‘Battlefield 4′ Gets More DLC As Netcode Issues Take ‘Top Priority’ – Huh?

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Battlefield 4 looked so pretty in its 17-minute gameplay unveiling at last year’s Game Developers Conference. EA’s presentation though, completely missed the mark in showcasing anything really new or innovative or highlighting the franchise’s signature multiplayer, but the game looked good. Looking back, that reveal was very telling.

The game released in a rush just in time for the holiday sales season alongside the also-rushed PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, running on a [number + 1] game engine as a [number + 1] game installment in the Battlefield franchise, but it wasn’t ready. Like SimCity before it, Electronic Arts wasn’t well-equipped for the online-only game. Missing features and another forgettable single player campaign aside, the multiplayer – like BF3 before it – launched in what we’d describe as a beta state. To this day, four months after release, BF4 isn’t where it should be. But don’t forget to pay more money for a Premium subscription so you can get hands-on first with this month’s Naval Strike DLC!

It’s very telling of the times, where crowdfunded games and early access titles make as many headlines as triple-A franchises and players get used to playing games that aren’t finished or polished. But for big budget Battlefield, from Electronic Arts, it’s only making matters worse for a game maker who for two years in a row was crowned The Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America.” To that honor, EA’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore responded:

“I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve made plenty of mistakes. These include server shut downs too early, games that didn’t meet expectations, missteps on new pricing models and most recently, severely fumbling the launch of SimCity.  We owe gamers better performance than this.”

When are they going to deliver? Medal of Honor was released and EA reps followed up by saying it didn’t meet their own quality expectations. So why did they release it as such? And worse, why did they do the exact same thing with its sequel, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, where again, it didn’t deliver. That franchise is now dead again.

Battlefield 4 Naval Strike Helicopter

For BF4, it launched with a long list of issues on day one, followed up by frequent bouts of connectivity errors for some players, depending on the platform, and all of this was followed up by a series of lawsuits against EA for statements made to shareholders about the quality of the game, resulting in some analysts warning that the Battlefield brand had been tarnished. Some of this was overblown since many players were able to play the game without most of the issues, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any, and EA is making efforts to get players happy with the game and playing it more, hosting fan appreciation events throughout February.

Yesterday however, DICE posted an official statement regarding “netcode issues” where they finally addressed some of the problems players are still experiencing with the game, promising that it’s a “top priority” to fix them. It’s not a top priority though. The game released in October 2013 and it’s now March 2014. Why did the game release with so many issues that after four months, are still being worked on? Titanfall, EA’s next big online shooter, releases next week, and their previous game still isn’t quite up to snuff. Of course, Titanfall comes from a different developer in Respawn Entertainment who may not (read: hopefully not) be as rushed as some alleged insiders claim DICE was in getting Battlefield 4 out the door.

Battlefield 4 Naval Strike Carrier Assault

That being said, DICE is addressing the issues, have fixed some key ones already, and are working on a few others. Head to the official Battlelog post for full details but here’s what they’re working on currently:

What we are Fixing or Investigating

Rubber banding
We have made several server optimizations that have decreased rubber banding for some players. To further address the issue, there are upcoming fixes for packet loss and a customize screen bug, both connected to the rubber banding issue. Furthermore, we will continue to collect data to pinpoint exactly when and why rubber banding is occurring.

Kill camera delay / Player death sync
On some occasions, the kill camera would trigger before the game client displayed the last portion of damage being dealt, giving players the impression that they died too early. There were also issues with blood effects, damage indicators, and the health bar in the HUD being out of sync. A fix for this will be included in the next game update.

Tickrate

Players have been asking whether the tickrate – how often the server will update the game world – in Battlefield 4 will be higher in the future. Though we haven’t got any immediate plans to increase the tickrate at this moment, we are exploring the possibilities of raising the tickrate on specific servers.

No registered damage

We are aware of the bug where players have been firing at their opponent and not doing damage. In the February 13 game update for PC, we added a piece of code that enables us to specifically track instances where this would occur. We are currently looking at when this issue is triggered, and what causes it. The data that we receive will help us to further improve the firefights in the future.

Instant death while sprinting

At certain occasions while walking or sprinting, a player could get catapulted at high speed which would cause death if any object was standing in the way. This was caused by a mathematical error in the character physics code, and we have a fix prepared for an upcoming patch.

Various Items

In addition to these items, there are also fixes coming for issues with Levolution being out of sync, shots appearing to be fired in the wrong direction, and vehicles outside the infantry area not taking damage when fired at. Also, we have introduced new in-game icons that will help you, and us, to troubleshoot network related problems that could cause an inconsistent multiplayer experience.

Eventually, all of these will be fixed and Battlefield 4 will be that much more polished and better for it. In December, DLC was delayed so DICE could focus on addressing major problems with the game. In reality, it was more of a PR move than a shift in development. The ‘China Rising’ and ‘Second Assault’ expansions are already available and this month comes the third of five in ‘Naval Strike’, DLC that EA has been promoting over the last week. Here are the details on Naval Strike which adds a fun new mode that Battlefield 2142 fans will appreciate:

Battlefield 4 Naval Strike Hovercraft

Battlefield 4: Naval Strike – KEY FEATURES

  • 4 all-new multiplayer maps set in the South China Sea
    • Lost Islands
    • Nansha Strike
    • Wave Breaker
    • Operation Mortar
  • 5 weapons all-new to Battlefield 4
  • Introducing the amphibious hovercraft vehicle
  • 2 additional gadgets
    • 3GL (3 grenade launcher) attachment for the Assault class
    • Anti-Heli Mine; an aircraft disabling projectile for the Engineer class
  • Carrier Assault game mode which is a re-imagining of the classic Battlefield 2142 Titan Mode
  • 10 new assignments with unlocks for each

Don’t forget to opt into Premium so you can play it two weeks early! That way you’ll also get the two remaining packs, ‘Dragon’s Teeth’ and ‘Final Stand’, which have yet to be detailed.

Battlefield 4 Naval Strike Attackboat

For the remaining DLC, DICE’s main Swedish studio won’t be working on them. DICE Los Angeles will be handling the last two packs according to a dev on Reddit. That likely means, DICE’s BF4 team is being shifted entirely to other projects – like the next Mirror’s Edge and the Star Wars: Battlefront reboot which can’t afford to be subject to the same sorts of launches BF3 and BF4 endured. On the flipside, if DICE’s main studio is doing less work on BF4 we’re unsure if that affects updates on the main game.

Needless to say, all of this news combined makes us very concerned and skeptical for the rumors of EA trying to pull even more of a Call of Duty in annualizing the series, with rumors of a police-themed Battlefield spinoff coming this fall, possibly in development at Visceral Games.

Does EA need to slow down on their releases and deliver on their promise of quality or have their triple-A games met your expectations?

_____

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Sources: Battlelog, DICE, Naval Strike

18 Comments

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  1. I don’t get it, am I not seeing something? I keep reading about how broken BF4 is, but seriously, since the first patch I’ve never experienced any issues playing this game. Anyone else on the same boat? I know there must be because all of the same people playing on the servers in the beginning of the round are still there at the end, so all of the people I’ve been playing with also seems to not crash all of the time…

    • I have the random connection drops here and there but the more common issues I’ve experienced (on PC) are the banding, no damage and most commonly – the sprinting. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to run and just fall dead alongside my party members.

    • No I don’t. I blame people’s s***** internet connections, the s***** server boxes the hosts are using for dedicated servers, and so on. I honestly think it has less to do with DICE because I have no issues with the game aside from the random servers which aren’t that good as far as ping/hardware goes.

    • Glad to see I’m not the only one in this boat! While I do have occasional issues with rubber banding, hit detection, and getting kicked from the server, it’s not happening enough to where I want to stop playing the game. Hopefully they can make some improvements on these issues, but I enjoy playing the heck out of the game. Most people aren’t as good as they think they are, and so when they have poor performances they look for something to blame other than themselves.

  2. I still experience the rubber-banding from time to time and the dreaded ‘mid-game return to dashboard for no apparent reason’ on rare occassions. Otherwise, BF4 is looking and playing wonderfully on my XB1.

  3. Also, been noticing “0″ health kills. That’s where my soldier dies and the post-kill-cam shows the enemy as having “0″ health. They are still alive and running off.

    How do I get in on being dead and still able to kill the enemy? Just saying… Eliminate it or make it accessible to everyone.

    • I think the “0″ health bug is just a display error. I don’t think the people on the killcams actually have “0″ health.

      And I have never had any serious issues out of Battlefield, other than the rubber banding on the PC. My XB1 experience has been near flawless.

  4. I really appreciate the tone of this piece. For too long, games journalism has been too far in the “fan” camp to take companies to task. On the other hand, just yelling “EA sucks” without getting into the meat of it does nothing either.

    Great article.

    • Thank you. I really appreciate that!

  5. I can say I’m excited about the Carrier Assault, I love 2142 and that was one of my favorite game modes.

  6. I haven’t had any issues with the base game, my issues seem to be tied to the DLC. I experience some rubber banding here and there, I also experience a sound glitch where after loading into a match there is no sound until I die, then after that it cuts in and our for the remainder of the round. Nothing that terrible though. I enjoy the game very much. Does anyone know if they fixed the issues with the Campaign yet though? I’ve had my progress disappear a total of three times now, so I’ve been incredibly weary of playing it again as I do not want to continue losing my progress.

  7. I take back what I said about occasional rubber-banding…

    Yesterday’s session was riddled with very bad r-banding! Every round had some with the early rounds being nearly impossible to play.

    And for those who may say it’s my connection… I ran n immediate check of my internet and multi-player connections, and all were at 100%. My XB1 sits no more than 6 feet from the router.

    Not to mention that this issue does not occur on any of my other games or devices (laptop, iphone, tablet).

    It’s the EA Dice servers.

  8. hey guys give up the good work by the way um that’s a trouble with all of the maps in battlefield of the last The OC number 8 update you guys send to watch hello its a picture what up people freezing a lot so can use this that problem for us we could all play just fine plus the way I don’t know how many maps of leasing a lot but if you find a solution what is causing it can you please please please visit the Xbox 360 battlefield 4 call everybody can join the nest map of the d.o.c coming out soon thank you and keep up the good work and we love battlefield but we want to you too please fits the maps for online battlefield well with knowing how to freeze a lot okay guys please please do that for us thank you

  9. since the latest update for the 360 version i have had as many problems as there where around Christmas when i got it. every other loading screen seems to be accompanied by a console freeze and there are issues with textures becoming randomized and strobe between multiple different textures rendering the game almost unplayable some times.

  10. Come on Dice come oooonnn!! Repeare the game before!! Fk thiefs

  11. R-banding at a minimum last session. No other real issues…

    Thanks, EA / Dice!

    Looking forward to play the Naval Strike dlc!!!

  12. Why can’t I even load naval assault on my ps3. It’s e only doc that I can’t play. N I m a premium member Thi sucks. Can someone explain

  13. It took me a bit to get Naval Strike to load onto my Xbox One. Once downloaded, it worked just fine.

    For those having issues, keep the faith…

    Once you finally get past the download difficulties, you will enjoy the gameplay.

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