In this article I will be describing some of the key design objectives of the Heat of Battle mod. Heat of Battle is not just about porting some new weapons and animations. It is intended to be a focused, cohesive mod delivering a highly intense and exhilarating gameplay experience. This is achieved through a finely tuned combination of aesthetic upgrades (animations, sounds, effects), gameplay adjustments (damage, health, movement), and AI improvements (strategy, tactics, ranges).
One of the core design objectives for Heat of Battle is that weapons should feel powerful. The guns have more damage and higher accuracy than vanilla BF2, but they also have considerably more recoil. Firing and reload sounds are punchy and realistic. Animation blending gives the weapons a sense of heft and weight.
Even more importantly, enemy weapons should feel powerful. In vanilla BF2, gunfire is often so pathetic that you can barely notice you are getting shot at. No longer. Heat of Battle features a unique suppressive fire mechanic that makes you feel the impact of every bullet around you. Camera shake, tracers, bullet crack sounds, and impact effects all combine to make every bullet feel threatening and lethal.
The weapons are designed using a holistic approach, meaning that things like damage, fire rate, and accuracy are carefully balanced between individual weapons and across weapon types. For example, SMGs have better hipfire than assault rifles, but lower range. Machine guns have terrible hipfire but can be extremely accurate when aimed in and prone. Bullpup weapons have better hipfire than conventional weapons in their class.
Weapon damage has been carefully designed with as much realism as possible while keeping gameplay balance in mind. An AKM firing a 7.62x39 cartridge will kill in two shots up close at a fire rate of 600RPM, but quickly drop to a three shot kill in about 15m. A M16A4 firing 5.56 kills in three shots out to medium range at 900RPM, and an AK-74 firing 5.45 kills in three shots at medium range at 600RPM, but has much lower recoil. Carbines have less range than rifles, and suppressed weapons (used by the Spec Ops class only) have less range still. This means that weapons will perform noticeably differently at different ranges, portraying their real life strengths and weaknesses while enhancing the variety and uniqueness of the arsenal.
Another major design objective for Heat of Battle is fast-paced, intense gameplay. You should be able to get into the action quickly and stay in action with minimal pauses. For this reason, all soldiers in Heat of Battle have unlimited sprint and relatively fast movement speed. In addition, all soldiers have a minor regenerative health effect. This is to keep you in the fight longer without having to chase down a bot medic all the time.
In Heat of Battle, many vehicles have an expanded set of options for more tactical gameplay. For example, tanks and APCs can choose between armor piercing, high explosive, and canister shells for different situations. Tanks also get a lock-on guided shell for extreme range engagements, but damage is low and ammo is limited. Also, most armored vehicles now have a zoom option, activated by pressing X (this replaces the smoke launchers). Tanks are more deadly, but they are also more vulnerable to damage from the sides and rear. Attack helicopters have more rocket firepower as well, but can be taken down by a single rocket impact.
Tanks and some transport vehicles get a couple extra seats so more soldiers can get to the front faster. Transport vehicles, especially the light buggies and the boats, have become slightly more resistant, so soldiers can get around the battlefield faster and more safely.
The AI has been systematically reworked to emphasize immersive, challenging gameplay. The mod uses Void’s ESAI to push bots towards the front lines. The average engagement range has been significantly increased, putting more focus on accurate long-range shooting. Moreover, the AI also know how to use weapons within their effective ranges (so a bot with a suppressed weapon will try to get closer than one with a LMG). Bots will no longer run at you pointlessly with a knife. For best results, it is recommended to play this mod with bot difficulty set at 70% or higher.
I have been extensively playtesting the mod for the past four years, and to me the gameplay feels very tight and polished with little to no crashing or freezing. I cannot guarantee anything but I am hoping for a smooth first release with a minimum of bugs. Until the mod is released, the best way to experience the gameplay is to check out my YouTube channel.