Grand Operations – Should DICE Advance or Retreat?

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Battlefield V launched back in November of 2018 without much fanfare and alongside a bunch of negative headlines (Eurogamer: “Battlefield V physical sales down more than half on Battlefield 1” / VG24/7: “Battlefield 5 drops down to $30 in new sale“) which did a good job of killing most of my expectations for the title. So I was surprised, when I picked up a copy, by how much I enjoyed the online action in the game.

The big, main mode, alongside series staple Conquest, is Grand Operations. A new version of Battlefield 1‘s Operations mode. In that title you had a few attempts to take ground against your opponents, and the losing team was able to call in a Zeppelin to try and turn the tide. It was a fun mode, which I liked playing. In Grand Operations you play across three ‘days’ of various game modes, although Day 3 is always Conquest. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played of it so far but there are some under-lying problems that leave me concerned about the longevity of the mode.

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So what are the issues and what can be done to fix them? It’s a tough question because how do you make online play fun over a long period of time in a title where the individual player has such a small influence? In something like Overwatch or Rainbow Six: Siege, you are part of a team of 5 or 6 and your actions, such as the use of a gadget, skill or ability, can directly win a round for your team. In Battlefield V, while you have a squad of four, there are 32 players on each side and your actions rarely impact dramatically as events unfold.

Let’s start with the positives and what Grand Operations does right. It evokes memories of the excellent, and similarly titled, Killzone 3 Operations mode – especially with the parts where you’re aboard a plane before rounds start and you’re waiting to jump down into the action. I’d like to see more cut scene variations between the days if possible but what we have is a decent enough start. Grand Operations certainly feels grand in terms of time – rounds can last between 45 minutes and an hour depending on how close they are. It’s interesting to move through different sections of the map on each day and generally rounds do seem to finish quite close for the most part, which gives it the sense of a thrilling battle.

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Grand Operations is likely the best mode in the game… if you have the time. Conversely, on occasion the rounds seem to drag out – especially when the victor is obvious. The first two days are almost pointless as only victory/defeat on the final day decides the battle. This would be fine if the first two days counted for anything on both sides. Attackers do get benefits if they win the rounds (extra respawns etc.) but the defenders don’t, they just stop the attackers gaining an advantage. There’s nothing quite as disheartening as, while defending, winning the first two days and then losing the final day to be greeted by a ‘Major Defeat’ screen. The game is also glitchy during gameplay and cut-scenes, including instances of Day 3 just being a black screen, meaning you have to quit and lose your progress. Also people quit (or perhaps can’t join due to technical issues) between days, leading to wait times between rounds and sometimes completely uneven sides.

I have some ideas to remedy these problems and make Grand Operations the go-to mode for Battlefield V. Some are simple fixes and others more complex suggestions but let’s get into it.

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My first suggestion is the easiest to call out as a player, though only the developers will know how much time/resources would be needed: fix the bugs. This isn’t exclusive to Grand Operations but it would make a huge difference. Unlocks not happening, players dropping out of games, standing in the plane literally INSIDE another player – tidy it up please DICE. Secondly, give more rewards for playing Grand Operations. Maybe it is exclusive outfits or even a special gun. Anything would help bring people into the game mode.

DICE have to change how the ‘Days’ system benefits each side. My suggestion would be to scrap the respawns and make each day count as an automatic flag capture on the final day. So, if one team wins both days on Day 3 they start with two flags already captured. Currently if you’re defending, the first two days seem quite pointless. While the extended sessions are great, perhaps the addition of a ‘Mercy’ option like the one in Destiny could help. In that game the ‘narrator’ character ends the game early if one team is completely dominating. Given the World War II setting this would be in keeping with the atmosphere of the game if your ‘commander’ called for you to retreat. In one way it saves you the humiliation of spending another 10 or 15 minutes in a fruitless battle but brings the embarrassment of having to retreat.

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My final idea, and likely to be the most controversial, is to make Grand Operations the ranked/competitive mode of Battlefield V. Firstly, it would stop people quitting out between rounds. If you couldn’t play another round until the one you quit finished or you rejoined, it would be a good deterent for quitters. Assigning a specific ranking to performances and having you climb the ladder season to season in the mode would keep people interested for longer. This could tie in with the extra rewards I mentioned and could possibly involve the Tides Of War side mission content. If they actually fixed the issue I mentioned above in regard to balancing rewards for Days 1 and 2, Grand Operations could even be the mode that EA utilize for Battlefield V’s esports angle. It seems like it would be a great fit with potential rounds of up to an hour and I’d love to see what sort of tactical plans teams and squads could come up with, given advance preparation time. I suspect EA will more likely be looking at their Battle Royale mode for that but I think this could be a much more enticing option.

So there you have it, some ideas to help enhance what is a promising game mode. With a few changes here and there Grand Operations could be a stand out mode and Battlefield V’s trump card. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out as 2019 progresses.

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Eurogamer Expo 2011

Earl’s Court in London was once again taken over by gamers as the hugely popular Eurogamer Expo hit town.

With a wealth of games on display and the first UK showing of Sony’s new handheld, the PSVita, it was set to be an exciting show.

So without further ado, here are the titles I managed to get my hands on:

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TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER

A few E3’s ago this game looked like a futuristic warfare shooter where you would be using lots of gadgets to take out your enemies. While this is still the case to an extent, the game this most reminded me of was SOCOM 4 – no bad thing. Definitely a solid third person shooter, I’d certainly be interesting in playing through this if the story is strong enough.

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BATTLEFIELD 3

I make no apology for the fact that I *love* the campaign and online of Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Battlefield 3 is from the same makers but is the sequel to Battlefield 2, as opposed to Bad Company 2. Which means it’s more realistic and less like Kelly’s Heroes. We played the online beta (which releases to everyone on Thursday 29th September 2011) and I have to say ‘wow.’ Once I’d got used to the changes (the recoil kicks especially) I had a great few rounds. Graphically great this is definitely a step up from any other shooter out there.

* ‘BATTLEFIELD 3’ : GREGHORRORSHOW’S BEST IN SHOW – Eurogamer Expo 2011*

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CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3

Spec Ops was the only thing I got a chance to play – they had the game set up with headsets so you could communicate with your partner and the whole experience was great fun. The game looks really nice and while it doesn’t have the realism of Battlefield in terms of recoil etc, Modern Warfare 3 will be lapped up by fans of the series.

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INVERSION

Inversion is one of those games that hit me out of leftfield when I first saw footage of it earlier this year. It certainly looked interesting and the gravity based gun play seemed like it could be fun. Unfortunately while this may turn out to be the case the gameplay on offer here didn’t really sell me on the game. Not to mention the fact that graphically it was quite poor, with lots of jagged edges and pop in. Fingers crossed the full game gets more polish before release.

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JOE DANGER: THE MOVIE

I really enjoyed Joe Danger and the follow up plays it safe in terms of gameplay, with great stunts and lots of combos. What changes here is that not every level is bike based – there are mine carts, skis and more besides as Joe shoots scenes for a film. Brilliant fun and with the game moving to XBox 360 as well even more people will be able to enjoy it.

*EDIT* Been told that Joe Danger isn’t confirmed for XBox 360 – so we’ll have to see what platforms are confirmed.

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RAGE

Rage is one of those games that just never excited me. It certainly looked great but coming on as a cross between Fallout and Borderlands I wasn’t sure whether I would end up picking it up – there are only so many post apocalyptic shooters I can play… But having got my hands on it I’ve changed my mind. What impressed most was the enemy AI, the fact they ran for cover and scurried away to protect themselves was very cool. The shooting felt strong and I liked the vibe of the game. This has gone from a maybe to a definite play.

* ‘RAGE’ : GREGHORRORSHOW’S MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE – Eurogamer Expo 2011 *

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AWESOMENAUTS

Awesomenauts is a downloadable, 2D online battle game in which you take control of one of a selection of cartoon mercenaries. The gameplay is objective based and was good fun for a quick blast. Each character has their own abilities and can contribute towards the goal of destroying the enemy base (while also defending your own). Not sure if I’ll pick it up but if you like battle arena games, this is something different.

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SAINTS ROW: THE THIRD

The trailers for Saints Row made the game look like a fun open world title and after getting a chance to try it out I can confirm this is indeed the case. Running around shooting random people and dealing with the cops/enemy gang members when they showed up left me with a big smile on my face. The only problem I have is that the game didn’t do enough to convince me to pick it up so I’ll wait and see before making a decision.

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STARHAWK

It was more than a little disappointing to find that the hands on with Starhawk was ground based as opposed to in the sky or being multiplayer. Regardless, the action was solid and fairly enjoyable, though it was reminiscent of Red Faction, without the comedy destruction. I’m still looking forward to this but I don’t think this demo would have sold many people.

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BINARY DOMAIN

This almost took my Most Pleasant Surprise award but was pipped at the post by Rage. Looking very much like Vanquish, Binary Domain features a nice bit of squad interplay in that you can issue commands but also have conversations based on which members you included in your squad. Fast and loose shooting is the name of the game in this title and you’ll be ripping through evil robots on the way to, what I expect will be one of many, boss battles. Definitely one to watch out for if you liked Vanquish.

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PS VITA

Well I got to *see* a Vita – unfortunately the queue was so long that we’d barely moved after 15 minutes and with time running out we had to make an executive decision to get out and see a few more games instead. It didn’t look as big as I’d heard it described, which is a good thing and although I was viewing from a distance the screen gave a pretty clear picture. Would’ve loved to have actually played one but sadly it wasn’t to be… yet!

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So there we have it, lots on show and plenty of stuff to play. One of the bigger surprises for me was that Bioshock: Infinite didn’t make any sort of appearance – seemed weird for one of the biggest games of next year.

Overall the Eurogamer Expo goes from strength to strength – now I need to start planning for next year 🙂

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Review (PS3)

 

I’ve been waiting for months to get my hands on this game. Having loved the beta and demo I was keen to experience the full set of features in the final title.

I enjoyed the first Bad Company – it’s irreverent humour shone through and while the story was fairly standard the characters were well designed and it was a lot of fun.

The same rag tag bunch of soldiers return for the sequel – you play as Preston Marlowe again, accompanied by Sweetwater, Haggard and, of course, Sarge 😎

The single player campaign is a wonderful blast through several impressive set pieces and the feeling of being in ‘B’ Company really adds to the experience.

That sense of community and closeness to the characters is a big bonus and probably the main reason Battlefield’s campaign stands head and shoulders above Modern Warfare 2.

While the enemies initial spawn points are often the same, the AI behaviour varies so if you retry a section you will know roughly where the enemies will come from but not what they are going to do.

Clocking in at around 8/9 hours it’s also almost double the length of Infinity Ward’s offering but it occasionally lacks the polish of Call Of Duty – perhaps down to the fact that everything is destructable in the environment.

The destructability of the world is a big factor here as well – you can’t just run into a building and pop up in the window firing shots at enemies with no repercussions – bullets whizz through the walls and a rocket or tank attack will soon take out whatever cover you have. It adds a whole new spin on your thinking regarding taking cover.

I found I cared enough about the characters and was suitably immersed in their world to feel a pang of emotion here and there during the campaign. Quite a rare experience in a (non-RPG) FPS and something I hadn’t had since Killzone 2 back in February 2009.

The multiplayer kicks you off with four classes (assault, engineer, medic and recon) allowing for people to find a class they are happy with or mix it up. You unlock more weapons/gadgets per class with your overall score giving you your rank.

The maps are fantastic and very well designed. Especially the ‘rush’ mode ones, where you have to plant charges at two sets of areas in 3 or 4 different bases. These are my favourite match types with some real epic battles so far.

You also have ‘conquest’, essentially capture and hold, along with ‘squad rush’ and ‘squad deathmatch.’ In the latter two, rather than just two sides, four squads of four face off against each other.

Then there are the vehicles: Tanks, Helicopters, Quads, Boats – it all adds a huge dimension to the gameplay and thankfully don’t feel too overpowered.

Again destructability comes into play massively in multiplayer. Buildings crumble around you under attack and the sense of panic as you hear the foundations creak while you desperately try to sprint away is awesome.

D.I.C.E have done a great job of balancing weapons out in my opinion. Seemingly the more powerful weapons you unlock have less bullets per clip but do more damage.

The unlock system itself is excellent, giving you a wealth of guns and gadgets to unlock – eventually everyone will find a favourite.

Over the last year or so Killzone 2 has been the FPS of choice between me and my friends. Does Battlefield do enough to muscle in?

It’s a resounding yes from me – while Killzone is different enough that I know I’ll still play it occasionally, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is the best FPS I have ever played.

The single-player is solid and enjoyable, with the multiplayer wiping the floor with anything out there on the PS3 at the moment. If you have any interest in a more realistic FPS as opposed to ‘twitch’ shooters then you should check this out immediately.

Rating: 10/10

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Demo Impressions

As you may remember from reading my Beta impressions, or indeed my 2009 Game Awards, Battlefield Bad Company 2 is my most wanted game of 2010.

Now that a mulitplayer demo has gone up on the PSN everyone can give it a try. And I suggest they do 🙂

The main difference between this and the Beta (other than the obvious one of bugs having been ironed out) is that rather than a desert based map this one is snowy. And also the weapons seem less plentiful, though that might be because I haven’t ranked up yet.

For me personally the demo is vindication of my preaching to all and sundry of just how good this game is. And we’ve only played multiplayer so far.

DICE could give me the multiplayer maps/objectives with all the other characters as AI and some nonsense backstory and Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s campaign mode would STILL be better than Modern Warfare 2’s weak single player story.

I found a wonderful sniper spot on one part of the map and was racking up the kills before running out of ammo and having to ‘Leeroy Jenkins’ it with just a pistol. 😎

The map proves as diverse as the desert based one and you obviously still have the vehicles as before. This demo showcases the games strengths.

However, this isn’t going to be a game for everyone and if you go steaming in the chances are you will die… a lot. You’ll need to be a bit more stealthy, hiding behind something and running to the next point of cover is a good idea – whereas running down the middle of a road will most likely see you shot in the head.

If you are into first person shooters then this is definitely one for you. I’ll be very surprised if the full game isn’t head and shoulders above all competition – my current multiplayer FPS favourite Killzone 2 included.

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Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – Beta Impressions (PS3)

This is war.

No seriously, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 gives you that feeling that you are fighting for territory.

That every kill counts in the grander scale of things, that while you cautiously push forward or even make a daring renegade dash for the enemies base that you are making difference. 😎

I’d been playing and enjoying the multiplayer on Modern Warfare 2 for a few weeks when I stumbled upon a link to a site offering access to the beta for Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

Needless to say I leapt at the chance.

Graphically the game is stunning, despite the level being mainly desert – it has three sections to fight through, each with a slightly different flavour – and the destruction of buildings is something to marvel at (not for too long though or someone will kill you :wink:).

The gameplay is as you’d expect, likewise with the controls – fairly standard.

They seem to have pitched it between Killzone 2’s more realistic heavy handling and Modern Warfare 2’s almost comedic light handling, which is (in my opinion) just about the right balance.

The inclusion of a selection of vehicles (tanks/jeeps/quads etc) is a great touch that adds to the proceedings.

There are a few problems – mainly a seemingly invisible force pushing you back (could be done on purpose if it’s supposed to be desert wind but still a bit annoying) and also the occasional glitch leaving me unable to walk or stuck trying to get in a door (which I was also actually having in the finished product of Modern Warfare 2 :mad:)

However it’s the beta so I’m guessing those will be straightened out by the time of release.

You get a few classes to choose from, all regular stuff (Medic, Engineer etc) – not sure how many different classes there will be in the final product.

However it’s the aforementioned destruction damage that means that nearly every round is different.

You can’t have a regular hiding place, at least not for long, because chances are if there is a hint that you’re there tank shells or grenades will destroy whatever cover you have.

For the record I have to also say that the beta is only one level and one game mode! 😯 Yes, it’s this good and that is all I’ve played.

I honestly haven’t touched Modern Warfare 2 since I played this.

To give this some perspective I offer a further viewpoint as well as my own.

A work colleague who is also on this beta said, having played multiplayer of both games, “I don’t think I’ll bother picking up Modern Warfare 2 now, might as well play this, it’s much better.”

I cannot praise it enough and I just hope it can maintain this level of awesomeness until, and beyond, it’s release in March 2010.

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