Battlefield 3 Gamescom 2011 Hands-On Preview -- We Save You A Nine Hour WaitBy Kevin Kelly - Posted Aug 26, 2011
Battlefield 3 already has plenty of hardcore fans, and the game hasn't even come out yet. At E3 earlier this year, lines stretched as long as four hours to get some brief hands-on time with the multiplayer. However, that's nothing compared to gamescom, which is open to the general public, where lines were up to nine hours long in order to play the game for about 15 minutes. Now that, my friends, is ridiculous. But not nearly as ridiculous as one of the guys I met who waited in line for hours to be one of the first in the gamescom doors on Friday, where he ran directly to BF3, played it, and then left and got right back into an eight hour line for the same game. That's an insane level of dedication for a game that comes out in the couple of months.
I'll recreate the experience for you right here, as we also had to venture down to the show floor at gamescom to get our Battlefield on. First, you had to sit through a 15 minute presentation that was entirely in German, which you can't really fault EA for since the conference takes place in Germany. And, as a victim of the American education system, I don't speak German. But, I was sort of able to pull from context and understand most of the video. Which seemed to be "Find the enemy and kill them."
There were brief rundowns of the class changes, which we detailed in our E3 Battlefield 3 hands-on preview, and I made the decision there and then to be the Assault class, now armed with a defibrillator so I could bring my downed buddies back to life, while charging forward and taking care of enemy soldiers. At least, that was my noble idea. Things didn't exactly go according to plan, which ended up costing me dearly.
As we finished up the film and filed into the gaming area (all on PCs, by the way), I studied the game card and wished fervently for a gamepad, which is how I experience things on the PC back at E3. But, I had to get used to the mouse and keyboard all over again at some point, and this seemed as good a time as any to dive back in. Unfortunately, the instruction card was in German as well, so strike two for our public schools. "Was ist eine button for to make kill guy?" doesn't really cut it, internationally.
We spawned onto the enormous 64 player Caspian Border map, with all of us splitting into one of two 32 player teams. As with any multiplayer match of Battlefield, everyone immediately scrambles for the airborne vehicles, and the hotly contested jet usually lasted about .025 milliseconds on the landing strip before someone jumped in it and zoomed into the skies above. While this map is extremely large, it still seems as though it's not entirely jet-friendly. ZOOM, turn around, ZOOM turn around. ZOOM, turn around, and so on. As much as I wanted to get into a jet to try this out, I gritted my teeth and climbed into a tank, which actually turned out to be a good decision.
I lasted about ten minutes inside that tank, taking occasional damage while being patched up by passing Engineers, and I managed to take out 12 enemy soldiers while taking and re-taking three different bases. But finally I heard the familiar WHOOP, WHOOP which translates to "Your tank is about to blow up, idiot" and I had to bail. Once I was on foot, I kept getting owned by enemy snipers. As in seriously owned. The game will totally rub that in your face by zooming off to the smug, sunglass-ed face of the soldier who did it, and you couldn't help but hate them.
Once the match was over (we lost), I had a strong desire to step back through and play it again, but the last thing I wanted to do was displace someone that had waited for nine hours to get in here and experience the game. Battlefield 3 stands as one of the most graphically intense, realistic shooters out there, and playing 32 players vs. another 32 provides an unequaled gaming experience. If you can manage to round up 31 friends to go online with you, you're going to have a complete blast once you figure out who's in command. And even if you play solo, you're going to wish BF3 was permanently installed in your game system.