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.

Battlefield 4 YOLO Swag

EA has stated they have plans to heavily merchandise Battlefield 4.  Apparently, this will include a novel that ties in to the singleplayer storyline, clothes, and the usual game accessories (Razor mouse & keyboard, PS4 & XB1 controllers).  All I can hope is that their efforts to turn up the hype and profit result in more money flowing to DICE to fund their efforts to keep the game alive and fun (as well as to make Star Wars Battlefront amazing, because I look forward to that one as well).

In other news, I also saw a rumor of a "Last Man Standing" mode for BF4.  It sounded as though it was possibly a console mode, so it may not be coming to PC.  I am guessing this would be a perma-death free-for-all, which honestly is not my cup of tea (though I do try out all the modes at least a few times to give them a chance).  Hopefully, we'll learn more to talk about soon.
EDIT:  See more discussion of this rumor over at BF4Blog.  It was suggested there that is may be a team-based perma-death, and could possibly be the "Elimination" mode found in the Alpha files.  This would make a lot of sense, considering that BF is a very team-based game.

July 15, 2013

A Quick Break for Chivalry

So, my main purpose of this blog is Battlefield.  However, I have to admit I crave a little variety from time to time and play a number of different games, including RPGs.  I do this because I have a lot of gaming interest, but also to keep Battlefield from becoming stale.  With my eagerness for BF4 high, it also helps to distract myself with something different.

I fell prey to the Steam Summer Sale.  Luckily, I managed to hold myself to only a couple of deeply discounted games.  Included in this was Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.  I became curious about this game after seeing a video uploaded by Xfactor on Youtube.  I did not know there was such a thing as a Medieval FPS.  I look forward to trying it out soon, and will share some thoughts on it when I can.  Until then, I leave you with one of those Xfactor videos.

BF4 Player Count

I have seen rumors lately that DICE is considering an increase to the player count for Battlefield 4.  This has arisen because of the questions regarding 64 players (32 per team) not evenly breaking out among 5-player squads.  Therefore, rumors are that teams will be increased to 35 (70 per server, plus Commanders).  I am curious to see if this is the case, or just wishful thinking.  Truth is, it may not matter much, as nearly every server in BF3 has squads of 1-, 2-, and 3 players, many of which are intentionally set that way.  If a couple players want to run the chopper, they often squad up and lock the squad.  So, people seem to have a preference for that customization.  However, BF4 clearly is pushing more team play by bringing back VOIP and implementing the perk bar filled only by team-driven points, so perhaps we will see more full squads this time around.

July 11, 2013

Battlefield 3 on Sale at Amazon

If you have not yet played Battlefield 3, but have been curious; or, if you played on console, but plan to switch to PC for BF4, you can pick up BF3 + Premium (all expansions) for $20 at Amazon.  Battlefield 4 is said to play very similar to Battlefield 3, in terms of controls, etc., so picking up an inexpensive copy of BF3 is a good chance to practice up for BF4.  See you online!

July 9, 2013

BF4 Closed Alpha

BF4 news is a little slow right now, as people await Gamescom in late August, speculating that to be the time for more reveals, such as the timing of Beta.  Recently, there was a closed Alpha, into which I was not invited, sadly.  However, there is some footage posted on Youtube (though there is no guarantee it will be left up because of the NDA).  However, I am going to link to a video I watched today, which is a nice compilation of trying out various parts of the game (different classes, vehicles, weapons, etc.).  There is not too much revealing, though I did find it neat that, around the 5:00 mark, the player is in a transport heli as a passenger, and is able to look inside the helicopter.  I wonder if this will make it easier to drop ammo and med kits mid-flight.

July 3, 2013

Battlefield 4 - HUD

I have not seen excessive discussion of the Battlefield 4 HUD/UI.  Many comments have been that it is improved, but I think a great part of it is that we don't know exactly what we are going to get.  However, I have one thing I am really curious about, because I have not come across discussion of it at all.  On the ammo/health bar on the lower right of one's screen, there is a little triangle icon (circled in blue in the image at right).  I am very curious as to what that is, as I cannot think of anything else that is missing from the HUD this icon could be replacing.  So, I have a quick speculation:  what if this is a "spotted" indicator?  It has been grey in all the images I have seen, so I wonder if it lights up orange when you are spotted.  My reason for this speculation is largely because it resembles the orange triangle that shows up above your head for 3D spotting in BF3.  Maybe it is something completely different, and maybe others know what it is and I missed that discussion.  All I know is, I am curious.