Monday, May 9, 2016

Bad Battlefield 1 Weapon Balance?

More details about Battlefield 1 continue to trickle in after the official announcement and trailer made their debut a few days ago.  One of the details that has come down has me a little concerned from a historical perspective rather than gameplay, and that is lack of information about bolt action rifles.  We know that there will be bolt action sniper rifles with telescopic optics, and those were certainly commonly used on the front lines of WW I.  However, there is no other mention of them in all the talk that I have heard on YouTube and read.  Bolt action rifles with open iron sights were more frequent than any other type of infantry weapon.  I would imagine that 99% of the primary weapons in the Great War were of this type.  Yet I have heard that the classes will work this way.

  1. Medic - Semi-automatic rifle
  2. Assault - Submachine guns
  3. Support - Light Machine Guns
  4. Scout (recon BF4) - Scoped bolt action rifles
  • Semiautomatic rifles in WW I were very scarce as well because of their complexity and unreliability.
  • In World War One the submachine gun (smg) was in its infancy and saw very little use on the battlefield.  The standard infantry rifle of the German army, the Gewehr 98 (G98, M98) had a production run of 5,000,000 1898-1918 (note: many were contracted to other countries).  In contrast the MP18 submachine gun did not reach full production until 1918 and only about 5,000 were produced, and saw action at the very end of the war. 
  • The light machine gun (lmg) like the British Vickers gun would be very difficult to impossible use standing up against the shoulder for any period of time because its minimum weight was 33 lbs (15 kg)  Today the M60 machinegun is bad enough and weighs in at 23 lbs (10.5 kg). 
  • Scoped Sniper Rifles were uncommon, but not rare, and very similar to their modern counterparts
  • There was also mention of shotguns, which were uncommon compared to long rifles, but that doesn't trouble me. 
No. 1 mk iii Lee Enfield Rifle bolt action rifle
The No. 1 MK III Lee Enfield bolt action rifle was the main
infantry weapon of the British Army in World War I.

Because of the lack of discussion of bolt action rifles I'm worried that the historical infantry weapon balance will be way off.  I now this all speculation at this point, but I'm still concerned. What Dice may end up creating is an elite group of soldiers set in 1918.  I think that would be too bad from a historical, but it still can make a fantastic game.   For instance, in BF4 the number of aircraft and armor to the number of infantry is completely wrong, and it is an amazing game.  As primarily an infantry player I would like to see the number reduce, but I am satisfied with the current gameplay. 

I can see why DICE may have reduced the bolt actions role in the game.  Turn bolts are harder to use because of their low rate of fire.  To be successful against any enemy your aim as well as you tactics must be very good.  The big old clunky guns are less sexy then the massive firepower of the lmg, or somewhat steampunk looking smgs.  For those that decide to use a Mauser 98 or a Lee Enfield No. 1 Mk3 I hope they do an incredible amount of damage to make up for their slow fire rates.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this all plays out in the reality of the game.  DICE just have made the bolt action rifle a side note compared to all the other rifles because they are less cool.  I like the big old long guns a great deal, but on the video game battlefield they wouldn't be my first choice.

Production numbers were taken from Wikipedia.  My professors would not be proud...

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