Into The Battlefield: BF3 Beta Impressions

Into The Battlefield:  BF3 Beta Impressions

Are we here at MT enjoying the BF3 beta or just falling into glitches and grievances? Read on to find out…

Coming into the series for the first time (having missed the first two games), I wasn’t sure quite what to expect here; everyone is heralding Battlefield 3 as the COD killer a lot of us have been waiting for, and I was intrigued to see whether or not this game could truly stack up against the Call of Duty franchise.  However, after a few hours with the game I’ve made the deduction that Battlefield 3 really can’t be compare with Call of Duty – while they’re both FPS games, each title has its merits and flaws, and, to be quite honest, they play totally differently.

Immediately apparent upon loading up the Battlefield 3 beta is the scope of the maps – these aren’t the small, confined ‘run and gun’ spaces many of us have become used to in the COD franchise, and instead the Battlefield 3 maps are sprawling, multi-layered and full of intense fighting.  This requires you to think more tactically with your surroundings and encourages team gameplay; after all, it’s exceptionally hard to survive under fire from the other team unless you’ve got some backup and are ensuring that you are using the environment to your full advantage. It’s also a hell of a lot easier to die in BF3 than in COD, you get shot, you’ll be lucky to survive for much longer unless you immediately duck behind a handily placed rock. While this may sound a bit annoying, in reality this more realistic approach to getting mowed down with a gun encourages the gamer to think tactically and not just run out, guns blazing. I for one absolutely love this approach that DICE has implemented, and I feel that the more tactical gameplay helps to differentiate BF from COD and keeps things remarkably fresh.

Another stellar implementation by DICE is the customization system, which allows you, even mid-match, to customize your load-outs as you see fit with the seemingly ludicrous amount of additional weaponry DICE has implemented into the game. If you find a particularly load-out isn’t working you can simply wait until your next respawn, customize your weapon as you like, then try again, and again, until you find the right balance for you. A particular favourite of mine is the flashlight which, while acting as a torch to light your way, can also be used to blind enemies and get the drop on them from afar. It’s the little things that make a game like this succeed, and I think that DICE has crafted an intricately balanced and extremely fun, varied and unique shooter experience that will have thousands upon thousands of people pouring days of their lives into the finished build.

The XP system in BF3 is also extremely good, allowing you to level up specific classes over time and getting access to increasingly cool weapon add-ons and new guns. In my humble opinion the system works much better than COD’s as, as soon as you have an upgrade you can stick it straight onto your weapon next time you die.  There’s none of this saving up the COD points stuff and I feel that BF3’s system allows for some more unique weapon combinations and allows the player to tailor the game much better towards their personal playing style.

If you haven’t yet got into the Beta, you get access to one map and one game mode. The map is named Operation Métro and involves a huge skirmish across a battle-torn Paris, beginning in a park, then into the lengthy underground Métro before concluding in an all out shooting fest inside the city. The game mode itself is named Rush, and involves an attacking team trying to bomb several points around the map, while the other team tries their very hardest to make sure that the opposing team doesn’t bomb those all important targets. On paper it sounds similar to COD’s demolition, but the matches last longer, there’s more targets to bomb and – as I’ve already said – the much more team-oriented, careful tactical gameplay of BF really helps it to shine through as an entirely different beast.

As you play you’ll have access to four classes in the Beta: Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon. Each has a different type of weapon setup (EG. Recon is your sniper class) and finding the right one for you shouldn’t take too long at all. I, for example, find myself constantly using the Engineer class which gives me access to a snazzy sub-machine gun and a rocket launcher for those clustered together enemies. I’ve also enjoyed sniping quite a lot in this game, which feels more accurate and dangerous than it ever has in Call of Duty. I’d advise you to try out all of the classes equally and find which one really works for you; seeing as how each class levels up through usage, you won’t really know which is best unless you try them all.

I’ve also been resoundly impressed with BF3’s enviromental damage mechanics; bullets and explosions flying all over the place should leave lasting damage to the envrionment and BF3 delivers with it in heaps. Trees will fall down when things explode near them. Chunks of rock from walls will fly all over the place as they’re shot. These are just a few of the nifty enviro-damage things that are included within the game, and they all help to add depth to the expeience. It isn’t related to enviro-damage, but me and fellow MT writer Eric Pederson were also impressed with the nifty wall-jump animation which looks less floaty and more like climbing over a wall (like it should). It’s always nice to be able to see your feet in an FPS as well – not many games do this despite, as I’m sure you know, most people being able to see their legs if they look down.

I must admit however, that I’m disappointed with a severe lack of available vehicles. Fellow MT writer Eric Pederson often tells me enthralling tales about his adventures in a helicopter on BF2 (which usually involves crashing a copter-full of his fellow team-mates into a building) and I’m rather itching to have a go once the full game comes around. See, that’s what this beta is doing – it is actually making me anticipate the game’s full release more and more, as I’m having extreme fun despite not having access to all the content. In fact, I can’t wait for the full game to come around, as it looks like it is probably going to sap away my life and turn me into a full-time videogame slave who doesn’t leave the room except to go to the lavatory and says – in the immortal words of Joey from Friends – ‘No, inside good, outside, baaaaaaad’.

All that said, BF3 isn’t without it’s problems. Although the game is still in beta and not expected to be perfect, there are a few glaring glitches in the game including textures popping in, bodies behaving in strange ways and even a hot-spot in the Operation Métro level which seems to make everyone in the immediate vicinity fall straight through the floor and get stuck with their body below ground while their head bobs along above the concrete. Here’s hoping that this final, open beta will give DICE the necessary time to fix these massive errors, as they really are quite obvious and need to be rectified immediately.

All in all I’m having a great time playing the beta at the moment but what do you think?  Be sure to tell us what you think of the Beta in the comments, as well as following ManaTank on Facebook and Twitter using the handy toolbar just below.

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