Battlefield 3: Diary of a COD Vet Vol. 1
In the eternal war for dominance over the FPS genre, DICE & EA’s third entry in the Battlefield franchise has carved out a respectable niche for itself. With a fan-base & following that borders on cultish loyalty, Battlefield 3 has proved itself as a genuine, and starkly different experience to Activision’s age old leviathan Call of Duty. But can a long-serving veteran of the COD universe adapt to the stark realism of its biggest rival or will he wimp out without his precious killstreaks & perks? In a new, weekly feature Nizulo writer Dom Reseigh-Lincoln suits up for the Battlefield…
So, let’s establish a little background shall we? I’ve been playing first-person shooters for a long time ever since I booted up iD’s Doom decades ago back on a PC that wouldn’t run Facebook nowadays. From Quake to Goldeneye 64 to Timesplitters & Medal of Honor, I’ve experienced the genre as its hit some glorious highs & some laughable lows. But since the early 2000’s I’ve pledged my heart & my service record to two very different franchises, Halo & Call of Duty. Whether I’m sticking an Elite with a plasma grenade or no-scoping some poor noob on Terminal, these two gargantuan franchises have populated my games collection for years.
So it’s with a little hesitation I stick DICE’s 2011 blockbuster Battlefield 3 in my disk drive. Not that I’m massively worried about playing a new shooter (I’ve flitted to most new shooters over time, from the rebooted Medal of Honor to Killzone). It’s more the fact that Battlefield 3 inspires almost religious devotion from its faithful; it’s acolytes denouncing the unclean presence of Call of Duty & its ‘arcadiness’. Will I fit into this arena of the devout? Will I end up converting? So it begins…
If Battlefield 3 is one thing, its frickin’ huge! The maps are on a scale like nothing I’ve experienced online, even on something as big as MAG. My first spawn is on a troop & vehicle carrier moored a few clicks from a dockyard. The controls are pretty standard for a shooter, with a few extras like deploying ammo or offering health boosts. I jump onto an amphibious vehicle that’s powering off into the fray. Two jets rocket overhead with an audible sonic boom, circling the sky in a chase of vapour trails & bullets. As the vehicle approaches the bank a tank trundles past with a squad of infantry using it as cover. In the blink of an eye the tank is a blackened husk, the infantry scattered like twigs in a breeze. As the amphibious vehicle hits land I see one guy, ONE GUY, throwing C4 at another vehicle that ends up much like the tank. This game is insane.
The audio work on Battlefield 3 is brutally realistic. Like Medal of Honor the distant crack of a sniper rifle makes me sprint for the cover of a container. The clatter of fully-automatic fire draws my attention for a second, then BOOM, one shotgun blast later & my noob ass is a kill on an enemy’s scoresheet. I feel like a 14 year-old little bitch.
The unlock system in Battlefield 3 is so frustrating. Each of the four classes has only two primary weapons available, which seems so ridiculously Spartan compared to Call of Duty’s booty chest of weapons available right out of the box. Battlefield 3 is the polar opposite of COD’s load out system. Like the difference between Gran Turismo A-Spec & Gran Turismo 4, Battlefield 3 demands players earn unlocks & new weapons based on performance alone. New fancy weapons like the G36 are for those who’ve clocked the mileage, not the part-time casual players. It’s a statement that purposely flies in the face of the ‘pick-up-&-play’ culture that Activision have tailored Call of Duty towards. It’s very limiting for a player used to such abundance, but its making me just knuckle down with what I’ve got & grind out those updates.
The Rent-a-Server aspect to Battlefield 3 is a little like Russian roulette for a new player. Modes like Conquest can leave you in an engagement that literally lasts for hours. I jump into a battle that’s barely halfway through its ‘ticket’ count. I’m beginning to find my groove with the feel of the arsenal, compensating for the increased recoil of a more realistic assault rifle. The players using vehicles , both land & air traverse the battlefield like their playing a totally different game. It looks like you don’t call in an airstrike in Battlefield 3, you are the airstrike! As the match draws to a close I realise I’ve been playing one match for two hours. Two frickin’ hours! So much for the ten-minute match-up of Halo or Call of Duty. Looks like my Battlefield 3 experience has only just started.
Next week, our intrepid writer tackles the vehicles of Battlefield 3 to varying success, runs a marathon on a video game & rages at an infestation of campers. You can follow Dom on Twitter @furianreseigh.