May 3, 2013

Class Balance and Roles

I've seen a lot of discussion on class (in)balance in BF3 and how to balance for BF4.  Many want the classes balanced against one another; they seem to want to move Battlefield more toward a situation where each class is used equivalently on every map.  I have to disagree with this.  In Battlefield 3, things are much more balance between classes than they have been in the past.  The most noticeable is Assault and Engineer; arm an engineer with a M4A1 with heavy barrel, and he is nearly as effective with medium range infantry skirmishes as the assault class.  Some may not see it, but this encourages players, especially those unfamiliar with the BF teamplay and class role dynamics, to play an engineer like an assault with a launcher.  They often ignore enemy vehicles obliterating their team's flank and fail to support friendly vehicles attempting to stop that enemy tank.

Instead, I like the ideas presented by many others regarding balancing classes for their role on the battlefield. Provide some limitations that make classes weak when attempting to play the role of other classes, yet strong in their own roles.  This is a not-so-subtle way to encourage people to play their role within the team (which they will not be able to do without VOIP, of course).

Based on some hard thinking, and a lot of reading, here are some ideas that sound enticing to me:
  • 5- or 6-man squads
  • 6 classes:
    • Assault - these are the aggressive front line class.  They engage targets at medium range.  There will typically be more assaults on the field than other classes.  I suggest removing medic from this class because that promotes a lone wolf playstyle in which they leave their squad behind and push too fast.
      • Assault rifles
      • Underslung grenade launcher/shotgun (HE, smoke, etc.)
      • Breach charges or other gadgets relevant to the front line
      • Flash bangs or tear gas grenades
    • Support - this class provides ammo to the squad and cover fire for the assault's movement.  This class provides tactical suppession and should not be so worried about kills and accuracy.  This class should cause suppression more like that in BF3, whereas other classes do not have such a significant effect.  
      • LMG
      • Bipod
      • Ammo
      • Tripod weapons (take time to set up) or proximity/timed C4 or claymores
      • Mortar (would like to see this work more like BF3 mobile arty)
    • Recon - support squad from a distance by lasering vehicles, spotting enemies, and picking off flankers.  Give bonuses for focusing on vehicles and infantry near squad mates to promote squad support over cliff-top sniping.
      • Sniper rifles (bolt, semi, etc.)
      • MAV
      • SOFLAM and/or targeting binoculars suggested by many
    • Medic - this class keeps the squad alive; they are not meant to be a killing machine.  Rather, they stick close to support, drop health packs, and have sufficient weaponry to clear the immediate area to make a revive, as well as watch the squad's flank.
      • PDW or SMG
      • Medkit
      • Defib paddles
      • Optional smoke to cover revives
      • Random idea: self-injection health boost to grab downed squadmate and carry behind front line for revive (new meaning for Rambo revive)
    • Spec-ops - this class is a cross between recon and assault.  It is meant for stealth and infiltrating enemy lines.
      • Silenced carbines
      • Radio beacon
      • T-UGS
      • C4
    • Engineer - this class is all about supporting friendly vehicles and destroying enemy vehicles.
      • AT Launcher as primary weapon
      • Shotgun as secondary weapon
      • AT mines
      • AA launcher, or ability to construct a TOW or AA emplacement
      • Repair tool (always available, this should not be sacrificed for other gadgets, unless they are given some means of interacting with the environment, such as repairing bridges or buildings)
These are just some ideas I have (based a lot upon ideas I have read from others) that could change up the way classes are played, and help encourage players to better utilize their class to its role on the battlefield.  However, I know that my ideas have weaknesses.  Honestly, I am not even sure there could be a "perfect" way to set up the classes in the game, as there will always be lone wolves, trolls, and stubborn ignorant fools like me.  For instance, there is no real way to force a recon to spot for the squad or help guide missiles at enemy vehicles (though that sounds far more exciting than lying prone on a hill, going 2-0 in a 20-minute round).  However, I feel that giving classes primary weapon choices more suited to their role, will help some things fall in to place.  You will know that, when there are engineers on the field, your tank will get repaired rather than having to get out and do it yourself.  Only time will tell us what DICE will offer in BF4.  At this point, we can do little more than hope, speculate, and make wish lists.  See you on the field!

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