Let me just start by saying that I suck at multiplayer games. I know you may be surprised, but it's true. I'm the one who usually spends most of his time at the respawn points. In fact, the longest time I've spent in an online game without getting killed is probably about five minutes, but since nobody else had joined the game yet, I don't think that really counts.
Imagine my fear, then, when Joe asked me if I wanted to take part in the closed beta for EA's latest episode in the Battlefield saga, Battlefield: Bad Company. My hands trembled at the very thought, something which is not conducive to gaming. Still, I decided to face the fear head on, and took Joe up on his offer.
I died for you to write this preview. I died lots. Some of the time, I was even killed by the opposition. On the positive side, though, I may have actually beaten my five-minute record.
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Story? We don't need no steenking story?
Unlike previous games in the Battlefield series the fifth game, Bad Company, will focus more on a single-player campaign rather than the multiplayer, which was the focus of the previous games.
Not much information is available about the storyline at the moment, but what little information we do have tells us that the game will be based in Europe and follow a band of renegade soldiers who are in the war for their own personal gain. The one multiplayer mission in the beta is loosely based around this premise.
The game mode, called Gold Rush, sees a team of attackers trying to destroy gold crates and a team of defenders trying to stop them from doing so. It's kind of a mashup of the traditional CTF and deathmatch multiplayer games.
For each set of crates that the attackers destroy, the map is opened up to reveal another set of crates which the defenders must rush to defend and the attackers must rush to destroy. The attackers win the game by destroying all the gold crates.
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The defender's winning conditions are slightly more complex. For each enemy kill made by the defenders, a portion of the attacker's "reinforcement pool" is removed. Get the pool all the way to zero and the defenders win. The problem is that the reinforcement pool is boosted each time the attackers destroy a set of gold crates, which makes the defender's job twofold: kill the enemy and keep the crates safe.
It’s pretty clever actually, working the game mode in with some sort of sensible story – the more gold the attackers have, the more reinforcements they can use and the defenders can win the fight by cutting off one and then holding a stalemate. This method pushes the attackers to get more and more desperate, while at the same time having fewer and fewer resources – it’s a witty little conflict of interest.
There are only two maps available in the closed beta of Battlefield: Bad Company and, since this isn’t Battlefield: Heroes, that means that it isn’t at all indicative of the final product thankfully.
The maps are fairly good though. Ascension is a European-looking map, with plenty of hills and trees; Oasis is a flooded desert valley with little in the way of cover away from buildings.