The Battlefield franchise has always been about big, big multiplayer. So it should come as no surprise that for one of the first hands-on sessions ever given to the press, EA sat a group of eight journalists down in a darkened back room in the opening moments of E3 for a multiplayer session with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on 360.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Multiplayer Trailer
We're thrown in with almost no preamble. After a quick rundown of the different loadouts -- recon, assault, engineer -- we're dropped into a frenzied multiplayer match in a huge snowy environment. Literally dropped: We parachute in to start the match. (Well, those of us who figure out that we need to tap "A" to deploy our chutes parachute in. The rest of us just splat.) The action starts off on foot, but players quickly pick up vehicles. A two-person ATV provides nimble and speedy transport, while tanks and armored personnel carriers provide slower but more reliable support.
Our goals are marked clearly in orange on the HUD: two crates stashed in buildings, which we need to destroy by planting charges. We push forward in a scraggly line, attempting to focus on the goal. As players test out the game's weapons -- especially the grenade launcher the assault class spawns with -- snow-covered trees fall and buildings crumble. That's because a significant part of the environment is destructible. Got an enemy guarding a door? Chances are you can blow a hole through the back wall and get in that way. OK, sure, that might draw some attention. You'll have to figure out if it's worth it.
After we take out the first pair of targets, we push forward to the next pair. We're starting to get a feeling for the scale of this level, and it is substantial. Some corners have been cut in the area of tree detail (limited and largely two-dimensional), but this is the only noticeable concession to performance in this demo -- doubly impressive given how much of the world is destructible.
As we near the next target, the controller starts to throb and the subwoofers start to pulse. An enemy helicopter rises above the trees…and then quickly descends back into them, knocking several over in the process, as its pilot tries to get the hang of the controls. (It's perhaps not entirely realistic to have 30-foot-tall pines collapse before chopper rotors do, but it's certainly more user-friendly.)
The enemy seems better coordinated here, and we're taking heavier losses. This allows us to experience the different methods of respawning. The default option is to begin at the initial drop point, parachuting in as before, but it makes a lot more sense to spawn on a teammate. Doing so puts you right behind them -- or, if they're driving a vehicle with an open seat, puts you there instead. This underscores the role of teamwork in Bad Company 2, which appears to be one of the major focal points of the game. In addition to the spawn-on-teammate option, players also have the ability to help out their compatriots with gadgets mapped to the d-pad, like health items and extra ammo that can be dropped for other players to pick up.
Thanks to the ability to spawn next to teammates, the front line moves forward very quickly, and we're soon at the last pair of crates. Our hosts warn us that the enemy has access to a Black Hawk helicopter at this final base…but before they can get it in the air (or, at least, figure out the controls), we've blasted into the buildings and detonated the two crates simultaneously. And the match is over.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2010 for 360, PS3, and PC. But chances are pretty damn good you'll be seeing a lot more of this game before then.