What To Expect From The Battlefield 3 Beta - Hands-On

By James Hawkins in Hands-on
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm
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Not to knock PCs at all, but I need to play my video games on consoles. Preferably the Xbox 360. I relegate my PC to the Civilization series and maybe the occasional free browser game. That's just how I was raised. And that how I'm gonna keep on living my own life.

I got the Battlefield 3 open beta key from EA yesterday and spent a few hours playing through the now-famous Operation Metro level of the Rush multiplayer game mode. You see, the open beta starts tomorrow, but a lucky few of us got to play through the beta 48 hours early. Hit the link to see how I felt about this hot commodity, and what you should expect to see over the two week beta process.

I'll say, first off, the beta isn't pretty. For a game that has left entire conference halls shuddering with its realistic visuals and sounds, its beta form is a clicky, chunky, glitchy mess. At the outset of Operation Metro, black flashes would overcome my screen in an almost rhythmic succession of threes, with portions of the ground forcing me to wobble as I knelt on them. Sparks from explosions looked like those of Battlezone (almost not kidding), and bullets would sear white-hot lines across the screen that wouldn't fade.

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However, though its clothes are tattered, Battlefield 3 will appear in its Sunday best, tooth-glint-in-the-sunlight and all on October 25. This code isn't anywhere near final, and DICE is one of the most reputable organizations in terms of pumping out polished product. The competition is too fierce with Activision and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. There's too much at stake to have shuttering flashes and drippy textures evident in the final product.

The core of the multiplayer experience is what the beta delivers to us. You pay $60 for the lipstick and eyeliner. When Battlefield 3 drops it will be peerless -- at least for two weeks -- and will help invent the next generation of our first-person shooters. DICE has listened to the common ailments of beleaguered shooter fans while refining the aspects that people generally love.

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For instance, a universal issue in mil-sim shooters is the overabundance of snipers on larger levels. Everyone with a gamertag "Dark Empathy" or "Silent_Despondence" or "Night_Hunter_69" or whatever likes to don an SV-98 and lay in the hills dropping fleets of frustrated gamers before them as the few legitimate teammates try in desperation to close out an objective. DICE has sectioned their maps to accommodate open areas, but force players to play within the means of the space. 

In Metro, teams must collide inside a subway tunnel after storming a courtyard. Sniping through corridors of the tunnels is pointless and submachine guns have to be used. DICE built this game to make gamers sculpt how they play to align with what they play. When I was sniped I gave my opponent a little bow. They are laying low to support their squad of light machine gunners and assault soldiers in the onslaught. I just love that -- it is true teamwork and not shitty stat-padding play.

That's the most obvious example I'm going to provide for you -- there are a number of cool features and gameplay mechanics that will push you to pre-order the title. I can't say definitively that it will crush Modern Warfare in terms of quality or entertainment, but from what I can tell Battlefield 3 is a more measured, more mature version of the shooters we've all played.

We just hope it can survive all this hype.

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