Phew! Long time no write! Well, I come to you as a newly ranked Colonel in Battlefield 3, bearing gifts of insight and reviewershipiness on the new multiplayer update! Thought I'd cast my hand at giving you my thoughts on what is probably the most game-changing update that the title will be subjected to. For a full list of the changes, see here: http://blogs.battlefield.com/2012/04/xbox-360-patch-going-live-april-3rd/
Jeeps have horns. Gee this update is off to a good start. Here I was all ready to hate the new gameplay, and you throw a curveball like giving jeeps horns at me! Damn. Yes. Now speeding past enemies, guns blazing, horns blasting and wheels burning, is possible yet again, after being mysteriously absent from Bad Company 2. With the heat tanks bring though, your jeep musical number is bound to be cut short in a flaming smear of glory on the landscape.
Onto some major (although some would argue less important) changes; MAVs have been "fixed". And by fixed I don't mean broken-fixed. I mean fixed like a horny dog who just humped grandma. No more MAV riding and no more excessive roadkills with the dang thing. Which is a shame because I was just beginning to get the hang of squishing snipers with it.
And of course, major tweaking has been done to a fair amount of the guns. Stuff like reduced/increased recoil, accuracy, damage, etc. My favourite assault weapon, the AEK, has been nerfed a tiny bit, but if it means I am not being killed every second by a FAMAS lurking, somewhere, somehow, sometime, then I am happy. Luckily, IMHO the best PDW only got better (!) - they reduced the PP-19's recoil, and also increased damage. Now I was already pumping out a hefty amount of kills with it already, and now they're telling me it wasn't good enough and they wanna throw more good stuff at it? Fine with me lol!
Those are the only real guns I use, so I'm not too concerned with the rest of the nerfing. I heard from some players that the carbines were now rubbish, but I wouldn't know. I like meh classes, I stay with meh classes. One curious occurrence though is that my favourite M40A5 doesn't appear on the list of weapons altered, but the horizontal recoil seems faar worse now. I am very disappointed in this - it was basically the BF3 equivalent of the GOL in BC2. Super accurate, not too powerful, but a certain headshot. Now it feels spoiled. Like a hot wife who has cheated on you. No matter how much you try to make things like it was, with gifts and platitudes, it just isn't the same. Her body feels cold and you can't find her spots like you use to. She probably starts faking orgasms. Then you're getting a divorce and your two children tell you they want to "live with mumma" and you're left alone, afraid and end up folding a SVD for comfort (and $50 per hour). *Wipes tears from cheek*
Some other cool fixes I think will just make things better are of course the jet/heli/IR flare interplay. It just makes things a bit easier on ground troops, but also rewards pilots for smart flying. And giving all users IR flares automatically was a nice touch by DICE to help out those newbies who still can't fly to save themselves (myself included when it comes to attack helicopters). Dealing extra damage to the sides and back of tanks is also very appealing to me. It makes zoom optics a must have, allowing you to effectively thread the needle of combat and deliver a shell straight to the parts that hurt most. My personal request which I campaigned for was that the stationary guns on the ship in Kharg Island should be counted as stationary guns (pretty obvious I know!) as I've gone 16 and 0 several times on that thing without any reward. However, they went a biit too far in reducing their effects on ground troops, making them now near useless to me. Boo.
This brings me nicely into things I think they completely screwed up with the update. Gadgets like the SOFLAM have been improved, but with one hand they giveth, and the other they taketh away. Mortars. Absolutely useless on some stages now. It's hard enough to kill anyone with a mortar if your team isn't onto spotting enemies like bosses, so why on earth would you basically make them vulnerable pieces of sh*t? Take Seine's Crossing for example. I used to sit just in the spawn and rain terror down on the mortals below. Now I'm nearly brushing the balls of the opposition with my mortar stand. Which I could abide, if, and a HUGE IF it is, if the mortar had a shorter minimum range! On Seine you can barely get close to the MCOM stations to lay smoke down as the mortar over-shoots it and you cannot aim closer. Only further into the round do you get any use for the mortar and by then it will probably dawn on most people it is easier to just run up and do work with a gun.
Reducing the splash damage of RPGs and grenade launchers is also a bit lame. I can barely get a hit marker with a 40mm now, and RPGs to the face merely bounce off some attackers. Adding decreased aimed accuracy to foregrips is strange, as is having claymores disappear 5 seconds after your death. And really, they've both fixed some of the ribbons and destroyed others. The MCOM defender ribbon limit has been dropped (thank God!), as has the number of assists for the Suppression ribbon, but on the other hand they raise the limit for the Avenger ribbon (I have not gotten a single Avenger ribbon since the update, except for one which I got whilst in a 1000 ticket, hour-long game!) and the Anti-explosives ribbon, which you don't even get a medal for anyway?
In addition to those, the changes to the repair gun (slowing it down to an agonizing repair speed) drastically reduce any chance of getting the Repair ribbon. I used to be able to repair about 1.5 tanks and get a ribbon. Now it takes me twice as long, exposed next to a tank. I'd have to be going for repairs and little else (along with copious amounts of luck) to get a Repairman ribbon, let alone more, in a game. I'm in two minds, as I know the repair gun was destroying helicopter gameplay, but if you had a team of even two Stinger-wielding engineers, or even one and another with a laser-guider, helicopters were easy to take down, so I don't think nerfing the repair gun THAT much was necessary. Wouldn't have making air vehicles unrepairable from the air make more sense?
So there you have it, a bit of whining, but to tell the truth, I actually like the game far better after the update. I can't pick WHY exactly, but I'm doing far better than I was before the update. I'm going positive every game, getting lots of kills and points, and generally having a more enjoyable experience (you know I'm happy if you don't hear me cussing out the screen every few seconds!). Maybe it's a combination of the guns I use getting a small boost, or that the guns others use being nerfed. Whatever the cause, I think DICE has really done a good job fixing what needed to without totally destroying the game. Or even destroying it all.
The best addition outside of gameplay is of course the rentable servers. Not only did it allow me to get the last of those pesky multiplayer achievements I was never going to get in this lifetime (shameful I know, so sue me...) but it also allows people to play the way they want to. Which is pretty much why you'll see a bunch of servers saying "24/7 Metro 1000 tickets..." or the like. And that's why you'll also see me on those servers, because I like long epic games. And on servers which aren't zero bar all the time.
So give me your thoughts below about what you think the BF3 multiplayer update got right, and what it got wrong. Like I said, I think it was a pretty positive outcome for the game, and can't wait to see how the next big "update" - the Close Quarters DLC - affects the game. Probably by bringing more CoD drones to play, but we live in hope...