“The role-based approach allows for an agent’s internal data to be structured neatly and also illustrate which parts of this data is shared, complementing object-oriented modelling. This approach is not effective if agents have overlapping or similar roles, since agents could operate on data while in the incorrect role, and the presence of multiple roles may also confuse observing agents that are predicting their behaviour.” -My lecture notes on role-based agents from CPSC 607, Winter 2015 term
Despite being the starting weapon for Battlefield 1‘s scout class, and contrary to uninformed remarks on Japanese Battlefield communities that the weapon is “ugly” or “inadequate”, the SMLE Mk.III marksman variant is perhaps the single most powerful weapon available for this class. The weapon is characterised by a ten round magazine, a moderate firing rate of 53 rounds per minute and a sweet spot spanning 40 to 75 meters. Being a remarkably unremarkable weapon, and lacking the ability to zoom in for sharp-shooting at longer ranges, the SMLE’s statistics sound average on paper – it is in the middle of the pack amongst the bolt action rifles and does not seem to excel at any one role. However, in practise, the weapon is incredibly effective at closer ranges, and with its ten round magazine, is very well-suited for engagements within its sweet spot: ten enemies can potentially be dropped on a single magazine by the most accurate of snipers. The marksman variant’s optics, a moderate-powered sight housed in a bulky enclosure, is initially a hinderance to use owing to how much of the screen it blocks out, but this disadvantage is quickly offset by the fact that the weapon has no scope glint. A careful scout can move into the sweet spot and decimate an enemy position without being spotted as a sniper, before retreating to safer grounds. It is with this weapon that I’ve been playing the scout class, and quite unlike any previous experiences I’ve had with the recon class in earlier Battlefield titles, I’ve been performing extraordinarily well with the SMLE Mk.III, placing close to the top of the scoreboard and making my own quest of unlocking the Kolibri closer and closer to reality.
The scout class has exceeded all expectations for its fun factor. Though I cannot heal, resupply or revive, I can fire spotting flares onto a contested objective and watching the mini-map light up gives my team a sense of what they’re up against. Lining up my optics at the head of an opponent some ways away, tapping “fire” and listening to the visceral “ping” of the round as I drop my target with a single shot has been an incredibly satisfying feeling. To chain consecutive back-to-back kills with the SMLE on a group of enemies bunched together induces a dopamine rush that is quite unlike the feeling I’ve gotten while playing as any of the other classes. The scout class certainly has seen some substantial changes compared to previous entries in the Battlefield franchise, and while fun, Battlefield 1 is where I’ve genuinely felt as though I’m contributing to the team effort despite hanging back from the action. Although a far cry from being in the thick of things healing, reviving and resupplying teammates, making visible enemy players and informing my team of where the enemies are is enough for them to adequately decide how to best handle a tricky capture point. Time and time again, I find myself surprised at just how entertaining it is to roll into battle as a scout, armed with a good rifle and steady aim to help my team out as effectively as I do when I elect to play as a medic or support class. Sniping simply feels fantastic, and nothing is quite as rewarding as picking off targets one after another at range.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Why is there a post coming out this early when I should be at work, designing building iOS apps? Today is Good Friday, allowing me a day off, and after a Chinese-style lunch of beef ho fun, spicy noodles and Hokkein fried rice, in conjunction with Cantonese-style fried chicken, I contemplate my experiences as a scout. In this post, all twenty of the screenshots will be of the scout class, and a very large number of these will feature the SMLE Mk.III. The irony of all this is that during the Battlefield 1 open beta, I remarked that the weapon was quite tricky to use and ended up faring quite poorly when using the weapon owing to a lack of familiarity with its mechanics. I subsequently remarked that the Gewehr 98 might be more appropriate for its faster bullet speed and longer range, but since Battlefield 1 proper, the SMLE Mk.III has been my go-to weapon for everything scout related.
- The “assist counts as kill” mechanic is something I’ve seen much more of as of late owing to how much time I’ve spent with the scout class: these typically arise when I hit a tricky target at range without killing them outright, and a teammate finishes the job. The teammate landing the finishing blow is credited for the kill, but I also get a kill for my troubles.
- According to my Battlefield companion app, my longest headshot is 187 metres, although the best headshot I’ve scored in any of my screenshots is roughly 158 meters. I have an inkling that the ultra-long range headshots probably result from an immensely lucky shot made from a vehicle, probably the heavy tank, where I once shot someone camping near the top of Fao Fortress’ at point foxtrot with the passenger machine gun from across the estuary.
- While snipers may prefer camping at long ranges, my approach is a highly aggressive one: I enjoy sniping at medium ranges and providing support for teammates as I can. During one moment on Sinai Desert, I took out at least four enemy players in a row who were attempting to take capture point delta, allowing my team to re-take it. I’ve found that sniping works best for me on this map if my team has charlie and delta captured, as this allows me to spawn into the town area and pick off anyone coming into town.
- While best-suited for medium range sniping, the SMLE Mk.III has reasonable hipfire, and here, I down another player who’d surprised me while I was moving between buildings. I’m almost always on the move as a sniper, trying to get close enough to a capture point so that it’s within the sweet spot, and from there, it’s a matter of good aim. A capable mouse is required to aim well in Battlefield 1, and owing to my setup, I find it is often easier to make minute adjustments to my position before firing, since my mouse can be a bit imprecise owing to the lack of a good mousepad.
- In spite of my team losing this match, I still performed well enough to end the match KD positive. Normally, victory or loss is determined by team composition (i.e. what classes players choose) and their coordination: I typically lose when everyone is unconcerned with objectives, and the page quote comes from my old lecture notes about different means of modelling a multi-agent system. As with a good role-based multi-agent system, performance is best when agents have a well-defined role. In my case, I usually PTFO and make use of my class abilities liberally to help my team, which is why I can end up in the top five of the scoreboards despite having a third or even a quarter of the kills.
- It’s been some two years since I’ve finished the multi-agent systems course, which I took for the purpose of learning how to formalise and describe agent-based systems within my thesis. It was a fantastic course for all of the learnings I got out of it, and also for the project that saw me build a multi-agent rescue simulation with a team of graduate students. Our approach made use of a combined master-slave approach to link the robots together (they can only dig survivors out of rubble if paired), and subsequently use cooperation by information sharing to decide on the optimal decision. The system proved reasonably effective provided the agents could pair, and if isolated, the agents would fall back on an independent system, although this proved ineffectual.
- I unlock the service star here for the SMLE Mk.III Marksman, and I remark that the weapon has now become my most used weapon in Battlefield 1, surpassing even the MP-18 Trench and Automatico M1918 Trench: in the narrow streets of Amiens, the environments seem quite unsuited for sniper combat, but the central canal, being lined with houses, proved to be an excellent spot to set up camp and pick off unsuspecting players on the other side of the map.
- I was quite surprised I could hide in this house here for the period that I did without being zeroed in on and will attribute it to the weapon’s optics. The lack of scope glint on the marksman variant of the SMLE Mk.III is one of its biggest assets: this weapon is not meant to be an ultra long-range weapon capable of taking out someone from obscene distances, and when used in the manner it was meant to be used in, it is devastating. I’ve gone on some kill-streaks where I actually began running out of ammunition because of how many shots were fired.
- One of the most entertaining match I’ve ever played in Battlefield 1 was against another player who claimed to be an apologist in their user name. They were sitting in an artillery truck and was spamming the chat, insulting other players. When the next match rolled around, I managed to shoot them in the head and, for good measure, did my customary Halo 2 tea-bagging. Subsequently, this player became so angry that they spent the rest of the match calling me names. Plainly lacking anything approaching a post-secondary education (evidenced by their lack of understanding of how the fundamentals of biology works), they went 4-23 for the remainder of the match, standing in stark contrast to the 20-5 they had in the artillery truck the previous match.
- I couldn’t stop laughing after the match ended, having wrapped it up 21 and 13 (on account of being so close to the front lines to support my team out with captures). I’ve never been too fond of folks who wear their beliefs on their sleeves and make it a point to let the world know what they believe: to see them grow so riled when challenged non-verbally with a teabag was downright hilarious, and I can only wonder what would happen if I were to go down the premium route and teabag such players while sporting an emblem bearing Cocoa Hoto or Miho Nishizumi’s mien…perhaps my emblem would be reported.
- Reaching past rank four for the scout class means I have access to all of the weapons in the scout class for purchase, but rather than buying things without information, I usually exit the game and then take a look at what’s available among the options that suit my style before spending the warbonds. I’ve purchased the M1903 Sniper already, and it might make sense to look at the Gewehr 98 as the next weapon for slightly longer range firepower. One thing that I did pick up immediately was the hatchet, since that melee weapon can punch through barbed wire and makes it easier to move around.
- This match on Amiens proved to be incredibly enjoyable: I was landing kills left, right and centre, and even the presence of an armoured train did little to slow me or the team down. Although a bit slower in pacing than the other classes, the satisfaction derived from landing kills with the sniper rifles is immense, and in conjunction with playing the objective, allows me to perform reasonably well. While I spend most of my time in conquest, rush and operations are two other game modes that would be a fantastic place to do some long-range shooting. Conversely, domination and TDM are better suited for close quarters weapons.
- I paste another fellow’s pate here with the M1903 Springfield’s sniper variant, which has a sweet spot beginning 100 meters out and extends to 150 meters. While the bullet velocity is not remarkably fast in order to balance the weapon out, the shots this weapon places can be quite accurate, making it a good choice for maps with wide open spaces, such as Fao Fortress. The sweet spot mechanic turns the different sniper rifles into CS:GO‘s AWP: CS:GO balances out the AWP in competitive team play by assigning it with a high purchase price in order to offset its one-shot kill power, and even in TDM, where all weapons are free, the best way to deal with an AWP is to keep moving and close the distance, where the AWP’s slow rate of fire makes it less effective.
- The M1903 also has a marksman variant, but at the ranges I’m typically using it at, having the higher-powered optics makes it easier to see a target at the expense of scope glint. On some maps, the chaos is sufficient so this becomes less of a concern, but when I see scope glint, I duck away for cover immediately, uncertain if I’m about to be one-shotted by a patient sniper.
- I normally run with the spotting flare and K-bullets, the default gadgets for the sniper class. These two offer the class the most versatility, allowing me to quickly spot opponents and impede vehicles from repairing (or even outright destroy them, if the timing is right). The other gadgets that are highly useful include the tripbomb, which is fantastic for defending a position and prevent attack from behind, and the trench periscope, for its application in peeking over cover to spot enemies and gauge distance.
- I’m usually a very mobile sniper, unlikely to stay in one spot for extended periods of time, and I always check my surroundings before moving around. A well-coordinated team can still take me out if they so choose, but at the minimum, I’m not totally oblivious to my surroundings – JackFrags has encountered some snipers with serious tunnel vision in his absolutely hilarious video, titled “HUNTING FOR SNIPERS“. Spanning fifteen minutes, it’s done in the manner of a Nature video and provides non-stop comedy for its duration.
- On a very tight match of conquest on Suez, I managed five headshots in a round. I’m very fond of headshots and will aim for the head for stationary and slow-moving targets, but uncertainty with hitting faster moving targets at range means that I will try for centre mass instead: when I park myself in the sweet spot, I have managed to earn consecutive kills. In some occasions, I’ve even raised my KD from negative to positive owing to the powers conferred by the sweet spot.
- While the sweet spot is a highly useful mechanic, all of the sniper rifles remain useful outside of these areas. They will take a bit more finesse to utilise properly, and it can be a little tricky to keep a bead on faraway targets obscured by smoke, gas and particle effects. Looking through this post, it is telling that I can tell stories for twenty images’ worth of figure captions with just the scout class alone, and what was initially a class I was apprehensive to try out has quickly turned into a class I’m in love with. In fact, the support class is now my least-used class, but this is likely a consequence of me playing it the wrong way: LMGs are not like their Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 4 incarnations. I have a feeling that playing at longer ranges might turn things around.
- I wrap this post up with me reaching rank six; I’m now 62.27 percent of the way to my target of reaching the Kolibri for some Hikari-on-Neuroi Hive humiliation. At this point in time, I’ve also reached rank 40 in Battlefield 1: when considering that I’m rank 42 in Battlefield 4, I’ve gotten quite a bit more out of Battlefield 1 despite the latter having less content and unlocks in its progression system. All of these factors together, coupled with the fact that a sale on Battlefield 1‘s premium package is unlikely owing to the game being relatively new, contribute to my decision to upgrade. It brings to mind my decision three years ago to upgrade to premium in Battlefield 3, and that was a decision I’ve never looked back on.
With the incredible amount of fun I’ve had fulfilling the role of a mid-range reconnaissance agent more than capable of holding out against other opponents to capture or defend a point, I’ve advanced from rank one to rank six for the scout class. This means that I’ve now passed the medic and support class in rank, matching my class rank for the assault class. Quite truthfully, this was unexpected, and I had not imagined that the scout class would offer enjoyment of this calibre (I shy away from sniping for the most part in Battlefield 4, although in Battlefield 3, the M98B became my favourite weapon for the sniper class, and I unlocked a service star with it). After some consideration, and a glance at my pocketbook, I have reached a decision – I will be purchasing the Premium upgrade for Battlefield 1 so that I can explore additional maps and access new unlocks. This is not a light decision: Battlefield 1 has kept me entertained to a non-trivial extent, and glancing at my stats, I’ve been improving since I picked the game up. Contrary to prevailing sentiments that the game is growing “stale”, I’ve been finding plenty of motivation to play Battlefield 1. At this point in time, I’ve still not bought all of the weapons and their variants yet, but I am growing a little weary of experiencing the same maps in every match I play (Suez and Fao Fortress are two maps I’ve seen more than my share of); it would be nice to get more variety, and admittedly, I much prefer the French maps in Battlefield 1. Adding Premium to my library will allow me to fight on more French maps, and in the upcoming DLC, I will get a chance to play “Brave Witches in the Frostbite Engine” as the battle takes me into the snowy landscapes of Russia.