Being easily one of the most anticipated games this year it seemed only wise to rush over to the Battlefield 3 booth upon first entering the Eurogamer Expo (2011), before the queues mount up to ridiculous levels. This wasn’t the only reason to rush straight for a hands-on of Battlefield 3 though, as being a large fan of the series roots I was excited to see how it was coming along and get to grips with the impressive new Frostbite engine.
Sitting down to the PS3 version of Battlefield 3 we were immediately brought into a multiplayer game on the map ‘Operation Metro’. Action was fast and frantic as expected with the Battlefield series feeling akin to the likes of Bad Company as opposed to Battlefield 2, but with the vast open environments and additional attention to detail that I felt was missing from the Bad Company series. Typically it’s very apparent that you are a few players in a boxed off and very much secluded environment, however, Battlefield 3 manages to hide this and gives a real sense of warfare thanks to the upgraded engine and visuals, having the environments crumble around you and a constant sense of urgency as bullets whiz past and explosions surround you.
By far the most impressive and immersive element of the hands on was the audio throughout, even though we were playing on low volume televisions as opposed to immersive headphones or expensive surround sound setups, the constant sound of warfare, both distant and far, along with realistic weapon sound effects and constant radio chatter really does step up the immersion and sucks you into the battle.
In terms of gameplay its very much what you’ve come to expect from Battlefield, with familiar weapons and classes as before with slight balancing tweaks (or huge ones, such as the medic class being removed). I didn’t get a chance to fully experience the new suppressive fire mechanic, mostly due to finding myself waiting for a respawn due to struggling with the overly sensitive PS3 analogue control pad (the fault of my own ability, not the games). The only change that left a sour taste was that of the combat knife, which no longer quite connects to the nearby enemy as previous titles (failing to kill an opponent after 3 direct stabs) and plays an assassination animation upon successful contact, which I’m concerned might just open the door for your own death during this period of animation.
In my hands Battlefield 3 felt just as stunning as the trailers and screenshots would lead you to believe, and being pulled away from the action half way through a map just when my team were starting to push back only makes me even more eager to get my hands on the final product. It’s going to be a long wait, but at least the beta is here to ease that pain.