Battlefield 3 Beta Impressions

battlefield 3 beta impressions

While the Battlefield 3 Beta does go public today, I’ve been playing it since the 27 thanks to my pre-order early access (and the fact that I bought the Limited Edition of Medal of Honor). I haven’t been hiding my anticipation for Battlefield 3 at all and I’ve been eagerly awaiting a chance to try the game out before release. Since I’ve already pre-ordered it, I’m kind of locked into the full retail version, but I wanted to give those of you still on the fence a little taste to help you decide whether or not to jump on this train.

The only map currently available in the Beta is Operation Metro in its Rush variant. Operation Metro is a very linear map that progresses from a park to a subway tunnel and then out onto a wide promenade. The other map, Caspian Border, is currently locked behind a password, but that’s the more traditional BF map with wide open areas and combined arms warfare. Metro is strictly an infantry combat map in this form, and it doesn’t exactly carry that Battlefield feel that people might be expecting.

The game doesn’t really play like Bad Company or Battlefield 2 in any strict sense. Rather, it feels like its own game, but if you asked me to pick a game that it resembled more than any others I would say Medal of Honor. This isn’t a bad thing, though, because DICE tuned up Battlefield’s user interface quite a bit. Guns actually have believable recoil and player movement has become much more fluid: instead of leaping over objects, you character actually mounts them and you can see your legs swing out in front of you as you vault obstacles. It gives your avatar a nice weight, but I really wish you could slide into crouch.

One thing that Battlefield 3 does bring back is the ability to go prone, and damn if this doesn’t change the entire pace of the game. The most recent Battlefield game, Bad Company 2, took prone out so it took me a while to get used to the concept of “yes, you can go lower than a crouch to take cover”. Add that to the incredible sound design and the firefights in BF3 become a very tense experience. Bullets whiz over your head and ping off solid objects while you advance slowly under fire, keeping an eye out for enemies who might be waiting in ambush.

There are a couple more tweaks that DICE have made to Battlefield 3 in terms of combat and I’m a big fan of one and not so enthusiastic about the others. The one I do like is the suppression mechanic where machine guns and assault rifles can force enemies to keep their heads down by basically spraying bullets in their general direction. This makes their vision blur to the point where the only clear spot on their screen in a tiny circle around the reticule. It’s very useful for keeping your foes pinned as you advance, or for holding back a push as you wait for reinforcements. Suppression has a changed a bit since E3, as you no longer get points for just the action of keeping people pinned, you now only get a bonus when you assist in a kill in this manner. This might make people less inclined to try it out, because without an active notification, you don’t really have any idea if you’re suppressing someone or not.

battlefield 3 beta impressions

The other changes I’m not too keen on are the way flashlights, laser pointers and sniper rifle scopes work. If you have a light equipped on your gun, you can point it at targets to impede their vision rather dramatically. It’s a little too powerful right now, and it’s kind of a double edged sword as you can blind your teammates too. Sniper scopes have been changed to reflect sunlight so you have an idea of when a sniper is targeting you. This is a little too bright as well so it’s hard to tell if you’re about to get shot or if you just have a flashlight pointed at you. It’s an interesting concept and helps balance the fact that snipers can go prone in foliage, but right now it needs a little tweaking.

Other than these minor nitpicks, though, I’m really enjoying the gameplay of Battlefield 3. My only problem with a Rush map being the only map currently available in the Beta is that people still play it like a Team Deathmatch game and it ends up turning into a straight up kill fest. People don’t advance or plant/defuse bombs, they tend to stay where they can get the most kills. While you do sometimes get on a competent team, the majority of the time will be spent cursing at your allies because they didn’t defuse the bomb even though they were camping right beside it. This was a really strange choice for a Beta map, because I’m hearing that Caspian Border is the better of the two.

Now that we’re done with the game proper, I can dig in to Battlelog and whether or not that actually adds anything to the game. Battlelog, if you’re unfamiliar, is essentially Facebook for Battlefield. You have a Wall, awards and stats get posted to the Wall, you can friend people and even give a “Hooah” to their status updates. It feels really forced and doesn’t fit in with the tone of the game at all. It does make it a lot easier to party up with friends and join their game, but so far Battlelog hasn’t “wowed” me. One thing I do like, though, is the ability to create Platoons so you can easily keep track of your friends and their stats. This isn’t fully implemented yet, but the final version of Platoons will allow you to rank up towards unlocks by combining your stats, so that’s pretty neat.

As is to be expected, there are also a lot of problems finding games and keeping your connection to servers, but that’s natural when hundreds of thousands of people jump on a service that was previously supporting a fraction of that number (given that this has happened with every single Battlefield game since 2, you’d think that EA and DICE would anticipate this but I guess not). Once Battlelog gets tuned up I expect it will make the game joining experience much easier, but I’m not liking the interface right now.

battlefield 3 beta impressions

I especially don’t like the fact that you can’t change loadouts, video/audio settings or key bindings from Battlelog; you have to jump into an active game a do it from there. Who thought this was a good idea? There’s also no in-game squad browser so you can’t actively pick squads and join friends, the game just sticks you into a random open spot so it’s kind of a crap-shoot. These two oversights are pretty glaring, especially since both of these features have been part of the series forever. I mean, you have to be in a running game in order to change your settings? DICE had better add the ability to do that from Battlelog, or at least have an in-game interface to handle this in the final version. In regards to the squad joining I hear that’s in testing and will be implemented soon, but still. Pretty damn frustrating.

There’s also a whole host of glitches like sinking into certain spots of the map, animations not rendering correctly, or my personal favorite, sliding along the ground and firing into the air. I know that public Betas are usually a couple builds behind the in-house version being used by the developers, but given the amount of bugs, glitches and crashes I’ve seen this feels like an Alpha build. While the actual gameplay is pretty addictive and exhilarating, DICE better shape up fast if they want to hit the ground running in October.

I ended up getting pretty negative at the end there, but what I detailed is basically what I experienced. Battlefield 3 is a really, really fun game, but right now it’s hidden behind counter-intuitive UI and a veritable army of game-breaking bug. If DICE manages to fix all these things in a month then the Beta will have fulfilled its purpose, but either way we’re looking at a hefty day one patch.

So that’s what I thought of the Beta for Battlefield 3. I do want to stress that it is very fun when you can get it to work, so don’t let my negative impressions of Battlelog scare you off too much. Has anyone else been playing this? What do you think of it? Anyone going on the “do not want” side thanks to me?

Written by

mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

8 thoughts on “Battlefield 3 Beta Impressions”

  1. Because it’s Battlefield, it’s basically an automatic day-one purchase for me. Everything you said about Battlelog is pretty much what I expected. I’m avoiding the beta just so I can sink my teeth into the real deal when it’s ready. I hope they fix up the squad issues, and WTF with changing your settings only in game? That’s a big no no.

  2. I played since the 27th on Operation Metro and let me say that it feels like Battlefield but with a lot of Call of Duty feel from it. I haven’t played Medal of Honor So i don’t know if it’s connected to that but I definitely find myself running around and killing everyone without a lot of penalties. Though I understand DICE wanting to appeal to a wider base by doing this, they are turning their backs on others.
    Overall I am having some fun, but there are many things they need to tweak in order to get it just right.
    1. Let us choose our squads. This is an instant must. The game already feels like there is no need for real teamwork with this aspect.
    2. Have a better indicator when we’re at low health. The percentage sign to tell you how much health you have is a great indication and probably the strongest kind they can give you. However, you might be at 10% health but everything looks dandy and you feel like 100%. The visual indication of surrounding red was a good indication of low health and I believe it should make a return.
    3. Reduce light intensity of the sniper rifle and flashlight. These lights can also affect teammate which is kind of annoying when they’re waiting for the jets and want you gone. Also, the sniper rifle should be drastically reduced because the new kill cam pretty much blurts out their position anyways to fight campers.
    4. Have more penalty for running and gunning. When I played BC2, I felt like I seriously needed to rely on my squad and back them up. In the beta, I’m just running around endlessly killing without a care in the world, reminding me of Call of Duty.

    There are some other minor issues like key binding problems, the need to show ping in the scoreboard, the wanting to launch the game without battlelog to change settings, the ability to leave the game when the end rounds instead of needing to deploy in the next, the “quivering hand” death animation being quite repeptitive and needing more varied animations. Etc. Etc.

    TL;DR: The game has a lot of potential. Dice has done many things right, but for every right there is a wrong, (mostly with trying things out which I can’t blame them for doing).

    I just hope DICE reads the forum posts because they really do have some good suggestions in there. However, it’s rare to see a big name company take forum suggestions in serious consideration sadly.

    ON ANOTHER NOTE: I played Caspian Border. It. Was. Stunning. This environment felt so different from Operation Metro. It felt more like Battlefield with the large map, vehicles for everybody, and dog-fighting jets that fill the sky.
    Right now they need to fix some server issues on top of other things because I keep on getting disconnected from some Operation Metro servers and the Caspian Border server was running like 300ms when it was really 50ms because all the vehicles and 64 people was too much on the server.

    How I got in (PC): The test servers running Caspian Border are always password-protected and the passwords are regularly changed. Last night on the US server it was ‘Appletini’. That one might still work. I’ve heard ‘sexyelevators’, and ‘gameskilledtv’. The most recent one (October 28) I’ve heard was ‘shoppingcartsareagoodride’. Get it while it’s hot and before all the school kids come in.

  3. Ah, yeah, that health one was one of my minor nitpicks. It didn’t happen all that often, but sometimes I’d come through a firefight with one percent health left but it still looked like I was at 100%.

    Mock the jam-smeared screens if you must, but in terms of communicating to the player how effed up they are, you can’t really do much better (aside from audio cues like grunting in pain).

    If anyone wants to add me on Origin, I’m Lubeius.

  4. I’ll try to play this but I’m in halls of residence at uni during the week which prevents me from signing into PSN, Steam, or any other online gaming platform. Apparently they’re working on a fix for this (which is good) but there isn’t an estimated time of fixing (which is bad). Here’s hoping the PS3 version is still fun with only a fraction of the players.
    AND ANOTHER THING: Why showcase a Rush map? Conquest is Battlefield! Rush isn’t really as good a representation of BF’s style of play due to its linearity. Open ended battles are something only Battlefield does right (at times Rush feels way too forced in BFBC).
    Additionaly: Camping at bombsites for kills? I hate that shit. Play the game properly! It kills the experience for others.

  5. Having played it on the PS3, I’m rather unimpressed. Not with the actual gameplay, it seems rather solid with the odd balance issue here and there, but with the party system. Dear GOD, how awful it be. I can’t get into the same squad with any consistency, I can never hear my friends over voice chat and I get lumped in with some randomers in a squad. Give my FRIENDS DICE! Not some jackasses who won’t work with me!
    That said, it plays really well.

  6. Bit of news on the squads: they are staying as is, everything is being done from Battlelog in that regard. In the final version, you will be stuck in a squad with your party and you’ll be able to lock it, but there will be no in game browser.

  7. I have to say, I played the BF3 beta for a bit yesterday and was completely underwhelmed by it. I’m sure the game is fine, but Operation Metro was a terrible choice for a beta map, because it doesn’t show off any of the things that Battlefield does well. The squads thing was also a huge problem for me, and is almost a deal breaker in and of itself. This went from a day one purchase to a “wait and see”.

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