The Let's Play Archive

Battlefield 3

by Lazyfire

Part 4: Episode 5: Tehran Assault Pt. 2

Episode 5: Tehran Assault Pt. 2

In this mission Misfit company makes their way towards the bank where Al-Bashir is supposedly holed up and find something terrifying.

The Weapons of Battlefield 3


There are actually two versions of the SCAR in BF3. In this level we had the SCAR-H (for “heavy”) which fires a 7.62 round instead of the 5.56 fired by the SCAR-L (for “light”). The L version is sometimes simply called the Mk. 16 and the H version the Mk. 17. Both versions have been heavily targeted to the US military, even soliciting some orders. Currently the Mk. 16 contracts are on hold and the Mk. 17 is in service with special forces in all branches of the military and has been issued to Marines. The SCAR has had some success overseas, with Mexico, Peru and France purchasing and issuing a number of the weapons to armed forces and police. The SCAR design is a bit different from the M16 and M4 designs we are used to seeing , with an aesthetic that promotes corners and edges rather than the curves incorporated in the M4 and M16.

FN, makers of weapons like the FAL and the M249, incorporated integrated rails (the ridges running along the top and bottom of the weapon) to the design, as well as allowing for removable side rails. You can tell the Mk. 16 was meant to be the lead platform as it could accept a standard M-16 magazine and used the same ammunition (thus a ready supply of magazines and ammunition would be on hand if it were accepted). It is odd, therefore, that the Mk. 17 would become the preferred weapon between the two. The Mk. 17 looks very similar to the Mk. 16, but comes with a 20 round magazine (just like in the game) and is chambered for the larger 7.62 bullet. The Mk. 17 is identified as a battle rifle, just as the FN FAL from a couple generations ago was. Like the Mk. 16 it has three different configurations, mostly dependent on the length of the barrel. In each of these categories, Close Quarters, Standard and Long barrels are all longer for the Mk. 17 than the Mk. 16 counterparts.

An interesting note about the SCAR and military testing is a competition held in 2007 which featured the SCAR, M4, canceled XM8 and HK 416. The guns each fired 6000 rounds in an environment that would facilitate jamming. The SCAR had 226 stoppages, good enough for second place. The M4 saw 882. Another test was conducted in the same conditions and the M4 only suffered 307 stoppages in that test. Currently a version of the SCAR, called the FNAC, is in competition to replace the M4 in the Army only. The Mk. 16 serves as the basis for that platform.

In Battlefield 3 the SCAR-H is an Engineer carbine (as the barrel length is described as that of the Close Quarters version of the weapon) and provides Assault Rifle-like stopping power, doing 30-20 base damage (not considering multipliers for things like headshots), meaning four shots are needed for a kill at a close range. Compare this to the damage profile of the AK-74U, the starting Russian engineer weapon that also fires a 7.62 and does 25-14 base damage. Anyone who’s ever had a 100 point kill assist will tell you that 4th shot really matters in close range. Oddly enough, both versions of the SCAR excel at medium to close range if the user is smart about firing in bursts or changing over to Semi-auto mode. The minimum damage means a five shot kill at range, about what you can expect with most rifles in the game. The downside to the weapon is the at times insane upward recoil. I almost always equip a heavy barrel on guns that don’t even really need it, but because that attachment decreases vertical recoil it is well worth it. Actually, that’s all I run on my SCAR-H. It’s a good gun, my second most used weapon and makes for a fun “assault engineer” class that relies as much on his primary weapon as he does on rockets and repair tools.

Features of Battlefield 3

I’m feeling a need to explain some of the elements I mention in almost every video. We’ll start off with a simple one, the Ballistics Engine:

Ballistics engine
It is actually kind of difficult to find information on the specifics of the BF3 Ballistics engine. Reading on the overall game engine, Frostbite 2.0, I still couldn’t find much on it. This is sort of odd as the ballistics in this game are one of the more identifying features. As I say in the video the majority of modern military shooters that come out today are “hitscan” games. Let’s say you are playing Call of Duty. The gruff-yet-lovable superior officer tells you to take a shot on a target 200 meters away with an assault rifle. You aim down the sights and fire a single shot to the head and the objective is completed.

In BF3 in the same scenario you may be required to aim slightly above the target’s head depending on the type of gun as the bullet will drop over that range and may actually go wide left or right even if you had it aimed perfectly. This is why I refer to hitscan as laser tag. As long as you are aimed at your target you are about guaranteed a hit. Effects like recoil, kick or flinching are used to make it a bit harder to connect every time, drawing the gun away from the initial target, but essentially if you aim at someone and pull the trigger they get hit every time (unless you are actually playing a COD game online and there is lag and you miss even though YOU TOTALLY SHOT THAT GUY!). Of course, not all weapons in hitscan games are that way. Thrown objects and some items will have a simple parabolic arc assigned to them, but for the most part bullets essentially teleport into their target.

Ballistics effect all fired weapons in BF3, from the bullets in a small arms weapon to the shells a tank is launching at you. The weight and speed of the projectile is entered in the system as a set of values that are considered for each weapon, so a sniper rifle will fire a bullet further before bullet drop effects it than a shotgun slug. Smart players make use of the ballistics engine when they can. In Bad Company 2 it isn’t/wasn’t uncommon for a tank pilot to find a good angle and start shelling a point using a hill as cover and the ballistics engine to make the shells drop right into an objective or high traffic area. This may have affected the decision DICE made to make MCOMM control points invincible as “tank sniping” was a viable strategy in Bad Company 2.

The Ballistics engine doesn’t just make bullets fall, it also takes recoil into account. In the video where I fire the PKP into the air and show the white dots flying into the air you can see them spread out as they fly off. The recoil from shooting the weapon contributes to each bullet’s path in small arms fire, the mounted weapons don’t see as much recoil and therefore have more consistent patterns. When you fire small arms in long bursts you’ll get bullets flying in all directions as they get further from the point of origin, making hitting targets at a distance a tricky proposition when magdumping down a hallway. Over even short distances the ballistic engine can make you miss if you have a low velocity weapon or spray and pray at a target.

Ballistics like this would be unworkable in a “twitch” shooter like Call of Duty, where reaction time is king, but in a game like BF3 which derives its fun from running battles, teamwork and outsmarting the other guy Ballistics add an element of risk to gunfights. In COD firing first is generally going to lead you to win a gunfight. In BF3 this is still a factor, but a smart player will be able to survive encounters if their opponent is

While each class of weapons has been affected by the introduction of ballistics to the series, shotguns have seen the best benefits. Instead of pellets disappearing in the middle distance BF3 pellets travel a good distance, often striking targets well out of the range of other video game shotguns. The issue becomes pellet spread, as the various pellets separate in flight and at extreme distances pellets can become a minor annoyance instead of a major threat. What many players decided to do at range is to equip slugs, which replace the pellets with a single large projectile. The slug has a significant drop to it, but makes a shotgun a viable distance weapon in the hands of a skilled user.