Life of a Beta Male-Battlefield: Bad Company Impressions

If you’ve ever played a Battlefield game before you know that there’s no other multiplayer game that is quite like it. Capturing respawn points and large scale battles are the main points of any Battlefield game and what keep the fans of the series constantly coming back for more. The series has such a simple formula that it’s really hard to screw it up, of course the problem with that formula is that after several different variations of the series and the amount of mods available through the PC versions of the past Battlefield games it also seems like there’s not much more that Battlefield can do that hasn’t already been done. If you can think of a theme, it’s probably been done in Battlefield. Hell my personal favorite is the official Star Wars variation, because I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. I’d probably even enjoy watching Two Jedi, One Cup.

Add to the problem of series potentially getting stale is the fact that there is a lot of competition in the First Person Shooter market when it comes to online gaming. Rainbow Six, Halo, Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2, are all vying for gamers need for virtual violence. Games that don’t feel new or have a fresh will be forgotten and ignored like an emo kid on prom night. Luckily I was able to get into the recent Battlefield: Bad Company multiplayer beta to see if the upcoming Battlefield: Bad Company can hang with the most recent multiplayer titles or if after all this time the series has grown stale.

To those who don’t like reading all the way through an article: Yeah, it’s Battlefield, and yeah it’s pretty good.

Disclaimer before I put my foot in my mouth, remember that the following impressions are from an unfinished version of the final product, and even then only one gametype and two maps are available to play. Plus it is only the multiplayer aspect, though it’s a Battlefield game. Sure you could just play the single player game, but that’s like buying porn for the articles. You could do that, but your missing the point and everyone else will laugh at you.

After receiving my code for the beta I downloaded it to my 360. This was before the servers were up so I couldn’t actually play the game, but I was able to look at the weapons and unlockable content. I, like everyone else who has already bitched and moaned about it, noticed that there are weapons that will ship in the final version that you will have to either pay to unlock, or that you receive through purchasing the more expensive Gold version of the game.

To summarize: This blows. I could probably rant on and on about why this blows and how it’s about as good of an idea as making love to a light socket, except you can read about that anywhere. I will say this is a bad precedent, and that no one should really blame EA.

You read that right, I don’t blame EA for this. I blame most video game consumers, i.e. YOU. Not specifically you, but probably the guy next to you. Anyone who purchased the absurdly expensive Halo 3 Legendary edition so that you could have a Spartan helmet for your cat? Your fault. People who buy cheat codes for games? Yep, you too. The average video game consumer buys 5-6 games per system owned, and as an audience has proven that while they might not buy a bunch of games, they’ll easily buy a lot of silly shit for those games.

Don’t believe me? People were, and probably still are, PAYING FOR THE CODES FOR THIS BETA. Seriously. Upwards of $30. Or are signing up for various paid internet services that also offer the Beta code for signing up. If people are willing to pay $15+ to play unfinished code on limited maps/gametypes for only one month then EA’s decision to charge a couple of bucks for some guns doesn’t seem like a bad business decision. Oh, it’s a horrible PR decision and I feel bad for their marketing guys, but as a business decision it’s not that much different than Square Enix selling extra races for their WiiWare Final Fantasy game.

If you want companies like EA and others to stop with the BS microtransactions, then STOP BUYING STUPID SHIT.

Give me a minute for my medication to kick in. Whoo. Okay. No more caps lock for this writer.

So the Beta. First day I actually got to play the game it crashed on me after every round. Looked on the forums and saw I wasn’t the only one. Annoying, but hey, it’s a Beta. Also notices some lag issues, gun disappearing, and more. That’s what a Beta is for so I reported those issues.

As for the gameplay at first I wasn’t impressed. The controls for switching weapons compared to other FPS games felt awkward as a third nipple. There’s several different buttons for switching from one gun to another, then knifing is a separate button, and gadgets and grenades are yet another button. That’s just to switch to them, not to use them and in the heat of a battle the last thing I want to do try to figure out how which button I have to press while the other guy stabs me to death. A lot of other FPS games now days have a feature where if you sit still you regenerate health. Not Battlefield. In Battlefield you have a life bar. I didn’t like this fact at first since I’d win a firefight and then minutes later I would sneeze too hard and then die.

Damage seems…odd. I don’t know what type of armor these guys are wearing but they need this over in Iraq stat. You can score a direct hit with an M203 grenade round and the guy will still be alive. Not very alive, but the mere fact that the round didn’t cause that person’s insides to become outsides just doesn’t seem quite right. I’m assuming this is due to trying to balance the life bar with the rest of the game. Sniper shots to the head still drop a guy.

The Gold Rush gametype when I first started seemed to be far too much in the advantage of the Attackers. To explain this gametype there are two teams: Attacker and Defenders. The defenders have two boxes at a time that they are supposed to protect. The attackers have to destroy these boxes either by planting a times charge onto the box(charge can be defused though) or by causing enough damage. If these boxes get destroyed more of the map opens up and two new boxes have to be defended. This repeats until eight boxes are destroyed.

After spending one night with it I started thinking that this game probably wasn’t going to be able to compete against the other big FPS games available. Of course at that time I wasn’t giving the game a fair chance.

Since that first day I’ve spent a lot more time with the Beta. Far too much time. Like, ignoring hygiene and hunger for the Beta.

One of the things that should be noted is that the EA team responsible for smoothing out the issues with the Beta should be commended for their efforts. Within three days of the Beta starting a lot of the freezing/lag issues have already been worked on and smoothed out. If this type of dedication to making the online go smoothly rolls over the the final version of the game then this could be a winner just from having great technical support. I had issues with Call of Duty 4 for months before there was a patch that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Or I need to brush more often.

Spending more time with the game I’ve come to better understand more of how the game is balanced and that mental adjustment really helped with enjoying the game. If you run around like this is Halo 3 or Call of Duty 4, then you might not like it. I’ve come to even enjoy the life bars as I like playing as a support class. Having good medics can completely change the momentum of a firefight in Battlefield. There have been a couple of occasions where I’ve been on the Defending team and have been down to just one box to defend. The medics on our team kept the rest of us alive and our team won. In fact the right combo of classes is about as important in this game as it is in Team Fortress 2.

After several rounds I realized the Attacking team does not have an advantage at all. As a Defender you know exactly where they’re going to attack, all you have to do is find cover and wait. Even then if you fail with the first two boxes you have several more chances. As an Attacker if you fail destroying those first two boxes it’s Game Over. There’s an intensity and rewarding feeling that comes from being successful in this mode that just works and is a great addition to the series.

One of the most advertised features for this game is the destructible environments. While in the Beta these environments aren’t as dynamically destructible as you might hope, this feature still makes a huge difference in the game. Wall getting in between you and your objective? Take it out. Whole strategies can be planned around this feature. As an Attacker there have been times when the Defense is so good that it is hard to just get to the building. Best answer for that is to just take out most of the walls and try and destroy the box from farther away.

That wall looking at you the wrong way? Destroy it.

Those trees look like they’re planning something evil? Destroy them.

Your co-workers getting on your nerves? Destroy…wait. Er, maybe not.

Between the multiple classes, destructible environments, vehicles, and large maps there’s room for a lot of strategy in Battlefield: Bad Company. Once I started shaking off trying to play the game as if it were a different FPS I started to really enjoy the game. Plus there are a ton of meta-achievements in this game in the form of trophies and patches and I love that sort of thing as it feels like you’re constantly accomplishing something, even if all your accomplishing is avoiding sunlight. Plus there’s a feature where you take other players dogtags. I’m still not entirely sure how this works, only that this sounds like a great feature for bragging rights and it can’t be too difficult if I have several already.

Battlefield: Bad Company comes out later on this year and if you are a fan at all of online multiplayer shooters, then keep an eye out for this game. Even with only two maps and one gametype I went from angry about the pay-for-guns, to uninterested after one night of playing, to completely hooked on the game after one week. With plenty of time to fix the smaller issues this game should be one to look out for when you aren’t too busy signing online petitions against EA.

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