Battlefield: Bad Company Preview
News has been hitting hard recently over certain controversial design decisions that have been made in Battlefield Bad Company. Putting those aside and stepping into the multiplayer Beta, Console Monster take a fair look at what may just revolutionise online first-person shooters for good. Prepare to put the concern, controversy and your copy of Call of Duty 4 aside for our hands on of the multiplayer counterpart.
Right from the get-go you instantly get the impression that Battlefield, and the developers DICE, are not quite taking things seriously this time around. The introduction narrative, simplistic presentation and jazzy background music lend themselves to a more relaxed sequel of the famous first person shooter franchise. Console gamers have certainly been sold short with previous ports and spin-offs of the highly popular PC game, but it seems like times have changed this time around.
The aim of the game with Bad Company follows the typical attacking and defending of a base. This simple multiplayer concept is made even simpler thanks to a few key alterations. In each game there will be two crates of money which you must, of all things, explode in order to earn them. Upon exploding these creates you will push the defending team further down the map, to another set of creates. This will happen several times until one of two outcomes; the assault team will either destroy all creates and win, or the defending team will kill enough of the attacking team in order to win. Thankfully this balance has been finely tuned so that there is always a struggle to win, be it attacking or defending.
Jumping right into a game you will find that there are two maps up for play, Ascension and Oasis. Ascension takes place in a rural hilly landscape where buildings and choke points are a-plenty. Oasis on the other hand is a far more open playing field set in the desert, resulting in a larger use of vehicles. The typical choice of ranked or public is always available, but let’s not keep friendly fire on during this hands-on as we are wanting to take away some of the rewards on offer.
Rewards come in the form of additional weapons, equipment, trophies, badges and the fan favourite – dog-tags (enemies which you have knifed). Each class will have a single primary weapon, which can be replaced with two weapons which require unlocking. Each class also comes with a basic additional item (such as grenades or med kit) and you can unlock a further item. To unlock these upgrades you must improve your personal rank in the game, similar to other FPS titles on the market, such as Halo 3. Whilst there are indeed items which require purchasing online, they seem to be limited to weaponry, two for each class, which provides no advantage in battle other than a change of feel.
After you have progressed through the initial interfaces you will be awaiting battle, with only the choice of class and spawn location left to make. The class choices include Assault, Demolition, Recon, Specialist or Support. Obviously the choice will depend fully on your personal play style or requirement during certain situations (Demolitions come in handy against those pesky tanks). We have placed our bets on the Recon class becoming especially deadly, sporting a sniper rifle, pistol, motion sensor and additional air strike unlockable. After the selection has been made it is a simple choice of starting at your base, likely safe but quiet or with your squad, likely surrounded by gunfire. This small design element changes the game entirely as the aspect of death is not as unnerving as it used to be, since you can simply wait 10seconds before jumping back into the fight again and again. Whilst the opportunity to make such a choice will be praised by many and loathed by others, it fits well with the overall arcade feel of the game, keeping the assault relentless and defence continual.
Gameplay feels very similar to previous Battlefield titles whilst hosting many changes which are reminiscent of Call of Duty 4. There is no doubt that the word ‘clone’ is going to be thrown around a lot, yet how can similar gameplay that is adored by millions be a bad thing? Whilst the game will no doubt be labelled Call of Duty 4 in a new skin, it cannot be argued that the skin belongs to a super model. Simply put, Battlefield Bad Company looks outstanding. Everything from the lighting to the audio is fantastically reproduced, showing off the new Frostbite engine beautifully. The impressive engine is where Bad Company will stand out to gamers everywhere, and why we suggest (and hope) that it may just revolutionise games of this nature forever. Which aspect of the engine changes gameplay that much, you ask? Why destructible terrain of course!
Twenty four players will be placed onto a battlefield, with set paths in which to reach their objects. Before the session completes, they will craft their own. You can literally destroy anything in sight, be it a fence, shed, wall or entire building. Whilst this would not change much in your typical gaming environment, when used in complete chaos full of explosions and gunfire, the game gets a hell of a lot deeper. You will find that before long you are insisting “I will NOT take the stairs!” as you create your own Grand Designs. To give an example at the depth of gameplay, imagine a sniper finding it difficult to see a spot of land through a small window. He can now simply create his own window in the hidden loft space of any house. To counter this example, imagine finding this sniper taking out your friend and blowing the entire wall off his hideout, exposing him to a battery of gunfire. Situations such as these are strewn all around as you try to keep your head in-between all the destruction.
From all of the experiences that have been had so far during the beta, we are sure that EA and DICE are onto a winner. We can only hope that the next few months before release allow for further polishing and additional content, specifically a handful of detailed maps to be added. Whilst Bad Company does not rewrite the formula, and takes a step back in certain situations, it is clear that a leap has been made in the right direction for dynamic and unique gameplay. We certainly cannot wait to bring you the full review when the title is released in the coming months.