Preview: Battlefield 3 multiplayer
Battlefield is a franchise built on multiplayer gaming, and Battlefield 3 as a true sequel to the series has a lot to live up to. Unlocks and the Domination mode in Call of Duty are inspired by the earlier entries, and Star Wars: Battlefront wouldn’t have existed without it. Basically, it has many leather bound books and an apartment that smells like rich mahogany because it’s kind of a big deal.
Rush Mode, the flagship game type from Bad Company, makes a return in Battlefield 3. The objective-based maps have the attacking team capture or destroy points on the map so they can advance on to the next objective. Of course, it is the defenders job to stop the other team by any means necessary. We got to play a map that started in a war torn park before moving on to a collapsed French subway station.
Before going on to specifics of what we saw, it’s worth mentioning that DICE seems to have solved the problem with Snipers dominating the maps that has plagued the Bad Company games and Medal of Honor. It’s not to say they’ve been completely nerfed and have no place, they’re still very deadly. However, at no point were there bottlenecks that allowed them to mow down incoming forces. Let’s get back to the rest of the game now, though.
When you jump into a game you’re greeted with the familiar kit and squad selection screen. You can customise your kits from this screen before you spawn, offering a huge variety of primary weapons, secondary weapons, two item slots, and a stat bonus. These are tied to your kit, so the selection for Engineer and Recon are different, but they’re also relevant to that class.
One of the key accomplishments that have made the Battlefield series so popular is how it rewards you for playing as a team. Co-operating and supporting your squad mates while following the squad leaders orders helps to not only rack up points, but also to complete your objectives with a sense of accomplishment. Recon players rack up spotting points for sighting members of the opposite team, Support guys can lay down suppressive fire from their LMGs to hamper the accuracy of oncoming foes, and the Assault class can revive and heal team mates.
The reduction in player count over the PC version really doesn’t seem to be an issue, as the map never felt empty in the least, with guys to shoot never too far away and back-up usually fairly close by. Of course, it looks great as well, and the destruction physics are a noticeable improvement over the Bad Company games. Corners of walls will blow off where you shoot them, and boxes will fall apart organically rather than with a canned series of texture changes. It adds an element of desperation when you’re down to half health and someone is eating away at your cover.
We mentioned in the single player preview how the gunplay gets across the inaccuracy of sustained fire that DICE have been trying to portray since Battlefield 2 and 2142. Instead of the shots now firing a little wildly away from where you’re aiming, the gun itself has a lot of kickback, causing your sights to shake away from your target the longer you hold down the trigger. This really highlights to the player that they need to use burst fire.
All indications are that Battlefield 3 is going to see an improvement over the already stellar multiplayer present in Bad Company 2, and not just because of the sniper fixes. However, I just want to step away from formal press mode for a moment and tell you about Titan mode. Back in 2006, EA and DICE released Battlefield 2142 on PC. While it was the last true Battlefield in the classic sense, it was very poorly received by fans, and for perhaps good reason. Levelling was slow and unlocks took forever to get and they weren’t balanced so great, causing newcomers to have even more difficulty against the players with more items. However, it did have the Titan mode, the precursor to the Rush mode from Bad Company.
You see, in the world of 2142, both sides had these massive hovering troop and transport carriers that could be moved by the Commander, a player voted by the other players to lead their side. In Titan mode, you had to destroy these Titans. To do so, you would capture and then defend the command points on the map and they would periodically shoot missiles at the Titans to bring down their shields and eventually destroy them. Once the shields were down however, you could storm the enemy Titan and after blowing up a series of consoles and generators you’d bring it down, usually a lot faster than the missiles would.
It was a brilliant concept, and genuinely some of my best experiences in gaming have been playing this mode. Unfortunately, no Rush map since has ever quite captured the same experience. Of course, it sort of needs the Titans to work as it did, but perhaps a map or two in a harbour with a Battleship per team you have to breach then destroy. I’m just saying, DICE.
Anyway, apart from lacking content no-one really cares about, Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is really shaping up to be a worthy successor to the name. Oh, and when you level up during a round, you get a few bars of the Battlefield theme. Perfect.