I had the opportunity to play the new Capture the Flag mode last week as one of the three available classes. In addition to the well-rounded Soldier that I got a chance to use, the Gunner is the heavy weapons expert and the Commando is the stealth and sniper build. We were issued a hefty amount of Battlefunds, the only of the three game currencies that can be purchased with real money. Battlefunds can be used for cosmetic changes and purchasing better weapons. Typically these come at different time-limited tiers and a higher-cost unlimited use option. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to tell if this unbalances the game or simply offers earlier unlocks to paying players as the server we were on was unranked and, therefore, no progression was possible.
By default, each player can create four heroes. During creation, you’ll need to choose which side and which class you want each character to be, and you cannot delete characters to make room. If you want a character of each class on each side, you’ll need to pony up for two more slots. You need to choose your character before you start up the game, so if the sides are unbalanced or if your team needs different classes, you’ll have to back all the way out.
It’s not the most user-friendly system in the world, but once you are in the game, there is a lot of fun to be had. The art style is light and cartoony with all sorts of ridiculous customization options. The taunts and sound effects help drive home the playful nature of the design. Since this is Battlefield, there are vehicles on the map to speed transport, as well as key capture points that allow for respawning closer to the enemy’s flags.
The game is a third-person endeavor that controls very well with the mouse and keyboard. The graphics aren’t going to tax most computers, even at the highest settings and the team and global chats are accessible and useful. Unfortunately, the F2P nature of the game reared its ugly head as we were playing. The few journalists in the room were all level 1 characters while the developers were further along with abilities that couldn’t be purchased with the one currency we had access to.
I imagine that the balance will be better once the Capture the Flag mode gets out into the wild with a wider player base, but for our play session, it definitely harmed my experience. Getting smoked by players that had access to tools that I didn’t made it less fun and, if the weapons I was able to purchase are only available through Battlefunds, average players looking for a free game experience will also be disappointed.
We had access to one map during our time and it was symmetrical and well balanced with one capture point near the center of the map. Jeeps were placed at flag points to ease travel across the map and flag carriers, while unable to drive while in possession, can hitch a ride. This is will help emphasize team play as the easiest way to make a quick escape is with a getaway driver.
For Battlefield Heroes players, the Capture the Flag mode will be a great addition to the Conquest-style mode that already exists. For those that have yet to enter the game, though, give it a try. You might find it’s a good fit if you are looking for quick matches with lots of character customization. Just be aware that Free 2 Play might not be the same thing as Free 2 Be Competitive.