Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Battlefield 3 is not Modern Warfare

You know a game has left a good impression when it makes me blog about it two days in a row. Battlefield 3 is good enough to warrant a second, praise filled mention on its own merits, but I also feel a slight need to stick up for it based on the lunatic ranting that clogs the official forum. Each trip to the message board seems to yield another nutter who compares the game with Call of Duty Modern Warfare. Yes, both games are set in modern times and focus on warfare, but that’s where the similarities stop.

A major difference between the games for me is the respawn behaviour. The thing that really tugged at my anger strings in Call of Duty is the sheer randomness of spawn points. In theory, this meant that members of the opposite team couldn’t sit in your spawn area and constantly pop you in the back as you rematerialize into life. The downside to this is that you reappear anywhere on the map. This is disorientating to say the least and usually means you have no idea where the frontline is, or where the enemy might appear from, potentially putting random death behind any corner.

Battlefield 3, for the most part, applies fixed spawn locations which allows you to think about enemy placement and strategies in the midst of battle. Enemies can still surprise you from behind, but you know that this was due to their own movements and not a result of the respawn lottery. Mobile spawn points can still be placed in slightly troubling areas that can make spawning an issue, but nowhere near the randomised enemy placement problem in Call of Duty.

Another minor point are the knife kills. I can remember how much fun it is to run around the map on Call of Duty and just tap a button when up close to instantly stab and kill an enemy. I can also remember that it was more annoying than a wasp swarmed picnic when I was on the receiving end of the insta-death stab attack. Battlefield 3 has taken the middle-ground and gone for instant kills from behind. Fortunately, these attacks are not as instant as the Call of Duty wrist flick and expose your attacker for the duration of his reach around heart stab.

By far my favourite feature in Battlefield 3 is an omission from Call of Duty and what so many other multiplayer games have tried implementing as of late. There are no killstreaks, and that makes me a happy non-camper. The ground will not be pummelled with random missile strikes from off-screen predator drones. Sentient helicopters won’t circle the battlefield, tearing up turf and tarmac with heavy machinegun fire. Nuclear missile strikes won’t descend on the arena and wipe out all life, yet mysteriously secure a victory for the man who ordered the random mass execution.

Whilst there are no killstreaks, bigger maps that accommodate vehicles may bring down just as many seemingly unfair deaths upon you, but the difference here is that you witness the other player do it to you. It was at least partially down to their skill which resulted in your demise. It wasn’t an automated bonus of unstoppable death and mayhem.

I’m really happy with Battlefield 3, especially based on this open beta which is running an early version of the game. I’ll admit that there are still plenty of bugs that need to be ironed out, but there is definitely a fun game underneath the few issues. To close I’d like to draw attention to these few flaws in particular, as these really need to be ironed out before the game is released. Hopefully they will be, but it still doesn’t hurt to spread the word and hopefully catch DICE’s attention.

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