I’ve not seen nor swam the waves of the world’s largest enclosed body of water, the Caspian Sea, but I have ran the ridges and tracked my jeep down the dirt and street roads of Battlefield 3’s Caspian Border. For its final week of testing EA opened the 64 player map, Caspian Border, to everyone who had access to the Battlefield 3 [BF3] beta on the PC. For months, we all watched YouTube videos, caught press releases from video game conventions and heard, via word of mouth, from games journalist about the epic nature of the 64 player map. Those with any interest in the first person genre salivated at the idea.
The cruelty of the BF3 beta was that for the majority of the beta access was only allowed to the one map mentioned in my previous post, Metro. Again, it was a dirty fun crawl from one MCOM station to the next in Metro but it wasn’t the months of anticipated fun we imagined having in Caspian Border featuring lions (jets), tigers (helicopters) and bears (tanks)… oh my. Adding to the torture was the fact that EA did have password protected Caspian Border servers listed on Battlelog.
The torture ended for the last weekend of beta testing when EA announced they would open Caspian Border to all PC beta testers – on Saturday October 8th, 2011 I got my first taste. My first foray into Caspian Border was a mixed bag. I got into a server fairly easy and was instantly mesmerized by its scale. I stood in my teams spawn area watching people takeoff in the F-14 modeled jets from a dirt runway, as were a couple of other people in my squad. This was my first true experience of being part of an audience in a game… just watching the game. The other side of the equation here was the lag. Not enough lag to make it unplayable but just enough to be a thorn in a lions foot. I spent about 2o minutes in this sever, acquiring my first tank kill with the help of a couple of well placed mines and a final tap with a rocket propelled grenade and then searched for one that hopefully didn’t suffer from any lag.
My second venture into Caspian Border was everything it should be (thanks to a server ping of 40). I joined Mother Russia in defense of her lands and my squad and I set out in a jeep to take a capture point atop a mountain/hill. By the way, the topography of Caspian Border is feast for the eyes in its own right. Everything is very far away from each other so vehicles are a must and the highs and lows of the land make trekking by foot a long process. Once we got our off road Jeep clone to the point we captured it, set up to defend it by placing mines around the dirt road access points and hunkered down for an assault – we didn’t have to wait long. The first attack was deflected well thanks to an early kill of the opposing tank but what ensued was a knock down, drag out fight. We ended up holding the point, thanks to a team member staying prone in some vegetation so we could continue to spawn off of him after we died, but we lost the overall battle. Even in a pretty overwhelming defeat I totally enjoyed the experience and took some pride in being the best squad on our team.
My last time spent in Caspian Border (out of eight visits) was the most enjoyable and will keep me looking forward to Battlefield 3’s full release. After capturing a point early in the game our squad moved on to a more forward point that was fairly close to the opposing teams main spawn. We secured the point and then moved into gorilla warfare mode by setting up ambush points from within the buildings surrounding the capture point. With mines staggered across the most likely entrance point we braced for the oncoming attack. It started off great with just an opposing squad with no armor and/or aerial support walking right into our trap, they were wiped within minutes. It was the second attack that we felt the full force of the enemy having a very close main spawn area.
A tank rolled up the main entrance to the small town that housed the capture point and stopped just prior to the mines. Those mines were aligned directly next to my perch in a two story building. I could see the tank clearly from the second story balcony and when I stepped downstairs quickly to take a peek I could see there were infantry in support. The tank must of spotted my fellow squad mates because it open fire just I started heading back upstairs. From above, I open fire on the two opposing infantry men next to the tank taking them both out. The death of those two men brought the attention of the tank on me as I saw it aim its barrel up a few notches to were I had just reigned down lead. I went prone and crawled to the interior of flimsy building and braced for impact. Honestly, I was at my computer and could feel my body clinch, I was completely immerse. The shot rang out and the sky opened up to me but my little soldier buddy was still kicking, hurt but kicking. I popped up and launched an RPG at the tank, hitting it in the side. The tank inched forward looking for a better shot. BOOM! That inch forward was just enough to set off the mines I had laid on the street 5 minutes prior. The tank was still operational but stuck in place. It was a stick in the mud. I then saw the crew exit the vehicle in a desperate attempt to avoid avatar death. I crouched around the new hole in MY building and like Peter Pevensie himself I slaughtered King Miraz and his men and watched as the last few tics of the opposing force left my hub and Narnia, I mean Caspian Border, was won.
So yeah, I’m looking forward to the games full release on October 25th, 2011.