I have to admit that I’m a little surprised by this anticipation. Mainly because I absolutely hated the original Battlefield 1942 and my opinion of the series didn’t improve any with the successive games in the series. There’s a long standing rivalry between fans of the Call of Duty series and the Battlefield series and I’ve long been on the CoD side of that debate. I felt the huge maps and the addition of vehicles slowed things down and unbalanced the game for those folks who just wanted to pick up a rifle or heavy machine gun and find some enemies to shoot. I called it quits on BF1942 when during one game a guy in a tank sat at the single spawn point my team had left and repeatedly blew everyone away just as soon as we spawned. I didn’t buy every one of the following Battlefield games and expansion packs that came out, but I did give it another try by picking up Battlefield 2 when it was released and I did try out Battlefield 2142 at a friend’s house when that came out. Neither of those releases impressed me and I had pretty much written off the series as something I’d never enjoy.
Then I was convinced to pick up Battlefield: Bad Company 2 for a LAN party I was going to. I’ve been meaning to write a review of it for some time now, but just haven’t gotten around to it. The short version is that I again wasn’t immediately impressed at the LAN party, but later when I decided to play the single player campaign and try the multiplayer online (on the basis that I owned the damned thing so I may as well give it a fair shake) I found that it grew on me. BF:BC2 is the first in the series that I actually enjoyed playing. I’m still not a huge fan of the vehicles — in particular the helicopter gunships seem overpowered with no easy way to take them out — but at least tanks can be busted without too much trouble. I think it helps that they’ve added game modes where vehicles are either very limited in availability or non-existent, which I tend to prefer. The ability to spawn on squad mates helps keep the pace up as you’re not running over hill and dale trying to get back into the action from a distant spawn point (unless you want to). I also think the XP system in the game progresses too slowly, but that’s more of a nitpick.
One of the things I really do like about BF:BC2 is the destructible buildings. In CoD most of the guns can penetrate walls making it so there’s really no safe place you can duck down when under fire. Someone with a light machine gun can just spray the wall near where you were last seen and chances are they’ll hit you enough times to take you out even if you try to change location. I believe that bullets can penetrate some walls in BF:BC2, but it seems like walls offer more protection than in CoD. At least until someone hits it when a rocket launcher or a vehicle turret and blows the whole damned wall away leaving you exposed. Destroy enough walls on most buildings and the whole building will collapse upon your foes. That’s pretty cool. You get some protection from hiding in a building, but you can’t camp there for long periods because someone will eventually blow your hiding place to pieces.
So given that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 left such a good impression on me I was more than a little interested in seeing what Battlefield 3 would be offering and I got the chance to get a taste of it when I was invited to participate in the Alpha test. I can’t go into details due to the NDA, but it left me intrigued enough to consider preordering the final game. I haven’t, yet, but more so due to (personal) budgetary concerns than any hesitance about the end product.
Then there’s video clips of multiplayer gameplay such as this 64 player battle:
Which, I have to say, does a pretty good job of making the vehicles look awesome even if I can’t fly the planes/helicopters worth a damn. I am disappointed that BF3 won’t be available through Steam — apparently there’s some disagreement between EA and Valve over how DLC and patches should be distributed on the Steam network — but as a sweetener EA is offering a bonus free game if you preorder on their Origin digital distribution system. It appears that Origin is much better than their previous DDS known as The EA Store and I already have two titles on that platform, but I’d rather use Steam when I can.
So I’m still a huge Call of Duty fan, but my cold heart towards Battlefield is starting to thaw.