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Battlefield 1 Multiplayer - The South African Experience | Update

Battlefield 1 Africa.jpg

I have to admit that I was a bit overwhelmed as I booted up Battlefield 1 to connect to a South African server. It felt unreal, and I was expecting to hit some glitch or error message. What I didn't expect was to be greeted with a flood of typical South African messages in all chat. "RSA!!" "sa servers" "Daai 50 ping kani waar wees", "dam can see South African names" and so on.

It was heart-warming to experience the joy, so first things first; a sunny thank you from South Africa to EA DICE and everyone who did their part in big and small ways to make this possible.

We already talked about the different ways you can connect to an Africa server, so let's jump right into Battlefield 1 - the South African experience - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Update - Ping issue

The :Bad" was turned into "Good" in under 24 hours! We are happy to report that the high latency issue some local players experienced have been sorted out for all ISP's. 

Happy fragging South Africa!

Battlefield 1 SA - The Good

It felt like home.

The excitement was contagious, and I could almost hear the braai crackling, smell the boerewors while having a beer with my buddies. It was THAT feeling. Players were spamming all chat with silly lines as they fumbled over their inability to express their joy over the thing we've been talking about for almost four months - and it happened!

Since the servers launched, I've repaired tanks, revived teammates (I still can't snipe), and listened to the constant stream of complaints feedback. We've tested the Africa servers on PC and PlayStation 4, and we're happy to report that overall it's one helluva great experience.

For the first time since Battlefield 1 launched it feels like you have a shot at delivering a good game because the playing field has been leveled. I am by no means a fantastic Battlefield player (I'll take you on in Overwatch any day), but playing on local servers against locals is not only fun but also fulfilling, even for a noob like me. I play only medic or support, and I am finally able to fulfill my function with ease.

Previously, repairing a tank or healing a mate would equal a death wish. It's a whole different game now, and I can't get enough of it. I've played a match where we managed to keep one tank going for about 90% of the game! It reminds me of the Battlefield 3 days where I played Engineer with 'ole Kradenko from Internet Solutions. We were unstoppable with him as driver and me as an Engineer. Now, I can pay attention to my squad's heath bars and keep them boosted while they advance or defend.

It's also such a pleasure to focus on team play rather than wondering where the f***k did that shot come from. Most times on international servers it was like playing the slot machines - mostly bad luck. On the African servers, you can deploy a strategy, adapt as you go, and work together as a team. Something I couldn't focus on before since I was just trying to stay alive. Yesterday I commanded a squad, and on one map we landed in 1st, 2nd,5th, 8th and 10th place. It felt like magic, and it would've been impossible on an international server. Another thing I want to highlight is that every single game I played was a close victory or defeat. Not once did a die walk away with an easy win and that is something extraordinary.

In a nutshell - it's the way Battlefield 1 was meant to be played. In my beta preview of the game I lamented over "All-out war with a 200 + ping" and in my review of the game I stated as a headline; "You are not expected to survive this."

Today, I am thrilled to reverse that headline and make a new one; Battlefield 1 is without a doubt the best military-type FPS I have ever played. If we did such a thing as review scores, I would give Battlefield 1 a 10/10.

Below is a compilation of those things I am finally able to perform. I even got a few kills in.

Did I mention that with the better latency the game also looks even more gorgeous? Check out the scene at the end of the clip.

While I was having a ball on PC, Mr. Coco was heading up a squad on PS4.

Although the console servers launched a few hours late into Tuesday afternoon, I sat patiently waiting for them to go live. I had my squad ready at the helm, and we kept spamming that R3 button to refresh the list. Finally after searching "Africa" in the name text search within the filter settings, we found our new local servers.

With a ping of between 7 and 13, what more could you ask for in life? Battlefield 1's local servers made me all warm and gooey inside, but at the same time, I was sad that it is one of the very few games that have this going for it. If only other games can follow the path like Overwatch, COD, and perhaps even Destiny, we would live in a world without raging, and a lot less salt."

Our MWEB GameZone server master (who has been running Battlefield servers for the past couple of years) had this to say about the PC version. "Battlefield 1 played like Battlefield 4 on local servers." (Coming from him that says a lot). "Servers seem to sit in i3d's DC in Johannesburg, but I can't be sure as Battlefield 1 obfuscates the server IP's. Overall the gameplay was much smoother with no rubberbanding, and no dying behind walls. Other players all seemed to have sub 50ms pings overall which is always good to see. If anyone has an issue with their latency, they can use pingplot or trace to to see where their problem comes from."

Which brings us to the bad.

Battlefield 1 SA - The Bad

It is difficult to find fault with the Battlefield 1 Africa servers. Let's not forget that they have been live for just over one day and rather than complaining we can congratulate EA DICE on a smooth launch.

There seems to be only three issues: High latency for some players, a queuing problem and not enough servers.

High latency for some BF1 players

At the time of writing, we've seen a lot of Internet Solutions and Web Africa users reporting high latency; much the same as if they played on international servers. The issues are not on the side of the servers but rather on that of the internet service provider, and it relates to peering. All these kinks will most probably be sorted out before the weekend, so we suggest you be patient and let them do their job.

We received this message from i3D.net Operations Manager, Ramon Plaisier.

"To those getting a high ping on the Africa servers please contact the i3D.net support department. Due to the way South Africa is set up it's possible 1 or more local ISPs aren't directly connected which would result in increased ping. Our support department can help troubleshoot the connection to the servers so we can (hopefully) decrease latency for you."

One of our readers, "o0lXerXesl0o" posted this comment. "I ran some more tests with multiple ISP's to see which one currently offers the lowest ping to BF1 servers. Results are:

  • Web Africa: 172 - 182
  • Afrihost: 172 - 182
  • IS Ignite: 172 - 182
  • Axxess: 172 - 182 (Oddly, on Axxess, the 2 pigeon servers where showing 50 ping...but only those two servers and they were empty at the time of testing).
  • and finally, MWEB: 42 - 50"

ICYMI: Battlefield 1 Local Servers: What SA gamers need to know

More servers

The second issue and the only "bad" I can find is that there are not enough servers, especially on PC. We've chatted with a few admins from the local Battlefield Facebook group (yes do join and support), and all of them agreed that the high latency for some will be sorted out soon and that the only real issue is that there aren't enough servers.

We've received numerous Tweets, Facebook messages and feedback from readers stating that some have waited up to an hour to join a server. I have to agree that there is a significant difference between yesterday and today. Yesterday I had no issue joining a server via Quick Match, I never waited in a queue. Today I not only waited, but I could also only join some of the maps or modes. It simply took too long to try get into a popular mode like Conquest.

Ten slot queuing issue

The third issue was something one of the Battlefield South Africa admins, Emile Aspinall, pointed out:  "If a server has a queue of ten people, when you clock on join it just simply says loading. nothing about your position in the queue. I haven't tested yet if you can actually get into the server by waiting bit out." He also mentioned that we can't yet join the RSP, but that's a point for another discussion and yes we are looking into it as well.

Aside from the need for more servers and the queue issue there's nothing else at this stage to label as "bad." There is, however, one "Ugly."

Battlefield 1 SA - The Ugly

I know that things can get very heated in online games, I've been actively playing online games for a decade (some even competitively), so I know how salty things can get. However, I can never agree to abusive, disrespectful and juvenile behavior. Since the servers went live, I've seen some disgusting things on chat, and we should know better. We are better than this.

Let's not leave the impression with EA DICE that we're a bunch of unruly children. There's a way to express your displeasure, and there's a way to simply look like a spoiled brat. Let that not be said of people on the African servers. Let us rather cultivate a friendly and respectful environment so that we can pave the way for local servers for more EA games. EA delivered (and I am sure they'll keep on improving their service), so let's make sure South Africa is a gaming community they want to invest in.

In closing

We would love to hear some feedback from you about your time on the African battlefield. ICYMI: Here are a few things that might be of great aid to you.

Below is a little something to wet your appetite for Battlefield 1's first expansion that releases in March. Our favourite YouTuber, JackFrags gives his impressions of "They Shall Not Pass"

Han: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

"it's the way Battlefield 1 was meant to be played"

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