuse spammy weapons and gadgets.

Now remember, these are my opinions based on my observations of the gaming world for 24 years, give or take.  You might not agree with them, and that’s perfectly OK.

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