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KarmaQU_EU

Naval action in Battlefield 1, and my thoughts

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Beta Tester
803 posts
4,376 battles

I myself never played Battlefield 1, so it came as a surprise to me when I came upon a youtube video showing it had controllable ships, and saw how much naval action there was in that game. Generalizing from previous experience of Battlefield titles, I thought that BF1 would at most only have a scripted and stationary ship you could spawn in and shell the coastline with, similar to the role of the AC130 in previous games and that huge airship they used in the trailers: scripted, uncontrollable, and easily targeted/destroyed for balance purposes.

 

However, it seems these boats and ships were designed to be manually driven like tanks and aircraft in the other Battlefield games. Their main objective is naturally to deal with the other (similarly op) vehicles in the game. While the balance itself has much to be desired, as was in previous titles as well, and there exists youtube videos showing skilled players getting such high killstreaks with planes that they set off the anti-cheat alerts in the system, one can say the Battlefield series was never really an exemplary example of "balance". Instead, as is my purpose for showing this video, there are still other parts it does well, and that we can perhaps draw inspiration from for comparison to WoWs. Note, I probably don't talk about everything possible for every sequence, so if you happened upon another good point while watching feel free to give some of your own thoughts on it in the comments.

 

Firstly, there is this sequence:

 

We can see from the video, the host demonstrating bombing a destroyer with an airship. This was possible because he spawn-camped, and the destroyer spawned right under him, as he explains before the sequence. As I said, "balance" ... but back to topic.

 

Firstly, during an earlier phase of this video, he demonstrated that airships have a higher speed than destroyers and can outrun them (realistic), but that they also have very high fidelity of control, and can wiggle and turn as nimbly as the nimblest destroyers (unrealistic). However, this makes the bombing in the video easily possible, even for noobs and players bad at control. While WoWs is also relatively easy to control, it is far from being noob friendly. This is not just because some of the more complex theorycrafting in the game like Krupp and Sigma ... which WG community staff say only about 1% players care about. It's about supposedly common knowledge like stealth mechanics, or AP vs HE targeting. (Which their presentation in game is straightforward enough, but no amount of minimap circles showing your stealth radius or loading screen tips which nobody ever reads can actually teach you to utilize that stealth. As for AP versue HE, where to aim at enemy ships for AP vs HE, which ships you are more likely to do damage to with AP versus HE, which ships you can or cannot pen ... these things vary even by tier range, much less by ship type.) There are just so many pitfalls noob players may find themselves frustrated by, without clear means to rectify or insure against. While I'm not arguing to make the game like Battlefield, no stealth, no shell type, easy handling e.g. an actual arcade game, I am still repeating that it is very important to attempt to make this game as intuitive in mechanics, and straightforward an experience as possible. Otherwise we may lose players simply due to frustration at the game, or frustration due to suffering at the hands of other players. (Which in this game, is quite noticeable and impacting ... just goes to tell there is a long way to go to make this game "soft logic", "intuitive", and then "enjoyable".) People get to fool around, play around, as is the purpose of a game, in Battlefield. They enjoy themselves.

 

Also, ppl playing BF games don't really argue over "realism" "historical accuracy" and the type. Yet, they don't resort to denigrating comments such as "it's but an arcade game". This might seem like a miracle to WG ppl, but indeed, few games out there ever have to face this specific line of criticism ... WG has driven themselves into a corner with the "image" and "contextual claim" of their game, and has to live to high expectations, while other games can just add fictional elements and gamified and stylistic artistic alteration as needed, and the more stylized and expressive those are, the more they are even lauded for, something completely unthinkable for WoWs. We had better find a way to make the "WoWs impression" work into a benefit, otherwise if I may put it this way ... the gamers themselves really don't care. They'd play as a space marine hunting aliens today, and a wizard casting fireballs the next. Then, they'd go play something "artistic", "Indie" and "emotional" next. In no way would they be suddenly interested in a "historical" experience, much less one that is supposedly so, yet is not. And not very much fun in it either, in the end. I understand that WoWs and WG has found a working system model of attracting, enthralling, controlling, and monetizing players, and good for it, but amongst the scope of all things, and all the games out there, it is still only very limited, and that is something one should not forget. There is no way for me to express this professionally, but perhaps WoWs does have to start thinking about things beyond its own scope of view.

 

Secondly. If I may bring to your attention to those extremely impressive visuals. Even though it is noticeably cinematic shaded, it is still impressive enough to almost be on par with the level of visuals WoWs reserves for its trailers. The clouds, the weather lighting, that ocean surface glimmer, that ship wake, the smoke coming out of its funnels, that crisp, sparkling explosion effect and the volumetric smoke and glaze ... all in real time rendering. So yes, it is very possible with real time rendering, and has been so for a while now. This point is pretty self-explanatory. To think that in WoWs, we have to purposefully dim down the visuals (and thus our enjoyment) for gameplay purposes ... just like people turning all graphical options to lowest in PUBG, so they can more easily spot and kill other players. In the end, people who like visuals will leave the game, and people who like gameplay will also leave the game (because they can achieve that gameplay elsewhere, perhaps in a make-believe stylized simplified cartoonish version where graphics are not the focus). It is just a self-contradicting and self-defeating argument. We can't lose half the players every time a new option appears with either the same level of graphics or the gameplay. Which brings us back to point, an "unique" impression of WoWs must be cultivated, discovered, or even designed if need, so that there can be no partial nor holistic substitute for it. A specific experience, image, logical structure and signature. And a respectable one at that. But I'm getting ahead of myself. For now, just know that graphics are indeed advancing at a ridiculous pace, where relevant.

 

Next sequence:

You will notice that it is at dusk, the host just parachuted onto the ocean surface, and the ships have lighted spotlights in preparation for night battle. We see it firing its guns, brief glimpses of shells exiting, fires burning from hole in its damaged hull. We also get a scripted-esque view of the ship launching torpedoes. Then an explosion, debris, with no harm to the host, and the ship promptly sinks (too promptly), but we do get a brief glimpse of it underwater (without dedicated underwater visuals) (but which we cannot do, at all in WoWs). Again, the graphics are extremely impressive, and all in real time. It is action-packed, dynamic, and spectacular. Comparably, the WoWs grind as an experience is almost boring.

 

For a more stable footage, we see this sequence:

The ship is sailing, firing, has a spotlight, and lays mines. Because it can, and I assume since those are in the game, the mines actually work. The point here is that even thought they don't have specific night battle mechanics, hell, they don't even have day battle mechanics, but as much as we could joke about it, they do have spotlights, they do have mines, and that is already more than WoWs has ever done. As we see here, the ship wake is different from the aerial view, but the ocean waves do bob it up and down, and there is spray and shudder in the wake, very impressive. In WoWs, the primary concern for boring visuals is to not interfere with gameplay ... and bobbing waves would make it hard to judge ships' angle, speed, waterline etc. Yet, we use mods that show us ship angles, to peek over mountains, and are still temporarily blinded (and frustrated) whenever multiple shells hit the water around a ship, sending up waterspouts (I know, we asked for it, but while it was good fantasizing about it, the actual gameplay itself just ... doesn't let us enjoy the nice things).

Fundamentally, when we get disgruntled by even mere seconds of waterspouts, it just shows how hard it is to enjoy the experience of WoWs, when pressing economy/progression and gameplay concerns plague the player's mind. The game was designed to be maybe just a bit too oppressive, bit un-player-friendly, if I may dare to speak. While this may be part of the philosophy of WoWs and WG, and I respect that, it still simply does have its shortcomings.

Also notice that its AA gun does fire at the distant airship, and there are tracers coming from that specific AA gun, and from that tracer frequency we can gauge its dps efficiency or whatever. At any rate, nonexistent in WoWs at the same level of detail. Just imagine if AA tracers in WoWs originated from every specific gun that could fire, and from the frequency of tracers we could gauge their tick rate, and the length/thickness of them as their distance(or speed)/damage. This has most probably been suggested before in forums. And the people who did, lost interest (and hope) in WoWs.

 

Also you may notice a bit farther down the sequence we get brief "captain's view" snippets from the position of the in-game ship conning tower. While this feature has been suggested as early as WoWs existed, there is still no "first person" view for the ships in WoWs. Such a view would have been fun, and nice, to enjoy.

 

Also notice that even farther down the sequence, when he crashes his ship into the side of the lighthouse, it does slow him down, but instead of beaching him, it "bounces" him off harmlessly. Completely unrealistic, obviously. Yet, also more "enjoyable" than WoWs. Between a predicament and harsh logic, we are in ... sigh. 

 

Next sequence:

This is soon after the lighthouse-crash. He is being chased by an airship. The airship is op. It proceeds to hit him right in the midsection, causing a visually impressive fire (but also notice the reflections from moonlight on the water beside the ship ... just beautiful), and his damaged ship starts keeling sideways. The airship then proceeds to drop an ... ugh ... weighted object on him, hastening the sideways keeling and sinking. We don't see the complete sequence in that snippet, but we do get to see an actual keeling-sideways and sinking here:

Although from a very very close view ... but at least we do know that ships keel sideways as they are destroyed. While we have sinking animations in WoWs too, they still have no effect on gameplay at all, though we know that listing ships and other "realistic" characteristics were a very large point for them historically. The damage of a ship could be visually gauged from its posture, ships would shift water and oil between ballast tanks to rectify their position at least enough to continue battle, and when they could not anymore, lose balance and capsize. Not something representable in WoWs ... at least not with the current game system.

Also I'd like to point out those instant turn-rates for the torpedo tubes and gun turrets in BF. Funny and ridiculous to look at, once we get used to the turrets in WoWs. 

 

Some Air-Attack sequences:

Fighter strafing DD

 

Bomber dropping bombs/torpedoes

 

So really, not much to say from this video except "wow, look at what the BF series managed to do". Before we had such visual, graphically represented examples to compare against WoWs, most players could only either express their ideas in text, or draw concept diagrams. Nothing of which would come remotely close to making an impression, but with this concrete example, an actual game from another company, we know that the competition for WoWs is not War Thunder torpedo boats or something that unpolished, oh no no no, it is everyone and anyone else in the industry capable of using their systems to develop a Warships themed game. Or a game even better than a Warships themed game, it's just that the Warships theme doesn't even interest them. Most games are first-personed protagonist centered nowadays w/story. (Which brings us to another question, how on earth would WoWs manage a campaign which requires these ... qualitative touches. When the time comes.) 

 

But in the worst case scenario, say that the War Thunder naval action, which has been hauled back into intensive development (from which their players summed up was probably due to them realizing torpedo-boats just weren't really gonna sell), does manage to create something unique, new, and possibly competitive. Unlike WG, they have experimented on fictional titles with differing game styles, even on new innovative systems such as component-based building games (likely building off their expertise in "component damage"). And so they do have some established experience in new possibilities, unlike WG. That they might possibly consider yet something new, that is maybe even workable, is actually not too unthinkable. Even though I am not too worried, due to the actual presentation of their line of products, and general polish, still, PUBG had no polish whatsoever and still hit it big for a good while. And it might just inspire the big fish to focus their perspectives on this area of context, of which WoWs does not, surprisingly, have absolute claim yet. And all I know is, if WoWs does nothing, it will hit nothing whatsoever, much less big, that is for sure. All until someone else does. So better not wait until then to start exploring options.

 

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Beta Tester
803 posts
4,376 battles

Remember how primitive the Battlefield series started as too, both graphics and systems-wise. Barely a contender against any other FPS games, much less the biggest titles. Now, itself is one of the biggest titles. They have gone a long way to make what we are able to see in the video above. One can also look at the new Monster Hunter World, which started from humble beginnings on portable consoles. So there may yet be hope for WoWs yet, but it will be a long way to go.

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