The Battlefield V closed alpha’s spotting system was a bug – there wasn’t supposed to be a spotting system

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Overall, I enjoyed my time with the Battlefield V closed alpha recently, but there’s no denying that the new systems EA and DICE’s latest iteration of their best-selling military shooter franchise introduces are really going to take some getting used to. They may not be to everybody’s liking as the game is pushed into a more authentic war direction. It also didn’t help that not all of the new systems were actually in place yet, and some that were there were still quite buggy and unfinished. Plane controls were terrible, you couldn’t drag downed teammates to safety, and couldn’t create your own squads, for example. But this being an alpha test, these rough edges were expected. What was not expected for some though, was the game’s new spotting system.

We knew for a while now that the “3D spotting” of previous Battlefield games – where looking in the general direction of an enemy and pushing the assigned key would put an icon above their head that stayed there for a while and was visible through the environment and on the mini-map to your teammates – was going away. BFV seemed to introduce a new passive spotting system where aiming down sights at enemies put an icon above them automatically, and then removed a few brief moments after you looked away.

This meant that it was way harder for planes to do bombing runs on spotted infantry (great!) and required some communication between teammates to pin down enemies (also great!). What wasn’t great was that it was completely broken as enemies were being spotted through smoke and particle effects that should obscure them, sometimes through buildings, sometimes way farther than you should be able to see, and other times when just a few pixels of their bodies were visible behind cover. And because it auto-spots now, you could just aim down sights in a general direction and suddenly an enemy who should have been very well hidden was lit up. This was essentially the worst traits of the previous 3D spotting taken to the extreme.

Thing is though, this new spotting system wasn’t supposed to be there. At all.

After IGN posted a video last week pointing out some of the flaws in the new spotting system, they reached out to DICE for comment and the developer responded to say that it was actually a bug.

After reaching out to EA/DICE for comment, Battlefield UX designer Nathalie Ek has since said the following: “I just want to calm people down a little bit. The “auto spotting” in BFV was, unfortunately, a bug that made its way into the Alpha build. We don’t want people to “play the UI” which is why adding auto spotting would be like shooting ourselves in the foot. I’m sorry for the confusion this might have caused, but it’s great knowing the community notice these things and feedback on it! Keep it up! Thank you!”

Prior to BFV’s big multiplayer reveal at E3 last month, those community members who were able to get hands-on time with the game during the EA Play event actually noted that they played a build of the game that had no spotting at all. This lines up way more with DICE’s intentions of making the game more authentic, so could it be that this was how the alpha was supposed to be played as well? That definitely appears to be the case as you may recall that DICE also indicated in the initial BFV reveal that they wanted players to “spot” enemies using environmental cues, like moving tall grass and sound clues, and not just pushing a button to highlight people.

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Of course, having no spotting system at all is not a new thing, as that’s been a server option for ages thanks to the franchise’s Hardcore mode. I used to love playing Hardcore mode and there’s a dedicated portion of the community that feels the same, so for me and them, this potential revelation is very welcome. It does mean though that BFV’s non-noob-friendly higher skill requirements – something which was already raised by the new Attrition system and forced squad play – will be even higher now. I’m all for that, as I love this more authentic and visceral approach, but I can see how frustrating this might be for some. We’ll have to wait for BFV beta test, whenever it’s held, to see just how this plays out.

Last Updated: July 16, 2018

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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