PAX Hands On – Battlefield 3

One of the heavy hitters at PAX this year was Battlefield 3, which will be competing with Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 for the FPS crown later this year. EA spared no expense in flying myself and 31 other journalists to Seattle this past weekend for a Battlefield 3 Community Event, where we got plenty of hands on with the game and the hotel’s open bar, but that’s another story for another day.

I could tell you about the drinks and food, but I really think you are here to find out what I thought about the game so let’s cut to the chase. First up was a little co-op campaign, with everyone picking a teammate and getting to work on tackling the demo. The demo started off with the two of us entering a building and making our way through it, getting into close quarters fights along the way. My teammate and I decided to forgo the quiet stealth approach that many other people were taking and selected to run and gun, which was a smashing success thanks to my teammates shotgun.

Once out of the building, we made our way through the streets, fighting off enemies both on the ground and up in windows. It was nighttime, so we got to use our thermal scope when sniping in order to take out enemies. Taking cover was a huge part to success here, otherwise you were gunned down fairly easily. When all of the enemies were eliminated, we hopped behind two .50 calibers mounted on top of some Humvee’s, and made our way down a very narrow street, taking out opposition in the buildings until we reached a gate. One of us got down and set a C4 charge on the gate, only to have the door area swarmed by enemies, making for one hell of a fight to stay alive. This was the end of our demo with the game’s co-campaign as we moved onto the multiplayer next.

Because we had 32 people, we decided to play 16v16 in a subway map where one side was tasked with blowing up two objectives while the other side (my team) was tasked with preventing the bombing. The game offers 4 different builds to choose from as you get ready to spawn in, with each type having a gaggle of weapons to choose from. I switched between the Assault class, which is able to throw down med packs and revive, and the Support class, which uses a machine gun and throws down ammo. There is also a sniper class and engineer class that I didn’t get much time with but looked to be good and useful classes. The subway map we played provided plenty of cover, as trains were on fire and blown off their tracks. I am happy to say that my defending team did not lose on this map and even pushed out of the subway and right onto the attackers front door. Next time around, the map had changed and the bombsites were now above ground and we had to defend them in what looked like a park. Here, the sniper class came into play even more than in the subway, as the open area created great opportunities for snipers to pick people off. Like in the subway, we never lost any of the bombsites we were defending.

Next, we moved from this attack and defend style map onto a new map and a team deathmatch mode of play. This new map had a piece of a subway terminal in it, but was mostly played outside in the streets and inside two apartment buildings that sat side by side. This proved to be a lot of fun as each team would control a building, resulting in a huge firefight between the two buildings and plenty of close quarters combat in the alley behind the buildings or on the stairs in the apartments. At this part of the game however, most of the team play flew out the window and turned into a map full of solo performances. As some of the people left the event, some of the people working for EA decided to take up the fight, making things even more interesting. Like most rounds of team deathmatch, things were very hectic, with people running and gunning with the best of them, only a select few decided to try to snipe from high floors of the buildings.

The game was top-notch, with great visuals and gameplay to match smooth online that only experienced a few minor hiccups – like your character not wanting to switch from his defibrillator back to his weapon. All the other shooters releasing later this year might want to pay attention, because Battlefield 3 is setting up to bring its A game to the table.