Battlefield 3 Beta: In-Depth First Impressions

I have long since been a Battlefield fan, from the initial Battlefield 1942 to the most recent Battlefield Bad Company 2, I have played every iteration of the game on PC and console (Xbox & Xbox 360). When Battlefield 3 was announced I just about creamed myself and when the open Beta was announced, I practically passed out. Yesterday, the time finally came that I was able to get my hands on the game, well at least the Beta version. Mind you, the game releases in just under a month, on October 25th.

Now I must say, once I downloaded the immensely sized 1.3GB file to my hard drive, I was practically foaming at the mouth anxiously waiting to hop into a match. That didn’t exactly happen right away. Apparently EA was having problems with the Xbox servers and things weren’t going so well. After relentlessly trying for about 20 minutes, I hopped on Gears 3 for a bit to give EA some time to fix the problem. About an hour later I tried again and was still having problems, but EA was slowly getting things fixed. Within 5 minutes, I was able to jump into a match and off I went.

The Setting

The Beta takes place in Paris on a map called Operation Metro. There are 2 sides (obviously), with one being what I believe to be the U.S. Military and the other being possibly Russian or Western European. The game mode available is Rush, which was made famous by the Bad Company series. In Rush, the “Attackers” try to arm 2 fixed objective points, while the “Defenders” try to stop them and defuse aka defend. If the Attackers destroy the first 2 objective points, the map opens up further and 2 more objective points are on the map. In a round, there are a total of 8 objective points, with players fighting across 4 different areas on a map. On Operation Metro, you start off in a park, which is a wide open outdoor area/sniper haven, with plenty of cover including, small stone bridges, trees and shrubs. The next 2 sets of objectives are located in the dark subway tunnels, with narrow corridors, enclosed spaces and lots of close quarters combat. The final set of objectives are in an outside setting with buildings all around. You can enter most of the buildings and access multiple floors as well.

The Control Scheme

This is fairly standard as with most shooters, but if you haven’t played Bad Company 2 or in a while, the control scheme might catch you off guard. Click in the left thumbstick and you sprint, hold left trigger to aim down sights, right trigger to shoot and hit “X” to reload. Now here’s the differences from your basic shooter controls: the left shoulder button throws grenades, right shoulder button activates your knife melee, clicking in the right thumbstick allows you to crouch and holding it in will put you into a prone position. Depending on what class you are, will determine what extra equipment you get, which is accessible through the D-pad. For example, engineers have a repair tool and an RPG; by hitting left on the D-pad, you bring up your RPG and by hitting right on the D-pad, you bring up the repair tool. I will get more in-depth with the other classes later on.

The Classes

You have the option of 4 specific classes: Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon. Assault is your basic soldier class with assault rifles and a defibrillator and med kits for equipment. Engineers have SMG’s with an RPG and repair tool as equipment. Support classes carry LMG’s with ammo kits for equipment. Finally, Recon is your basic sniper class with equipment being a CB Radio looking thing, which I believe is a mobile spawn point, but not too sure yet. Each side has different weapons, much like how the most recent Medal of Honor was; depending on side you’re on, determines what weapons you have access to. Case in point, Attackers usually run around with U.S. Military issue weapons: M4 carbines, M16’s, etc.; Defenders run with AK47’s, AK74u, etc. As you rank up, you start unlocking other attachments for your weapons. This is also based on how much you use each class, which is also another similarity to Medal of Honor. The more you utilize a certain class, the more you unlock for that class.

The Gameplay

When you have 24 players (Xbox 360 version) running around shooting at each other, things can get really hectic. When entering a game, you have the option of joining a squad or going solo. I would suggest joining one, even if you plan on going solo. The reason being, your squad mates are moving spawn points and spawning on them can put you into the action faster than the generic base spawn. While running around and engaging enemies, you do get a sliver of sensation to what war might actually feel like. These firefights “feel more natural,” as opposed to the fast paced and unrealistic COD. To rank up, you can earn points from doing almost anything, which include: killing an enemy, headshots, assists, arming or defusing an objective, suppressive fire while a teammate takes out an enemy and “spot” assists. If you or a teammate is aiming at an enemy, after about 2-3 seconds, it will “spot” the enemy, so that other players on your team can see it as well.

Gun recoil is fairly strong depending on the gun, but it doesn’t feel excessive; it’s just right, so to speak. Knifing an enemy can be a bit difficult, but in a good way. In COD, the melee is fairly strong, in a sense that when you activate it, you lunge forward into your enemy. This can take away from the game sometimes, especially if you were 5-10 feet away and someone knifed you from that distance. In BF3, you have to be very close to an enemy to pull off a melee kill. When I say close, I mean within 2 feet close, which is very realistic. Also, you steal other player’s dog tags when you melee kill an enemy. Sprinting, jumping over obstacles and going prone feels very fluent as well; it doesn’t feel clunky. When firing off an RPG, you have to compensate for distance and gravity a lot more than in previous titles. Last but not least, practically everything is destructible, nuff said.

The Audio and Visual

The sound for this game is top notch, as it has always been for the past 2 Bad Company games. I’m using a set of mid-range Triton headsets and I can hear the particle effects clear as day. Explosions nearby rock your equilibrium. The sound of bullets whizzing by inches from your head definitely immerses you into the game even more. When firefights ensue in tunnels or small areas, the sound adapts to reflect that. Anyone who has a 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 surround sound system, would absolutely love this game. DICE did a very good job with their new Frostbite 2 engine; the game looks beautiful. Shadows that are cast from objects are rendered in real time. Buildings that have holes blown in them look real; they don’t have a generic look.

Final Thoughts

I just can’t say enough about how much I want this game right now. There was a few downsides, but that was due to this being a Beta. There were no vehicles to play with, there were graphical glitches and you can’t adjust your control layout. But like I said, this is a Beta and not a full version. So far from what I have played, it will be a very solid title. Even some of my friends that are hardcore COD players are already saying that they will purchase this game over Modern Warfare 3. That alone should be music to EA’s ears, as I’m sure there are plenty of others out there sharing the same sentiments. I will be playing this Beta for as much as can prior to the release date, just to soak everything in. Until then, hopefully we’ll see you on the battlefield (no pun intended) on October 25th when the full game releases.

Article updated on October 3, 2011. Photos courtesy of igamek.com

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Narvin Seegoolam
Narvin Seegoolam 712 posts

Narvin's middle name is FPS....ok maybe not, but he's like BOOM!! HEADSHOT!! I'm hungry...