At launch, Battlefield V moved at a faster pace than previous games in the series. Not only could you run around quicker than before, but you could kill enemies faster, needing only a handful of bullets. This week, the game rolled out some changes to that gameplay rhythm, alongside a new hardcore playlist, and it has left the some members of the community confused and fractured.
Yesterday, EA DICE made changes to Battlefield V’s “time to kill,” a term that is sometimes abbreviated to TTK. TTK represents how quickly a player can kill enemies. It is the difference between needing to pump tons of bullets into someone like in Gears of War or simply firing a small burst in Rainbow Six: Siege. Battlefield V’s TTK was relatively short, particularly by series standard, encouraging players to move fast and think tactically. You needed to think on your feet, find the best flanks, and take risks. This time to kill value has now been adjusted, and while the change may sound small, it has a large effect on how the game feels and plays.
DICE explained the change in a Reddit post, while acknowledging a perception from hardcore players that the game had felt good to play before the changes. The issue, it seemed, was wider player retention:
“Although not extremely vocal within our deeply engaged community, we see from our game data that the wider player base is dying too fast leading to faster churn—meaning players may be getting frustrated with dying too fast that they choose not to log back in and learn how to become more proficient at Battlefield V.”
The chart above, provided by DICE, shows specific changes to the game’s time to kill, but the big takeaway is a reduction in bullet damage across the board to body and limb shots that means you’ll need to fire more rounds, for a longer time, if you want to secure a kill. Essentially, Battlefield V has made everyone spongier. Many players might not notice, and it might not even affect how they feel about the game, but it’s a change that not everyone is happy about, especially diehard fans.
“People are leaving the game, so we figured we’d try to scare off whoever’s left,” one Redditor said, presumably joking about DICE’s reasons for the update. Meanwhile, YouTubers who have been playing the game, like Westie and GetGoodGuy are making videos with incendiary titles like “DICE JUST MADE BATTLEFIELD 5 WORSE” and “The BF5 TTK Changes DON’T MAKE SENSE... Right Now.”
Many players feel that the time to kill was well-tuned and forced them to be more careful with how they played the game. Some have expressed concern that this change will also drastically change how certain weapons work. For instance, the 10-round Gewehr 43 now takes four shots to kill an enemy. For a rifle with such a small amount of rounds, that’s a big deal, and it encourages players to abandon precise firing rifles in favor of automatic weapons. Meanwhile, classes like the teammate-reviving Medic—already considered to have lackluster weapons—are in an even trickier position. Their piddly submachine guns were a point of contention for fans who enjoyed their access to marksman rifles in Battlefield 1, myself included. After these changes, it can take a Medic 8 to 9 bullets to secure a kill.
“It was hard enough to get range kills with SMGS but now? RIP my fellow medics 2018-2018,” one Redditor wrote.
Another noted: “Holy shit we got fucked! 9 rounds at range! That’s useless.”
Adding to the reaction is the addition of a new playlist: Conquest Core. This playlist keeps the older, faster time to kill from launch and is advertised in game as “...just the beginning of the hardcore Battlefield V experience.” But that description is vague, so it’s possible that many players might be confused. It’s also possible that the community will be split between players who enjoy this new gameplay and those who want to stick to the evolving “core” playlist.
Battlefield V has not been without its share of controversies. An initial launch trailer featuring a women soldier led to bull-headed calls for “historical accuracy,” and the beta periods didn’t exactly inspire confidence. But the game pressed forward and has since proven to be an exciting multiplayer game since launch. The latest changes might continue to enrage irritable diehards and perhaps even split up the community. Whatever happens, it goes to show how smaller tweaks can have big effects.