Battlefield is a long running series from Swedish arm of EA, DICE. Unlike most people on N4G, I'm a true Battlefield veteran, having played every retail release (as well as the F2P games and 1943). With Crytek apparently having dropped the ball for the PC release of Crysis 2 (a claim I find ridiculous despite the obvious console spec PC demo), many are turning towards DICE, hailing them as the new PC leader. This blog is my thoughts on why this isn't, or at least will not likely be the case.
DICE's early games, especially 1942, BF2 and 2142 were hardly graphics kings, not that they were meant to be. But it still remains a ridiculous fact that 2142 released just 13 months before Crysis, yet at max settings looks worse or at least no better than Crysis does at minimum settings. Bad Company 2 certainly took steps in the direction of utilising the PC's power, yet it still can't match it with the best.
My main issue with DICE though is not to do with graphics; it is with DICE's support for the PC platform. It is appalling, and has been for over half a decade.
BF2 released as a relatively broken game. Anyone who played BF2 within the first year will know about the frequent random disconnects, which on their own were annoying enough. Add to this though the similarly frequent complete crashes and you've got a game guaranteed to be bloody frustrating. These issues were certainly improved, but it took too long for the patches to roll out for such major issues.
Battlefield 2142 was the next game in the series, and while it proved very unpopular amongst fans, it is actually my favourite, and is the game in which I've put the most hours (roughly 250). Despite it's exhilarating gameplay, it was technically even worse than its predecessor. Server disconnects got far worse, game crashes got 10x worse. I remember getting up early in the morning on many an occasion looking forward to owning some noobs twice my age, yet finding myself spending an hour trying to get into a game, fighting through start-up crashes, log in errors (to EA servers), more crashes, disconnects, more crashes. You get the picture. I knew this was not an issue on my side, as I had/have a very stable and fast internet connection, and also experienced the same issues across two separate computers and two separate copies of the game. Once again, the patches trickled through slower than the anti-hack patch for MW2.
Indeed, I found that the patches usually introduced more issues without really fixing anything, and often removed awesome features. For those who don't know, in 2142 you could spawn on squad members as in other BF games. However the squad leader could also deploy spawn beacons which would see players drop onto them from above in 'pods', which could initially be steered slightly to allow the spawner to land where they wanted within a small radius of the beacon. Then DICE took the ability to steer them away which was a major problem as the beacon had a natural variance in spawn position within the radius. This would lead to the issue where it would spawn you over the shield of the enemy titan's aircraft bay when the beacon was placed on top of the titan. Not being able to change you're fate, this would lead to instead death. Frustrating and unnecessary. Needless to say this major annoyance has not been rectified.
Then we come to Bad Company. It is truly unbelievable that the same people condemning Crytek for allegedly not supporting DX11 from launch, saying this is a clear rejection of their PC heritage are praising DICE as the saviours of PC gaming.
DICE have on several occasions in recent years given PC gamers the ultimate 'f**k you'. Bad Company 1 never saw a PC release; something that I feel is absolutely outrageous given that the PC should have been its primary development platform. 2009 saw the release of 1943 for consoles initially, with a PC release planned later on. This was a further disappointment for the PC community, but the promise of a PC release 'soon' was enough to keep remaining PC based fans from angrily hitting the forums en masse. Then of course at the start of the year no less than 19 months after it's initially console release, the PC version was officially cancelled. DICE are probably lucky that by then everyone had given up hope of a PC release, and as such the fan reaction was minor.
The disappointment for PC gamers didn't end there though. During the lengthy wait for 1943, Bad Company 2 came out, and was thankfully this time supported by a PC release. Mod tools were promised, and then cancelled. Sound familiar? The add to this the fact that the PC got the DLC late on many occasions, and there really is no reason to believe anything DICE says when it comes to the PC platform.
So the point of this blog is really not to bring hate on DICE or Battlefield. Battlefield has long been and remains one of my favourite franchises. The point of it is to inform those who really don't know anything about the history of DICE and its relationship with the PC. DICE have certainly shown early signs that BF3 on PC will get the treatment it deserves, but seeing as PC gamers have been waiting 6 years for that treatment, I'm appalled that so many people on N4G and in the wider gaming community have been so easily and quickly sucked into to thinking DICE are PC's saviour.
Come late 2011 we may find that DICE's claims that the PC is the main focus for BF3 were after all true. For now though based on all the evidence from DICE's past, scepticism is the only rational way to approach this title.