Thunderbolt logo

Eurogamer Expo 2011: Battlefield 3 hands-on

BattlefieldEurogamer Expo 2011

The EA hype machine has been grinding its cogs louder then ever before recently, ensuring that every single gamer will have heard of or seen Battlefield 3 by the time it launches. I got the chance to sit down and play the multiplayer for over half an hour, which granted me the time to test out how the game felt and the changes that have been made.

screenshot

Battlefield 3 looks and sounds superb. There’s real detail in the scenery and the animations render the world a solid weight. It doesn’t act like you’re controlling a floating camera, but that you’re looking out of a soldier’s eyes as his feet stomp on the ground and explosions ring out nearby. The pace of the game is very similar to Bad Company 2, pushing more for tactical team support and decision making rather than twitch gaming.

Jumping into a game with a few minutes remaining, I selected the Assault class due to the medikit and armed myself with the trusty shotgun (well, what else?). Starting at the entrance to an underground station, the battle was taking place on the street outside and the stairs that descended to it. The game mode was Rush and one objective remained. Dashing out of the underground I drew my pistol and took out two enemies. Jumping over a railing caused the character’s arm to reach out; he grabbed the bar and swung his legs over. It looked great, and as I get a huge kick out of full body awareness (FBA), it put a big Cheshire cat grin on my face. The shotgun took down two more of the opposing force as I quickly set about rigging a detonation charge on the final position. Bang – we won.

The next battle began in a public park and we were attacking. Circling around the side of the park, I made my way to objective B without any enemy contact. I planted an explosive and took my position behind some cover. Adjusting my body allowed a clear view of the opposing team who were advancing too cautiously. To buy some time until detonation, I fired off a few rounds from the pistol, causing the enemy to scatter. With charge exploding, and one base already down, I swooped around the back of the other team and took three out with shotgun blasts to the back of the head.

screenshot

The next map appeared to be new, but was actually the same one as before. As we progressed we found ourselves in an underground train lane where the battle became up close and personal. This single map took place over a park, through the underground station and then finally out onto a street littered with demolished vehicles. The variation on this one environment alone, which could have easily been split into three separate maps, shows a dedication to creating an online package that will reward those who spend the time to learn the intricacies and side paths. Newcomers will be blown away by the scale and detail of the landscapes, ensuring they come back to study the maps too.

Gameplay changes now allow you to lay down on the ground. Those that hate snipers need not worry, as the map on show had more close-range encounters and less room for people to hide away and fire from a safe distance. While running across the land, you can leap forward and land flat on your stomach, slowly crawling along the ground with your arms in front of you. When running, my character never stopped for breath. I made it down a long underground corridor in one sprint, however, it did take a few seconds when stopping before I could run at full speed again.

None of the weapons appeared overpowered and the shotgun returns, this time dropping anyone within range. Some of the classes have been tweaked too, with slight changes. As mentioned previously, the Assault class now has the medic special abilities, allowing you to drop health packs and revive fallen comrades (an ability which is now a lot quicker to use). Full body awareness has been ramped-up to allow for more visual impact. Also included is a new animation when knifing someone, and your hand falling and twitching as you lay dying.

screenshot

I walked away secure in my thoughts that DICE and EA have delivered the goods. Once it’s played with more teamwork, as many people had been queueing and didn’t want to spend their time doing anything other than shooting, it can only improve further. Balanced and beautiful, the multiplayer of BF 3 is set to meet everyone’s expectations.

This preview is based on Shane’s time with the Xbox 360 version of the game.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

Gentle persuasion

You should check out our podcast.