Battlefield 6 Part 3: Game Modes, Player Counts, and More!
Hello! Welcome to the third part of my little series about Battlefield 6. If you haven't read the first two parts I would probably suggest doing so, I never go into these with a real game plan so I'll probably reference those other posts a lot. Other than that there's not like anything to spoil so I guess read them in whatever order you want if that's what you gotta do.
Player counts are a contentious part about Battlefield 6. EA/DICE have discussed larger scales in investor calls and various pieces of preliminary marketing. While we don't know exactly what this can entail, many players are defaulting to the concept of 128 player servers, to double the previous server count of 64 seen in almost every Battlefield game made. This is fine, and I think it is extremely likely. However I also think there is a chance for a 100 player option, a 150 player option, and possibly even a 200 player option. These numbers break the eight count Battlefield typically stick to, but in a game with 5 classes, I think a 5 man squad is only fitting, which divides more evenly on these numbers. Regardless, a larger player count offers unique opportunities for dynamic gameplay as well as unique challenges Battlefield has proven itself to struggle with from time to time. On larger maps, Zerg rushing has been an issue; when players group together in massive armies and run from conquest point to conquest point, and facing off from time to time to fight. Meanwhile on smaller maps strategy is often lost to a hail of bullets ringing through some poor subway station. We want to avoid a loss of strategy to a certain "meta" in our game modes, and we don't want to lose the game to chaos with player counts higher than modes are designed for.
I theorize a variation of grand operations in which players are divided into two divisions per team, both of which receiving different objectives, and even vehicle offerings. For example, imagine a US team composed of both the Army and the Marines in an offensive setting. Marines may be tasked a more forward, aggressive position on a more forward objective utilizing fast vehicles like helicopters and LAVs, while the Army captures a more defensive position and is armed with Abrams MBTs, and attack helicopters. These two teams will need to work at their separate objectives, and will need to wait for the other team to succeed in their before they can move on. Perhaps there is a prompt to help the other division, but they must also defend the position they just fought for in order to hold both objectives. Functionally imagine operations as they were in BF1, but with the teams doubled in size and divided in half to focus on either of the flags in that sector. There may be times where one division is used as fire support for the other, and vice versa. This could vary per map, for example mixing the Navy and Marines, or the Air Force into any of these scenarios as they would be used in a real battle. We often forget that the military operates as separate but overlapping force that focus on a more specific element of combat.
An alternative way to divide the teams could be into a vehicle team and an infantry team, possibly even divided unevenly. This allows for a more focused sense of combat and theoretically allows players to pick which style of gameplay they prefer, allowing everyone a chance at a vehicle eventually in a match, along with the ability to stay in that vehicle for longer in order to gain proficiency. This is great for EA's obsession with making new players feel comfortable, as it gives them a better chance at learning a vehicle in a real combat scenario. Players could leave the vehicle team to join infantry if they desire, opening a spot on their division for an infantry player to operate vehicles. At the end of the day I think this is the weaker option, as it weakens individual moments of player choice and restricts the gameplay a tad too much for my liking. In the prior option players can freely utilize vehicles in any map that has them, the vehicles available are just more mission specific for your team. As always, you would be able to switch divisions if the player count allows it, meaning you'll always be able to access a vehicle, so long as its not already in use.
With the two divisions per team, operations can be more complex than a simple push and hold, but a net of interlocking pieces that provide for more dynamic games over time. There is even the option for randomized objectives, a set of things per sector to capture, defend or destroy. In this scenario each division could have a set of objectives the game can pick at the beginning of the match, and randomizing at each sector in order to make every game different from the last. Efforts will need to be made in order to make sure these are balanced, and they likely wont be too complex. They provide slight variations to map flow in addition to varied gameplay, as the different objective locations in the sector depend on the pre determined path through the map. This can allow for a more utilized large map, with less dead air between objectives and unseen parts of the map, as all the space will eventually be utilized as an objective.
The win state for either side in this game mode is either a successful offense, or a successful defense. However this is not rigid for every game. If the assaulting team reaches a snag and runs out of tickets before clearing all of their sectors, the defending team launches a counter attack phase. In the counter attack, the roles are reversed. Both teams have limited tickets, and the new attackers must push the new defenders to their deployment, which they then must destroy. Since operations carries over multiple maps, the attackers must complete a prologue stage that functions much like BFV's Grand Operations first day. If the attacking team succeeds they gain an advantage in the next day, if the defenders win they do. This advantage can vary per map, perhaps there are a set of AA stations that are AI controlled that attackers must destroy on day 1 in order for their air vehicles to make a dent in the next day. If they fail the stations remain there and are now an additional objective ground forces must attack before they can access vehicles. This can also be seen as artillery firebases that affect ground vehicle spawns, and so on. After this player move onto day 2. Day 2 is when most time will be spent in operations. Attackers move forward through their sectors and attempt to control the map, while defenders obviously defend. Where it gets interesting is the counterattack. If attackers fail to capture all the objectives, defenders will now push to recapture lost ground. Their normally infinite tickets get reduced to a number barely higher than the attackers, and they must push the objectives back or kill all remaining attackers. If the defending team wins their counterattack, the operation ends here. If the attackers are able to defend and kill all remaining defenders they win the map and move onward to the next map. Day 3 is the second map of the game, where attackers will again push through sectors. If they get through all of them they are presented the final push stage toward the defenders deployment and destroy it, winning the game. If they lose their footing a counter attack begins again. This plays out like it does in Day 2, however if the defenders succeed in their counter attack and seize the map again, Day 4 is entered. This is similar to last stand in BFV, but is reached through success of a team rather than a failure of both. In this mode teams have limited tickets and fight over a single objective. Not a single life event like BFV, but more like an extremely condensed version of king of the hill. Day 4 should still be a relatively rare occurrence, but offers an extremely climactic end for comebacks, forcing both teams to complete multiple challenges in order to win. BFV had the issue of a useless first and second day, as you will always progress to the next map, where the third day occurs and either team is able to win the entire game, or reach a stalemate and go into Final Stand which became a coin flip more often than not. I seek to avoid these problems by rewarding good defenders, and challenging attackers into creative situations if they lose their footing but allowing them to regain it again. Mistakes should be punished but never individually detrimental. Only a combination of successes and failures can lead to victory or loss.
At the end of the day this is a much more complex version of operations that may be too much for new players to understand. I can imagine a pre game warm up speech for each faction where their announcer lists their teams objectives in order, as well as informing you of what your allies will be doing while you fight, and a very visceral sense of grandiosity for a first time player that has the potential to overwhelm and frustrate, but also impress such a sense of scale that they lose the fact that this is a game with points, and feels more like a battle to be fought. With enough variation there is a sense of anticipation and dread that can arise as you push through the sectors, allowing for a more visceral gaming experience. It would be harder to pull off for sure, but if done right it can revolutionize online multiplayer games and think of them less as a sport to be analyzed and dissected and more of an experience to be lost in. Titanfall nearly captured this with its story mode multiplayer, but after the first time through no one wanted to return as it simply took too much time to develop a character (even just a little) in the loading screen between matches. In my adaptation there is less of a narrative story determined by developers, but rather the framing for players to create their own story in game, overcoming the odds together with friends and strangers alike.
The Other Game Modes
Yeah, I wasn't really thinking when I made these sub headers and I'm probably crazy inconsistent across this whole series so fuck it. The other game modes I'd leave unchanged. Conquest and Rush would work like they do in BF3 and BF4, and breakthrough makes a return as that mode is just plain fun in BFV. They all stay at 64 players and play on normal 64 player maps, as I stated above I think too many players focusing on the same set of objectives gets miserably grindy fast, so lets just keep things where they are and hope that works at all in the first place.
I'll go ahead and talk about vehicles in this one too. Vehicles are integral to Battlefield, they are part of it's core DNA. As such they are some of the most fun and satisfying parts of the game. While they are always a fan favorite, they often have pitfalls that can make them overpowered or weak, and can often perform in unintended ways. Tanks in BFV sit so far out of combat they are often impossible to address with the equipment present in the game, and they do this out of a survival instinct. Attrition binds them to a repair and restock station, and their slow turret speed makes fighting infantry up close very difficult. In BF1 heavy bombers slowed some maps to a halt with their carpet bombings than can clear an entire objective in one pass, and can be rearmed by the time the enemy team returns to the objective. In our BF6, we must find a way to strike a balance between vehicles and infantry as well as other vehicles. Luckily BF4 gives us some of the best vehicle balancing for modern combat, with the exception of maybe attack helicopters being a tad too strong. Tanks should be slower than any other vehicle and twice as lethal with their main canon, coax machine gun, and remote operated turrets for the copilot, and should primarily focus on destroying enemy hard targets like other vehicles, defensive positions, or even certain objectives, while the machine gunner focuses on keeping the tank alive. I struggle a lot with the concept of separating the main gun from the drivers seat, and offering an option for mandatory team play. However, I also recognize that some players don't want to use comms, and don't always play with friends. Personally I love the idea as it makes a tank a high value target, but allows it to retain its extreme armor and a general resilience against damage. I think if the tank requires two players minimum it is able to be a much more powerful battlefield presence. If it is operated by a single user, then it should be much more susceptible to enemy fire in order to keep singular players in check.
This principle can also carry over to helicopters, where I think it actually should regardless of how they chose to operate tanks. Attack helicopters were incredibly lethal in BF4, a single pilot could dominate a server if he knew how, and a team of pilot and gunner were often unstoppable. Ideally we separate these roles into a gunner and a pilot. Maybe the pilot has access to a simple weapon like HE dumb fire rockets, but these should only be effective against soft targets. The gunner has access to an arsenal of weapons ranging from TV missiles, armor piercing rockets, and a 40mm cannon to handle infantry and put a dent in hard targets. I don't think there should be customization for vehicle loadouts, as I think it can lead to unused assets bloat, while also being awkward to implement with this more divided nature of vehicle roles. Separating the two roles means no singular player can be a dominant force, but a team can play smart and lethal, while providing an even juicer target for someone to destroy, providing more frequent double kills. Ideally these vehicles are also rather fragile, with explosions changing their course in flight and possibly destabilizing them into crashing, without necessarily being at 0 health.
Transport helicopters on the other hand get a big overhaul. As discussed in a previous post I'd like to implement a rappelling mechanic that replaces a standardized parachute. With transport helicopters I'd like to see a fast rope option, where players can dismount from a slow moving or hovering helicopter while it hovers above them. If the helicopter moves too far above the ground or too fast, the ropes are cut, so players on them may fall from unpleasant heights. Thanks to the advanced movement in BFV however players can tuck and roll to decrease taken damage from a drop at the expense of an animation. These helicopters should be able to take a beating, and transport a decent number of people. I theorize slightly more than a full squads worth of passenger seating in addition to a pilot, copilot, and 2 gunners. Ideally a squad can either dedicate themselves to keeping one alive and providing an air cavalry for other squads, or they can be used by a single squad to move a few players around the map quickly. Their capacity and armor make these helicopters an essential tool, but a slow and clunky one compared to attack helicopters and scout helicopters.
Scout helicopters are as they sound, imagine a Little Bird from previous battlefield games and you've got it. These are more rare and likely only seen in my theoretical grand operations mode for certain divisions, and as a lighter option for less vehicle focused maps that still wish to have aerial gameplay.
Jets are another beast entirely. I have always struggled with jets in Battlefield as they simply cant be depicted realistically and in an exciting manor for players. In real life these jets fight at hundreds of miles an hour, and often dozens of miles away from each other. This simply can't be done in Battlefield as it currently stands with map sizes, especially if we'd like to see runways rather than the more recent "respawn already in the air" method. One option is to make all the maps way larger than they need to be as far as terrain is concerned, but only make this area available to jets. This allows them to move at a speed closer to realism, and also provides an interesting opportunity for deployment. Runways can be placed far away from the combat area of a map, allowing jets the ability to take off and fly into battle, as well as providing some distance they must travel to rearm and repair. Attrition was actually kinda interesting for planes in BFV, and I think some tweaking to capacity and timing could add for a better risk reward scenario. With the greater distance between rearm points and the objective area, the jets should have a higher capacity than planes from BFV. Allow them to complete multiple runs through the objective area before needing to return to base. This makes piloting a jet be more fun for longer if you are skilled, but also keeps you in harms way for longer if you are not. As you make more runs on the objective with a more realistic flight model, enemy AA and other jets will find and shoot you down, adding more risk. However this can be avoided by more frequent trips to base, providing you with less kills than you can typically get in a run. Jet variations are exactly how they were in BF4, attack and fighter. Attack focuses durability and firepower toward ground targets, fighters are light and nimble and lethal to all air targets.
Lastly we have boats, and as much as I'd like to implement larger destroyers into the mix, I feel it would be too difficult to make a map in which they make sense. Patrol boats with some machine guns and gunboats with auto canons and TV missiles like BF4. Maybe if operations features a Navy section there are support seats on a destroyer that lies between the aircraft carrier deployment and the beachhead, and being a sinkable behemoth type vehicle, that only spawns once per game. This has a lot of armor like behemoths and is also a huge target, even possibly serving as an objective for one of the defending divisions.
I'll briefly discuss cosmetics here. Cosmetics are simply a reality we must face for Battlefield going forward. There is a chance DICE choses a rolled back approach more similar to BF4's camo patterns, however I see more full customization like BFV in the future. I think everyone agrees that a more realistic and grounded approach is vastly preferred, leaving out things like bright pink or red camos, and keeping the colors and models limited to what a soldier would realistically carry into combat. This isn't to say there cant be some personality, but since the torso is primarily a representation of your kit, it can't change too much. That being said variations of pouches and gear on your chest could be available, think of how the blueprint customs system worked in Warzone but apply it to your clothes as well. Outside of a few options for tops and pants, and a few options for headwear this would be it. I think the profile of characters should be relatively similar to other players of this class type so they can be easily identified. This means some blueprint parts will only be available on certain classes, in order to retain this silhouette. Headwear is cosmetic and ranges from various hats to helmets, as well as various plain hair options available FROM LAUNCH unlike BFV. Vests themselves are class and kit dependent, relying on the armor level you pick along with your pouches to make classes distinct from each other like offering a ghillie option for recon, or enhanced armor on a support. Plate carriers in blueprints are bound to the type of armor they come with, in order to allow for the option to make light armored vests that take up less space on the body, and heavy options that take up more. I think these should remain realistic and rarely differ too much if at all. I'm also fine with having no cosmetic customization outside of the pouches on the vest, allowing classes to all look identical like they did in previous games, but with visual representations of their gear in order to make things fresh and customizable without monetary schemes added to make things more complex.
Yeah I think I'm done with these now. I love talking about Battlefield and if I get any more cohesive ideas I'll be sure to share them here. As we approach May we get closer and closer to actually knowing what Battlefield 2020 will be. I'll probably write some reviews and thoughts about it here, and maybe even expand into some video territory if I get any interest in that. At the end of the day this series is a love letter to Battlefield. I know what I write about can be drastically different from how battlefield feels, I think it can be a new identity that attracts a wide audience ranging from more realistic players from games like Squad or Insurgency, while being approachable and bombastic enough to entertain CoD players, and retaining enough classical feel with new updates to keep Battlefield fans satisfied and playing for years after launch. I know my vision will likely never see the light of day and that does hurt just a little. I'm experimenting with the Unreal Engine, and would absolutely love to work in a creative environment for a game like this, however I lack any technical skill to meaningfully achieve something simple, let alone a game with Battlefield's level of fidelity combined with my lofty and complex aspirations for what at the end of the day remains an arcade style game, at least compared to Squad and Arma and Escape from Tarkov. I know this has probably been a pain in the ass to read but I really just wanted to get my thoughts out there in the hopes that someone might also hope its interesting. I'll see y'all when I see ya and have a great day.