Battlefield 3 Co-Op Hands-on - PAX 2011

By James Hawkins in Hands-on, PAX 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Battlefield 3's marketing campaign has put heavy, heavy emphasis on multiplayer. That's very obviously its main selling point, and the facet of its package that it is displaying to try and hunt down and capture Call of Duty fans. E3 had seven-hour lines for twenty minutes of play. It has been very prominent across the web.

But PAX brought us a new face of Battlefield 3 -- another portion of gameplay that has yet to be experienced. It's the co-op. The Battlefield 3 booth at PAX Prime 2011 was loaded with LCDs supporting two-player cooperative play. And I got to spend many, many minutes blazing through the map.

The most immediately striking aspect of Battlefield 3's co-up was the rapidity of the varied situations that were thrown towards me and my partner. We began stealthily creeping through an office building to extract a person-of-interest. Silencers, countdown takedowns, and alerted guards punctuated a few-minute inaugural sequence that quickly broke into all out combat as soon as we hit a garage outside.

From there, the new weapon mechanics shone brightly. In almost all military simulators, the guns have unnatural accuracy. Light machine guns can be equipped with ACOGs and clip snipers from hundreds of yards away. M-16s, M-4s, and other assault rifles may have small nuanced differences, but besides fire-rates and aesthetics, they could hit medium to long range without flaring much.

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Not anymore. The headlining firefight that broke out after the stealth portion was along a street, lined with buildings. From all levels, enemies leaned out and rushed, putting my resolve to the test. And my weapons weren't that accurate. A small weapons cache lay next to my position. I leaned out with my assault rifle and tried to pick off a distant RPG-weilding soldier. Nothing doing -- he was hardly phased by my long distance volleys. I rushed to the cache, picked up a typically-reliable light machine gun. Green night vision filled my screen, I lined up a headshot. Fired. He twisted to the left as his shoulder took the hit. Again -- chest. He fell down, and shook himself off, standing back up. I killed him. It was hyper-realistic.

Horrifyingly realistic, actually. The bullets that fly towards you as you play cause enormous onscreen issues -- with constant static and really sickening clacks as they hit you. But the fights push on and tanks and armor begin to levy more momentum to our backs and the terrorists' threat begins to fade.

It will be tough to say if this can provide a fulfilling experience when we all play it in full. But Battlefield 3 is trying something to keep the wholly relevant, and featuring DICE's uncompromising promise to make realistic war games, it will be an absolutely unique experience.

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