Battlefiield: Bad Company 2 has seen something of a renaissance in my household. Indeed, amongst numerous groups of online friends it seems to have seen a spike in popularity, taking priority over a number of other, more contemporary titles, such as Brink. This got me to thinking about whether BF:BC2 was perhaps released at the wrong time. The Battlefield franchise has consistently produced ‘better’ games than almost all of its peers, and even with the inexorable plod of time, I honestly think that had Battlefield: Bad Company 2 been released after the earth-shattering release of MW2, it may have made faster inroads to the console market.
Now I’m not saying, by any stretch, that Bad Company could have come anywhere near the popularity of MW2, nor, indeed, would I like it to have done so, but I suspect, in the aftermath of MW2 and the regular and pedestrian DLC it’s receiving there may have been an understanding among the masses that the Battlefield franchise works on quality over quantity. The reason I make this point is not because I’m a rabid Battlefield fanboy (which, incidentally, I am), but because I want to give some credence to the following sentence:
Battlefield 3 will be fucking amazing.
Okay, console gamers may be nervously awaiting information about how much of a downgrade in looks and, god forbid gameplay, they’ll take, but that’s to be expected. This is a PC game at heart, and playing it on a console will mean, in many ways, a second-class experience. That’s not to say it won’t be anything short of incredible, and there are bonuses to be had playing on a console: ease of use, lower cost (because you know you’re going to have to upgrade your PC’s graphics card, right), and a more immediate experience. That said, the engine, namely Frostbite 2, is the same, and that’s the real key to the experience.
But what does this engine really do that’s so different? Well, in terms of what you’re actually going to experience, it’s unlike anything you have ever seen before. You’ most likely will have seen some of the incredible videos out there, but are you really going to get that in a dynamic sense? In short, yes. One example of the kind of realism you’re going to see comes from another of EA’s top-tier titles, FIFA. You know the character animation from that, and how realistic that is? The same theory has been applied to Frostbite 2. Your character reacts to the environment and his footing more realistically than ever before. In addition, things like being able to temporarily blind players with a flashlight, blur their vision with concentrated fire, go prone, drag wounded players away from the action and turn your head before your entire body adds to the realism.
Similarly, the audio delivers what DICE calls a “brutally realistic soundscape”. Rather than simply overlaying a soundscape onto the battle, with a bunch of pseudo-war noises, what you hear is what’s happening on the battlefield. This means your ears (should you have the appropriate sound system) will provide you with another sensory ‘in’ to the game. If you want to know where the action is, you can use your ears as well as your eyes, or HUD.
So what about gameplay mechanics? Well, here’s a few facts:
Maps: Paris, Tehran, Sarajevo, New York, Oman, Wake Island, Sulaymaniyah.
Classes: assault, support, engineer, recon
Modes: conquest, rush, team deathmatch
Engine: Frostbite 2
Lead platform: PC
New vehicles: Fighter jets
No. players: PC 64, consoles est. 32 (subsequently, less ground space on consoles)
Then, of course, there’s the destruction aspect. Really and truly, this is what sets this apart from every other game out there. From a technical point of view, Frostbite 2 offers two types of destruction: macro and micro. The reality of this, and what you’ll see in game is grand, structural demolition and smaller, more immediate destruction. Both of these have an impact on how you play the game. For example, bringing down a building may offer you a more secretive spot to snipe from, or clear your way to the next building, while gradually breaking down your opponent’s cover will allow you to get a clearer view, or force him out into the open. That doesn’t just mean explosives either, your bullets will chip away at cover quite effectively.
It’s difficult to say exactly how the maps will turn out, but purely judging from DICE’s experience and quality of maps in previous incarnations, you can be fairly sure they’ll be cleverly built and cater to everybody. Indeed, one of the most impressive things about Battlefield 3 is the environment shifts themselves. Seamlessly going from an underground station larger than a CoD TDM map into the open, then into the surrounding countryside is something DICE is making a big deal out of.
Now, as part of the gigantic EA marketing machine, before we see anything close to a legitimate release date (which currently stands at 25th Oct 2011), we’re going to have to sit through the inevitable lead producer/designer/audio technician/tea boy interviews, and they’re all going to talk about the same thing: DICE’s philosophy. There might be a few tiny tidbits of real information here, but to be honest, the team seem to have set out their stall pretty early in that respect. What’s being touted as the driving force behind the game is this, the rather overused adage: play it your way.
What, exactly does that mean? Pfft! In my experience, it means one thing: absolutely nothing. Remember, while DICE may or may not have, EA are taking lessons from Activision on this one. For a company throwing $100 million into the promotion of the game, they want to drag it out and get their money’s worth. Be prepared, as a result, for a string of complete nonsense and overly-stylised trailers that show nothing. Keep it here if you want to stay up on the actual facts, but one thing’s for sure. October feels too far away, right now.
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