Chris was at the Eurogamer Expo, and one of the biggest draws for him was the Battlefield 3 booth, this is his account of his hands on impressions of the game.
The Battlefield 3 booth at the Eurogamer Expo is split into three distinct sections, first is a brief single-player demo on the PS3. Second is Rush mode on Operation Metro for the PS3 and 360. Finally, the granddaddy of them all is the PC area where you can take part in a spot of team deathmatch on the impressively adaptable Operation Metro map.
The single-player demo was sadly very short, it takes place in a night mission where your squad is assaulting a town, and ends when you jump into a HUMMWV. After you are locked into place with your team leader talking you through the place, you have a mighty downhill charge to find a spot to set up a mortar. With the mortar set up, and an illuminating round sent up, you get a lift over a wall into enemy territory.
In order to effectively take down the enemy you need to use your iron sights or scope, gunning from the hip isn’t going to get you far. With night all around, you need to be sure of your shots to avoid hitting your team mates. After taking down a few bad guys, I picked up a lovely modified G3 rifle. This was my favourite weapon in Battlefield 2, and it is just as fearsome in the new game. Emboldened with my new weapon, I ran to one end of the canal trench we were fighting in to take out an MG nest.
My gung-ho tactics paid off and some of my squad mates followed me around, while the rest of the team made a move on the far side to get out of the canal. After clearing the MG nest and being out of ammo for my trusty G3, I grabbed a new gun and advanced with my team to clear out a house. The first door was opened for me and after a bit of close combat which involved me fumbling around with the PS3 controller, I came across another door which I was able to open myself.
This led to a set piece where an enemy behind the door knocked me flying when I made the breach, a bit of mad shooting from the floor later he was dead and my route was clear. Sadly the demo ended soon after with the arrival of the HUMMWV, but I was impressed by what I played. The single-player is always going to take a back seat in Battlefield to the online aspect, but I got a good feeling from this demo. It was just a shame it was so short and only on the PS3.
The next aspect of the hands-on was a 360 or PS3 multiplayer session on the Operation Metro map in Rush mode. It was interesting to see that the queue for the PS3 session was always considerably shorter than the 360 queue. If you were in the Alpha then you will know what this is all about, and with the Beta starting in the next few days we will see everyone get the chance to try Rush on Operation Metro. DICE have made some tweaks to the map since the Alpha with the MCOM points in the first stage being moved around quite substantially. I’ll have more thoughts on the Rush mode when the Beta goes live when I am able to play it on the PC. Needless to say, the console version was fun to play, though clearly lacking the finesse that you would expect from the PC build.
Finally we had the PC build of the game being run on a bunch of very powerful machines which we clearly being powered by a nVidea set up with a lot of advertising around for the graphics card manufacturer. I was pleasantly surprised to see fairly long queues for the PC version, it was just a shame that it was hidden behind a few pillars and the walls of the console area.
The PC session took place on Operation Metro again, but was set on team deathmatch mode. Before I talk about how it played, I will say that the game looked absolutely stunning, I can only assume it was set to the highest settings, but it absolutely blew the PS3 version out of the water.
It also blew the console version away with how it felt to play, it was enjoyable on the console, but as soon as you have a keyboard and mouse to use, you have such a greater level of control and accuracy which is really important to a good game on Battlefield. It came across as being quite a pure version of team deathmatch compared to the recent Call of Duty games. Well if you can ignore the revives that is.
There was certainly a slower, more tactical pace than I was expecting, hopefully that resonates into the final game, but certainly 6v6 felt very comfortable for the game mode and the map size. I wouldn’t expect team deathmatch to be as popular on public servers than Rush or Conquest, but I think there might be room for it to grow as a competitive mode. Of course that would depend on server customisation options, but it is something to think about.
At the end of the day though, while it is great to play some of the single-player campaign, the demo was too short to gain any meaningful insights, other than that it feels a bit different to other shooters which have a modern setting. While deathmatch on the PC was enjoyable, it was definitely a skewed vision of the game taking place on extremely powerful machines and with limited player numbers. The continued lack of conquest is worrying, hopefully it will be shown off in the beta.
Battlefield 3 will be released on the 28th October 2011 on PC, 360 and PS3.