I’ve spent a good deal of time with the Bad Company 2 beta on the PC, and I’ve got some initial thoughts about the multiplayer and the new mode showcased in the beta called “Squad Rush.”
It’s kind of weird to consider this beta as anything more than a glorified demo. I’m sure the DICE team is hard at work using this as a stress tester for online play and using the large pool of players to verify stability on a variety of setups. I have a hard time imagining that any significant tweaks will be made two weeks prior to release. (Is a last minute change like that even possible?)
The big question: will this be worth your money?
How does it play?
The game feels like a Battlefield game. The movement and aiming feel like BF2, the whole setup mirrors the control scheme of BF1943 and the controls retain all of the boons and flaws of prior BF games. I’ve never felt like I was completely connected to the character on-screen – a sort of floaty feeling – and it’s in full force in Bad Company 2 as well.
The guns seem to have little feedback and the small “X” that appears to let you know that you’re hitting your target seems arbitrarily hard to get at first. Yes, this game has a steep learning curve like all previous BF games, but when things start to work out for you all at once, magic happens. No other multiplayer experience can generate such heroic tales as the ones the Battlefield series can. Defending a single point against an onslaught of 50 attackers generates the kind of “one-man-army” drama you barely find in single player shooters these days.
So what has changed?
More. Someone must have told the developers to take the BF core gameplay and sprinkle in the best bits from other shooters. The game meets the minimum requirement of level-ups and unlocks that is required of a major multiplayer release in a post-Modern-Warfare world. BF1943 had a leveling system but there was no reward beyond having a bigger number next to your name. Now leveling up you class unlocks extra gear and overall levels can present perks or cross class weaponry.
There’s significantly more weaponry available than what was found in the last BF to hit the consoles. Having some weapons that any class can grab at any respawn is a nice touch. Don’t like the engineer’s (who’s forte is fixing or blowing up tanks) machine gun? Level up past the weak starting gear with a shotgun earned from hitting overall level 2.
The squad rush mode is new and does not impress at first. I was kind of peeved that I couldn’t engage in the same old conquest mode I’ve been enjoying for years now. Â Let the new mode simmer for a while and the benefits of it become clear. The teams have different objectives – attack or defend – and the map constantly alters as the teams face off. The defenders have unlimitedÂ respawnsÂ and win if the attackers’ tickets run out, and the attackers need to destroy objectives two at a time in a marchÂ acrossÂ the map’s four stages.
The game mode does an excellent job creating a living battlefield; I feel like a soldier in a larger fight from the ambient sounds and the tracer fire shooting off into the sky at times. Each area has a different challenge, with the starting area being challenging to hold onto and the final area being incredibly difficult to take down.
Almost every battle ends at a fevered pitch – relentless attackers desperately throwing themselves at the final objective, entrenched defenders counting down the kills till game over. When people are working together and calling out enemies (accomplished by aiming at them and pressing a button, not simply aiming at them as in 1943), it feels great. As with any team-based game, the loyalty and skill of your teammates factors heavily into how the game plays.
Apparently the Frostbite engine has been improved? The graphical fidelity seems there, but I’m not noticing a large difference in how the destruction engine is different.
I seem to be able to destroy the environment to create barriers for normal munitions, but no fence can stand up to a tank (as, well, it shouldn’t). In fact, some of the greatest moments I’ve had online have consisted of running from destructible cover to cover while a tank mortar reloads. Each barrier destroyed seconds after I left it. Even houses crumbled as I tried to escape the tank. (Spoiler: the tank got me.)
TheÂ destructibilityÂ is also a way Â for attackers to slowly crawl over the defenders. Each zone will be a wasteland after the battle is over. the attackers can shell the area with tank fire until there are no more areas to hide for the defenders. There’s something particularly satisfying about the state of the area after a particularly hard-fought battle.
There are two kinds of people who will enjoy Battlefield: Bad Company 2Â from a multiplayer point of view: Battlefield fans and Modern Warfare 2 fans looking for something different. I’ll be on my PC playing medic and dropping drugs all over the battlefield like there’s no tomorrow, but then again, I liked BF1943 and love Team Fortress 2, from which squad rush borrows its concept. I was pretty much guaranteed to like this one.
Do we have a contender for “best multiplayer shooter” on our hands? I’ll need to play all the modes and maps to see for sure.