December 23, 2013

Gadget Guides

We are working on some new gadget guides over at BF4blog.com to cover all the kit gadgets in Battlefield 4.  Be sure to check them out.  I am also starting to create videos to accompany the guides.  The first is on the recon laser designators (PLD, SOFLAM, and SUAV):


December 13, 2013

Tyrannosaurus vs. Megalodon

Everyone and their brother (at least in the r/battlefield_4 Reddit community) is out on Rogue Transmission and Paracel Storm looking for a giant easter egg hinted at by a DICE developer.  Many are very hopeful that this easter egg will be some sort of trigger that releases a Tyrannosaurus Rex on Rogue Transmission or a Megalodon on Paracel Storm.

The "hints" thus far have been a variety of confirmations and trolls.  All we really know is that there is something out there, and it was added as a secret by an individual developer.  Other comments from DICE employees about it have indicated it is likely triggered by one player, but can be seen or heard by all players on the server.  While those looking seem certain it is on one of those two maps, it seems to me it could be anywhere; I am not convinced it is as narrowed down as they seem to think.

I am really curious to see what this Easter egg is. Although these Dino and shark ideas are cool (and certainly consistent with a lot of the hints, etc from DICE), I am going to throw out the random idea that maybe it is a button somewhere on Hainan Resort that triggers a fireworks display. That would certainly be a good map for something seen by the whole server, and who wouldn't notice a fireworks display in the middle of a battle and go, "WTF?"

Anyway, I might just find an empty server and join in on the search this weekend, though I might be searching places others are not simply because they seem to have those two maps well covered.  Regardless of what it is, this has certainly been an entertaining search to watch.  For more, be sure to check out Reddit.

December 5, 2013

Battlefield 4 Leaderboards

Over its last few iterations, the Battlefield series has introduced a multitude of game statistics. With Battlefield 3, DICE even introduced a website dedicated to user profiles and tracking statistics.  With Battlefield 4, this evolved to include leaderboards that can be tracked on a city, national, or even global level.

Personally, I love statistics in games like this.  It's not that I want to be at the top of the leaderboard so much as I enjoy being able to track and monitor how I change and improve.  It provides a quantitative assessment of how the things I do impact my gameplay.  It is fun to me to sort through and see what vehicles and weapons I use the most.  I even enjoy the friend leaderboards, as I can aspire to lead my friends list in one task or another, as I know how they play and that their stats are legit.

Despite all this, I find myself torn by the nature of statistics in Battlefield. As anyone familiar with statistics will tell you, there is no good way to compare and contrast when the environment in which the statistics are built is not standardized.  Battlefield is built on allowing players to play the game how they want.  By putting the servers in the hands of the players and clans that rent them, we get ranked servers that run the gamut from DICE's "official" settings, to the extreme highs and lows of ticket counts and respawn rates.  Because of this, every player's experience is what they make it, which is a great thing, unless you are looking for comparable statistics.

Battlefield 4 has introduced Battlepacks, which often reward us with XP boosts. Some players are even receiving boosts as powerful as 200%.  Combine that with the double XP week EA/DICE is using to apologize for the launch difficulties, and we have people scoring hundreds of thousands of points in a twenty minute round.  The statistics offered on Battlelog do not differentiate between points earned in the traditional manner and those earned through bonuses. Therefore, those who play with boosts or during double XP events more than others will have scores and stats that skew higher.

One of the reason statistics and ranks have become such a significant part of the game is that they are a motivator.  Players will stay with a game longer if they still have higher levels to reach, better stats to score, or more weapons to unlock.  Knowing this, DICE has made certain stats, such as SPM and squad score, more prominent to encourage players to team play and PTFO more. However, this same motivation leads other people to manipulate the game to make themselves look better than they really are.

Unfortunately, so long as statistics are publicly visible on leaderboards, there will be players motivated to do anything to top the charts. Players use their ability to manipulate server settings and administration rights over the players on their servers to enforce rules enabling them and others to boost specific stats to put them on top.  If you look at the Battlefield 4 global leaderboards, nearly every category is led by boosters.

Personally, I don't see the fun or value in topping a leaderboard by spending hours manipulating the game in an abnormal way. What makes it really strange is how many cannot stop with something realistic. They see that the best players typically have a score per minute around 1,000 and decide they need to find a way to make theirs 10,000. Completely believable.

Put basically, the Battlefield leaderboards are worthless.  There will always be players cheating their way to the top.  Even if such players did not exist, the numbers would not be comparable because of the battlepack XP boosters, and because more play time inherently yields more kills and a higher score.  Take them with a grain of salt.  If you do manage to top a board by playing legitimately, feel free to be proud because your legit play just beat out some cheats.  Ultimately, though, remember that Battlefield is a game.  If you aren't having fun, you are doing it wrong.

December 3, 2013

Battlefield 4 - China Rising Trailer

Battlefield has posted the Official trailer for the China Rising DLC.  The DLC is available today for Premium members and December 17 for those who preordered or have purchased the DLC individually.

China Rising brings us four new maps: Silk Road, Guilin Peaks, Altai Range, and Dragon Pass, which feature various landscapes: desert, mountain range, and jungles.

It also reintroduces the dirt bike, as well as a bomber (which is on rails, much like the gunship).

China Rising also brings back the Air Superiority game mode, but with one significant change: you can now play air superiority in helicopters!


November 25, 2013

BF4 - Round start timer needed

I believe Battlefield 4 needs a round start timer, much like BF3 had.  I personally have BF4 loaded on an SSD and have rather fast load times for the maps (though there are still plenty who load faster than I do). However, there are still many players who still have an HDD, some of whom actually still have only a 5,400 RPM drive.  I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to have to wait a few minutes for the map to load, only to find all the vehicles are taken and points are capped by the time you finally get feet on the ground.

The other night, I played a few rounds on a 32-player conquest server.  I only played a few rounds because it seemed that one team had more SSDs than the other.  I was one of three people that loaded within the first minute of the round on my team, whereas the other team had 10-12 loaded by the time I was up.  Because of this, the other team had all but one flag, and was pushing on our final flag by the time the rest of my team was finally on the map.  Because the game does not seem to shuffle teams well between rounds, it was this way for three rounds, and my team was never able to take back enough flags to get a lead.  However, both teams seemed matched well enough that if all had been allowed to load before being able to leave deployment, it likely would have been a close round every time.  Having faster load times clearly gave the other team a significant advantage.

November 24, 2013

BF4 Raw Rounds - Golmud Indecision

I have uploaded another raw round.  This is a particularly good one in terms of the quantity of bad decisions that one can pick apart.  My team is absolutely stomped, and I am no help.  Part of the problem was that I was trying a little of everything and not focusing on just one thing, such as destroying tanks, holding an objective, repairing a chopper, or following squad mates like a puppy dog.

I tried shortening it a bit by speeding up some of the running/no action sequences, as well as cutting some of the spawn screen delays while I was having trouble deciding what to do next.

One of the interesting things about watching my raw footage is realizing just how slow my reflexes are.  In-game, I feel as though I am constantly moving and decision-making.  However, when I watch it back, I realize what I thought was a snap judgment in-game was actually very delayed and slow. I will have to work on that.

It was just after this round that I decided to change my playstyle a bit.  While it doesn't always work, I am trying to choose one thing to focus on for each round, such as being more patient.  Patience has actually been my most frequent focus since my Where Did I Go Wrong - Overextending video to try and reduce the number of times I overextend.  I must say, a conscious effort on one thing makes a difference.  Hopefully, my next raw round will actually show a bit of improvement.


November 19, 2013

BF4 YouTube Series - Where Did I Go Wrong

I am trying out video editing as a new hobby and an extension of my gaming hobby.  In doing this, I am trying to offer something new that I don't see a lot of game play from a average/below average player, and analysis from the angle of, here's what I did wrong and how I could be better.  There are tons of helpful YouTube producers out there, but seeing empty server footage, or video of their best moments doesn't always help us learn how to avoid our worst moments.

For that reason, I am creating a series focused on those worst moments and how to have fewer of them.  In my Where Did I Go Wrong series, I take a clip in which I do something bad (usually, I die) and discuss how it happened and what I could have done differently.  I then show the clip again with full game sounds I believe feeling "in that moment" it part of what helps learning from bad game play stick.  I can watch videos from others all day and really have an understanding of the theory behind how to be better, but making it happen in-game is a different story, at least for me.

I welcome constructive criticism of both the video editing and my game play.  I am a noob at videos, and I play like a noob in-game.  I have a lot to learn in both places.  I am aware that my microphone sucks.  I am hoping to get a better mic for commentary after the holidays.


November 13, 2013

Battlefield 4 Raw Rounds

The first Battlefield 4 Raw Round is posted on the Heplinger Gaming YouTube.  Hopefully game play videos can become a fun little hobby from which I can share gaming as a related hobby, as well as share things that help myself and others improve in-game.

Raw Rounds is something many in the Battlefield 4 YouTube community offer, where they post videos of rounds that have little to no editing.  I hope for mine to tell a bit of a story.  As much as I love the Battlefield franchise, I am terrible at it.  I intend for this series to show the evolution of my game play as it (hopefully) improves.  At the very least, by watching these back I plan to learn from my mistakes, and hope others can as well because most raw rounds posted are the best rounds from really good players, not average rounds from a below-average player.

As I learn about video editing and how to quickly and efficiently find key points in my game play, I hope to bring other types of videos as well, again to help people learn along with me.  If all goes as planned, I can bring the community a new perspective - Battlefield 4 through the eyes of a super casual player striving to improve.  Constructive feedback on my game play and videos is always welcome.  Trolls will be left under their bridges.  ;-)




November 6, 2013

Battlefield 4 Freeze and Sound Loop

I have been one of the "unlucky few" that found Battlefield 4 to be unplayable initially due to the game constantly freezing with a sound loop (the last sound played repeats without end).  During the first five days after the game's release, I managed about 20 minutes of play time and never actually completed a round due to freezing up.  Thankfully, the single player campaign worked, most of the time, so I managed to get through about half of that.  I also spent a fair deal of time looking into the freezing issue and trying to find answers, and testing out my attempted solutions.

I have managed now to play a few hours with only one freeze.  Unfortunately, there are still server crashes, so I can never be sure my game would not have frozen if the server hadn't crashed.  What I finally did that seemed to help the most is to run the game in "Borderless" mode instead of "Fullscreen".  You can change this option in-game under the video settings.  However, I cannot be absolutely certain this is the ultimate fix; it just happens to be the most recent thing I tried before it started working.

In my research, I found a multitude of things seemed to work for other people, some of which are contrary to what I did (such as rolling back video drivers).  I will not go into much detail on those; rather, I am simply going to list the things I tried in hopes that some part of this will help others get the game to a semi-playable state before a patch gets released.

  1. Updated to the latest video drivers (I have an AMD card, so it was version 13.11 beta 8)(go here for NVIDIA drivers)
  2. Manually updated Punkbuster
  3. Turned off the Origin overlay (the function that allows you to hit Shift + F1 to access Origin while in-game)
  4. Update to the latest drivers for my onboard audio (I thought I was updated, but my motherboard site did not actually have the latest drivers, so this took a little research)
  5. In the Battlefield 4 settings file, change the GstAudio.AudioQuality setting from 0 or 1 to 4.  I am not sure this changed anything for me, but others have claimed this has fixed the sound that cuts out on the Lancang Dam map.
  6. Reinstall DirectX to be sure it is latest version
  7. Reinstall .Net to make sure it is latest version
  8. Repair the BF4 install (in Origin, right click on BF4 and select "repair installation")
  9. Disabled HDMI audio drivers in the Windows Device Manager because it is not used, and I was trying to eliminate all conflicts
  10. In the in-game console (accessed via the tilde "~" key), type "RenderDevice.RenderAheadLimit 1" (without quotation marks).  This limits the number of frames your CPU pre-renders for the GPU, which can help cut the load on your CPU.
  11. Close everything - I went through the task manager and closed all non-essential processes
Despite all these things, I still experienced freezes until I changed to borderless mode.  I played the game with HWMonitor running both before and after all these changes, and never found my CPU or GPU to be overheating, ruling that out as a cause for the freezing.

Hopefully, my game will continue to work without freezing, and the recent R7 update for servers will end the majority of crashes, and I can go on to enjoy Battlefield 4.  If my game does freeze again, I will likely try closing AMD's Catalyst Control Center (I left it on as an essential process because my GPU gets too hot of the fan is not running 50% or higher).  I remember having a similar sound loop and freeze issue with Bad Company 2 that almost completely went away when I uninstalled MSI Afterburner, so BF4 may be having a similar video device program conflict.

One thing I should add is regarding the in-game sound.  After updating my sound drivers, I lost VOIP.  I could see people speaking in my squad, but could hear nothing.  I also had sound cutting out really bad.  I went into my Windows playback device settings and changed the speaker settings from 44100 Hz, 24-bit to 192000 Hz, 24-bit.  The next time I started the game, VOIP had returned, so it seems it does not come through on the lower frequency Hz.  I still have sound occasionally cutting out (last night on Operation Locker, there were no gun or other environmental sounds, just the sounds of soldier's voices), so I am going to try changing GstAudio.AudioQuality back to 1 to see what happens.

Update: I played for quite some time last night. My game froze up a couple times within a out 3-4 rounds. I checked the settings and realized it had reverted back to full screen. I changed the setting and encountered no more freezes. However, BF4.exe stopped working a couple times, which really isn't any better than a freeze, though that thankfully seemed to happen between rounds, and may have been connected to me Alt + Tabbing out to use Battlelog to change my load out. Also, even with the audio setting change, Golmud Railway and Lancang Dam have serious audio cutout issues. I also kept hearing a squeal, like a locking noise, when I was not in a vehicle and no one was nearby to use a locking weapon. 


October 29, 2013

Battlefield 4 Levolution - Main Event Details

There is a post over at Reddit outlining the details of the main set piece Levolution events of each of the ten vanilla maps for Battlefield 4.  I think I am going to wait until I have had the chance to play before I spoil all the details for myself, but here it is if anyone wants to check it out!

Or, if you would rather see them on-screen, here is a video by shosho10199.


October 25, 2013

Flood Zone Gameplay

EA/DICE has allowed Levelcap to upload some footage of game play on the new Flood Zone map.  It appears this map will again offer very vertical game play, as we saw on Siege of Shanghai.  It is more of a medium-sized map, with five flags in conquest.  It should really prove to offer some intense infantry gameplay.  In fact, Levelcap's video starts off with some Obliteration gameplay, which may be quite fun on Flood Zone, because despite the bomb carrier always being spotted, there are so many levels, corridors, nooks, and crannies, that they will not be an easy kill.

His video also includes our first peek at Rush game play in Battlefield 4.  While it does not reveal much of a change in Rush, I somehow get the feeling it will play better than BF3.  I think that may be due to the maps appearing to have greater opportunities for flanking and other tactical game play than the styles of maps we had previously.

Unfortunately, Levelcap did not show us much about what kind of destructibility elements this map may entail (can we drop rubble from those taller buildings?), but he did prove that we can dive underwater far enough to enter the buildings from there!  That will add a whole new element to back rage.

Check out Levelcap's Flood Zone video and get excited; this is your last weekend before the release of Battlefield 4!


October 22, 2013

Battlefield 4 Battlestation Giveaway

Razer and CyberPower PC have teamed up to offer a Battlefield 4 Battlestation giveaway featuring lots of cool stuff.  You can enter via Facebook or email: Razer's Battlefield 4 Battlestation giveaway.

Battlefield 4: Official Single Player Trailer

This morning, Battlefield posted the new story trailer for the single player mode of Battlefield 4.  DICE promises this will be a much more engaging single player campaign than ever released with any core Battlefield title.  This is certainly an exciting trailer, and makes me feel that the single player campaign will be worth the time.  Kudos to Randy Evans (@killat0n_), the DICE Senior Video Editor in charge of this particular trailer.

Playing out much like a blockbuster movie trailer, it leads us into a story in which a naval fleet appears to be cutoff.  We then see a key source of drama in the story: distrust from “Irish”, leader of the campaign squad, of the key female character, Hannah. The trailer then goes into a montage of action sequences, and we hear Irish state what may likely be (and often is for modern military story lines) a central them of the story and his character, “We are not going to leave you behind; no one gets left behind!”

The trailer moves to a theme of desperate hope as (what I assume to be) the captain of the Valkyrie addresses those on board to state they are the only ship left, but they won’t go down without a fight.  Once that hope is established, we see the action rise again as ship our characters are on is split in two and the battle moves to land.  It is here that the trailer appears to take a shot at Call of Duty when Irish punches a dog like the COD dog at 1:37.

Overall, it appears to be the intense action one expects from a modern military setting, and may well involve a deep and engaging story line.  Of course, it will likely still include some of the cliche moments, themes, and lines, but I am hopeful the team at DICE has made it their own so it rises above being “just another action story”. Let’s also hope the enemy has a halfway competent AI; an engaging story is only half the battle.

Do you look forward to the single player campaign?  If so, will you be playing it first, or just when you need a break from multiplayer?  I have some time off work in the first weeks after release, so hopefully I can play through it some time when friends aren’t online to play with.


October 19, 2013

Battlefield 4 - Battlerecorder

Battlefield 4 will not have Battlerecorder at launch. However, many feel this tool is necessary for monitoring for cheaters, making quality videos, and making BF4 viable for E-sports. If you think BF4 should have Battlerecorder, you can sign this Change.org petition.
http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dice-ea-please-add-battlerecorder-to-battlefield-4?share_id=HPUifgyYIm&utm_campaign=signature_receipt&utm_medium=email&utm_source=share_petition

October 18, 2013

Battlefield 4 - Awards and Progression

The latest Battlefield Blog post details information about the awards and progression system of Battlefield 4. Here's some of the key points:

  • There will be 100 levels, like BF3.  This will consist of 20 ranks, each with 5 sub-ranks (level 16 is rank Sergeant, and level 20 is Sergeant V).
  • There are 45 ribbons available, each having a distinct medal tied to it that is earned by obtaining a ribbon 50 times.
  • There are 130 unique service stars, each obtainable 100 times (13,000 total).  This includes new service starts for game modes, earned by playing the objective and winning.
  • Many of the tweaks to the scoring system are meant to provide better feedback to the player and encourage more objective gameplay.
  • Confirmed that the new "Kill assist counts as kill" system means both the player receiving this message and the one inflicting the final blow receive a kill credit (meaning one player killed can count as two kills on the scoreboard, but still only one ticket).
  • Players will start the game with basic items that were not available without unlocking them in BF3, such as flares on jets, and some grips on assault rifles.
  • There is a way in Battlelog to mark certain awards and unlocks to track your progress
  • There are 45 multi-layered assignments to achieve, that offer dog tags, vehicle paints, and weapons.
I am curious if they plan to expand on some of these with each DLC, as they did in BF3.

For those who get a thrill from unlocks and awards, Battlefield 4 certainly has a lot to keep a player seeking new goals.

October 16, 2013

First Video!

I have successfully created and uploaded my first YouTube video!  It is nothing special; in fact it is really just meant to share a bug I found in the Battlefield 4 Beta on the Battlelog forums.  Nonetheless, I am happy to have figured this out.  Now, I just need to figure out everything else about the process: editing, narration, thumbnails, intro, music, etc.  Oh, and finding time for it...that's an important one.  I guess I also have to figure out how to make content people would want to watch out of my terrible game play.  Wish me luck.


October 14, 2013

Battlefield 4 Beta - Fun with Bugs - Free Willy by JackFrags

This is some absolutely hilarious stuff.  This is how you take advantage of a beta bug to get some serious entertainment.  Boat spawns on land?  New objective...let's see if we can get it back in the water!

October 11, 2013

Battlefield 4 Beta - Initial Thoughts

The Battlefield 4 Beta has been active since October 1 for those with "exclusive" access, and October 4 for everyone else.  It has certainly been a great experience to get in and help DICE test server loads and other factors of their game in a live environment.  I certainly hope they are getting as much as possible out of this to make this the best Battlefield yet.  I have been lucky; while my somewhat outdated CPU has been pushed to its limits, I at least was able to play whenever I had time and did not find myself stuck on the loading screen.

Floating Pistol Bug
The version we are playing is about a month old and was developed somewhat in parallel with the retail version to get it ready to go live sooner.  This means we are playing with a number of bugs and issues that have already been fixed in the retail version, thankfully.  This beta has certainly provided us a fair number of entertaining and unusual bugs to report, such as the attack boats spawning on land, elevator button that survives the tower falling, resulting in teleportation to where the tower used to be, and the floating pistol no arms bug I recently posted.  I am confident DICE will get most of these cleaned up so we can have a clean game at launch, so keep testing and reporting.

Unfortunately, I have not played the beta quite as much as I would have liked, but I have managed to gather a lot of thoughts on what I am seeing.  Overall, I feel really good about what BF4 will offer us.  I see potential for it to be much more entertaining than BF3.  The look and feel of the game, from the HUD to the in-game graphics, all feel more refined to me, although that could just be the "new car smell."

This umbrella resists more than wind
I am really excited to see what the other maps offer.  Siege of Shanghai is fun, but I think it will be far from their best map.  I find myself a little let down by the lack of destruction and non-levolution interaction with the map.  I really lose immersion in the game when an RPG fails to damage the side of a glass building, or when a tank is stopped dead in its tracks by an umbrella stand.  That said, I have heard rumors that DICE has a lot of these things disabled, and we will see glass falling and rubble dropping in the final build.  I certainly hope those rumors are not just wishful thinking.

What I do like about Siege is the verticality it offers.  You are not stuck playing on one or two levels.  You can get as low as the water in the bay or Metro (objective B on conquest large).  You can get as high as the top of the C tower and other buildings of similar height.  You can also reach the roof of smaller buildings, as well as ground level and the levels in between.  The map also offers also offers a wide mix of play options: you con focus on driving vehicles, destroying vehicles, getting to a rooftop to snipe, or close quarters combat attacking and defending objectives.  If this is the approach DICE is taking to map design, I like the idea.  A player can choose a role, such as anti-tank engineer, and have a completely different game than their next round on the same map as an assault or recon.  Of course, jury is still out on how the BF4 map design will hold up to the various game modes.

Once they get more of the bugs worked out, Levolution still has good promise.  It may require some tweaking though.  Take the falling tower for instance, it is possible to take that down very early in the game.  It is possibly too easy to initiate that set piece, which may cause it to lose impact on gameplay if it is down early and often.  There is a significant different in how the game plays when it is up versus down.  When the tower is up, there is a clear battle to dominate the rooftop.  When it is down, the game becomes a bit more chaotic.  I have seen games where it remained up for some time and was brought down when a team expressed concern they could not take C without dropping the tower.  It is reassuring to see a round play out is a more tactical and team-based manner.

Where's the dust?
I do have concerns about how graphics settings affect the large-scale Levolution.  The falling tower was sold as game-changing in that it created a large dust cloud that makes things more difficult for air support and snipers.  However, with graphics set to low, the dust cloud is not much of a problem, if at all noticeable.  This brings up the concern that if a team is doing really well in the air and the other team takes down the tower to obscure their vision, will the team dominating in the air be able to continue doing so by simply turning down their graphics?

DICE is still working to perform final tweaking and balancing of the weapons and vehicles.  For instance, Demize99 has tweeted they they have not yet determined if RPGs will still have locking capabilities in the final build.  If they do, damage will be reduced, at the least.  To me, the weapons had a good feel, although there were moments when some weapons, like pistols, seemed to do an extra burst of damage.  Also, the vapor trails on sniper rounds seemed inconsistent with the actual bullet trajectory.

I love the new deploy screen.  Choosing your spawn point is straightforward and intuitive.  I also like that the spawn screen is a real-time map, making it easier to see the big picture and think tactically about where you spawn.  I found myself making better spawn choices.  I also found this was improved by having VOIP, because it enabled me to communicate with team mates on where to spawn and as what class, as well as communicating with them on what I saw on the map while I waited for the countdown timer.

Battlefield 4 will also offer some new weapons and gadgets.  One we got to try in the beta is the XM25 airburst grenade launcher carried by the support class.  I really love the way this weapon works, even if it is a bit of a niche role.  I took out my fair share of rooftop campers thanks to its airburst mechanic.

With less than twenty days until release, I am really looking forward to this game.


October 8, 2013

Battlefield 4 Beta - Floating Pistol

I recently encountered a bug in which my player had no arms from first person point of view (here is my Battlelog submission thread, in case you've encountered similar and want to add to it).  Unfortunately, this also meant no gun or ability to defend myself.  That is, until I tried switching to my sidearm and found my magical floating pistol!


I really wish my PC was good enough to capture video, because this was a funny little bug!

October 3, 2013

Battlefield 4 - How to Airburst! - Tutorial on the XM25

The following video is an incredibly useful tutorial on how to use the new XM25 airburst grenade launcher.  I, for one, definitely used it wrong the first time.  This could prove to be an incredibly useful tool!

Also, bonus points for the "fuck off tanks!" line.  Too flippin' funny.

September 26, 2013

Battlefield 4 Beta Details

The Battlefield Blog has more details about the Beta, which begins next week.  These details include information on game mode and map, a link to the beta feedback forum, caveats that the beta may have down time and connection issues, information on dates and how to get in, and confirmation that you must have a 64-bit OS on PC to run the beta.  They also go into detail about partnering with a new Gameblocks for a new anti-cheat engine called Fairfight, in addition to continuing to use Punkbuster. I will be curious to see how this works - will it effectively reduce the cheaters?  Will it cause legit players problems like Punkbuster has in the past?

Lastly, those participating in the beta will receive an "exclusive" dogtag when BF4 launches.

September 24, 2013

BF3 Rush Tactical Gameplay Analysis

This is a very good analysis by Fets (@Fets25) of 11BravoGaming of some rush gameplay provided to him by Kulprit008.  I certainly enjoy videos like this, as they give me new ways to think about how I play Battlefield and how I adapt to the events in a round.  The best thing about tactical analysis of real gameplay videos is it gives you an on-screen example of doing something well or poorly, which often helps to recognize similar situations while playing.  I am not great at Battlefield, and I am certainly not a great tactical thinker while in-game, so I watch as much of videos like this as I have time for.  Give it a watch and see if you can learn a little something for your next round of rush.


September 20, 2013

EOD Bot

This is how the EOD bot should be used....this is awesome!  I really hope it is less glitchy to drive in Battlefield 4 so I can try stuff like this.


September 19, 2013

This is Battlefield 4 Multiplayer Trailer

Real life is keeping me a little busy right now, so I haven't had time to provide any thoughtful posts. I hope to do so soon; I am thinking of trying to analyze some of the maps we've seen so far.  By the way...less than two weeks until Beta starts!!

In the meantime, if you have not seen it, check out the "This is Battlefield 4 Multiplayer" trailer.  It has a bit of recycled footage we have all seen before, but it provides views of some new maps.

After that, take a look at LevelCap's breakdown of the trailer, which focuses primarily on the new maps.

September 13, 2013

More BF4 Game Play - DICE Studio Event

Recently, DICE flew a group of YouTube game play video producers out to its LA studio to play and record on the latest build of Battlefield 4. This week, we started seeing the first videos produced from this session, giving us some fantastic insight into what is new to BF4, and what we'll see in October's Beta. 

One of my favorite so far is Daskro's coverage of all the engineer's launchers, largely because of the quantity and quality of information he provides. Many have worried, speculated, suggested, and demanded regarding the launchers of BF4. I believe many concerns have been addressed well. We have the return of the wire-guided launcher. We have a significant weakening of damage of the "fire and forget" launchers.   Slightly higher damage launchers, like the javelin have become lock and hold. The most significant takeaway seems to be that they all are unique. Lastly, he shows us a previously unseen battle pickup launcher.

Daskro uploaded another video (also with incredibly informative commentary), giving us a first look at game play with the remote-controlled mortar. I wrote up some of my thoughts on this over at bf4blog.

Drift0r gives us Obliteration game play from an "outsider's" perspective (the primary focus of his YouTube channel seems to be COD videos, including really nice weapons analysis, though he is quite familiar - and good, it seems - with Battlefield).  He notes there were some things they could not show, including a few knives, so hopefully there is some great stuff to look forward to there.  He also gives us a good look at a heavily scoped .44 magnum.  Lastly, he expresses concern that the attack boats may be too powerful because of the amount of damage it seems to require to take them out.

LevelCap is producing videos the fastest, choosing to focus on the weapons of each class and analysis of the field upgrades.  So far, he has provided us the assault weapons, PDWs, and the following video showing the LMGs.

TmarTn also uploaded a number of videos.  The latest shows Obliteration game play.   Around the 0:52 mark, he seems to drop the bomb without dying, leaving me to wonder if there is in fact a way to drop the bomb intentionally, as many on reddit have requested.

Some of the first trolls and fails are provided to us by WhiteBoy7thst and MinnesotaBurns.

Stay tuned, as I imagine LevelCap will also be doing videos on sniper rifles, carbines, shotguns, attack boats, and scout choppers, as those were also available during this event.  I also would not be surprised if Daskro provided us some videos on other specific equipment and spectator mode.  There were a number of other players at the event from the Battlefield and COD communities, so I am sure I missed a few.  Be on the lookout for videos from others, and share your favorites in the comments!

September 9, 2013

Knife Takedowns Unrevivable - BF4

In a recent tweet, Alan Kertz (@Demize99) revealed that players cannot be revived after a knife takedown in Battlefield 4.
This should add an interesting new dynamic to Battlefield, providing a bit of a tactical advantage to the knife takedown that goes beyond simply collecting tags.  Players looking to stealthily move behind enemy lines can not only take out their enemies quietly with a knife, they are also have the advantage of they player they took out not having a revive icon over them alerting other enemies of their presence.  Of course, they still have VOIP with their squad...
One concern that arises from this, however, is that this could be a level of incentive to risk too much in getting that knife kill.  Depending on how sound works in BF4, that enemy may hear your not-so-ninja footsteps as you rush from behind with your knife, completely turning the tables on an easy kill.
A question brought up in the reddit discussion of this news is whether or not knife kills will count toward the kill streak for the commander's High Value Target ability.  Many are concerned about how easily an otherwise successful stealthy flank could be ruined by the Commander lighting you up like a Christmas tree.
The original tweet that resulted in this news also inquired whether headshots would be unrevivable as well.  The fact that Demize responded only regarding knives, and then later stated that it (assuming the unrevivable status) was "specific to the knife", leads me to believe headshots will still be revivable.  Though many have requested otherwise, this makes sense to me, as it gives the knife takedown a unique tactical element.  Also, the knife takedown is a very intentional action, while many headshots are simply the luck of uncontrolled recoil, and therefore relatively common and very random.  I am not saying it is a bad idea; we would only know for sure if we tried it.  I am speculating, however, that it would make the revive function seem far less significant and defib paddles may become as common as ammo bags in BF3.
I look forward to seeing how this and other game play changes impact the meta game of Battlefield 4.  I certainly appreciate that DICE puts thought and effort into finding ways to tweak Battlefield and give us these new tactical elements to consider.  Battlefield 4 is certainly shaping up as something that will offer a different style of game play that will hopefully make coordinated team play fun and rewarding.

September 5, 2013

Battlefield 4 Gaming Rig

I am very excited for Battlefield 4.  Unfortunately, my PC is no longer top-notch (honestly, it has always been a budget build).  Thankfully, I upgraded my GPU a while back and should be able to run BF4 on medium-high settings.  I worry most about how my processor and hard drive will handle it, though.

Needless to say, I am wishing I had the budget to build a new PC for the release of Battlefield 4.  It is very difficult to sit still when you are excited for a game and have the PC building itch at the same time.  I also really want to go beyond simply building a PC and get into modding themed rigs and creating elaborate water cooling systems.  So, in an effort to tame that desire, which only resulted in torturing myself, I started looking at some mods online.

With that rant aside, I leave you with an image of one of the cleanest and sexiest builds I have ever seen, found here:

September 1, 2013

Battlefield 4 - Hints of New Map and Submarine

In the latest “Road to Battlefield 4” blog post, the Battlefield devs discuss how Commander Mode was created for Battlefield 2 and how the idea evolved to what it has become in Battlefield 4.  Within the blog post is an animated gif of some Commander Mode concept mock-ups for Battlefield 4.  The primary images of this gif are the familiar top-down view of Siege of Shanghai.

However, if one is to break the gif down to its individual frames for more careful viewing, we can see what appears to be a new map.  On the right side of this new map appears to be a dam.  They have already discussed a levee that can be breached to flood an urban map, so whether or not this dam will do the same we will have to wait to see.  It seems fairly clear to me this is not the same map, however, because the levee map shown in the Levolution trailer was more of an urban environment with tight streets and many more buildings than this map shows.

Another interesting item seen in the image is a commander asset not seen before. The asset appears to be a submarine, or more specifically, the AGSS-569 USS Albacore.  Will the commander have access to a submarine on certain maps?  If so, will it be a player-driven vehicle, or will it operate more like the AC-130 Gunship?  The possibility of a sub on a map such as this certainly implies that the dam can be breached to create an almost all-water map.

Dam map sub

Keep in mind that the images in this gif are apparently meant to illustrate the evolution of the Commander Mode concept for BF4.  I would assume that any map images this detailed used for these concept images is likely from a real map created for the game.  However, much about the commander UI, assets, and other things seen in these images is certainly subject to change, so this certainly isn’t confirmation of a submarine in the game, although it is confirmation they have considered it.

August 23, 2013

Battlefield 4 - 7 Game Modes Across 10 Maps

The Battlefield Blog revealed today that Battlefield 4 will release with 7 game modes and 10 multiplayer maps.
Battlefield 4 releases October 29 with seven game modes: Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch, Rush, Domination, Conquest, Defuse, and Obliteration. All seven game modes will be playable across the 10 multiplayer maps launched with the game. You can pre-order Battlefield 4 to get the China Rising expansion pack at no additional cost.

August 22, 2013

Battlefield 4 Gamescom Gameplay from JackFrags

JackFrags posted some Obliteration gameplay he recorded while playing at Gamescom. Check it out!



August 14, 2013

Waiting for BF4

So, here we are waiting anxiously for Battlefield 4 to release in 2 1/2 months.  Around this time, I am typically in need of a distraction.  I played a lot of Battlefield 3 over the past few months in anticipation of BF4, but I don't want to burn myself out, so I am going through my game library and getting in some play time on some of the games I have neglected.  I also find myself tempted to try some new games I do not yet have.  I typically do this before a big release; I looked back at my Steam history and found that in the months before Battlefield 3 is the last time I managed to do a little catch-up on my library.

So, what do I have on hand to distract myself?


  • Civilization V - I really enjoy Civ, especially because it is something I can just pick up and play a little at a time, and I can also play it with just one hand while rocking my daughter to sleep.  I have not yet purchased/tried the Brave New World expansion.
  • Saints Row the Third - Goofy mayhem is simply fun.  Nothing more to it.
  • The Walking Dead - I love the series, and this game tells a good story.  I am late getting into this because I waited to get it cheap on the Steam Summer Sale.
  • Amnesia The Dark Descent - If you like horror, this one is seriously awesome.  I definitely recommend checking it out.  Watch this video to get a taste.  :D

There are a couple that are tempting my wallet.
  • Payday 2 - It seems a lot of people are really loving this one, so I am tempted to get on the hype train. Who doesn't want to rob a bank without [real] repercussions?
  • Saints Row IV - I am enjoying the Third, so why not consider getting IV?  It releases next week.  If you pre-order on Amazon right now, you can get $10 Amazon.com credit and the Commander in Chief DLC pack.
What are you playing to pass the time and ease the excitement?

August 13, 2013

Battlefield 4 Dinosaur Mode

There has been a lot of speculation about a dinosaur mode in the Battlefield series after a number of dinosaur-themed easter eggs in the campaign and on multiplayer maps of Battlefield 3.  Whether or not DICE will include such a mode is purely speculation at this point, though they certainly enjoy teasing us.  Nonetheless, there is a very good discussion on the topic taking place over on reddit.  I felt it good to share possibly the best post I have seen on the topic.
I am just going to say what I always say whenever Dino Mode for Battlefield is brought up (and please read my post thoroughly);
According to a GamersSpot article, the dinosaur at the beginning of the E3 demo and Thunder Run trailer was placed in response to a 4chan thread in which a supposed Activision sales manager wondered why their Call of Duty game didn't sell as well on PC as it did on consoles, with several responses saying it was due to a lack of dinosaurs. Gustav Halling, a gameplay designer for Back to Karkand, tweeted about it.
Let me list some things.
-Millers' son's Dino toy in Thunder Run
-5 hidden Dinosaur figures hidden on Wake Island
-Hidden Dino on Epicenter
-On Gulf of Oman there is a strange blue flashing light behind the tarp of the building under construction. It might be just a person welding something, because, as stated above, it's under construction. There is an object inside the tarp that appears to be in the shape of a dinosaur. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDElUbEBHF8 [youtube.com]
-On Sabalan Pipeline near a collections of silos are two toppled fences, the fences are not destroyed by the player but has been previously knocked over. Near the fences, in the snow is a trail of dinoasur footsteps leading up the mountain and out of bounds, as one nears the out of bounds mark a dinosaur roar is heard.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quOobmCgS7M [youtube.com]
On Nebandan Flats there are three dinosaur skulls. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4iaGI4DvQE [youtube.com]
-Pterodactyl on Nebandan Flats. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwJfapjaTJY [youtube.com]
-Plus there is a Dinosaur dog tag for use in multiplayer.
I'm sure I even missed one or two.
Ok I didnt want to bring it up, but... Look at CoD: WaW and how it introduced the Zombies mode, it was one simple level that was a bonus unlock if you beat the game. Now look at CoD: BO2, the once small and lackluster mode is now a HUGE selling point and most of the games players love the fact that Zombies is included, the main reason the game's DLC sells so well is due to it having a new Zombies map.
And when I say "complete creative freedom" I mean DICE wouldent be confined to the realism of the modern day military, the mode could take place on another planet, have all kinds of "un-realistic" content and it wouldent matter, why? It's in a bonus mode that's only correlation to the base game is Frostbite 3, and killing enemies.
Watch if DICE includes a Dino Mode at any point for Battlefield 4 (hopfully included at launch) it will drive even more sales of the game, as long as they take some time doing it and don't piece it together.
I understand everyone wants Battlefield 4's multiplayer to be the best yet in the series and I have no doubt in my mind that DICE has done an amazing job on the multiplayer component. Nonetheless, a Dino Mode would and could be a viable addition to the Battlefield IP.
Look what Ubisoft (Montreal · Shanghai) did with the standalone Far Cry 3 expansion, Blood Dragon. It's themed as a 80's VHS movie with robots and space commandos. And keep in mind that vanilla Far Cry 3 was a "realistic" open world game. The expansion was well received and was downloaded over 500,000 times.
I love the Battlefield IP for it's realism, but I would love for a bonus mode (not an entire game) to allow DICE to go "un-realistic" and really put Frostbite 3 and the teams creative power to it's limits.
Don't be simple minded, just imagine what DICE could do with creative freedom in a bonus Dinosaur mode in Battlefield 4. They are no longer confined to realism like they are in campaign and multiplayer. They could really do some awesome stuff. And I bet the majority of players would try it and enjoy it.
Campaign is for a cinematic story, multiplayer is for team based operations and can be rather stressful. Battlefield doesn't have a mode where you can just play for fun with some friends, and it could really benefit from a mode like that.
-Blindspider11



August 8, 2013

Battlefield 4 - Naval Warfare

In the video below, Battlefield Podcast shares with us potential leaked information that a map tidbit seen in the Frostbite 3 trailer may in fact be a map for Battlefield 4.  The map seen features a relatively small island featuring trees and a helicopter, surrounded by ocean as far as the eye can see (from the angle shown, anyway).  They have been hinting very hard at "dynamic sea battles" being a major feature of Battlefield 4, so one can only assume a primarily water-based map will be in the game.  Now, the question is, will we see this map at Gamescom, or will we see the map for which an overhead view was leaked in the Battlelog trailer?


August 7, 2013

Speculation - Battlefield 4 Game Play Clips

EA/DICE has been releasing a lot of short clips, ranging from 20 seconds to a couple minutes, to various members of the Battlefield YouTube community.  Many of these clips provide little, if any, new details regarding the game.  Honestly, the overall sense one gets is that they are meant to keep stirring up hype as Gamescom approaches in a couple weeks.  I, for one, have enjoyed getting a little hyped up watching the clips, as well as analyzing the content to find the little things to appreciate.  However, I cannot help but wonder if there is a deeper meaning to these clips.

I feel like they have some cohesive theme in them.  However, they seem to show various types of game play, from infantry to tanks to choppers.  They give us first-person examples of some of the features discussed, but not shown in incredible detail, such as the various water effects.  They display a number of bugs, such as the tower falling through the tank and the "blinking".  On the surface, there does not seem to be much cohesion, aside from it being alpha game play of BF4.  However, I have a couple theories, which are not mutually exclusive.

The first is simply that they are showing this to us to keep us hyped up, but also to show off some of the bugs in this alpha game play.  They have already stated they will have Battlefield 4 playable at Gamescom 2013.  I am thinking the version they have on site will be newer than what we are seeing in these clips, and it will evidence that many of these bugs have been corrected before we even get to Beta.

The second has to do with how they obtained this game play.  If they have explained, I have missed it.  My understanding is simply that this is gameplay recorded of spectator mode.  However, what I have not heard is who is playing or how it was recorded.  I believe this will be discussed in more detail at Gamescom, where they will reveal that these clips were recorded using Battlerecorder of game play either by those who had access to the online Alpha, or of journalists, etc. playing at the DICE offices.

Of course, this is all speculation, and it may just be that they wanted to provide us a little material during the doldrums between E3 and Gamescom.  In just a couple weeks, we will know more.

August 6, 2013

Battlefield Event Sign-Up Document

Ian Tornay (@crash7800), Battlefield Community Manager, tweeted a link to a Google Docs form one can complete to be considered to attend real life Battlefield events.  If you would like to sign up, follow the link.
The document asks for your Battlelog, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook IDs, as well as questions about your content type and other information that will help them classify your usefulness in getting out the hype.  I assume, then, these would be events such as those play sessions at DICE HQ that high-profile YouTubers get to attend.  Of course, it could perhaps mean that they intend to have more significant events leading up to and following the release of BF4 that go beyond what we have seen with BF3.

Battlefield 3 - Double XP Weekend

Battlefield is offering a double XP weekend for all those trying to get in a little more ranking up in Battlefield 3 before Battlefield 4 arrives.  It starts August 10 and lasts 48 hours.  It appears this one is for everyone, and not only Premium.  See you on the battlefield!

August 2, 2013

Battlefield 4 - Shanghai Tower Falls on Tank

The video above, posted by VitalSyntax on Youtube, is a clip provided to him by EA/DICE as part of a release of multiple video clips of recent build gameplay footage to throw a little more coal on the fire of the hype train.  This particular video is an interesting one, as it shows the Siege of Shanghai tower falling on a tank.  VitalSyntax does a great job in the video of going back through the clip and providing thoughts very similar to what I would add here if he had not done that.

One of the main things I want to point out in this clip is the buggy nature of the tower falling.  I hope after the build we see here, they were able to make the tower fall more gracefully and/or the blocking/hit detection of the falling tower is improved so one does not see the weird untextured insides.  I also see in this video, as I have seen in others, that there are weird transitions during the falling, where pieces are there, then they aren't, rather than seeing them falling.  If course, I am not a game programmer, so what I am expecting may be beyond the capabilities of current engines.

The other thing prominent in this clip, which I have again seen in others, is the strange blinking going on.  Is that meant to be your soldier blinking as they look through the TV feed for the tank?  It seems really strange and sporadic.  I also recall seeing this same thing when players are swimming.  I really hope we get more information on what this is and why, if it is something we will see in the final build of the game.

August 1, 2013

Sun Glare

Please check out my newest post over at BF4blog, where I compare the sun glare in BF3 to that of BF4. Does DICE still have an OP weapon on their hands?

Sun Glare - Will it be OP in Battlefield 4?

July 23, 2013

Guest Blogging

I am excited to announce I have joined the team over at bf4blog.com as a guest writer.  I will be popping up over there to write some posts; some will be shared posts you already see or will see over here, some will be revised versions of what I have here, and others will be exclusive content for that blog.

Go check out my first post, a revised version of Changing Up Rush Mode!

July 22, 2013

Chivalry Update

So, Chivalry really is a neat game.  You have game modes that range from objective-based combat (one team tries to set fire to things and kill villagers, while the other defends) to free-for-all deathmatch.  There is a variety of maps; I feel I have seen only a small selection of them.  You can choose from four different classes:

  • Archer - Carries bow or crossbow as primary; dagger as secondary.  Focus on ranged combat; weak at hand-to-hand.
  • Man-at-arms - Light and agile.  Typically carries a broadsword.  Has a special dodge ability to help survive hand-to-hand combat, but wears weak armor.
  • Vanguard - Medium armor front-line soldier.  Typically carries weapons with a longer reach, such as a pole arm.  Has a special rush attack.
  • Knight - Well-armored, but slow.  Can wield two-handed weapons with one hand when carrying a shield and does substantial damage.
This game is a lot of fun.  There appears to be no persistent stat tracking, beyond number of kills with a weapon (which is hidden) to determine when other weapons unlock.  While I love looking over stats and seeing how different means of playing affect them, this seems to encourage more of a "just jump in and have fun" playstyle.  

Chivalry is all about timing.  You must time your blocks to defend yourself from the other player, and time your hits to contact when they are weak.  You can feint to get your opponent to waste their block and then attack, and you can combo attacks to quickly beat down your opponent.  Unfortunately, this all requires a skill for timing I do not yet have.  This game takes a lot of practice, but practicing can be fun, though it can also be frustrating when you die over and over because you cannot seem to hit the right button at the right time.  You can also teamkill, easily.  A late swing at an opponent that lands just after a teammate swoops in and takes them down will often land on that teammate's back, taking them down if they are weak enough.

It is a really fun game, and certainly provides a different flavor of team-based FPS combat.  If you need a little change of pace and see Chivalry on sale, I certainly recommend it.

July 19, 2013

BF4 - The Singleplayer Campaign

Battlefield has revealed on its blog some details of the BF4 campaign.  It is largely the same idea: the world is in chaos and you are part of an elite group that will save it.  How the details of that plot boil out, only time will tell.  DICE is really pushing the campaign aspect of BF4, claiming it will be more involved, include more choice, and it will make you care about the characters.  I wonder if they will go all Game of Thrones and kill people off when you least expect it.  I like the idea that they are trying to give you more choice in how you play the campaign so it doesn't feel so "on rails".  I do look forward to trying it out.  Here is what the Battlefield Blog says about the campaign:
The world is on the brink of chaos, China is the tinderbox and you and your squad are the inadvertent spark that could ignite a global conflict. This is Battlefield 4. As Sergeant Daniel Recker, you play as a member of an elite group of unlikely heroes known as Tombstone squad, navigating the turmoil around you as you fight to save the final hope for peace.
In Battlefield 4, you take on the role of Sergeant Daniel Recker, member of an elite group of soldiers known as Tombstone squad. While on a mission to collect intelligence from a defecting Russian General in Baku, Azerbaijan, your squad is discovered and you must fight your way through waves of Russian troops in order to escape. Upon getting back to the USS Valkyrie, a Wasp class carrier, the intelligence you’ve retrieved confirms previous suspicions. The Chinese Admiral Chang is planning a coup in China, and if this happens, the Russians would back him up.
With this intel secure, the USS Valkyrie sets a course for Shanghai. You and Tombstone squad are sent on a covert mission into the city to extract a group of VIP’s. China is in uproar after the U.S. has been implicated in the assassination of Jin JiĆ©, the future leader and voice for peace in China. Admiral Chang has canceled elections and martial law has been declared. As U.S. and Russian naval forces position themselves off the coast of China, and the situation quickly escalates into a stare down akin to a tinderbox waiting for a spark.
In Shanghai, protestors clash with police as the streets are filled with chaos and turmoil. Tombstone manages to find the VIP’s, among them a CIA field operative known as Laszlo W. Kovic. With him is a mysterious individual that the Chinese military has been franticly searching for. Together with Kovic you fight your way out of Shanghai and back to the Valkyrie as countless civilians flee the city, many of which are brought aboard the Valkyrie as refugees. With communications dead, the Valkyrie sets course for Singapore to rendezvous with the USS Titan and the 7th US carrier group at their last known position. As you reach Singapore you are shocked to find a horrific scene of fire and mayhem. The flagship is sunk and its fleet is eradicated, and from this point on nothing is certain.

July 17, 2013

My Battlefield Headphones

In an attempt to take things here beyond posting videos by others of how to play Battlefield and rumors about what may or may not be coming with BF4 in October, I've decided to touch on hardware a little bit.  Today's topic is headphones.

A good headset can be important in Battlefield.  DICE works exceptionally hard to make the sounds you hear in game amazing and relevant.  With the right headset, you might just hear that guy sneaking up to swipe your tags.  I currently have a discontinued Turtle Beach headset that has multiple speakers in each ear to provide extremely realistic surround sound.  Upgrading to these from the $15 pair of headphones I was using originally has been an amazing improvement.  While I am still working to tune my in-game awareness of sounds, I have noticed I have a much better sense of where action is based on where the sounds are.  However, I have to wonder if the multi-speaker setup is as good as the digital surround.  I say that because I really don't see headsets like these anymore.  It may also be that it is cheaper to use the digital surround, and it certainly makes for a lighter headset.  I will eventually need to get a new one, but for now, these are working for me.

The nearest equivalent Turtle Beach has appears to be the Ear Force DP11.  It offers Dolby surround and an in-line amplifier, where you can make adjustments on the fly.  The overall sound on my Turtle Beach headphones is amazing, so I would expect the same from this set.  However, the bass is strong on mine, and sometimes overwhelms the other sounds (I should probably tweak some settings).

If you wish to spend a little more, consider the Audio-Technica 700X Audiophile headphones.  These are currently on sale at Amazon for $139 (versus $199).  According to reviews, the bass in these is light, so you may need some form of equalizer to amplify the bass, if you want your explosions to rumble a bit more.  However, because of the strong mid- and high ranges, these should allow for a much better detection of footsteps, etc.  The downside is that these are not a gaming headset, so you would need a separate microphone.

If you are still using an inexpensive headset, consider an upgrade.  It certainly enhanced my Battlefield experience.  Though it did not make me a better player overnight, it did help to more clearly hear from what direction the action is coming, as well as increase my immersion in the game dramatically.  I have so much more fun in Battlefield being able to truly enjoy the quality sounds DICE put in and trying to use them to my advantage.