With the release of the Battlefield™ 1 Turning Tides – North Sea update comes a substantial change to the balance across all the game’s weapons. Oft requested, this change has been long in the works, so we wanted to highlight the changes made and the effects we expect from this rebalancing. Here to bring you those details is Alex Sulman, Senior Gameplay Designer.
What is Weapon Balance and “Time to Kill” anyway?
When we talk about weapon balance we are referring to many factors. For weapons specifically it refers to their overall effectiveness, which is driven by many values. These include aspects such as the damage per bullet, rate of fire, clip size, the amount and type of recoil, bullet “spread” per shot, ideal engagement range, and hip versus aimed fire, to name but a few!
Many of these factors are also relative between weapons. The different weapon “families” – Sub Machine Guns (SMGs), Shotguns, Light Machine Guns (LMGs), Self-Loading Rifles (SLRs), and Bolt-Action Rifles – should all feel unique and excel in different, realistic ways. The different weapon packages such as Storm, Optical, or Factory also have an effect.
With this many factors to consider, it’s important that we pay close attention to this balance. After all, this is your primary form of expression in Battlefield 1 and hence fundamentally affects the way the game feels.
“Time to Kill” (or TTK) refers to the average time it takes to kill an opponent in a game – which is naturally closely tied to how powerful the weapons are.
Why are you changing the weapon balance now?
When we launched Battlefield 1 over a year ago, the focus was on a very specific experience which caused the TTK to be slower overall than in, for instance, Battlefield 4.
As the game has matured and people have settled in, it has become apparent that this experience has led to more punishing gameplay than we would have liked. With a slower TTK, inaccuracy frequently comes at a heavy price, as does being outnumbered. With the number of new weapons added since release, the TTK as designed also resulted in a decreasing ability to differentiate between weapons and weapon types. This, combined with community feedback, made us realize that the TTK in Battlefield 1 was worth revisiting.
Why did this weapon balancing take so long?
We started the initiative around September 2017 and have been iterating the changes since then. Avid Reddit/CTE supporters may remember us including the initial TTK pass on the CTE following the release of Battlefield 1 In the Name of the Tsar. Those that do may have been frustrated by the time it has taken these changes to leave the CTE and arrive in the live game!
As we hope you can see from both the many factors involved and the heavy inevitable impact any changes would have, adjusting the TTK has not been something we have taken lightly. We have carefully considered the large amount of feedback received in order to get the tuning just right. As a result, we are excited to finally release the changes with the upcoming Battlefield 1 Turning Tides – North Sea release.
What difference will the weapon balancing actually mean?
Weapon balance tweaks are wide-ranging and complicated. Therefore, they can initially be very hard to precisely detect. Though you may expect a completely different feel to the game, it’s only with time that these changes will become really apparent. Overall, players should notice a faster TTK, be more capable in out-numbered scenarios, and find greater distinction between different weapons and weapon types.
Enemy Engagement Changes
For a detailed look at the changes, the summaries below detail how these tweaks will alter enemy encounters at ideal engagement ranges.
Assault vs. Medic
- Medic remains superior at any distance outside of very close range.
- The overall decrease in TTK at close range for Assault weapons should ensure their superiority at ideal engagement range.
Assault vs. Support
- The biggest difference here is that Support weapons will be slower to get on target at close range, pushing the engagement slightly more in favor of the Assault than it already was.
- At longer distances the Support LMGs remain far superior to the Assault SMGs and shotguns.
Assault vs. Scout
- These encounters remain mostly unchanged. These classes are opposite extremes; the winner of the engagement will usually come down to range.
Medic vs. Support
- The main change here is in how the Medic approaches an LMG. Previously the SLRs were similar to LMGs in terms of raw TTK, meaning it was often possible to outshoot one head to head. With the changes this is more dangerous, as the LMG will be more likely to kill the Medic before he can reach cover to heal.
- LMG accuracy at close range is weaker than before however, plus Medic rifles have improved range, leaving the medic with several options of approach – take potshots at the Support from longer distances, or attack from unexpected angles to exploit the LMG weakness when not already in ADS or on a bipod.
Medic vs. Scout
- Medics are slightly more accurate at longer distances and are therefore an increased threat to Scouts than previously. Otherwise these encounters remain unchanged.
Support vs. Scout
- Support is slightly more dangerous at long range than before. There is therefore increased pressure on the Scout to score a one-hit kill from an unexpected location before the Support can return fire. Otherwise these encounters remain unchanged.
With regards to weapon family specific changes, you will see an overall reduction in the number of bullets required to kill a target at a weapon’s ideal engagement range, along with some general improvements to their handling.
- Shotguns remain the strongest close-range weapon with generally very poor ranged performance (except for the Slug variants.)
- We’ve improved pellet mechanics, which in turn has improved consistency.
- Implementation of a uniform pellet dispersion grid to ensure even and consistent shot pattern without bunching, which:
o Reduces the occurrence of lucky one-hit kills beyond intended effective range.
o Reduces the occurrence of unlucky misses at close ranges when most pellets would miss due to a poor dispersion grid.
- Standardization of pellet count to track damage.
o All shotguns now fire a flat 12 pellets.
o We now adjust damage output by modifying the damage of each pellet, rather than adjusting the number of pellets which frequently lead to an inconsistent experience between shotguns depending on the number of pellets you landed.
Sub Machine Guns (SMGs)
- SMGs remain very strong close-range weapons, second only to Shotguns.
- High bullet damage drop-off and large spread make them ineffective at longer distances than all other weapons, except for Shotguns.
- The variance in raw TTK of the SMGs has been reduced, in turn reducing the benefit of large magazines on specific SMGs (such as the Hellriegel and Automatico) and increasing the options available to Assault players.
- All SMGs now require a maximum of 4 bullets to kill any target within 12 meters. This change will:
o Emphasize the SMGs strength and ensure that they are more competitive with Shotguns.
o Ensure shooting in close quarter fights is as viable as throwing a grenade.
o Reduce the benefit of large magazine weapons, such as the Hellriegel, due to the decreased number of bullets require to make a kill.
o Reduce the gap in TTK solely from weapon rate of fire.
o Note: To avoid any unnecessary increase in strength, the Automatico will not receive the 4 bullets to kill reduction and will remain at 5 bullets to kill.
- For long range firing, we’ve reduced the number of bullets needed to kill an enemy by 1.
o This makes SMGs feel slightly more effective at longer distances.
o Existing recoil and spread mechanics keep their effectiveness among the worst at this range.
- Increased vertical recoil for all SMGs and reduced the Storm package vertical recoil damping.
o This makes SMGs a little more difficult to use at longer distances.
o It also allows for more variation between SMGs.
o Impact of the Storm package is now less beneficial, so reducing the effectiveness of the Automatico Storm variant and Hellriegel Factory variant (which uses Storm modifiers), the most used SMGs.
Light Machine Guns (LMGs)
- LMGs offer the most firepower, but at the cost of handling and mobility.
- The strongest weapon at medium range when ready for a fight.
- If caught off guard however, their poor hip-fire and high spread mechanics put them at a disadvantage.
- We’ve reduced the bullets needed to kill an enemy by 1 at all ranges for most LMGs.
o This increases the raw damage output of LMGs slightly to give them the best raw TTK.
- Reduced the long-range Bullet to Kill of the current 7 hit kill LMGs by 2 but also slightly increased their recoil.
o These weapons felt very weak to use especially given their fire rates are amongst the lowest of all LMGs. The resulting low damage output meant these weapons needed almost no recoil to remain competitive.
- Increased ADS time for all LMGs.
o Ensures LMGs are the weakest when caught by surprise due to the length of time required to become accurate enough to hit their target.
o Makes them much less rapid when aiming compared to SMGs.
- Increased max Aim Down Sights (“ADS”) spread for all LMGs to reflect their weight.
o Ensures LMGs need to fire for longer to reach best accuracy.
o Has no impact on an LMG that is already in ADS and waiting to fire.
- Adjusted the bipod modifiers to eliminate the first shot spread multiplier.
o Ensures the benefit of the bipod is greater for the heavier LMGs that already have a higher initial spread increase.
- Adjusted the bipod modifiers by slightly reducing the amount of horizontal recoil damping.
o Reduces the impact of the bipod on high fire rate LMGs that tend to have very high horizontal recoil.
- Slightly increased vertical recoil for all LMGs.
o There were a lot of LMGs at the low end of the RPM scale that all felt extremely similar due to almost no recoil. This change allows for more variation between LMGs.
- Reduced the Storm package vertical recoil modifier.
o The Storm package was overused due to the large recoil decrease it offered.
Self-Loading Rifles (SLRs)
- SLRs is the most flexible weapon group.
- They are slightly weaker in terms of TTK compared with other weapons, but have advantages over all others in some areas.
o They have much better ranged performance than SMGs and shotguns.
o They have better handling and can get on target accurately faster than LMGs.
o At closer ranges, they are more effective than Bolt-Action Rifles.
- Improved base accuracy via a constant amount of spread subtracted from the base SLR value.
o This allows SLRs to hit farther with a consistent hit rate, thus challenging Bolt-Action Rifles even more.
o This change has the greatest proportional effect for accurate, covering long range SLRs such as the Selbstlader 1906 or Mondragon.
- Reduced spread increase per shot.
o This allows SLRs to spend less time recovering between shots.
o It also allows the firing of more shots at maximum RPM before spread becomes intolerable.
o This change has the most impact for close range SLRs that are often firing at or near max RPM, such as the M1907 SL.
- The damage drop-off has been reduced.
o This allows mid-range SLRs to be at their best TTK in more engagements.
o It also has the biggest impact for mid-range SLRs, such as the Cei Rigotti and Autoloading 8.
- Bolt-Action Rifles offer one-hit kills at longer ranges.
- They have very low fire rates which makes them very weak up close.
- These are the least changed weapon type.
- In the main, none. Weapons such as the M1903 Experimental and that do not fit the Bolt-Action mold will get changes similar to whichever weapon type they most behave like.
Dive into Battlefield 1 today and get a feel for this new balance. Again, the changes may not be immediately apparent. Over time however, you should see a shift in the type of weapons players are using, and find you are more capable in the right scenario. See you on the battlefield.