The Battlefield 3 Beta is now open and, as we hurtle ever closer to inevitable clash of the military shooters, it’s time to cut through the hype and get a feel for what EA and DICE are bringing to the table. The most important thing about my kneejerk reaction to the beta is that this is my take on things. The beta is open on every platform and you should play it to form your own opinions.
You also need to understand what I look for in a multiplayer experience. I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m not very good at shooters. I tend to die a lot. What draws me back, though, are opportunities to be part of a team and achieve objectives without having the most kills. My favorite multiplayer experiences have been Chromehounds and Killzone 2 and 3. In Chromehounds, I played a Commander and in Killzone 2 and 3, I prefer Engineer and Medic.
My interest in Battlefield 3 and my pre-order for the game was predicated largely on the fact that the series traditionally requires more communication, has a slower pace than competitors and rewards a variety of different roles. The concept of securing and holding strategic positions on large, open maps has always been something that felt right for my play style. Put simply, the Battlefield 3 beta is nothing of what I am looking for.
I downloaded the Beta this morning and played four matches, two as a defender and two as an attacker. The only mode available is Rush, where the attackers advance on sets of two objectives, lay charges and hold off defenders until detonation. There are no vehicles, reinforcement tickets or landmarks to secure (other than the detonation points). Many of the things that make Battlefield different are simply absent from the console beta. My understanding is that the PC beta has a second map with more traditional Battlefield play, but since I would be purchasing the game for XBox 360, I am limiting my comments to that platform.
The map available to console players, Operation Metro, starts in a park area. This is as open as it gets for the Beta. It’s not as claustrophobic as the subway tunnels, but it certainly isn’t as open as one would expect EA and DICE to show off so close to the game’s launch. The game feels faster than past Battlefield titles, emphasizing a run-and-gun mentality. The squad mechanic is currently broken, as our pre-formed squad was split upon starting a new game, with no way to put it back together. Other glitches included the sound dropping out, falling through the map, and resuscitation by teammates simply not working.
Additionally, the teams felt unbalanced, with weapons available to level 1 players feeling more powerful on the attacker side than the defender side. Throughout my time, I was reminded of Battlefield 3’s leading competitor more than prior EA/DICE games. Teammates also indicated that the game felt exactly like Medal of Honor.
Ultimately, what EA and DICE have put on display here feels rushed and completely uncharacteristic for the Battlefield series. Instead of showing gamers how they have perfected their own formula and created a unique game, the Battlefield 3 beta is a “me too” experience, and one that falls far short of the game it tries to emulate.
Again, I encourage everyone to play the beta for themselves. It’s open and it’s free. Form your own opinions. Perhaps you won’t share my concern about how the game is shaping up less than a month from release. We’d be interested to hear your opinions, so drop them in the comments.
Should additional modes and maps become available before the beta ends on October 10th, I’ll update my impressions.