DLC has been a touchy subject for a while. There was a time about ten years ago when downloadable content was seen as a distant future. Now that it’s here though (and has been for some time) there has been some severe disillusionment regarding this particular evolution of the gaming industry. Poor pricing strategies, more ammo against second-hand game sales and unfinished game development are just some of the gremlins plaguing the DLC market and its impact on the industry. One such case study of DLC dissatisfaction has arisen with the recently announced physical warfare pack that will be bestowed upon UK residents who pre-order their copies of Battlefield 3 via GAME or Gamestation.
Day one DLC is not exactly a new concept. In the hope of dampening the ever increasing practice of second-hand game sales, developers will include extra content with new copies of their upcoming title only. The problem many seem to hold with the physical warfare pack is that it will give certain players an unfair advantage over others. Most first day DLC tends to be extra levels or early access to some game unlocks or experience points. The physical warfare pack on the other hand offers players a variety of exclusive weapons that nay-sayers feel should be available to all. But is the physical warfare pack and its exclusive content really worth getting so riled up over?
Those eager folks at DICE have been claiming for a while now that BF3 will not contain any upgrades that can increase your damage, health or armour like the body armour and magnum ammo upgrades in Bad Company 2. As a result of this, the inclusion of the DAO-12 and accompanying flechette ammo has caused some concern among potential fans. The DAO-12 itself is a shotgun that proved fairly popular in Battlefield 2. Its inclusion as an exclusive weapon would be reason for concern but, in all the press release material released regarding the pack, it has been referred to as a day one exclusive only. This means there is hope that it will be made available to those without pre-orders at a later date. The problem of wording also applies to the flechette ammo. It’s named as an armour piercing round in the press release material, prompting angry fans to feel that DICE had gone back on their word and included armour in the game. The flechette ammo’s penetrative properties apply more to shredding through light cover and other bodies, rather than being required to counter balance any sneaky armour upgrades in the game. In a recent Q and A session on twitter senior gameplay designer Alan Kertz has also confirmed that “armour piercing comes at the expense of lowering damage. It’s also unique to flechettes.” This definitely means that the game will remain balanced, even if many players do not have the benefit of this type of ammo. It does mean though that there will be no way to get this light cover ignoring ammo for other weapons if it is indeed unique to the DAO-12’s flechette ammo.
As far as the other content is concerned, there also seems to be very little cause for alarm. The inclusion of the Type 88 LMG is a sad exclusive on a personal level, as it was one of my favourite weapons for the medic in Bad Company 2, but it is unlikely to unbalance the game by having this as a pre-order exclusive. Though losing a beloved LMG from the main game’s arsenal is a shame, there will no doubt be many other LMG type weapons that will perform in a similar way. It’s not as if the Battlefield games have a limited arsenal now is it?
The final addition to the mix is the SKS flash suppressor, an attachment that allows snipers better cover when using the SKS rifle. With this, recon users can push up to the front lines with their team without fear of discovery. In all honesty it’s rather difficult to tell exactly how helpful this attachment will be in context with just the description. A sniper in close range is always a personal choice rather than a sure fire tactic, so it will hopefully not become too overused and overpowered an addition. The plus side of this particular inclusion of the physical warfare pack is that it shows the kind of variation we will now see in the game’s gun attachments. Whereas previous Battlefield games offered little more than silencers and the odd under barrel attachment, BF3 looks set to give players more choice over what adorns their weaponry.
The other key issue with the physical warfare pack is its availability. Currently the pack is only available to those with pre-orders at GAME and Gamestation, two retail outlets in the UK. I’m not really going to complain considering the fact that I come from the UK myself but, as America is infinitely larger than fair old Britannia, it does seem odd that this pack hasn’t made it state-side yet. That said, I can imagine it’s only a matter of time before EA announce pre-order bonuses for American Battlefield fans that are every bit as potent as the physical warfare pack.
We’ve seen countless day one DLC incentives before, so it seems odd that so many people are getting their proverbial knickers in a twist regarding the matter. The four additions in the pack offer players alternative tactics they can use at their discretion, not an obvious edge over the competition. Everyone knows that skill and strategy win out over bigger guns any day, so stay confident that your skill will take care of itself. I for one know that those fools won’t even get the chance to fire their precious flechette ammo when I’m on the scene.