With Battlefield 3 sitting very pretty on a lot of calendars out there, the open beta has provided a popular talking point.
Once the file is downloaded, 1.3g on xbox and 1.1g on PS3, oddly enough the fastest PS3 download I have ever seen, then you are free to enjoy the beta. Which consists of currently one map, seemingly a Parisian based environment that takes you into and out of a Metro system. Also to complement that map there is one mode on offer, but being Rush Mode this is no bad thing.
Speaking of bad things, my first launch was slow and sticky, I couldn’t move apart from jump on the spot, my weapons would not work and if I went prone I sank under the map. This is a beta though, so you have to expect to take the rough with the smooth, especially when every man and his dog will be feverishly grabbing those files to get an early taste of their October ‘must have’.
My second game I connected to reminded me of dial-up days, I could run forward and shoot, but every ten seconds I was pushed back about 80% of my movement. It wasn’t great, but it did give me a chance to look around and marvel at what is turning out to be a very well designed and quite beautifully realised map.
The third and fourth games resulted in full servers and the beta behaving as it is expected to, there was plenty of running and shooting to be had along with desperate attempts to destroy the m-com crates. The majority of the players were happily finding their way around in the lower levels, although there were a couple of people operating around level 22, either obsessive gamers or they have had the Medal of Honour early access privileges.
In terms of gameplay, it has the elements that made BFBC2 so great, teamwork and objectives rather than run/gun merchants. The map is extensive and offers many routes, chokepoints and killzones. The character models are pretty detailed, the sound and feeling of shots whipping through the bushes around is almost palpable. The unlock and experience progression is still there from previous games and I also picked up a number of ribbons for being an effective team player. Battlefield games allow you to experience the fight on many fronts, rather than charging down the same paths over an over, this gives it a broader appeal and delivers a sense of satisfaction when your team has won its round.
On the basis of two hours with a sometimes jittery engine, I am happy to report that I can see Battlefield 3 living up to its expectations and there will be a lot of tired gamers around once the morning of the 28th October rolls around.
Remember it is a beta, not a demo – expect it to be rough around the edges and rest assured the version that goes gold shortly will be the robust experience we expect, with the bonus of a server infrastructure that will have been well and truly crap tested by the masses.