Wed, Sep 21, 2011 | 08:55 BST
Battlefield 3 VG247 community impressions: Colin’s take
We took VG247 readers Colin Gallacher and Chris Hockey to DICE in Sweden to play some Battlefield 3 co-op, and wanted to know what they thought. First up, it’s Colin.
Massively anticipated follow-up to DICE’s 2005 shooter, Battlefield 2.
Set in the Mid East, and based on the Frostbite 2 engine.
Releasing on October 25 in the US and October 28 in the UK for PS3, 360 and PC.
This feature was produced after a trip to DICE to see Battlefield 3 with VG247 competition winners Colin Gallacher and Chris Hockey.
Pat’s asked me to say a few words on the recent trip to DICE in Sweden. And I haven’t really written anything in a good few years!
Our group was made up of a good number of people from the UK gaming news crowd. Along with VG247, Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun and their competition winners made up our merry bunch of gamers. We were ushered into the sleek building where DICE has two floors by two EA press reps and instantly greeted by John, a member of DICE who had moved over from the UK.
He gave us a quick tour of their offices; first the reception, which has some massive Battlefield 3 art sprawling one of the walls. The art changes depending on what game DICE is developing at the time, John informed us. I wonder if a certain athletic female might be appearing on that wall next year.
Situated directly opposite the reception is an EA shop, selling EA, EA Sports and EA Partners games. So after a long day at the EA DICE office, the EA employees can pick up an EA game on their way out. I even saw Bad Company 2 in there.
We were lead down a short corridor past DICE’s many awards, such as a BAFTA and more recently the gamescom Best In Show for Battlefield 3, through a couple of classy glass train ticket gates into the heart of DICE. The walls are littered with modern artwork and DICE-related games items. One wall is completely dedicated to the large number of magazine covers featuring DICE games. I spotted a PC Zone cover of BF2142, which I still have in a box somewhere. I’ve always been a bit of a collector of games.
All your base
Base was set up in the trendy conference room BF: Vietnam. DICE has named all of its conference rooms after previous games.
We were lucky to get our hands on an updated Battlefield 3 co-op build of the Playstation 3 version shown at gamescom.
This was the second time I had played Battlefield 3 and the first on a console; I had been invited into the PC alpha during August, which was excellent but it had a few bugs here and there. One prominent bug involved crashing when I was racing up the leaderboard!
Chockster and I were first to give the game a shot and then Chris sprung something on me: “I’ve never played on a Playstation 3 before.”
The demo started with an American convoy of Humvee’s rolling up to a apartment block in a Middle Eastern city; two soldiers jump out and are given the order of rescuing and securing an enemy who has decided to defect.
Firstly, anyone feeling a little disappointed that the console version doesn’t match up to the graphical powerhouse of the PC version need not worry. The lighting alone on the PS3 is spectacular; it really feels authentic, murky, drab and thoroughly engaging.
Anyone feeling a little disappointed that the console version doesn’t match up to the graphical powerhouse of the PC version need not worry. The lighting alone on the PS3 is spectacular; it really feels authentic, murky, drab and thoroughly engaging.
We entered a dimly lit building on the right; quick check for any enemies and moved on to our first obstacle, two enemy soldiers unaware of our presence, idly chatting. On DICE’s advice we each chose a target and prepared ourselves. We stayed silent. After three, there were a muffled couple of pops from our suppressed guns. The two bodies fell; the alarms stayed silent.
While walking through a room littered with storage cages, two enemies sprang out and startled us. Suddenly the alarm rung through the rest of the building, alerting everyone to our presence. We ran forward to a concrete staircase scattered with abandoned items; the hurried footsteps of enemy soldiers rattled towards us. I was armed with a M249 machine gun with a night vision red dot scope while Chris had an M4 with the same scope; I let Chris take the lead up the stairs at this point. He encountered an enemy on one of the staircase’s landings, but it was no match for his meaty M4. We approached the room that had our VIP, quickly dispatched the foes inside and secured our target.
We reunited ourselves with the convoy and made our way on foot through the city, supplying fire support to protect the vehicles now containing our VIP.
At this point you realize that Battlefield 3 isn’t just another run-and-gun game; it requires thought and cover. Chris and I were quite unprepared for this. The gunfire came from all angles and we soon realized that the cover was very destructible; unfortunately Chris had become pinned down and was in need of revival. When your partner has been downed they can shuffle along the ground in the attempt to get to a safer spot. In a daring attempt to help my fallen teammate, I too was gunned down after my head was poking out while reviving Chris. Modern Warfare this is not.
After a quick break it was on to our interview with Patrick Bach, executive producer of Battlefield 3. During the interview I managed to get a few of my questions answered; firstly I asked about the PC squad sizes during a 64-player multiplayer game.
“You could argue that you’d want your squad size to be any, but the problem with that is that you lose the ability to give you a great user interface,” said Bach.
“We also try to frame everything to what we believe, based on feedback and research, to be the squad size. We had bigger squads before but we took it down to four, as we wanted everyone to know each other in their squad. I know people have been complaining about it, which is sad, as I haven’t yet heard a really good reason to back up those complaints. It’s different from Battlefield 2; therefore its cap seems to be the most common reason. We are trying to look into what is best to help the player and not just doing it to be evil.”
The second question I managed to ask was something I was very interested in: whether any feedback collected from the alpha had already resulted in changes in the game.
“There were some things that we decided to change, based on the alpha,” said Bach.
“Quite a lot, actually; from gun balancing to objective placement on the Operation Metro. We are still moving things around on that map to utilize feedback from the alpha. That’s why we had an alpha. It wasn’t to market the game, it’s to test the game in a proper way. So yeah, there have been hundreds of things we have changed since the alpha. And we will be doing the same with the beta.”
I then asked Bach what he considered to the the next big thing in gaming.
The room erupted with laughter.
“Well it’s not 3D for sure,” he added. “I think that’s really, really hard to answer, I’m hoping games in general will grow up a little bit. Games are starting to grow up with the gamers; there will always be games for children but as long as I’m in the business I will try to make a game that I personally will like to play. When we have a full generation of gamers, the ones that started in the 70’s and 80’s then we’ll have the first full cycle of games, in my book.”
After the round-table with Patrick he lead us through to Battlefield 1942, another of the conference rooms, where a section of a level had been set up for us to preview the game on Playstation 3.
We see Operation Guillotine, an extended play version of the video released late last week. Set in Tehran about half way through the single-player campaign. The mission is set at night, which is something different for the Battlefield series, Patrick told us. It starts with a group of soldiers viewing the city from a high vantage point. They had been issued orders to secure an apartment block situated on the other side of a thin canal. Suddenly it was all go, the soldiers sprinting down an embankment as gunfire and explosions bombarding them from all angles, while a friendly soldier just in front met an unfortunate end as a mortar shell hit near his feet, propelling him back and killing him instantly. Patrick, who was controlling the player, narrowly avoided the same fate and altered his path just before the explosion hit.
It’s clear that DICE has spent an incredible amount of time and focus on the sound of Battlefield 3. As with previous DICE games, the sound is impeccable; explosions have a deafening boom and the gunfire sounds scarily powerful. It just really heightens the entire atmosphere beyond the average gaming experience.
The soldiers reached a wall where they boosted each other up and over, sticking closely to nearby cliff faces for any sort of cover. As they battled their way towards the canal, the apartment block came into sight. One of the squad threw a grenade through a window and the explosion sent glass, debris and people flying. Upon entering the building an unfortunate sod that happened to be on fire staggered out and fell at Patrick’s feet.
The demo ended as we head down a short, dark, grimy corridor to a door. Just as we shouted back to our fellow soldiers, the door was kicked in, knocking the player to the ground in a Matrix-style slow motion sequence where the player grabs a hold of his shotgun and satisfyingly pumps the terrorist standing over you full of shells.
Being the only Scottish member of the group I managed to ask one patriotic question in: will any of Battlefield 3 be set in Scotland?
Patrick laughs. “No! There are no missions in Scotland and there are definitely no dinosaurs.”
Battlefield 3 launches on October 25 in the US and October 28 in the UK for PS3, 360 and PC.