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The Importance of Bullet Penetration in Battlefield V

Our Senior Game Designer explains how the expanded system affects gameplay.

The firing of a bullet in Battlefield™ V can achieve many things – more than one might think. Naturally, it’s a means to take down enemies. But a player can also fire to suppress, distract, set off explosives, or damage structures, all of which will shape the battlefield.

Then there’s firing at enemies behind cover. Destruction – big and small – is a Battlefield specialty, and this goes for cover, too, be it wooden doors, concrete walls, fences, vegetation, or the new Fortifications. But how much should a certain piece of cover be damaged when hit by a certain piece of ammunition? Designing all this relates to what we call Bullet Penetration – which is not only an immersive audio-visual effect, but also something directly impacting gameplay.

Rickard Antroia, Senior Game Designer on Battlefield V, knows the ins-and-outs of the topic more than anyone. We recently sat down for a Q&A with Rickard, who was happy to enlighten us.

What is Bullet Penetration?
Bullet Penetration allows bullets to go through thin materials and deal reduced damage to opponents on the other side. It's based on weapon categories and provides an additional dimension of damaging enemies – or flushing them out of cover.

How did you approach the concept of Bullet Penetration in Battlefield V?
Bullet Penetration builds upon our destruction design in Battlefield 1, where we saw that a lot of walls, houses, and other covers – “assets” to us developers – deteriorated quickly during combat and the battlefield was flattened. This made us reevaluate our destruction classes and how we built props and architecture. The goal was to increase the interaction between the player and the environment while reducing the sheer number of parts in our assets.

Line-of-fire covers had to deteriorate in stages or survive low-grade explosions and bullets. To avoid having transport vehicles and hand grenades level the playing field, covers were upgraded to resist these types of damage. The same went for Fortifications. These assets needed to be sturdy enough to give you decent cover, especially since it takes time and exposure to enemy bullets to build them.

Meanwhile, we have this opportunity in the Battlefield franchise to experience a full range of calibers and weapons. In previous titles, Bullet Penetration was a binary experience. A bullet either passed through or it didn’t, and the same behavior existed for almost all calibers. Looking at more distinction between weapons, we saw an opportunity to push players in and out of covers without removing everything in front of the soldier.

Need more ammo to tear down enemy cover? Learn how to adapt to the Attrition system in Battlefield V.

How will players experience Bullet Penetration in-game?
If you’re behind cover, and an enemy with a Machine Gun has you pinned down, you’ll definitely feel the heat. LMGs, MMGs, etc. have the power to pass through covers (with heavily-reduced damage), and thereby become counter-sniper tools, pushing you out of your comfortable hiding spot.

Visually, bullets that penetrate will create a chunky, debris-themed effect for the player on the receiving end, and a smaller bullet hole with a more low-key visual effect facing the shooter. Non-penetrating bullets will dent hard materials or crack open and rip parts of the surface facing the shooter. Naturally, Bullet Penetration is an ongoing endeavor. We are shipping with a certain setup but are willing to tune and upgrade it in the future.

How do different weapon and bullet types penetrate materials in different ways?
General sidearms like pistols and carbines will go through doors and thin assets like cloth, light vegetation, and glass. The next category contains the SMG and Shotguns, which have slightly better penetration values. Semi-Automatic, Slug, and Assault Rifles exist in their own category, also with some minor deviations. Sniper Rifle is an upgraded version of rifles and becomes the stepping stone to the fully automatic Light Machine Guns, which can break through the walls in wooden buildings and push through barricade covers.

Beyond infantry weapons you have the vehicle bullets, the HMGs, and the airplane 20mm cannon. They are all high-penetration weapons that break through plaster and brick walls, be it with reduced damage.

How has the Bullet Penetration changed after Open Beta?
Sniper Rifles had a penetration similar to the LMGs at first, but since every bullet counts, their penetration range was reduced post-beta. Now, they’re only allowed strict tactical shots, through doors, vegetation, and thin wood.

Any tips on how to use Bullet Penetration to your advantage?
Remember that no one is safe forever, and that just because you can’t see an enemy, it doesn’t mean you can't put pressure on them. Use the advantages of high-caliber weapons to suppress and push enemies out of their comfortable defenses or use them to force reactions like counter attacks and flanking. Use elements like a closing door or a thin fence to surprise opponents.

If you’re the one being fired at, the best way to stay secure is to put more than one layer of cover between you and your enemies. Stay alert! Be aware of your surroundings, listen to footsteps, and work out what your enemy is up to.

There you have it. We hope you’ll be able to use what you learned in this article on the battlefield to give your squad’s kill count an extra boost. Want to deep-dive further into developing weapon behavior? Don’t miss our article on Battlefield V gunplay.

Jonas Elfving talking to Rickard Antroia, Senior Game Designer

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Note that game content, gameplay mechanics, and other Battlefield V aspects covered in this article may change between now and the launch of the game.

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