Friday, September 30, 2011

Battlefield 3 Beta Impressions

After waiting for several hours to be able to connect to EA's servers, I had the opportunity to pick up the Battlefield 3 Beta  and play late into the night with a group of my friends. All in all, I was rather impressed and found it to be one of the most entertaining and enjoyable multiplayer FPS experiences that I've had to date. For more information about the beta, check out the dedicated Battlefield 3 Beta page.

I've sorted my impressions into several categories below. I should note that my opinions are based on my experience on the Xbox 360 and from this year's earlier PC Alpha.

The Controls & Handling

Overall, Battlefield 3 handle like the perfect blend of Bad Company 2 and old school Battlefield 2. The controls feel much more responsive, while at the same time retaining some of the weight of the weapons from BF:BC2. The control layout is the same as Bad Company 2 and you have several options to switch to, including Alternate, Lefty, and Lefty Alternate. The new "hit the floor" feature is extremely fluid and intuitive, but it's also buggy at times and forces you to stand straight up after the drop is completed.

The Map

Operation Metro is a great map to do the beta on, as you have the full gambit of combat experiences all bundled in one. You start in an open battlefield where snipers, and long range combat is king. The second and third sequences take you into the metro where you can either fight close-quarters in the hallways, or exchange fire along the train line and main lobby. Finally, the fight spills into the streets where you can experience urban combat as you weave through buildings, duck through alleys, or snipe from an overlooking sidewalk. Based on my experience with this map, every kit has a place where it can thrive and be a fun and viable option.

The Weapons & Kits

Whereas carbines were the top dog of the Alpha, all of the weapons in the Beta are fairly well balanced, with assault rifles edging out a little ahead in my opinion. There are, however, significant differences between the two sides' loadouts. Overall, Russian weapons seem to pack a much harder punch than the US variants. However, US weapons also seem to be far more accurate.

Infantry is an all-round good class. Assault rifles are the bread and butter and have a little more oomph behind them. The M16A3 is very easy to use and has great sights, even without sight attachments. Meanwhile, the AK-74M is powerful but has very high recoil and difficult iron sights to balance it out. These are the only ones that I used, but I noticed that the M416 was very powerful. With a sight, foregrip, and silencer, most assault rifles are unstoppable once you get into the metro tunnels.Under-barrel grenades turned out to be a little hit-or-miss for me. If you want to be a good team mate, you can either drop medkits and revive allies, or you can ditch that function and equip an underbarrel grenade launcher... the choice is yours!

The Engineer kit is my favorite so far, as it is the most versatile for my play style.The Russian loadout's AKs74u is not very accurate at a range, but in tight spaces it is so powerful it practically spits fire! Put a grip on it, a sight and a laser and it is a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, the M4A1 is significantly more accurate at the expense of damage. It also has the added benefit of more user friendly sights. Rockets are disappointing, as they seem to do minimal damage and are very unpredictable to use on players. I've gotten two hit markers with rockets on enemy players, only to have them slink away unharmed.

As Support, I've had the most fun setting down at a choke point, deploying my bipod, and sweeping the floor with incoming hostiles. The Russian RPK is like the rest of the team's weapons - high on damage and low on accuracy. I had to shoot several shots at an enemy before I hit (fortunately, they drop quickly once you do!). The US variant is similar, but the second tier LMG (the M249) has both good accuracy and considerable stopping power. The kit also has the bonus of being able to drop ammo for themselves and teammates.

The Recon kit is my second favorite, but also my highest ranked thus far. The Russian SVD and the US Mk.11 both start with an 8x scope and take about two body shots to drop an enemy. Also, you are now able to steady your shot by holding the left stick to hold your breath. I've noticed that the Mk.11 feels a lot more stable than the SVD and the scope sights are a bit more user-friendly. I have not used the bolt-action, second tier unlocks because I prefer to have the higher rate-of-fire on the close quarters of Operation Metro. You also get several toys that long-time Battlefield fans might enjoy.

Pistols are very viable weapons in the beta, taking anywhere from 4 to 6 shots to stop an opponent at close range. Additionally, shotguns are great weapons for their sheer stopping power and kill usually with one hit. However, they do not have much spread and require you to be accurate and close to the opposition.

Keep your eyes peeled for more updates on the Battlefield 3 Beta! I will update this post as I experience more of what it has to offer.

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