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Hands On with BattleField 3 Beta

Electronic Arts is one of the world’s largest video game publishers next to Activision. Right now, EA is taking aim at Activision’s Call of Duty with Battlefield 3. [Read all about it here] EA has been home to some high quality games. From Road Rash, to Medal of Honor, to Mirror’s Edge, Electronic Arts has been around the block for some time.

Battlefield is a series that has some history, and have been there, done that. Electronic Arts wants to take the series to places it’s never been before. With Battlefield 3, Electronic Arts wants to break company records. Reach new milestones.

Battlefield 3 features a new engine called FrostBite 2. The Frostbite engine deployed with Battlefield: Bad Company, which is more or less a spin-off. It was released before Battlefield 2 landed on retail shelves, EA then released Battlefield 1943, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Each game has sold at least 1 or 2 million copies worldwide. EA wants to go beyond this.

Without further ado, Battlefield 3!

So, how’s the [Open] Beta like?

The first thing that you will notice is that the graphics are superb. But beta software is usually riddled with bugs, and whatnot. With BF3, this couldn’t be any more true. Once the multiplayer game loads, you will be treated to a waiting ticker, and you can turn around freely. As you do this, you will notice a flashing blank screen flickering. Once the game releases your ticker, you can now rush, go anywhere you want. By this time, the game’s bugs are in plain sights, textures flicker everywhere. Those trees, those walls starts clipping, and flickering, those rocks flicker, too. There will be some times where once you lay prone, you can fall into the textures. As if you were glitching. Yeap, it’s that glitchy. At one point, I went into this lil’ hole that looks like a crater. I was trying to lay prone and try to pick off enemies, but instead, it was like getting stuck in a sandstorm.

Battlefield’s maps are the largest multiplayer maps I have ever played on.
And I have played Battlefield 1943, and Bad Company 2. I didn’t like BF1943 because of the theme, parts of it felt like a PS2 game. The maps were large and happening. Each map were in an island. The spawn points were spotty at best, which is a good thing, actually. But I could never get over how clunky the controls felt, and in my opinion, how slow the game feels. On the other hand…

BFBC2 was more forgiving, and tolerable. The maps were large, but they were good enough. The character movement had been increased and firefights were better. I had a better time sniping than I do as a rifleman.

Battlefield 3’s Beta Map was twice the size that of any of the Bad Company 2 maps. Imagine the size of the maps in BC2, mutliply it by 2. How Frostbite 2 is able to stream that much memory from that draw distance as seen in BF3, is amazing. However, you can’t really see any of your enemies. The draw distance for seeing an enemy from a distance is really bad with an assault rifle, or when you’re not using the sniper scope. In the daylight areas, this is true. But in the tunnels, you can see some enemies from a distance, but only by circumstance. It doesn’t matter which weapon you’re using.

The problem that I have with Battlefield 3 is – there’s no way to identify who your enemies are in contrast to your squad, or your team-mates. This is bad because it means that the player has to work twice as hard in order to find enemies from a distance, or close range, or from a short 5 meters.

This brings me to a new point:

If you think camping was bad in Call of Duty think again.
There is a lot of camping in Battlefield 3. I mean, a lot. It doesn’t matter if you’re in broad daylight, or in the tunnels, camping is inevitable. BF3’s camping makes Call of Duty’s campers look easy.

These campers take full advantage of the environments than Call of Duty players do. They will hide in bushes, they will hide in the darkness of the tunnels, they will do absolutely anything, including camping in plain sight.

First of all, Close Quarters Combat in BF3 is non-existent. I mean, the movement is still slow, not on par with Call of Duty’s fast movement. This makes it hard to just move your gun to the camper at CQC range. When you see enemies laying prone from a distance, you can’t really shoot them and expect them to drop dead unless you have the opportunity to do so. Don’t expect to be able to switch weapons “on the fly” in BF3 because the time in which the switch takes is quite long. The other weakness I noticed is that it takes a long time to pick up weapons. I don’t know if it’s just me or not, but you can’t really switch your weapons and pick up the new weapons.

Let me put it this way:

Suppose I’m holding an MP5 in Call of Duty 4, and I see an AK47 on the ground, and I have a pistol as secondary. I can trade the pistol for the AK47, so I have two rifles.

In BF3, from what I have experienced, if I had already picked up an assault rifle, and I see another one on the ground… I can’t trade my pistol for the weapon on the ground.

In addition to these problems, I have noticed that the spawn points are ridiculous in BF3. And people are exploiting it. I have been killed IN the same place that I spawned, in less than 5 seconds of spawning! DICE, make it even more random! People who complained about spawn points in Call of Duty games should look at BF3’s.

Upon more investigation, I have found that you can select a spawn point: Those selections on the top are your team-mates, usually with a rank tag.

Who would you recommend this game to?
If you want a tactical game – in the general sense of the word. This is your game. I know some people want a tactical shooter. Some players are from the military, so Battlefield 3 fills a void for the army, the marines, the navy, the seals, you name it. [Proof is at CODForums]

The problem is that Electronic Arts is aiming their crosshairs at Call of Duty’s marketshare. This is the wrong way to go about it, if what I say is true about filling a void. As much as Battlefield 3 is a game first, it can be an educational media, too. When people come back from deployment, some want to get back in the groove of war.

Will casuals enjoy this?
Yes, and no. I’ll start with “No.” The bulk of the Call of Duty market is made up of people who enjoyed and loved COD4. As much as COD4 can be a tactical game – It is an arcade shooter more than anything. The other bulk of the market is the Zombies market – games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Dead Island (which had just been released) followed this market trend.

What made Call of Duty 4 a smash hit is the fast, and frantic gameplay that has tactical, realistic play mixed into the game itself. If you wanted to be a stealth person, like I am – you’d have to know the maps themselves and run around rushing like a crazed lunatic who has a thrust for speed. But to win a match, you would need a strategy to keep this up without dying because you’re marked red on the radar, so you add a silencer, and a pistol that’s easy to swap at the drop of the hat.

60% of COD gamers are either snipers, or campers. Snipers are far more respected in Call of Duty, than the ones that camp in the corner of a room or location throughout the entire match like a little baby. Those that “complained” about camping in Call of Duty will have their @$$es handed to them, and be given a piece of their own medicine with Battlefield 3. Why? Because each lobby is capped at 32 players, and I mentioned earlier that each map is large. You spend a lot of time getting from A to B, than you are shooting at your opponents, this is the part that I don’t like about the Battlefield series. 70% of the time, it’s not about memorizing the map itself, instead, it’s about being able to see your enemy. Those who have high altitude have better advantage than those who are at the bottom, because of the visibility. The other thing that I have found is that 50% of the time, those who are facing at the direction of where the shadows are – those are able to see almost everything, even those who are hiding behind a bench, a sitting stool, just about anything that shows your face or body. However, those who are on the side of the map where the sun is pointing at you are the ones with the disadvantage. Why? Because there’s a LOT of bushes. The sun is covering their body, or face, so enemies become shadows, so that bodes well for those “tree huggers.” They are able to camouflage themselves even though that they’re not using a camo suit such as digital camo, alligator camo, and so on.

So, where you spawn determines who wins a firefight, or wins the match?
Yes. Those who spawn on the side with shadows are the ones with disadvantage, those who are on the side where the sun is hovering over them are the ones with the advantage.

Now, let’s move to the “yes” part. A majority of the 60% I mentioned earlier are campers, and snipers. Battlefield 3 is both Camping, and Sniping heavens. Battlefield 3 is going to leave out rushers, rifle players, and what have you. If you like to hold an assault rifle, or be this Support person with an AK, I really don’t think this game is for you. While you can switch weapons on the fly and kill your enemy on the fly, the game’s mechanics doesn’t allow you to “counter-attack” your enemies. Once an enemy finds you and has the opportunity, you’re dead. There’s no way to counter his shots. In Call of Duty 4 and beyond, you can be shot and turn to counter-attack.

You can find out if someone has their sights on you with BF3 – Oh, it’s possible. Its a great technology the programmers at EA/DICE has been able to pull off. You don’t see this in a lot of shooters. This is the one thing that will set BF3 apart from it’s competition.

There are a few ways – a mounted laser, or a mounted light. While I like this mounted flashlight tech, it’s going to be troublesome when you see it because you can’t determine either one of these two: That’s it’s your team-mate, or where to shoot.

Alright! I want to know what’s so good about this game?
Well, for starters, like I said before: The graphics are superb. But that’s vague, and I’ll into detail right now. The team at EA/DICE are one killer combination because the graphics will be noticeable once you load the game – everything from the textures, the shadows, the light sourcing, the special effects, everything was crafted in every conceivable detail. The light sourcing is something many companies these days don’t really pay a lot of attention. It’s good to see that a company has stepped up the plate and addressed this. At the turn of the century, everyone suddently stopped showing off light sourcing from rockets, guns, even mounted attachments. Once you shoot a rocket in a tunnel, the whole radius lights up like a beautiful fireworks. When you go from broad daylight, to the tunnels, the game is designed in such a way that the further you go in, the more the graphics change. This is evident once you go deeper and deeper into the tunnels. Once you get to the train station, it changes again, once you go upstairs into the ticket booth, or back down, it changes colors, fog, smoke, as if the developers were designing a new game console. I have never seen this technology in any game this generation. Game developers should take note, and should definitely follow suit in the next few years.

The game’s color palette is something that a lot of developers are NOT taking advantage of in current generation games. BF3’s color variety is something I keep noticing in the back of my head. Someone in the art department inspired DICE so profoundly that it’s not even funny. All these little details I notice while playing – amazing attention to detail. The color changes in every aspect of the map, especially in the tunnel, and the train station.

The developers did a great job with the animation of BF3, every time I jump over an obstacle, like a fence – I’m in awe. In fact, I have a habit of trying to jump over the fences or other objects because of it. Even laying prone is satisfying, even though the beta has some glitches with regards to prone animation. Sometimes you go through the textures, so to solve this, crawl forward or backwards. Some places are hard to get out of [like that crater I mentioned earlier], so you’re stuck until either you commit suicide, you get killed, or wait until the game is over.

How are the sounds?
The sound effort in the game is excellent. You can hear fire fighting from a distance, you can hear bombs going off, the guns being shot, and these weird whiz by’s – honestly, I think that’s the worst part of the sound effects.

How are the controls?
If you read up to this paragraph, you will know why I don’t like the controls. It’s not fast enough, it’s not arcade enough to make the game fun for me. And the worst part is that the default configuration is stupid. I mean, to lay prone, you’d have to press R3. One thing I noticed is that there isn’t sprint – it may seem like there’s sprint but there isn’t. What you’re doing is running. Knifing is ridiculous! Pressing R3 swipes, and stabs, but in Battlefield 3… R2 button or Right Thumber is the button to press?

Needless to say, I was confused, and still am confused.

What’s the best thing about Battlefield 3?

What I like best about Battlefield was the ranking system not just how it’s calculated, how much experience you’ve gained since your last play, or how much progress you’ve made so far, how much weapon progress you’ve made so far, all of that is great. But then, BF3 goes against the grain by awarding you all kinds of stuff, like spawn ribbon, rush ribbon, like a real military ranking system. The ranking system is very deep. And I bet it’s only just scratching the surface of what BF3 is going to offer.

When they show you all of your awards – I love the presentation in which you are being awarded. Modern Warfare 2 almost did this same exact thing, but it only showed a summary, and whatnot.

Overall, EA/DICE has done a great job with Battlefield 3, they’ve outdone themselves. It’s a beta software and the game seems great so far.

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3 Responses to “Hands On with BattleField 3 Beta”

  1. Kol Says:

    The thing is when you hit down on the d pad on the 360, you can actually mark an enemy for more easily tracking I've noticed. Mores, use your mini map and figure out which side your team is and where your squad is spawning so you know to stay by them or when not to spawn on them.

  2. tracyann Says:

    Battlefield is another great game that can be played by many people. Battlefield addicts will be able to get this video. Thanks for sharing it, I will tell this one to my friends and relatives who plays Battlefield.

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