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  • "Adelante" started this thread

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Wednesday, January 28th 2015, 1:28am

Active Radar Missiles: Bad Design or Bad Implementation?

I will preface this comment by saying that I got my start in computer gaming through various flight simulators (the old Jane's series, F16, Freespace - though I guess that's space sim... whatever). However, I just haven't felt much love for the air combat system in BF4 (BF3's seemed much better, but I digress), with one of the most egregious offenders being the Active Radar missiles.

I'm curious as to why the Active Radar missiles exist the way that they do in BF4. Active homing (i.e. where the missile's own guidance system is active throughout the guidance phase AFTER the launching platform's system locks onto and designates the target) missiles (a la AMRAAM) aren't just popped off in a direction in reality, so why are they handled this way in BF4? All this seems to do is create confusion and dismay on a vast scale for those on the receiving end and reduce the play variety of air combat (and the MAA - which has other issues...). I would suggest giving them a lock-on system after which they could be fire-and-forget, but that role is already filled by the Heatseekers (a la Sidewinder), so where does this leave them as far as gameplay goes if their realistic employment would be redundant functionally? Is there a place for the Active Radar missile or is it simply so badly implemented that it would be better to scrap them?

As always, any suggestions as to improving the system are welcome.

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Wednesday, January 28th 2015, 1:59am

ARMs as implemented right now are already hard to use and offer only a light crit.

And I was under the impression ARMs were military standard now. The way you're describing it sounds like an ordinary heatseeker, in which case you have an answer to ARM's current implementation. The two would be exactly the same otherwise.
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This post has been edited 1 times, last edit by "NoctyrneSAGA" (Jan 28th 2015, 2:07am)


  • "Adelante" started this thread

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Wednesday, January 28th 2015, 4:23am

Well, apart from the signal used for guidance (infrared radiation versus radar), the two are very similar in the compressed Battlefield battlespace, which in turn leads to the general functionality overlap. In reality, they fill different roles due to the usability constraints of the signal in question: infrared signals are affected by atmospheric attenuation, but have better close-range resolution; radar-guided missiles (both semi-active and active) therefore are used in the space beyond the feasible use of infrared. Since we now have much smaller, cheaper electronics, active guidance is indeed today largely popular because of its relatively high kill probability and lower probability of intercept, but semi-active guidance systems are still common because making missiles with their own radar equipment makes them heavier, more expensive and bulkier. However, since Battlefield (while more expansive than other non-vehicle oriented combat sims) operates on a smaller stage, this puts them essentially out of work. So DICE's answer enters in the form of the gimmicky dumb-fire to self-lock-on system, which is (as you correctly pointed out) an iffy system at best that, as of a post-release patch (the DT one? I don't remember off the top of my head), doesn't yield much independent killing potential, but can still be used to cripple a target for easy destruction.

However, this is essentially the opposite of the actual functionality of AR because an actively-guided missile is constantly transmitting radar signals to acquire and intercept its target beginning prior to launch. In BF4, the ARM is dumb-fired and gives no warning that it has acquired the target until a target enters its cone (at whatever point in its flight that is) rather than prior to launch. This is compounded by the relatively high projectile speed of ARMs in BF4 (because, I imagine, the intercept cone has to be guessed out rather than - ironically - guided), which are faster in all stages than IR (heatseekers) or SARH (passive), as well as the shorter auto-replenish times (presumably to compensate for their slightly lower direct lethality).

I guess the primary rub is that the ARM goes straight from firing to intercepting without giving any warning. I suppose that if giving the ARM the role of "fire this to get easier kills with your cannon" is what DICE intended, they succeeded, but it just isn't very... satisfying. I guess ultimately I'm just nostalgic for the era of decent flight sims.

Edit: Why not give radar a different locking system than the IR? IR is more effective against a retreating target and radar in head-on engagements? Might be an issue for the engine though.

This post has been edited 2 times, last edit by "Adelante" (Jan 28th 2015, 4:34am)


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Wednesday, January 28th 2015, 9:11am

I'm pretty sure ARMs were conceived to counter heli orbit camping (along with the lower heli flight ceiling). Now that TV range is getting reduced (and rightfully so) orbit camping is becoming a thing of the past (not to mention that it never was particularly common in BF4 in the first place, but that was mostly because hanging back and utilizing the range of the heli weaponry wasn't as skilled as flying in like and idiot, get murdered by manpads and then whine about bananaless lock-ons in chat).

That said, AA missiles need an overhaul across the board, the only worthwhile missiles are ARMs because all the other missiles have shorter range than guns (both for MAA and jet) and the time spent locking (and relocking after enemy CMs) is better spent firing the guns.

I'm curious, how do the flight sims handle missiles?

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And reading Youtube comments still gives me Turbo Cancer.

It really is quite frustrating when Helen Keller sets up her LMG in the only doorway in/out of an area.

What kind of question is that? Since when is cheese ever a bad idea?

Hardline is a fun and sometimes silly Cops and Robbers sorta thing and I think that's great. Or it would be if it didn't suck.

  • "Adelante" started this thread

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Friday, January 30th 2015, 12:24am

Well, I actually still have the old Su-27 (the SSI/Mindscape [RIP] game) manual, but it probably would be the least adaptable to the new paradigm because... it was kind of Steel Battalion-level complicated (i.e. you had to turn on/off your radar set, there were different tracking modes, so forth), but the essential process was basically this:

Step 1: SEARCH/SCAN - Acquire target (visually or, if Beyond Visual Range, via radar/IRST). The radar has a limited cone in which it scans off the antenna(e - the Su-27 is a weird bird and has a forward and rear-facing radar; however, the rear antenna is less powerful). In BF4, this is largely visual due to the compressed airspace and the fact that the Air Radar unlock works very differently than realistic radar.
Step 2: DETECTION - Tag the target in your system. Unfortunately, BF4's system of locks is automated and goes for whatever is the closest in the zone targeted, which allows for fake-outs/accidental drops with anything guided or designated. There is also the issue of how the system only allows locks onto the center point of the target, denying designation on edges (but this is an engine issue I think). This is basically the step in which the systems on the aircraft/missile seeker are told, "I'm looking to acquire a firing solution/lock on THIS target," so it goes into Search-to-Track mode.
Step 3: TRACK and FIRE - Once the system knows what returns/target to track, all the systems swing into motion: the radar antenna (in an old-school mechanical array setup - newer fighters tend to use Active Electronically Steered Arrays where the beams are electronically formed by multiple solid-state emitters rather than by physically turning an antenna) pivots (within the gymbal limits for MSA sets, AESA sets are a little more flexible) to increase illumination and maintain a track of the target. When the system has enough information about the target's distance, elevation and velocity, it is "locked" and, unless you're outside the operational limits of the missile (too close or too far away), you will get a fire prompt. You fire the missile and it goes on its merry way... unless you're using semi-active radar homing (then you have to point the missile all the way in because it doesn't have an emitter); active radar missiles and infrared ("heatseekers") are fire-and-forget.
Step 4: WAIT - In reality, missiles can be juked because they have limited fuel, turn rates and aren't perfectly accurate; however, in BF4, the rule is that missiles with lock all the way in, barring a terrain dodge (actual physical interposition, not backscattering/below the radar style) or just outrunning them in the stealth jets, will hit unless CMs are deployed.

Obviously there are lots of other constraints in dedicated flight sims (fuel, overall weight, drag, so forth) that would drive just about every pilot in Battlefield insane, so they don't mesh with game's general accessibility rules. As such, they can be safely excluded.

Apparently there is a more recent simulator that has a nice manual on the Su-27 here (http://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/…df?t=1417046009) which is supposed to have lowered the learning curve by simplifying things, but the essentials are similar. The relevant info on engagement/weapons delivery starts on page 127.

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Friday, January 30th 2015, 10:55am

I'm pretty sure ARMs were conceived to counter heli orbit camping (along with the lower heli flight ceiling). Now that TV range is getting reduced (and rightfully so) orbit camping is becoming a thing of the past (not to mention that it never was particularly common in BF4 in the first place, but that was mostly because hanging back and utilizing the range of the heli weaponry wasn't as skilled as flying in like and idiot, get murdered by manpads and then whine about bananaless lock-ons in chat).

That said, AA missiles need an overhaul across the board, the only worthwhile missiles are ARMs because all the other missiles have shorter range than guns (both for MAA and jet) and the time spent locking (and relocking after enemy CMs) is better spent firing the guns.

I'm curious, how do the flight sims handle missiles?

The #1 weapon that gave most kills by orbitcamping is left untouched, the 30mm shells. Max alt hovercamping is still very profitable on non-MAA maps. SRAW nerf promotes this (given the CTE changes go through).
The changes to the other airweaons are good though.
I agree that the AA missiles need an overhaul, as all the other AA missiles are never being used (including attackboat AA missiles) because they are as effective as soft pillows.

Flight Sims handle missiles as one hit pretty much certain disable. Even kindof like BF3! But then again, fiddling with radar to judge when to fire AA missiles, bypassing possible countermeasures took some judgement and time like in flightsim lockon:modern air combat.
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This post has been edited 3 times, last edit by "Iwo_Jima" (Jan 30th 2015, 11:06am)


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Friday, January 30th 2015, 12:11pm

I wouldn't say that th 30mm cannon is untouched. It now has very limited ammo and the TV no-shake bug is gone. I'm not sure if spread and damage values have changed from BF3 to BF4 but the ammo reduction alone severely limits the potential for orbit camping.

Things people said

And reading Youtube comments still gives me Turbo Cancer.

It really is quite frustrating when Helen Keller sets up her LMG in the only doorway in/out of an area.

What kind of question is that? Since when is cheese ever a bad idea?

Hardline is a fun and sometimes silly Cops and Robbers sorta thing and I think that's great. Or it would be if it didn't suck.

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Friday, January 30th 2015, 4:03pm

30mm splash damage is lower, 20 in a 2-3 radius vs. 25 in 2-3.

30mm range was also reduced from BF3's 1200m, to 900m in BF4, and now 780m in CTE.

That said, AA missiles other than ARM's are trash as they are now, and even ARM's are more annoying than good.
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Friday, January 30th 2015, 6:00pm

i don't understand why they don't use the system that BF3 had for a while there where the stingers can't lock onto anything that flies beneath a certain height meaning pilots are encouraged to fly in low under the radar. this meant that the stingers were to prevent helicopters from sitting way up in the ari killing everything but couldnt kill a skilled pilot who could keep low without crashing. then it was up to tanks and rpgs to hit the low flying helos. that way everything had a use and everything had a counter.

then they buggered it up by making stingers able to lock on to anything anywhere. even if they got rid of the stinger and made you maintain a lock with the IGLA that would at least give pilots a chance to get away.

the attack helos also fly like bricks. i remember in BC2 shooting a helo down with a tank was actually pretty hard. now with sabot rounds it's just easy