Part 5: Episode 6: The Good RussiansEpisode Six: The Good Russians
The Weapons of Battlefield 3
The M1014 Shotgun
The M1014 is a 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun currently in service with the US armed forces and SWAT units and has a civilian version as well. M1014 is the military designation of the weapon, the manufacturer, Benelli, calls it the M4 Super 90. In game I identify it as the M1040, another Benelli product known as the M3. The M4 has been in service since 1999 after less than a year of testing under a US armed forces solicitation. The M4 showed high durability, reliability and stopping power through testing and was a clear winner. In the first year of production over 20k were fielded to the US Marines.
The M4 uses a unique system to make use of the escaping gas from a shot to load the next round into the chamber, making use of a pair of steel pistons to operate the bolt instead of a gas trapping system like you would see on rifles and other auto or semi-automatic shotguns and avoiding the recoil fed system of the M3. This feature has also helped increase the weapon's reliability by reducing complexity and moving parts. The lack of moving parts also contributes to the weapon's well known modularity. Major components of the weapon can be removed and replaced without the use of tools, and the addition of rails to the top and bottom of the weapon allow for a wide range of attachments. The weapon has an effective range of 55 yards, but in game that can vary.
Shotguns are an all-class weapon in BF3, similar to Bad Company 2. While shotguns see a boost from the ballistics system in BF3, they aren't nearly as effective at range as real life versions of the weapons. While the M4 is effective at 50 meters in the field, BF3 maxes out it's effective range at 40m with slugs, 25 for buckshot. These numbers are deceiving, however, as there is a maximum range a shot can carry, going to 300 meters for a buckshot pellet and 1500 meters for a slug, meaning that it is theoretically possible to win a sniper duel with a shotgun. Slugs are toned down a bit from what they were in Bad Company 2, but still a viable option, especially on the M4, which can kill in one or two hits depending on distance and where the slugs hit. The status of the gun as a semi auto with good range, damage and fire rate keep the M1014 popular even among late level players, but larger capacity magazine shotguns have won over most of the shotgun users in the game. Personally I like the Saiga-12 as it has better range and uses a box magazine instead of individual shell reloads, making the process a bit faster if you expend the mag. The M1014 has a strange adhesion to reality, allowing five rounds in a standard magazine and seven in the extended magazine. These are the numbers, minus the chambered round, of rounds the respective civilian and military versions of the weapon hold.
Overall: Good shotgun, not the best, but it will get you where you want to be before you unlock something else and a lot of fun to mess around with in singleplayer.
The Features of Battlefield 3
Destruction has been part of the Battlefield franchise since early on, when portions of buildings and such could be knocked over in scripted ways. I remember in Battlefield 2: Modern Combat there was a wall near a flag on a popular map that you could blow up and hide in the room, but that was about the extent of it. In Battlefield Bad Company that changed. Destroying the environment became a huge part of the game, with walls, roofs, fences and such becoming major targets for explosive equipped players. Bad Company 2 took this to new levels, allowing you to almost completely destroy environments. Knocking over buildings, blowing pits into the ground and knocking every tree in the jungle over were part of the allure of the game. Bad Company was kind of the opposite of a lot of shooters on the market that made you adapt to the environment, and instead let you adapt the environment to you.
Battlefield 3 brought a new version of the destruction engine to the series and the results were...underwhelming. Some major aspects of the destruction feature were toned down, including being able to destroy many buildings outright. While Bad Company 2 had a number of indestructable buildings it seemed that almost every building in BF3 that way. The structures that could collapse were fewer and further between. Instead the game focused on making use of the parts that could fall over, including facades of buildings in infantry maps and walls that could be used to make new corridors in tight areas. The inclusion of multiple infantry maps gave the game a stronger focus on what kind of effect bullets had on the environment over explosives. Chunks of stone, plaster and metal fly off cover and walls all game long, eroding sections of the level over time instead of all at once. In the first video I showed off how that can make a difference, using a high powered weapon on a bit of cover can leave a hidden enemy completely exposed. The reduced destruction also eliminates a problem in Rush, as the MCOMMS, through well armored, could be destroyed by firing on them or dropping a building on them without the attackers having to do anything but protect a tank for a few minutes. Many bemoan that loss, but for balance reasons it made some sense.
With the leak of new BF4 information the other day it looks like the series is going to try and ramp up destruction again, at least to BC2 levels. It will be interesting to see how this jives with the promise of more infantry-only maps in the next game. If destruction returns in full force it is possible the infantry maps will give the option for some interesting map design that allows players to basically tear things down to the four walls around the map and a few protected routes.