More Battlefield: Bad Company beta impressions

Recently, gamers from the US and UK got to experience Battlefield: Bad Company in the form of a multiplayer beta on Xbox LIVE where gamers can play on two maps, and try out five different character classes. The beta has both ranked and unranked quick matches and is focused on one scenario called Gold Rush which pits defenders against attackers – defenders must stop the attackers from blowing up chests of gold by any means necessary.

Players are assigned a side and have to stay on it for the remainder of the game. As with previous Battlefield titles, there are bars at the top of the screen that represent how many troops are available. The match ends either once the bar is depleted or if the attackers succeed in destroying all of the gold chests. The games I played were very back and forth on who had the advantage since if there was just one chest left, the defenders could hold it better than four or five at the same time.

From the classes available , one must choose (all with a knife included) a kit selection along with a main weapon:

  • Assault – machine gun with attached grenade launcher, grenades
  • Demolition – shotgun, rocket launcher, hand grenades
  • Recon – sniper rifle, hand gun, motion sensor
  • Specialist- machine gun, tracer gun, hand grenades
  • Support – heavy machine gun, power tool, medkits for healing wounded troops

From all of the selections available, everyone should find one or two that they really like to play as. Personally, I like to be in the action, so using the shotgun for close quarters and assault for general mayhem suits me the best.

After a selection is chosen, players are able to join the squad off the base or spawn back at the base camp. Joining the squad in combat sometimes proves to be a bit painful when opposition is firing because you might not know where they are and end up getting killed in mere seconds. There were a few times when I found myself spawned into the gun turret of a tank or plane and could easily rack up kills as apposed to being by myself.

Allies appear with a blue dot and their tag over their bodies, and opposition will only show up when someone from your team spots them. Going undetected proved to be difficult, and when you are identified, everyone will know exactly where you are. It proved to be futile by hiding in a house, only to have the roof torn off by tank fire.

Jumping down from just about anything causes damage. Sure, falling a far distance should hurt, but it looks to be less than eight feet, there is no reason that 20% of my life should be deducted. When I am running low on life and am in a building, I had to either let the enemies get the kill with tank fire or jump to my death. I think there should be damage when a player falls far, but not a few feet. It puts someone at such a disadvantage if they jump down to avoid gun fire.

The graphics look good; faces (if you could get close enough to them) look real and defined, along with guns and hand movements. Even when swimming, doing a breast stroke looked lifelike. Players motions seemed real when they ran around corners or fell in battle. To my delight, there wasn’t any certain way enemies were killed (picture 007 and the few ways enemies “fell”). Watching a building get blown out or a tactical strike looked great I also noticed that shadowing on objects like palm trees would appear slower than everything else, and the draw distance wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. Barrels that blew up would sometimes hover in the sky and I found myself getting stuck in between crumbled environments multiple times. But, it is a beta and those issues will most likely be addressed.

When you take out opposing forces in a certain way (assist kills, multiple shotgun kills, vehicle destruction etc.) you are awarded with what I call a “little dangly thing” in the form of a dog tag accompanied with a little harmonica playing. They are nothing too special since I received more than five per game, but it awarded me for doing a job well done and I thought that it was kind of neat.

There are two maps in the beta Oasis and Ascension. Both of them have both good and bad aspects of it, but Oasis is more open and bigger than Ascension.

Oasis Map:

  • Desert Climate
  • Long, skinny map with boats for water transport

Ascension Map:

  • Based in a European town
  • Web of small buildings with multiple rooms
  • Very hilly and harder to navigate than Oasis

Driving vehicles proved to be one of the best and worst parts of this beta for me. The perspective of tank driver or gunner felt realistic and fun. Operating a vehicle consisted of hitting the gas with a trigger and directing where you wanted it to go. The presence of going into battle with a few tanks and a helicopter was enormous, especially in the beginning of a match when the two forces meet.

As for the big selling point of the game, the destructible environments, it proved easy to blow a giant hole in a wall with a rocket launcher to get ot the boxes of gold or to get a better look at my opponent. Buildings don’t crumble all the way, much to my dismay, but the walls do blow out and reduce it to just a skeleton. Walls were tricky to destroy sometimes; using a tank would either do no damage at all or take out the entire thing. It was really just a crap-shoot for what was going to happen.

There is nothing worse than hearing the same foreign language screamed over and over when playing. Even when playing with American forces, the same few lines were repeated over and over like “get back in there soldier!” or the famous “I need a medic!” I muted the sound more than once. Hopefully, BC will feature more of a variety of what is being yelled out than the same few, stale lines.

The only big problem I had was when I died out of nowhere. When I say that, I mean that I had no idea that an enemy was around me. Luckily, it does note who killed who in battle, and most of the time a chopper took me out. It isn’t fun at all when you are running from a base and a chopper that you can’t even hear or see picks you off. War is hell I guess.

But even with these small inconveniences, there is no doubt that BC is going to make a huge spash when it comes out in June. The gameplay is very addictive and hectic. EA and DICE made a smart move to get feedback from the actual players by running this beta version. Hopefully they see what works and what doesn’t, making the game that much more enjoyable. Until then, let us all hope this game takes what we say into consideration.

[See also: Battlefield: Bad Company gallery]