Never underestimate the power of a late, half hungover PR agent, because without her, we’d still be standing in a queue for Battlefield 3. Thankfully, we’re tight with the right people, so we managed to give a mental middle finger to the poor folks standing in the four hour queue outside the BF3 hands-on booth on the main show floor. Cameras were not allowed in but we hope that these screenshots will suffice. They don’t show much gameplay, but they’re new and are probably more interesting to you than photos of our ugly mugs playing the game anyway.
The co-op section of the game that we had a chance to play was brief – only about 12 or so minutes long – but it shows what the developers believe is a good spread of the core co-op gameplay, minus the much-anticipated vehicular combat.
Our mission began outside a rundown apartment building in an unnamed Middle-Eastern city. We’re to rescue a fellow named El Zakir from the clutches of the masked and armed terrorists who are holding him. In a manner that strongly reminds us of Splinter Cell, we were given an unspoken choice: go in guns blazing or keep the noise levels down to avoid alerting the guards. We made a decision to stick to our silenced pistols that kill with a single shot to the head, but shortly into our mission, Miklós overheard the nearby console shout “Our cover’s been blown!” and he switched to his ACOG-equipped assault rifle. Mercifully, the enemies that came hunting us down weren’t sure exactly where we were, so we were still able to take them by surprise as two of the AK-74u-wielding terrorists came running around the corner of the basement laundry room. There were also a few cameras scattered throughout the building – tell-tale signs of a fixed, organised operation in the area rather than the rag-tag group of ne’er-do-wells we were expecting. To avoid giving away our position entirely, we synchronised our now silenced kills and security camera take-downs. This is made easy with the marking system: simply tap the select key or equivalent when your crosshair is on an enemy, and a number will hover above their head – 1 or 2, depending on who called the shot – we verbally counted down from 3 to 1 and simultaneously took our called shots. Smooth.
A few flights up the building and we find Zakir held in a room with two chatting guards. I broke out a shotgun that I claimed as Mik ran in for a knife kill. By then we had perfected the art of synchronised killing and it felt good. The tight, confined corridors mixed with the debris and boxes scattered all over make close-quarters combat much more appealing than the kind that requires an assault rifle. But, once we made it back outside with Zakir in tow (he is now armed), we were told to stay on foot and defend the APC convoy as it made its way through the dangerous, war-torn, sandbagged roads and alleyways.
Seemingly out of nowhere, an RPG flew in our direction. We were both disorientated and dirt was kicked up onto our visors. We changed out our close-range weapons for assault rifles and ducked into cover behind a concrete barricade. I provided cover fire while Mik headed further up the road to get a better shot, but in the chaos that ensued he took one too many bullets from a sniper on the roof and went down. He was bleeding out, only able to use his silenced pistol. I ran to his rescue and held down the O button to revive him, narrowly escaping my own death as bullets screamed overhead and took out chunks of a nearby brick pillar. With Mik back up, we continued to move down the street, taking full advantage of our ACOG scopes’ heat vision that lit up all life forms in orange. Thankfully, our NPC squad mate manning the APC’s mounted machine gun didn’t seem too bothered by my absolutely accidental fire directly into his face from two metres away. Maybe he was distracted by the other RPG that came flying at our direction and finally killed both of us. I know I wasn’t.
Sadly, that was it. We’re told that there was a little bit more to play past that point, but despite our best efforts to heed the advice of the nearby Swedish developer hanging over our shoulders, we didn’t take enough care and were told to restart the mission. That’s something that they’re still deciding on – to force the player to begin failed missions from the beginning or to use the more gentle and common checkpoint restore facility found in most games today.
Despite only having a few minutes with the game, I can say that BF3 plays well. Co-op play is an instant win for me anyway, and if it’s all executed this well, then it’s going to be tons of fun when the game finally releases on October the 27th.