Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bad Company 2

Intended to occupy the 11am-1pm gap in my morning dreary, this post will discuss my favorite class weapons and loadouts in Battlefield: Bad Company 2.  Anybody not playing this game 1) should and 2) may not find this post entertaining or even interesting, since it may dive into the specialized language of shooters and draws on game-specific references that aren't easily enjoyed by those unfamilar with its gameplay, kind of like how discussing World of Warcraft mechanics in mixed company is a poor idea.

Also, I want to touch on point 1) a little more thoroughly.  I hate shooters.  I hate the FPS genre and always have, and I think it's ruined many a RPG franchise that decided to do the FPS-RPG hybrid and managed to fail on both counts (I'm looking at you, Fallout).  While there are games that break the FPS monotony with interesting equipment systems (Borderlands) or very high writing and environment quality (Mass Effect) they tend to be the few shimmering stars in an otherwise dark sky filled with brainless military shooters (just about anything with online multiplayer) where the object is to take generic gun X and shoot the closest moving object until you've earned enough kill-points to feel good about yourself.  Bad Company 2 (BC2) is a little different in that most of the online game modes have objectives that aren't strictly point-whoring.  The bad-assest elite never-dies sniper who sits on a hill and shoots pure death is totally worthless to your team if he never helps you capture flags (conquest mode) or attack/disarm M-COM stations (rush mode).  In fact, the medic with a 0.4 kill/death ratio might be more valuable in a strategic sense, to the overall game, than LOLZSNIPEDU who has 40 kills but never leaves his home base.  That these game modes are more objective-based than just killing everything you can helps alleviate the irritation I experience at being generally poor at shooters.  I still die, a lot, to superior players, but I can still push the battle line forward, defend my M-COM, spot enemies on the hill for my dudes to blow up, and have fun while still being bad.

Additionally, the inclusion of vehicles and stationary defensive weaponry adds interesting wrinkles and some rock-paper-scissors elements to the overall strategy.  There are positional and resource concerns, and the whole map feels more like a real battlefield than some other shooter's sandbox for spraying lead.  If you've ever watched some of the competitive shooters highlighted by MLG (MW2 or Halo) you can see that they're just frantic run-around matches, with the victor determined by whoever can run around a blind corner and headshot at close range more quickly and accurately.  BC2 is absolutely nothing like this (though you do frequently run into people at close range, and it can become a matter of whose trigger finger is quicker, that one kill or death is almost irrelevant to the larger scheme of your team's performance).  Maps are much more open, you can spot for your allies, every building and wall is destructible by enough explosives or tank fire, and there's always a flank to cover.  You can be bad and still play well.

That said, here's how I like to play:

Assault kit

1: XM8 Prototype.  It feels as though the iron sights on this gun have a small amount of aim assist, because I've killed dudes from way longer using the irons than I ever have using a scope on an assault rifle.  Firing quick 2-shot pulses can quickly and accurately take out guys from medium to long range, but it also fires quickly enough to win close-quarter firefights against engineers and medics.

2: M416.  I don't have much experience with it yet, but it comes equipped with a scope sight standard instead of irons, and its diminished kick means it's more accurate for long-distance shooting.  I'm trying to use this gun with a 4x scope on wider maps (Harvest Day, Heavy Metal, Oasis) to get a feel for it.

3: tbd.  The only other gun I've used extensively is the AN-94, and it's awful.  It fires 3 round bursts with minimal kick, but they just don't seem to all hit where you're aiming.  I've gone through 24 bullets taking someone down shooting at their back, and you just don't always have time to plow a full clip into someone.  Maybe there's a use for this with a 4x scope and trying to headshot, but I can't imagine a situation where I'd prefer this up-close to the XM8 or to the M416 at range.  I'll get to know the other guns soon.

Accessory: 40mm grenade launcher.  Being able to blow up cover from a distance = win.  Also, firing into windows to take out snipers inside.  Haven't even used the shotgun or the smoke launcher, and there haven't been any instances where I would have wanted them.

Perks:  RDS or 4x scope (unless I'm using the XM8, then it's extra grenades), magnum ammo, V-Smoke.

Engineer kit

1: UMP.  The most damage per bullet for any gun except a sniper rifle, with the smallest spread and low kick, which makes this the best overall engineer SMG.  It'll win a CQC duel against a medic, can be pulsed to take out recon, and will take out an assault as long as you get the first shot.  I like it with a 4x scope even at close range, since I prefer to hang back as an engineer and pick my spots, waiting to find something to blow up with an RPG/CG salvo.

2: SCAR-L.  The benefit here is that the gun is silenced, which can help hide you from probing assault and medics.  The damage is the same as the UMP, but the silencer adds some spread so it's not too accurate.  This is more of a house-to-house weapon, so RDS or iron sights are the way to go.

3: RPG-7.  Engineers get to choose from the RPG (high damage vs vehicles), Carl Gustav (high explosive range vs flesh), M136AT4 (tracking system), or anti-tank mines.  As an overall choice I like the RPG because it's good versus tanks (medics and most assault have no tools to take them out) but can still blow up a machine gun or the walls protecting a sniper, and it's heat-seeking with the tracer gun.  The CG takes way too many shots to blow up vehicles, and the AT4 is impossible to aim against anything that moves.  On non-vehicle maps I'd go with the CG, but I'd probably be more likely to just play assault or medic instead.

Perks:  4x scope or extra explosive ammo, bonus explosive damage, V-Smoke.

Medic kit

1: MG36.  This gun is a beast, but only if you exploit the game mechanics.  The idea behind medic LMGs is that they gain accuracy over time, so they were intended for sustained fire (100 bullet mags) where the initial shots are kind of wild, but then the gun settles into a longish-range machine gun for suppression fire and, with luck, some kills.  However, the very first bullet is always on target.  So instead of mashing the trigger, you fire blisteringly quick 1-2 shot pulses, and the quick-by-design accuracy recovery built into LMGs keeps those shots perpetually on target.  So then on top of this, the MG36 has a pinpoint scope built in, which you can amplify with the 4x.  So you basically have an automatic-fire sniper rifle with greater-than-sniper accuracy over the same distance, without sniper bullet drop.  I played on a Nelson Bay rush map last night where I just parked on the hill outside my base and killed snipers on the tower in the back of the enemy base.  The only downside to this gun is the crazy spread when you get into a full-fire close-quarters fight, since you don't have time to pulse.  So hang in the back, snipe entrenched enemies, and rez your squad when they fall.

2: M249.  This only sees use in really tight maps (Cold War, others whose names I can't remember) where there's more building cover and surprise encounters, and you need CQ accuracy.

3: Irrelevant.  There's no use for any other gun.

Perks:  4x scope or medkit-bonus, combat armor, V-Smoke

Recon kit

1: GOL.  I think this is the best bolt-action rifle.  It feels more accurate than the M24, fires faster than the M95, and has a nice clean scope.  If you're sniping, I like this gun.

2: SVU.  This is a semi-auto sniper rifle, and it's a nice alternative to the GOL when you feel like spraying body-shots instead of trying to aim headshots.  It's also usable with a 4x scope for more medium-range stuff when you're tired of squatting in a bush on the other side of the map.

3: VSS.  An automatic fire silenced sniper rifle.  It's kind of like a really strong but inaccurate assault rifle with limited ammo, so it's usable in CQ situations, but it really needs assault ammo-kit support.  You're probably better off with a shotgun or the G3 if you're going to be on the front lines.

Accessory:  C4.  C4 kills tanks in one shot, if you lay it down on the road, or somehow manage to run up behind one.  It also damages M-COMS, blows up buildings, and is generally awesome as long as you're not bush-squatting.  Mortar strikes almost never kill anyone and don't kill tanks even with two direct hits.

Perks: x12 scope (RDS for the VSS), magnum ammo, V-Altfire

Non-kit gear

1: M1911 pistol.  Standard for all builds except engineer on vehicle maps (tracer dart).  It shoots quickly enough for headshots at close range, and does amazing damage.  Should take someone down in 2-4 hits.

2: SAIGA w/ buckshot.  Shotguns are tricky, since buckshot sprays everywhere and slugs can easily miss.  I think the proper route here is the semi-auto shotgun, so you can try to spam-fire and hope for some headshots.  I can't tell you how many times I've used the pump shotguns, didn't kill the target on the first shot, and was killed during the eternity they take to reload.  A properly aimed SAIGA w/ buckshot only needs two shots.  Slugs need 3 and are harder to aim.

3: Any stationary machine gun.  You're exposed to helicopter and sniper fire, but you also spew death with 100% accuracy.  On maps like Oasis where you get nearly 180 degree FOV, one guy on the MG suppressing the infantry in the middle can easily win the match while your team casually takes out the vehicles.  It's less useful on, say, Cold War or Nelson Bay rush where buildings and trees block your firing lines, and snipers tend to make up half the opposing team.  Though if the other team doesn't have a sniper smart enough to look in the back of the base on Nelson Bay, the MG again can singlehandedly hold off an infantry push on the main road.

Things that suck

1: The UAV.  It dies in three hits, and the crazy long-distance accuracy of almost every class means you're under fire immediately upon takeoff.  The hellfire missile doesn't have a big explosion radius and reloads every 25 seconds.  The altfire machine gun is hard to aim on the move, which you need to do at all times because you die if a stiff breeze hits the UAV.  A safe vertical distance is too far away for active spotting.  Nobody ever does anything useful with the UAV.  AND you're totally exposed while you're using it; anybody can casually walk up behind you, type in the chat that they're about to stab you, make a sandwich, and then kill you.

2: Tanks.  A properly set up tank, with a v-smoke driver, a gunner that isn't an idiot, and two engineers on perma-repair support can dominate a game.  What always ends up happening is that support runs off into the woods, and any recon/engineer/assault can 1-shot you from behind with C4 or a mine he put down on the road five minutes ago and can't be spotted.  Or some tank takes one hit and starts frantic reverse driving, exposes his engineers to death, doesn't sit still long enough for repairs, and takes himself totally out of the fight and tries to "snipe" with shell fire, which doesn't work.

3: The AN-94.  It sucks.  Don't use it.

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