I got my hands on an early access beta key for Battlefield 3 earlier today, and after about 30 minutes of figuring out how Origin works, about an hour of video-card related issues, and ten minutes to make/eat a sandwich, I was in.
I’ll keep things simple for now, you’ve probably heard all the technical talk on the likes of EpicBrew’s bigger brother sites like Rock Paper Shotgun, 1UP, and The Escapist. So for the sake of your time and interest, here is my absolute honest-to-zeus opinion about the Battlefield 3 beta.
My least favorite aspect of the beta is the fact that it is a beta test. It’s like playing the demo version of a demo for a retail game. I want to sit here and tell you the game runs beautifully, smoothly, and I’ve not experienced a single connection problem, but I can’t because all of the above are problems. My PC is a beast and runs well above the recommended system requirements for Battlefield 3, yet the game still chugs and sputters on Ultra settings, but runs fine on High settings. Because of the beta opening today, the surge of gamers going into Origin and looking for a spot in the few servers up and running has clogged the system. Once I was able to find a server that had an open slot, I occasionally was kicked out here and there, it only happened a few times, but it still happened.
Granted, the Beta takes place to solve all of the problems I am having, so I’m not letting these issues weigh too heavily on my overall excitement for the retail release.
What I’ve found myself enjoying are the little things. Like how when you jump over waist-high objects, your soldier will Marcus-Fenix-hurdle over them instead of just levitating over the object like a bunny-hop. The action makes you feel weighted, like you’re just not a floating arm holding a gun, and really adds to the frantic feel of diving behind cover.
Some of the soldier classes get red-dot sights and flashlights for their guns. When used properly, these attachments can really disorient an enemy soldier. Even though I know that enemies (and teammates) have flashlights attached to their guns, I still get tripped up like a deer caught in headlights when I get flashed in the face while running around. The flashlight is a brilliant tool to use indoors, but outdoors, if your flashlight is on, you have a sun-reflecting-off-glass effect coming from it, so if you’re careless, you will pay for it…pauses to build sinister momentum…with your life!
The red-dot, on the other hand, can be aimed into other player’s faces and temporarily distort their vision until they move out of your line-of-sight. The red dot works the same indoors as it does outdoors.
A similarly distorting effect is used when you find yourself caught under suppressive fire from an enemy. With the support class, players can utilize suppressive fire to disorient their enemies without actually hitting them. For those caught under the barrage, it’s best to just hang-tight until the gunner runs out of ammo or find another way around them. For the gunner, well, now you have a reason to be inaccurate.
When you knife someone in Battlefield 3, the knife doesn’t simply slash across the screen and your opponent doesn’t just limply fall to the ground. Your soldier reaches out and grabs the enemy and plummets the knife into him, all while you yank the dog tags off of the corpse with the other hand. It’s incredibly rewarding.
The map available in the beta, Operation Metro, feels like three maps in one. The only game mode currently available is Rush, a mode where one team has to defend two objectives while the other team is tasked with destroying those objectives. When the attacking team succeeds in destroying two objectives, the defending team falls back to defend two more objectives. What the defending team has to do is hold off the attackers until they run out of re-spawn points.
Operation Metro starts in a Parisian park, with the Eiffel Tower looming in the distance. Rolling hills and garden terraces break up this section. Once the first two objectives in the park are taken out, the game shifts underground. You head down into the subway system where flaming railway cars have been derailed and broken escalators make climbing up levels quite harrowing. From there the map flows back above ground, but now you are in the city. Coffee shop furniture and abandoned vehicles offer cover as your team either makes the last hard push, or defends, for the win.
The beta opens for everyone Thursday, September 29th, on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.