Battlefield 3 promises to be one of the biggest releases this holiday. It is hoping to steal some market share from the bestselling video game franchise of all time, Zork Call of Duty. Call of Duty is an annual first-person shooter, and the undisputed king of video game sales. Battlefield is an extremely popular contender for the throne. Now, I guess I should talk about the game instead of the business.
Battlefield is a class-based shooter, which means that the player picks one of a few types of soldier to play. The different kits you choose fill different roles on the battlefield (see what I did there?). There are four kits from which a player may choose: the recon, or sniper; the engineer, or explosives and short range specialist; the support, or heavy weapon specialist; and the assault, or medium range and medic. Perhaps, the best part of this class system is that there are several ways to play each class. A sniper can find a good spot and wait patiently to pick off the opposing team to fortify a defense, or he can stay on the move and harass the other team. An assault player can focus on his assault rifle and rack up a lot of kills, or he can focus on his medical kit and keep his allies alive.
I have spent five or ten hours with the public beta for Battlefield 3, and I can say that it is a lot of fun. There are a number of factors that reinforce team play, such as a mechanic that lets a dead player re-spawn at the same location of a living teammate. This keeps a solid push going, and rewards team play. Also, the inclusion of a medic rewards players who stay together. This also gives players like me, who aren’t über-skilled, something productive to do.
Additionally, as you play, you unlock new weapons, gear, and abilities. After just an hour or so, I had gone from a slowpoke medic with a boring gun to a sprinting medic who could bring fallen comrades back from the dead and hit a target smaller than a barn at 100 meters. The devilish thing about this game is that you always know that in two good matches you will unlock that new scope or that new skill. This just-one-more makes the multiplayer a real threat to your social life.
I only got to try out one map, but it is a nice big one. There are plenty of ways to move point to point, and there are several nice landmarks to keep players from getting lost. The map is also broken up into several sections that have a very different look, feel, and play. The game-type is broken up into several stages, one for each of the locations. The result is that while the objectives are the same for each round, the feel of the rounds is very different as you go from the wide open park, to the claustrophobic subway, and finally the frighteningly vertical city streets.
I didn’t get to spend as much time with the game as I would have liked, but I really enjoyed it. The progression was rewarding, and the gameplay was rock solid. There are an [expletive deleted]-ton of great looking games coming out this holiday season, and Battlefield 3 looks like it might be one of the best. If you can grab a friend (sorry, Bryant) or two (sorry, Sam), this looks like it could be a great multiplayer experience.
The beta is available to play on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC until October 10th.