Battlefield 3 Beta hands on preview

After seeing numerous videos of Battlefield 3 in action, it feels really nice to actually sit down and play one of the most hyped up games of 2012. It’s not so nice when the 4GB beta you downloaded last night suddenly decides to re-download itself across EA’s buggy service, Origin. A few minutes of frantic research later I thankfully found the fix to be a rather stupid transfer of files within Origin’s parent directory itself.

So anyway, long story short, Battlefield 3 for the PC at least is only available on Origin so you’re just going to have to deal with that. Once you fire up the game, you’ll be prompted to download a plug-in for your browser that basically allows you to access Battlelog, EA’s hub for the entire game. Unlike most games that have all of the server and stat browsing within the game, DICE have chosen to do this all through an external browser. Once you choose the server you wish to play on, you simply hit connect after which you have to maximize the game to continue playing. Is it very inconvenient? Not really but it’s a weird decision nevertheless and I have yet to see the benefit of going through this route.

Check out your stats

Check out your stats

 

Once the game starts, you’ll be ushered straight into a server instead of any sort of main menu which means you cannot tweak your settings or play with your controls unless you pause the game. You can’t even access this screen while you’re waiting to spawn; you have to spawn first, hit ‘Esc’ and then change your settings while you risk being shot dead. The weird browser I can deal with but this is completely stupid. Why do I have to put myself at risk if I wish to play with my controls? If DICE didn’t want to put a main menu in the game, they should have at least put it into Battlelog itself. It just doesn’t make any sense.

I see you

I see you

 

Once you move past these weird designs, you can finally begin to enjoy Battlefield 3’s gameplay and in that respect, DICE delivers. Gunplay feels a lot more heavy and physical than Battlefield Bad Company 2 (BFBC2) which isn’t a bad thing. This actually encourages you to think and play instead of going with the whole run and gun mentality you’re so used to thanks to Call of Duty. For a first person shooter, Battlefield 3 has some pretty sweet animations that make vaulting over stuff or getting up from prone position look real cool. Oh yeah that’s right. This game now allows players to go prone and before you let out some long groans, it’s really not that bad. Will you come across tons of people camping in the grass waiting for you to pass by? Yes but thanks to the light reflected off their scopes you can actually avoid death if you’re real quick with your reflexes. And like previous Bad Company games, you can spot enemies by hitting ‘Q’ so even if you die, you can highlight an enemy in the mini map for the rest of your squad.

DICE have played around with the classes in this game so instead of a Medic class, the Assault Class can now deploy health kits and even revive people using the defibrillator. This may take some time for BFBC2 veterans to get used to but it’s not really a deal breaker. All classes start off with a basic weapon and the more points you rack up as that class, the cooler stuff you unlock. Unfortunately unlocks are weapon-based so let’s say while playing as the American side, you unlock a scope, that scope won’t be present for your AK47 while playing as the opposition. This actually makes players really work for unlocks across every weapon. After Assault, I normally tend to go in for the Engineer class but that felt kind of redundant in this map. As you know, Engineers are vital to repairing stuff but in Operation Metro, the map present in the beta, there are no vehicles to speak off so I stuck with Assault for most of my time.

Unfortunately you only have one map to play around with in the beta – Operation Metro. This map is strictly infantry but that doesn’t make it any less intense. The only mode available in the beta is Rush which means as the attacker you’ll have you plant bombs throughout enemy territory while the defenders struggle to defuse them. The level’s pretty huge divided into three phases. You’ll start off in an open ground of sorts after which you’ll make your way to an underground subway station. This part gets crazy intense and is a true testament to the game’s phenomenal sound. After you wrap up the tunnel, you’ll make your way to another open area where the defenders make their final stand.

I know Kung-Fu

I know Kung-Fu

 

The destruction in this game is kind of disappointing as compared to BFBC2. I know DICE have publically acknowledged that fact but it’s kind of a bummer that I can’t actually bring an entire building down, the way I could in BFBC2. There’s a ton of scripted destruction though and having a wall blown out by a rocket launcher just as you’re about to squeeze the trigger on an unsuspecting fool is a thrill only the Battlefield series can induce.

I was pretty surprised by the game’s scalable nature because even on my modest GTX 280, the game ran at a solid 30 frames per second at a 1920x1080 resolution. Granted I had bumped everything down to medium but even at that setting, the game looked pretty good. Special mention has to go out to the game’s lighting and sound which is probably the best in the business right now. I came across a ton of glitches like people clipping through the ground, me going underground when I hit prone, bodies just randomly flying over the map and the funniest of all, people running slanted but obviously this is a beta so issues are expected. I also experienced a lot of lag in certain servers but that could have been due to my connection as well.

Track your killer

Track your killer

 

Overall I’d say I’m happy with the direction DICE have taken with this game and I can’t wait to play larger maps full with 64 players, vehicles and of course, jets. There are a few gameplay designs that strike me as odd but hopefully DICE will iron these issues out by the time the game rolls out on the 25th of October for the Xbox360, PS3 and PC.


Published Date: Sep 29, 2011 01:04 pm | Updated Date: Sep 29, 2011 01:04 pm