Friday, September 30, 2011

Battlefield 3 beta and the ups and downs... and downs... and downs...

Shooters…. I love them.

Every November is like an early Christmas when Call of Duty drops but 2011 has been hyped as the year of three… Gears of War 3, Modern Warfare 3, and Battlefield 3. One has lived up to the hype. One we’ll find out in November.

And for me, one has fallen well short.

I was excited to get my game on in the Battlefield 3 open beta yesterday. I knew I would struggle with control differences and the game might have issues (it’s a beta for Pete’s sake) but entered the fray with an open mind. You see, I’m not a DICE fan for multi-player. They delivered great campaigns in Bad Company 1-2 but their MP… well… it sucked. I disliked it so much I passed on Medal of Honor completely because it looked like a reskinned Bad Company MP experience.

Battlefield 3 has been hyped to be so much more.

At E3 2011 it had a wow factor… but I kept reminding anyone who would listen, “This is on a top-of-the line PC… show me what it looks like on a console.” Since that spectacular debut, EA has hyped Frostbite 2.0, dedicated servers, and game play that will blow other shooters away… and emphasizing they will have a beta (all snide digs at the king of the shooter hill, COD).

They might have done a better job tempering expectations.

Yes, it’s a beta but there are so many issues… some very central to the experience. The graphics at 30fps are subpar… I’m not talking about glitches… but the look. It’s just not what I was expecting and almost looks worse than BC2, especially with the way, overhyped Frostbite 2.0 engine. It sure doesn’t play as terribly destructible. The servers are dedicated… dedicated to having issues. Animations are hit and miss… grenade toss is terrible but the knife animation is cool. The sound is no different from Bad Company 1… solid but nothing new. Class systems are no fun… and while I knew this was the case… one side’s weapons are good and the other not. It’s a struggle to know visually when you are hit. And on, and on, and on…

… but…

… DICE got ROF selection right. The problem is you can’t use it. The single shot setting with the AR is useless because of how many hits it takes to get a kill. This segues nicely to…

… the way people play it. Snipers galore... spawn camping (love getting knifed as I wink into being)… hell, the spawn system in general is horrid. I love having an option to either spawn and run 500 miles to the action or spawn right in the middle of it and die… happy medium maybe? Players lone wolfing it everywhere in a team based game, has anyone ever heard of a mic? Funny thing… these are all complaints folks have about COD. It doesn’t really bug me here but for a game that portends to not be COD… sure feels like it.

There are good things beyond ROF… ribbons are cool… I like the XP system but I’m mixed on the weapon leveling mechanic.  I can’t tell what I have to do to unlock an attachment… and I can’t choose what to unlock. It seems like every good thing has 5 negatives, though.

And we haven’t even seen vehicles yet.

Not a fan of vehicles… not because they are overpowering… but because of how they aren’t used in the game (that and I suck at using them). Players just screw around with them too much… to the detriment of the experience. Besides, I’m playing a “shooter”… I’ll play Forza if I want to drive (which I don’t, I love shooters remember).

Battlefield 3 may turn out to be many things…

… Call of Duty killer will not be one of them.

Modern Warfare 3, it’s your turn to not disappoint.

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