With 15+ hours worth of beta experience I have become very intimate with the Battlefield 3[BF 3] beta and overly familiar with the one map it offers for play, Metro. I’ve also become very aware of the issues that need to be resolved prior to the games full release on October 25th, 2011.
For starters, the process to get in a game and start playing is tremendously tedious. The process goes as follows:
1) Start EA’s online store Origin
2) Launch game out of Origin
3) Launching the game then launches the internet browser Battlelog
4) You use Battlelog’s server browser to find a game
5) A plugin, Game Manager, starts its connection process to the server
6) The game connects and you click Join Game within Game Manager
7) The game launches in a windowed form
8) You hit alt + enter to put the game in full screen
9) You start playing
A fellow beta companion and friend compared the process to Inception… a game within a game within a game, and I completely concur. The hoops one must jump through is like a scientific experiment on how much one will endure for the satisfaction of playing. A recent video (below) explains what Dice (BF 3 developer) is trying to provide to the gamer but I think they are missing the point. Gamers what to play and the more obstacles you put in their way the quicker they will migrate away from a game.
On day two of the beta release, the last day before the beta became public, I experienced the most widespread clipping issue ever encountered in a beta. One person coined it as Batttlefield Clipping 3 in the all team chat and it was hilarious and accurate at the same time. Clipping is the act of players, vehicles etc… not being bound to the generated parameters of gravity or world objects, such as the ground or walls. The issue was not that clipping was occurring in a beta, that happens and can almost be expected to some measure. The worry was how widespread the clipping was. Matches were unplayable in many cases and the same issue was prevalent from one server to the next. A good example of the clipping problems experienced can be seen in the video below.
Thankfully within a 24 hour span Dice seemed to have corrected the majority of the clipping issues but on occasion it has reared its ugly head, especially (all jokes aside) when your soldier is in the prone position.
The most frustrating aspect of the beta, that has been constant throughout, is the inability to join seamlessly with your friends in a squad and even within a server. Battlefield 3 is heavy on squad level tactics like covering fire and flanking, which means communication is key. So joining with your friends in the same squad is essential to a successful and enjoyable experience. This would be less of an issue if the voice chat system was up to par so you could communicate basic information with strangers. BF 3’s voice chat system, based out of its Battlelog server, is already inconvenient and the, admittedly, limited experience I’ve had with it has been ear damaging. Heavy static and background noise is not beneficial to a squad trying to take a MCOM station while under heavy suppressing fire. As I have done with many chat heavy games before, I’ve have resorted to the highly effective services of Skype.
This is the beta, which I tell myself regularly as I run into the above mentioned issues, so I can let go of some of the frustrations I have run into ‘prone’. I do hope that the beta will lead to better… The moments of pure joy are there; like having a friend attach his C4 to my EOD robot and then driving it up on some unsuspecting enemies and then telling my friend to detonate. Or lying prone in the exit/entrance of a metro, providing suppressing fire, while RPGs careen over head and echo behind me in a tremendous immersion of sounds and dust. The beta is fun, the frustrations are not, but lets hope the suffering of the beta is for the better.