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Wait, 1.4? What happened to 1.3? Don't worry, you haven't missed an entire game update. 1.3 is a smaller update that's limited to the Korean release of ETQW. All other versions are moving on straight on to version 1.4. So, let's have a look at what we have in store for you:
New User Interface Features
The ETQW 1.4 Update includes some pretty significant advances to the User Interface. First up is the improved Server Browser which now recommends three 'Hot Servers'. Selecting one of these will get you into a game at the start of a campaign, with a great ping, and the confidence that regardless of the starting player count, it will fill up really quickly because you can see (real-time) how many other people are considering joining these recommended servers.
We've also added more flexibility to the HUD, with advanced and simplified HUD modes that reduce or increase HUD complexity based on your preferences, while the improved Mission End Screen gives you far more data on your predicted next persistent achievements, campaign-length upgrades, and new 'Personal Bests' – stats that show you your greatest achievements in any one life-time. We also removed the much-maligned 'Least Accurate Player' award, and replaced it with 'Most Objectives Completed' to encourage greater team-play.
There are lots of smaller improvements too, including Deployables now being identifiable by the player that deployed them, while Objective Decay is now more clearly identified, players receive a lock-on warning when on foot and targeted by an Anti-Personnel Turret, and you're shown a progress bar while being revived by a Technician. We've also improved Fire-Teams, with colour-coded icons above the heads of the Fire Team Leader, Fire Team Members, and buddies on your IM list. Admins can now pause the game too, making the administration of tournament matches a little easier.
Basic Training for New Players
The single greatest hurdle to ensuring great game-play online, is getting new players to understand the basics of team-play, and the subsequent amazing buzz that comes from coordination. The new Training Mode helps achieves this by teaching new players how to make effective use of the Mission System, how to pursue the team's Objectives, how to deploy on the battlefield, requesting health, capturing and liberating spawns, understanding revives, using their Radio, etc, while playing with Bots that are a little more forgiving – they'll focus on your support, while leaving you to complete the Missions you're on, until such time as the match really needs to move forward.
We've recorded actor's VO for tons of additional Tool Tips, and added pause functionality that will help guide new players by pausing the game and then pointing them at important way-points to better understand the geography of each map. The VO Tool Tips are also enabled for online play, though experienced players are free to disable them in the Options Menu.
With the arrival of the Enemy Territory: QUAKE Wars SDK and the impending influx of new maps and mods, we've added support for auto-downloading. What this means is that when you connect to a server running content you don't have (say, a user-made map) and the server is set up for auto-downloading, ETQW will now ask you if you want to download and install that content. Once it has the files, it will restart and reconnect you to the server with your shiny new bits and pieces in the right place.
The new ETQW:TV feature allows hundreds of players to become spectators of tournament matches without impacting the competing player's experience. ETQW:TV has support for Repeater Servers, and Relay Servers (so unlimited additional spectators can view the game). You can configure security at multiple levels (including providing passworded private slots), and adjust the network ports that Repeater Servers use. You can also set a broadcast delay (to stop a spectators from passing on team tactics to competing players), and set repeaters to automatically download content for the servers they connect to (such as custom maps).
Further Gameplay Balance Improvements
From continued online play, research into your extensive forum feedback, and daily play-tests on our new features, we’ve refined the game balance even further with hundreds of improvements.
Head-shots are much more accurately detected (and require appropriate skill) as a result of a proper head-shot box, while the modifier for location damage is much better tuned – headshots will feel less random now. Vehicles at the base are now immune to damage until driven (helping to reduce spawn camping), and we've dialed back the power of the Anansi and the Tormentor a little, with adjustments to the damage they do to Deployables, their reload rates, and the rate at which they can use Decoys.
We've also tweaked hacking deployables: In addition to temporarily disabling deployables by hacking them, you can now hack each deployable a second time, causing physical damage to it and requiring an engineer to repair it before it is back in action.
In the weapons department, effects for the Sniper Rifle and Railgun are easier to spot (trails are more obvious), and tweaks to the Shotgun, Assault Rifle, and Lacerator, lead to more balanced combat. We've also made small adjustments to the Icarus, Stroybombs, Rocket Launcher lock-on, and Anti-Personnel Turret lock-ons.
We've put a lot of thought into solving full-holds on MCP maps too... The MCP no longer takes damage while it's being repaired to its moveable state (making repairs by Engineers slightly less lemming-like), while the MCP driver will no longer die when it does take damage (he can't however use the gun in this state). The MCP will also now auto-deploy once it's in the green zone, removing the frustration that new drivers are not sure what to do.
Players have been plagued by certain ISPs, Colleges, and Universities, incorrectly blocking ETQW as a peer-to-peer file sharing application, but after extensive testing we've implemented a solution that should solve this for most players. There have also been problems with players warping (and other server issues, such as the feeling of lag) caused by a memory leak that we've tracked down and fixed. ETQW should now be a smoother experience for everyone.
There are dozens of small Bug Fixes in this update, including fixes for poor texture settings, corrupted chat history and saved passwords, servers having incorrect anti-lag settings, offline friends occasionally appearing to be on servers, mouse buttons being swapped when RAW input is used, updated 5.1 and 7.1 sound support, resolved game crashes, solutions for a few game exploits, and smoothed out jittery Bots and Vehicles. A full list will be provided in the 'What's New' with the build.
Updated EULA for All Territories
Certain territories received the wrong End-User License Agreement, giving the impression that we would own mod-maker generated content. This is not the case (we certainly don't want to own your stuff!) and the correct EULA that will be distributed for all territories with 1.4, makes this much clearer.
In addition to our work on the Software Development Kit for mod-makers (now in Beta and available at wiki.splashdamage.com), work at Splash Damage and id Software doesn't stop with this game update. Next on our list is to complete the comprehensive tournament support that we've been working on for some time - more on this in a future Blog! In the mean-time, Activision's Quality Assurance team are stomping their way through this 1.4 Update.